Climate anxiety affects many people who understand the planet’s worsening conditions, but it affects none more so than the young generation. This is because the majority of the future predictions point towards the fact that if humanity continues on its current path of destruction, the world may soon become too hostile to live. Therefore, the youngsters feel despair more acutely than the elders because they feel their futures have been robbed from them. This sense of anxiety is also called eco-anxiety.
Health2delivery mental health experts recognize climate anxiety as a serious problem that must be addressed. This article is meant to inform you what climate anxiety is, how it starts and affects people.
Climate Anxiety: Introduction
Climate anxiety manifests when there is severe uncertainty and fear about the environment’s future. The feelings of doom continue to affect you. It is not an officially diagnosable condition. But at the rate it is spreading, especially among the young, it won’t be long before climate anxiety becomes a part of DSM.
People see floods, storms, rising sea levels, unpredictability in weather patterns, smog, etc., and become all the more apprehensive about it. Climate anxiety may result in;
- Substance abuse
- Existential crisis
- Lack of motivation
Severe anxiety or stress may even cause physical problems, like heart disorders, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.
Where does climate anxiety come from?
As time passes, the threat of hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes continues to grow. Media coverage of destruction caused by environmental hazards can be overwhelming. Extreme weather events may trigger mass protests, panic, mistrust, and even civil war in some areas. Yet, despite the naysayers’ efforts to the contrary, the evidence of climate change is becoming stronger by the day.
Such rapid degeneration of the climate can lead to helplessness, frustration, and shock for many people. They cannot help but feel anxious about the future.
Who does climate anxiety affect the most?
Not everyone constantly worries over the environment or the planet’s future. However, some people cannot help but worry because they directly feel its effects, such as;
- People living in coastal areas, low-lying places, and islands keenly feel the effects of worsening climate more than others due to tsunamis, hurricanes, storms, and rising sea levels.
- People whose entire livelihood depends on the climate are affected by climate change, like agriculture, tourism, fishing, etc.
- Some indigenous communities in Africa, Amazon, etc., may feel the impact of climate change because of losing their natural habitat, cultural heritage, and sense of community.
- Charity workers or people that work in environmental jobs see the destruction brought on by climate change first-hand and feel its impact.
- Youngsters feel their future is robbed because of the bad choices of their ancestors.
Managing climate anxiety
Usually, a mental disorder can be effectively treated by resolving the trigger or finding a way to ignore or live with it. Unfortunately, climate change is not something that can be fixed overnight. It requires social awareness, governmental support, and mega-corporations taking responsibility. On the other hand, you cannot ignore environmental change either because its evidence surrounds you at every turn.
These are a few tips that will help you positively resolve climate anxiety;
1. Take individual action
When you take positive action and do your part in reducing climate impact, it will help you realize psychological benefits. You can use public transport or bicycles instead of fuel guzzler vehicles, recycle your waste, and volunteer with an environmental protection agency. You can modify your diet by promoting vegetables and fruits while restricting meat and dairy products. Talking with others about better environmental practices may also help. Taking such actions will make you feel more in control and help reduce the impact of climate anxiety on your everyday life.
2. Get accurate information
Educate yourself on climate change and its impact on your or your community with credible information. Then, take steps to reduce the damage by taking appropriate actions based on your knowledge.
3. Become resilient to climate change impact
When you have the correct information, it allows you to prepare yourself accordingly. For example, if you live in a coastal area, you can take steps to save yourself, your loved ones, and your property from a potential hurricane. You need to look at problems with the eye of a problem solver, not as a helpless bystander. You should also foster ties with the community and not isolate yourself. Such actions will help you overcome the risk of depression and PTSD.
4. Stay optimistic
Having a positive outlook on life helps you reframe things and events better. In addition, it helps decrease anxiety associated with climate change.
5. Connect with nature
Spend more time outdoors and connect with nature to help alleviate your climate anxiety. Foster a positive relationship with the world around you.
6. Get regular exercise
Regular exercise doesn’t just help keep you physically but also mentally fit. It reduces anxiety and feelings of stress, in addition to giving you enough energy to be free of depressive thoughts.
7. Know when to disengage
Too much information and exposure to disastrous information invite depressive thoughts and anxiety. Know when to turn off the news channels, especially biased ones. Seeing something else may help take your mind off the triggers.
Climate anxiety is real, and its most common victims are the youngsters that are too sensitive to climate change. They feel a sense of betrayal from their elders and governments because they feel they are inheriting a world that is on a downward spiral. While the issues are real and need collective effort to resolve, it doesn’t help if you become mentally scarred because of them. If nothing else works, contact your doctor or therapist for better solutions to your climate anxiety problems.