I felt my first pangs of eco-anxiety after I left the lecture theatre at university. My head felt so strangely full as I walked back to my student halls in a daze. When I got home it just all felt so overwhelming. I still experience that feeling to this day. After all, climate change is very real, we need to act but there's so many factors at play. Where do we start? Will we see the end of the world before the end of our fossil-fuelled economy?
Yikes. It's a big mental battle. But little steps help. Let's take the new few steps together. Read on.
What is Eco-Anxiety
Eco-anxiety in short is worrying about the climate crisis and everything that it brings.
Here's a definition by the American Psychological Association: "A chronic fear of environmental doom".
How do you know if you have it?
We're all different and we experience eco-anxiety in different ways. You might be worrying about your own actions. Am I doing enough? Should I fly? Am I using my car too much?
On the other hand you might feel that you have no control. After all, the most significant ways of tackling climate change are on a large scale, for example ending fossil fuels and using more wind and solar energy.
Then there are the terrifying prospects of what climate change might bring. What is the weather going to be like? Will my house get flooded? Then you factor in rising cost of living increases due to dwindling food and energy supplies. Clothes piling up in deserts.
Here are some suggestions to manage eco-anxiety
**It is okay to feel anxious from time to time and that includes feeling worried about climate change. But if things are getting too much to bear, then please do seek professional advice and help.
1. Try being mindful of what good you already do. Reinforce your positive actions so you can stay motivated to keep doing them.
2. Journal. When it all gets too much it sometimes helps to write down what exactly you're anxious about.
3. Talk it out. Eco-anxiety will often feel worse when we're stuck in our own heads. A quick chat with a friend might not solve the climate crisis but it'll remind you that you aren't alone.
3. Write a letter to your future self about the effects of the actions that you're taking today.
4. Worried about your transport emissions? Take some time to figure out where you could use active travel or public transport just a tiny bit more.
5. Feel overwhelmed with too many materials things? Having a spring clean might help to clear up your space and help you keep to a more minimal lifestyle.
6. Food. Try getting as many plants into your diet as possible, reducing the amount of meat you eat. Organic, locally grown produce is even better!
7. Know when to take a break from consuming news and social media. Facebook and Twitter can be great for meeting like-minded people but they can also constantly remind you about the climate emergency. It's okay to switch off and recharge.
8. Get out there, enjoy nature! We spend so much time worrying about it, so it is worth reminding ourselves what we're trying to protect.
9. Exercise, whether it's a walk, going to the gym, a bit of yoga or just getting your body moving, is great for boosting endorphins, helping you to feel a bit better.
10. Compost your food waste!
11. Try regrowing veg from their roots or scraps. Carrot tops can be regrown to make pesto. Lettuce leaves regrow, as does celery. Pop them in some water in jars on your window sill. When they start to root you can transplant them into soil.
12. Grow your own soothing tea, and drink it! Try growing herbs that you can also use in your cooking. Think mint!
13. Volunteer at a local community garden.
14. Channel your eco-anxiety into writing a poem, drawing or crafting something
15. Or don't...try a mindful activity like slow stitching. Go with the flow.
16. Write to your MP about how you feel!
17. Buy nothing new. Feel better about your impact on the planet by using awesome stuff that has already been made.