I think that one of the keys to fighting the climate crisis is empowering every single individual who is willing to do their bit for our little planet.
But there’s a problem. Feeling empowered and in control is hard (read: quasi-impossible) when we’re faced daily with bad news galore. This is something that doesn’t help transform fear into action.
In this situation is easy to feel small and powerless. But I’m not here today to repeat what you already know, I’m here to talk about what this feeling is all about and how you can cope with it in order to regain your ambition to change the world.
What is eco-anxiety?
A while back eco-anxiety was the buzzword and now other topics are overshadowing it, but that doesn’t mean that this feeling is any less common or necessary to talk about.
The APA gives a very simple definition of eco-anxiety: a chronic fear of environmental doom.
The thing with fear is that it can be paralizing, and that helplessness feeds our anxiety. For me, what scared me the most was thinking that there was nothing I could do to change our situation.
I remember when I learned that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all carbon emissions. Yuck. This brought me down a very dark spiral, but then I made myself believe that there’s always something I can do, even when things seem to be completely out of my control. Maybe it’s with everyday conscious actions, or maybe it’s by addressing the big picture and becoming an activist and holding these companies accountable.
No matter how big or small your actions are, the important thing is that they’re in the right direction.
Coping with this fear looks different for everyone and you need to find your perfect way of dealing with it all without falling into the trap of denial and toxic positivity. I also want you to check in with yourself and if this feeling gets overbearing, please seek professional help. These are the humble tips that have helped me and people I know to deal with this and regain control.
Coping with eco-anxiety
1. Know the facts but don’t let them consume you
Being informed is great and, of course, you shouldn’t run away from the news or any conversation related to climate change. But at the same time, I understand that bad news day in and day out can get too heavy.
The best thing you can do is finding a balance between staying informed and taking care of yourself.
In this sense, knowing the facts and accepting how things are is very important: this is the first step towards actually doing something. But also remember to put yourself and your mental health first, so don’t hesitate to take breaks from social media or the news – we all need and deserve them at some point.
2. Be selective with the content you consume
Anything from social media accounts you follow to news outlets you read. If any of those have a toxic effect on you, they’re not worth following.
Think about what triggers your eco-anxiety. Is there a social media account you follow that drags you down? Maybe the newspaper you read just focus on the bad?
We live in a time when content is everything, so we have to be selective and choose what’s really best for us to stay up to date without losing our mind.
3. Look on the bright side
Getting discouraged by bad news is quite easy, so it’s important to remind ourselves that there’s something good happening every day.
Without forgetting reality, try to look at the positive side of things. If you know where to look, finding good news is actually easy!
I write a weekly newsletter about positive eco news and it’s one of the things keeping me sane. This makes me research once a week about good things happening in the world of sustainable fashion, innovations and projects fighting climate change. If you’re not receiving in yet you can subscribe at the bottom of this page.
4. Keep learning
Read books, watch documentaries,…if you have the chance, take online courses or choose college classes related to the environment.
I know that sometimes films or books can make us feel more hopeless, that’s why you have to choose wisely. I have curated these two lists on inspiring documentaries and books about the environment that can help you.
5. Talk about it
Find people that might be going through (or have gotten over) the same and talk about it. Expressing openly our fears and analysing them very often helps us rationalise them, so give this a try.
Social media can be truly amazing for these things. I found my little group of friends on Instagram and I know I can talk with them about these things whenever I feel eco-anxiety kicking in. So find your inspiring group of pals online or in-person to talk about things.
Maybe, who knows, you’ll even find a group of likeminded people to get things off your chest and end up creating some kind of cool initiative to do your bit for the planet!
6. Get moving
This is where things get exciting. If you put your energy towards fighting the problem instead of sulking over it, magic happens.
Do something that can help erase the root of your fears: get politically involved, make more responsible purchases, act local, greenify your lifestyle, vote, protest, learn how recycling works in your area,…
Options are endless, so just choose your best fit.
No matter how small you think your contribution is at the beginning, as long as you keep up and try to outdo yourself overtime.