Eco-anxiety, the Psychological Effects of Climate Change

People care about the planet and the environment. Most people recognise that we live on planet earth and rely upon a stable environment, so when seemingly little climate action takes place and the headlines fill with stories of a ‘climate emergency’, there is a huge toll on the mental health of individuals. This is the rise of Eco-anxiety.

The words ‘climate change’ make my chest tighten. I get a lump in my throat and a relentless sense of anxiety that can come without warning. The World Health Organisation has stated that climate change is the greatest threat to global health. One of the key components of this that I feel is often neglected is the mental health of individuals in the face of a changing climate. There are a few key fears that cause Eco-anxiety. Some of them include: the fear of extreme weather events (especially for rural members of the community), the fear of displacement due to climate change and, most commonly, the existential dread of climate change (source).

So it’s scary, but what can we do about it? How do you relieve Eco-anxiety? There is no hard or fast rule for eliminating anxiety, but there are some measures individuals can take. I’m still very much learning, but I’m starting to understand how to read myself. A good night’s sleep and reading a positive article changes my entire world view. If it’s the opposite (a poor night’s sleep and reading a no-hope article) I’m am quite defeatist. When I know this is the case I make myself run or go for a walk. I take 30 minutes to calm myself and reach a more optimistic outlook on the future and life.

You can’t help but worry, and that is not your fault, but worrying changes nothing. Try finding like-minded people whom you can debrief with and who will understand your worries. Get involved in something beneficial to the environment. Practice your beliefs through the way you live your life, who you vote for, what you buy, and where you put your money and support. Most importantly, relish the opportunity to make a difference. The climate is changing and most likely will change significantly, but you can acknowledge this, understand this, and help build humanity a better future. A world without problems would be so boring. The challenges we face have given us a golden opportunity to find a solution.

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