How to handle climate anxiety
Thinking about the climate crisis can be overwhelming. Here are ways to handle it.
Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing young people in the world today. It can be very overwhelming to think about issues around global warming and climate change, especially for activists and those who spend a lot of time protesting these issues. This can lead to eco-anxiety.
It can be hard to look to the future when you know that there are challenging times ahead. Making changes, speaking up, attending protests and sharing information with others are all really important in the fight to reduce the impacts of climate change, but it’s also important to take care of yourself too. We can’t look after the planet if we’re not also looking after ourselves.
What is climate anxiety?
Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, can be experienced by people who are worried about the future of the planet because of the climate crisis. People experiencing climate anxiety might feel overwhelmed by the problems we are facing, or fearful about the future of the planet.
Climate anxiety is becoming more common as more young people get involved with climate action. It's important to remember that you're not alone, and to talk to someone about how you're feeling.
How to deal with climate anxiety
Here are some ways to handle feelings of stress or anxiety when thinking about climate change:
Focus on what you can control
Climate change is a hugely complex issue, and it’s too much for any one person, company or even government to solve on their own. Although that can sometimes feel disheartening, it is also a good reminder to focus on what is in your control, rather than what isn’t. This can be something small, like avoiding meat once a week or choosing to wear the clothes you already have instead of buying something new. Or it could be something bigger, like attending a march or setting up a green committee in your school, college, or workplace. Whatever it is, try not to put too much pressure on yourself, and remember you can’t change everything - but you can make changes in your own way.
Take time out from climate news
Spending your time scrolling news sites or following climate accounts on social media might help to keep you informed, but it can really weigh down on your mental health. If it’s getting to feel like too much, take time out. The news and updates will all be there when you return, but stepping away for a few hours - or even a few days - will not change what’s happening in the world, and you don’t need to be plugged into the news 24/7.
Think about the positives
It’s easy to get caught up in negative news and worrying statistics when it comes to climate change, but it helps to remember that there are lots of people working to solve this issue, and there are positives out there. Remember that you’re part of a community, follow accounts that share updates from climate leaders making a difference in their communities, and try to keep up with websites like Happy Eco News to keep up with the positives.
Take time for self care
Stepping away from the latest climate updates is also a good time to check in with yourself. Make sure there is space in your week to do things that you enjoy, whether that’s getting out in nature, reading a book, working on a hobby, or watching TV. Whatever it is, it’s important to make that space for you. Here are some ideas for self care.
Remember you’re not alone in this fight
Although it can sometimes feel this way, you are not alone in the fight against climate change. There are people all across the world working towards the same goals that you are, and they are all feeling the same things as you. Try to connect with others in this space, whether that’s by joining a local activist group in your area, or a club in your school or college, or connecting with others online. Reminding yourself that there are others who care about the planet as much as you can help you to feel hopeful, supported, and give you the encouragement to keep moving forward.
Talk to someone about how you’re feeling
Climate anxiety is a very real thing, and it is not something you need to go through alone. If these feelings of stress and anxiety are really getting to you and affecting your life in other ways, then it’s important to talk to someone about it. Reach out to a friend or family member, or consider getting in touch with a counsellor to help you work through these feelings.
If you need to talk to someone right now, you can get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service:
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
This article was created as part of the Youth Climate Justice Challenge – a consortium project with ECO-UNESCO, SpunOut, Irish Girl Guides, Girls Brigade, No Name Club and Youth Irish Filmmakers and supported by the Dept. of Children and Youth Affairs.