Do you often find yourself feeling anxious about the environment and the well-being of future generations to come? You may have eco-anxiety. This article discusses what causes this type of anxiety, and looks at ways to improve mental resilience.
Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals. Always seek help from a qualified medical professional.
Table of Contents
What is eco-anxiety?
This is a term used to describe the feeling of anxiety that we experience when we think about the environment and the future of our planet. There is no formal diagnosis of eco-anxiety but reports indicate that many of us are feeling anxious about the climate crisis, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. According to an Office of National Statistics (ONS) survey in 2021, 75% of people surveyed were worried about the impact of climate change.
According to a study by Yale University, people are more likely to experience this type of anxiety when they feel there is a lack of control over the future. And when it comes to the climate crisis, many people are at a loss for what we can do to make a difference.
It is hard to ignore the extreme weather events as they seem to be happening with increased reoccurrence. Other man-made issues such as air pollution and water contamination also contribute to the feeling of helplessness.
Being aware of biodiversity loss is another major contributor to eco-anxiety. When we lose animals and plants that are a part of our ecosystem, it can cause big changes. Those that care about the planet and worry about its future are usually the first to notice the signs that something is not quite right.
Those who are struggling with eco-anxiety have reported symptoms such as finding it difficult to concentrate, or they may experience panic attacks. It is important to seek help if you feel eco-anxiety is impacting your daily life.
Ways to improve mental resilience
So, what can you do if you’re struggling with eco-anxiety? There are many ways that a person can improve their mental resilience in order to cope with eco-anxiety. Here are a few tips:
– Practicing self-care
This may include things like yoga, meditation, and journaling. There are lots of Youtube videos like this one below that can help calm your mind:
– Taking breaks from the news
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings of eco-anxiety.
Give your mind a break. You’re making hundreds of new decisions every day. Thinking and focusing become quite difficult as your brain overloads with new thoughts and feelings. So, switch off from social media and the news channels. Take some time out to breathe.
There are many people who share your concerns. By seeking help and taking steps to improve your mental resilience, you can manage eco-anxiety.
– Seek professional help
If eco-anxiety is impacting your daily life, it’s important to seek help. A therapist can provide you with tools and strategies to deal with your anxiety. Organisations such as Mind can help you find therapists in your area.
Some things we can’t control and some things we can. Focus on what you can control, so do something for yourself. Even simple things like making your bed or walking the dog give a sense of accomplishment. You could do very small tasks to gain a sense of control. The serenity prayer used by many addiction recovery groups is also a great spiritual tool for when you need strength and guidance:
Grant me the serenityReinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
Focus on now
Sometimes thoughts become overwhelming. There are many techniques to reduce anxiety. For example, one technique helps you focus on the present. To focus on now you concentrate on what you can see, what you can touch whilst breathing slowly. There are lots of other techniques which you can discover in the resources below.
Sources of help
These resources will help you understand anxiety, the therapies available and coping strategies you can use. We have also added links to other websites if you want to read about other people’s experiences.
For more information on eco-anxiety, you can visit the following websites:
- • The Huffington Post: Eco-despair is unsettling but it could lead to change
- • Friendsoftheearthuk: How to cope with eco-anxiety
- • UK Research and Innovation: Programme launched to tackle climate anxiety
- • BBC Three: Eco-anxiety: how to spot it and what to do about it
Is there any information we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch via our contact page.