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10 Ways to Combat Eco Anxiety

What is Eco Anxiety?

Eco or ‘Climate Anxiety’, has been described as ‘Chronic fear of environmental doom!’.
But what exactly does that mean and when does it become a problem?

Many in the medical field don’t consider eco-anxiety to be a mental health disorder, instead, it’s simply a normal physiological response to the huge threat of a changing planet. When what we value or love is threatened, humans become adept at responding to that threat accordingly. So it’s a very natural response. I’ve also heard the term similar to PTSD, but instead of ‘Post’, it’s referred to as ‘Pre’ Traumatic Stress Disorder because it’s thinking about what is to come. It also comes hand in hand with ‘Climate Grief’ which is mourning what’s to come and grieving the future loss of things we love.

Some people may have experienced directly the effect of climate change. Perhaps their homes have been flooded or they’ve been exposed to wildfires, but many people who haven’t first-hand experienced these effects can still experience eco anxiety. Particularly if they’ve encountered an emotionally triggering news story or social media content.

Do You Have Eco Anxiety?

Here’s how it can affect people and some things to look out for..
1. Does thinking of global warming keep you up at night?
2. Does it affect your ability to concentrate?
3. Do you find yourself becoming tearful or angry when u think of global warming?
4. Do you experience panic attacks or extreme anxiety? 
5. Do you feel hopeless about the future of a warming planet? 

If so, it might be worth taking some steps to look after yourself, so u can stay resilient and help turn the energy from anxiety into positive action so you can start to feel better.

How To Ease Eco Anxiety?

So now we understand a little about eco-anxiety, let’s think of ways we can support ourselves:

  1. ACCEPT negative emotions. Use them to motivate you to create positive change. As climate change feels so overwhelming, it can result in negative thoughts and these negative thoughts can have a detrimental effect on our mental well-being. However, we can also harness this emotion and use it to motivate us to take positive climate action. I believe much of eco-anxiety can be helped through climate action and fortunately, that’s exactly what our planet needs. 
  2. BALANCE. You did not create this problem all on your own and u won’t be able to solve it on your own. Keeping a balance on your climate action and your self-care is hugely important. 
  3. CURATE YOUR OWN NEWSFEED. Focus on following accounts that make u feel better and unfollowing those that don’t. Some great instagram accounts to follow are The Happy Newspaper and The Good News Movement who both celebrate positive news and share stories of people doing wonderful things. Acteevism is an eco-influencer who reminds you that imperfection is perfectly okay when living sustainably. You don’t need to fit your waste into a jar at the end of the year! Empathy Over Indifference is a fab account to show ourselves empathy over our sustainability attempts and she has some really fun reels! Planet Mindful Magazine is another great account to follow, they have friendly advice on how to slow things down, strengthen your relationships and treasure your mental health and wellbeing. You can even subscribe to their magazine. Make your newsfeed a safe and nourishing space that’s aligned with your values and is not going to trigger you with anything that stresses you out. That’s a really great way to regain control over what comes into your life. Also, media blackouts are a good way to manage your mental wellbeing. If you’re a little bit of an obsessive scroller, you might want to step away to give your brain time to reset. It’s important to not over consume as it can mean we have no time to create solutions which help our wellbeing and the planet.
  4. GET OUT IN NATURE. Feeling connected to the wonders of the universe and all the beauty and magic that mother nature has given us will help to create a sense of gratitude, which is super important for mental health and will also renew your motivation for living sustainably. If you don’t have somewhere beautiful outside, you can bring nature indoors by planting wildflowers, herbs on your windowsill or invest in a bird feeder that you can attach to your window to get to know your regular little visitors and feel a connection to them and their little personalities.
  5. WASTE AUDIT. Conduct an audit of one area of your home, like the bathroom or cleaning cupboard, a small area in your life to see where you can make changes to reduce waste.
  6. REMOVE JUDGEMENT. This is towards yourself and to others, we’ve all done things to contribute to climate change, but we are all on a journey, going at our own pace. The important thing is we are being our best selves based on the knowledge and resources we have. It’s not your job to fix the world all by yourself. Also, don’t become the ‘Eco Police’. Don’t judge others as they are also just doing the best they can and are just at a different stage of the journey to you. If someone close to you isn’t as concerned about the environment, don’t stress yourself out by trying to change them. Focus on what you can control, which is yourself and your reactions.
  7. SET GOALS. It’s really important to set meaningful achievable goals because behaviour changes are really hard. Set daily goals, weekly monthly and yearly goals. Really commit to these. If you’re having trouble getting them done then reset and refocus to know what u can do to make positive change a part of your daily life. Choose a specific area of your life and create an action plan to reduce waste. Keep it small, such as your cleaning cabinet, or your skincare routine. Here is a great IGTV by Emily from Simple Life Freely Chosen about her skincare swaps.
  8. CELEBRATE SUCCESS. This is so important as when we achieve our goals, we want to know that we’re making a difference. When we measure our successes and celebrate them, that’s how we’re going to see that our positive actions create ripples of change.
  9. SHOP SUSTAINABLY. Always buy second hand if you can or discover marketplaces like the Kind Shop and Ethy.uk who have done the research for you, meaning you can shop conveniently in one place without worrying or feeling guilty about your spending habits.

What’s vitally important is we don’t get overwhelmed into inaction, so we can still contribute to helping to solve the problem. This is not only good for our mental well-being but essential for the planet.

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