Have you heard of Climate Anxiety? It's a term that's been gaining more attention and being used on social media platforms in the last year. Living with or experiencing climate anxiety looks like feelings of overwhelm, worry, and experiencing panic attacks over the climate crisis and the potential effects it could have on our future. Even though the effects of a changing climate may not be felt immediately, the looming threat of climate destruction can activate feelings of helplessness and dread for many people, especially the younger generations.
Climate anxiety is a real and intense psychological experience brought about by the awareness of the potentially destabilizing effects of climate change. Experts say that climate anxiety isn't specifically a diagnosis, but is instead an emotional response to the climate crisis. As we all observe the impacts of global warming take shape around us, we can become more anxious and fearful about the potential consequences.
For a variety of reasons, young people are more likely to feel the effects of this intense emotional response to the climate crisis. For one, they are more likely to be more deeply aware of climate change's dangers than those from older generations. They are also more likely to be envisioning a future in which these potential threats could become reality. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness on top of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information available and the speed at which the climate is changing.
The good news is there are ways to live with and manage climate anxiety, and here are a few tips to get you started:
1. First, accept what you can and cannot change regarding climate change. Empower yourself and engage in steps to care for the environment yourself starting at home. This could look like planting a garden, starting a compost food waste, and using renewable energy sources (small changes such as light bulbs, plug in adapters to larger changes such as solar panels). Making small environment changes in your home are all great ways to make a positive impact in the world and your mental health.
2. Get involved with a pro-environmental community group. Working with others who share the same goals of environmental protection can empower everyone to take action and heal together.
3. Seek out ways to take care of yourself during this time. Look for activities that help your body relax, like yoga, walking, meditation, or sitting in nature. Take breaks from media consumption and allow time for self-reflection and just being.
Finally, reach out to mental health professionals who specialize in facilitating healing from climate anxiety. A Melanated Wellness, LLC therapist can help you determine the root causes of your anxiety and come up with methods to help calm your spirit and free your mind.