If you are anything like me, you can feel quite paralysed when it comes to the news about the climate crisis, which seems increasingly desperate as of late.
Whilst it’s totally understandable to feel hopeless and low when faced with such a global issue, it’s important to remember it’s not a burden you bear all on your own.
“What could I possibly do to help, and what good is it anyway?” is a thought I’m ashamed to say, I used to have often. However, it was during this time last year, amongst so much worldwide unrest that I realised that my paralysis was not helpful in supporting these causes nor was my behaviour in line with my values either. When we act in ways that go against our values this in itself causes anxiety, discomfort and tension because as humans we don’t like experiencing cognitive dissonance (having two opposing beliefs at a time).
For me what I found was that I wanted to act on these global issues and moving away from paralysis could help me realise this.
Now that’s a lot easier said than done you might think, and you’re right! We’re not going to solve issues like the climate crisis with a simple blog post. But today, I want to talk about soothing some of that anxiety so that you are not governed by fear but instead can step into what feels aligned with you and your values!
How to cope with eco-anxiety?
These are some of the things that have helped me:
Control the controllable
There are many factors that stand in the way of being the ‘perfect ethical consumer’, such as your finances or geographical situation. It’s important to realise these limitations whilst focusing on what you can control and seeing what fits into the scope of your life. Maybe you can thrift clothes instead of purchasing from sustainable brands to save a bit of money, or maybe you can join a local neighbourhood cleanup instead of becoming a full-time volunteer for a green charity? Baby steps.
2. Connect with nature
It can feel meaningful to be in touch with the nature around us, even if that means your small local park or taking a trip to the beach or visiting a forest further away. We know that not only does it improve our well being, it can also help us feel more present in the moment.
3. Take a break from climate news
This one is hard to avoid, I must admit. Even if you try, you might occasionally see an article or two come through on social media but if you really feel it’s heavily impacting your mental health it might be time to take a break from news outlets because it’s not serving you to stay informed just for the sake of staying informed, if it does nothing but weigh you down.
4. Focus on the positives.
“Oh if it was that easy, this wouldn’t be a problem for me! You don’t think I’ve tried this already?”
I hear you. It’s not that easy. However, as humans we have a negativity bias, which means we focus on and are more impacted by the negative things in life… great I know! But knowing this, means we can counteract it by making more space in our lives for more positive things. This might look like following a ‘good news’ outlet or making a list of some things to be grateful for.
You saw this one coming, I’m sure! The best way to soothe feelings of anxiety, whether it’s climate related or not, is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and prioritising your needs in the midst of it all. Do something you enjoy! Take a nap! Drink water!
6. You’re not alone!
As I mentioned above, this is a big one for me. Not only do you feel overly responsible, you also start to resent your human neighbour for their contribution to the climate crisis. Every piece of litter you see on the street sends you deeper into the pit of despair and you start to feel the pressure surmount.
But of course you are not alone; there are many people like you across the globe that care deeply about the world as you do. Connecting with these people can help you feel more empowered! There is hope when you come together to tackle this issue.
7. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
Regardless of how hard you try, sometimes you can’t shake this feeling so it’s best to talk it out with a loved one. Their support and understanding can make you feel less alone. However, if it is something that overwhelms you and starts impacting your daily life it might be worth exploring these feelings with a professional.
As @earthrise on Instagram says: “action is the antidote to anxiety”. Regardless of what it is you do, doing something helps!
It starts with taking care of you first; the ripple effects will follow.