From our social media feeds to our breaking news updates, every day we’re bombarded with the devastating effects of the climate crisis. Floods, fires, drought, biodiversity loss…these would be heavy at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.
Medical News Today states that it ‘refers to a fear of environmental or ecological disaster. This sense of anxiety is largely based on the current and predicted future state of the environment and human-induced climate change.’
When it’s put like that, it’s pretty scary. One of the issues with climate change is that it can seem like an unproportionally sized problem that can’t be helped by just one person’s actions. The feeling that you can’t impact change, feelings of helplessness and lack of control can all creep in and generally make us feel disheartened.
Hey, we know the feeling. Working in the sustainability industry we have these conversations on a daily basis. Is cutting out meat helping? Should I stick to no flying? Why am I feeling so guilty when 71% emissions are caused by just 100 companies? We feel you. Seriously.
That lack of control is tough, believe us, we know. Control and uncertainty seem to be pretty big hitters this year. We hope we’ve had enough curve balls to last us a while, but one thing to try and remember is that when things are out of our own control, we can’t let them hang heavy on our hearts. We know that’s far easier said than done but we really need to give ourselves a break and be kind to ourselves.
Focus on what is in your control and what actions you can take. We’ve seen this year that when we all come together for a collective cause we can make some pretty awesome impacts and the climate crisis is no different.
We know that there is still a pretty long road ahead of us in solving the problems caused by the climate crisis, but if this year has given us anything, apart from a bucket load of uncertainty, it has given us hope, and hope we can work with.
Initiatives like Build Back Better, the Green Homes Grant and David Attenborough joining Instagram all help to give us hope. A collective understanding that we all need to do better and put the planet first.
As much as things on one hand can look pretty dire, on the other there are glimmers of hope, people making stands and positive actions being taken. It’s these positive actions that need to remain our focus.
Again, we know, easier said than done. So, apart from trying to focus on the positive, what other things can we do to combat feelings of climate anxiety? Start small, we may feel that not any one action is going to change the world but imagine if this is multiplied by 100 or even 100,000 people.
Try not to give in to shame, we’re not perfect and we’re all still learning. Be understanding of the fact that no matter how much we might want to try and tackle everything at once it’s a journey and a learning process. Give yourself a break!
Talk about it. Chat to friends about your worries, brainstorm some actions you can take and start a conversation. Just the act of getting something out of your head can make it feel lighter and you never know, something you say might inspire someone else to act.
Watch David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. Please be warned this is a heavy watch so perhaps don’t watch it if you are feeling more overwhelmed at this particular time but if you do watch, be reassured this is, in his own words, his ‘witness statement, his vision for the future’. Some elements of it are shocking but it’s not all doom and gloom. He shows us the amazing, out of this world, ability of nature to recover from some of the worst things it has seen over the years. And it can recover again if we give it the space it needs, respect it and try to live in harmony with it. He offers up actionable options, things can be reversed if we act in the right ways. It’s his call to arms and a way to unite us with hope.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the issue, the climate crisis is threatening the very planet we call home. If we can keep conversations and discussions going to lighten the burden on each of us and keep spreading the word about actions we can each make to impact change we have a chance.
This ground up action is what will inspire businesses and governments to act. We need to keep applying the pressure on big businesses and world leaders showing them that we want change, and we want it now. What we also need to remember is that we can make a difference, in the words of Greta ‘I have learned that you are never too small to make a difference.’
Some further resources to learn more about the causes of eco-anxiety, the impacts and what you can do if you are experiencing feelings of it.
‘Eco-anxiety’: how to spot it and what to do about it – Dave Fawbert
Eco-Anxiety Is On The Rise. Here’s What You Need To Know – Natasha Hinde
A Guide to Eco-Anxiety, How to Protect The Planet and Your Mental Health – Anouchka Grose
No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference – Greta Thunberg
There Is No Planet B – Mike Berners-Lee