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Climate anxiety: What it is and how to cope

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Climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, refers to worry or distress related to climate change.

Feeling worried about the future of the planet? There are a range of ways to deal with climate anxiety and even channel it into positive climate action.

What is climate anxiety?

Climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, refers to worry or distress related to climate change. It’s a totally rational psychological and emotional response to the range of environmental crises we face – from rising temperatures and extreme weather events to deforestation and species extinction. 

Climate anxiety can manifest in various ways, including feelings of helplessness, sadness, anger or even guilt for our own perceived contribution to environmental damage.

Is climate anxiety normal?

Feeling anxious about the ecological crises we face is entirely understandable, given the scale of the threats. It also reflects a deep concern for the world around us.

If you are experiencing anxiety about the climate, you are not alone. Google searches related to climate anxiety increased more than 4,500% over the past five years. One of the most commonly Googled questions was “How to deal with climate anxiety?” That’s actually good news, because it indicates the growing awareness of the emotional and physical impact of climate anxiety.

How to deal with anxiety involving the climate

The range of environmental issues the world is confronting means that climate anxiety is not going to go away. But there are a range of strategies that can help you deal with your feelings. 

Talking out your emotions with friends, family or a climate-aware therapist can address the specific anxiety stemming from concerns about the plight of the planet. You may discover that the people around you are worried too. Research shows that Americans underestimate the national population’s concern for the state of the climate and support for major climate mitigation policies by a staggering 80-90%. 

Spending time in nature is especially good for reducing anxiety and promoting well-being. In addition, taking small steps towards living a more sustainable lifestyle – such as reducing waste or adopting eco-friendly habits – can provide a sense of empowerment, with knock-on benefits for mental health.

Turning your fears into climate action

Although climate anxiety can be debilitating for some people, it can also be a powerful motivator for action. From supporting environmental initiatives to committing to a lifestyle change like eating less meat, we can all become part of the solution and transform climate anxiety into a driving force for positive change. As climate activist Greta Thunberg reminds us, no one is too small to make a difference.

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