In recent times, the world has been bombarded with intercontinental ballistic missiles of truth on climate change and its backdrop, the climate crisis. Such truths have been subjected to diverse interpretations by many but not all. Some people are still en route to addressing the patterns of change and realities on ground; to wit, experiencing eco-anxiety.
Image credit: www.psd.gov.sg
What is Eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety / climate change anxiety is an occurrence where one experiences distress in response to the effects of climate change. This happens because the said individual becomes worried that in the grand scheme of things, the future remains uncertain.
It isn’t a mental illness but can present with feelings of guilt, anger, grief or shame. Such emotions can then affect the mood, behaviour or thinking of the sufferer.
In sightings by CER on the issue:
“A global study has found that young people are suffering “profound psychological distress” due to climate change and government inaction on the crisis.
Some 45% of the 10,000 young people surveyed across 10 countries in the study said anxiety and distress over the climate crisis was affecting their daily life and ability to function.
Three-quarters of respondents aged 16-25 felt that the “future is frightening,” while 64% of young people said that governments were not doing enough to avoid a climate crisis.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of young people felt betrayed by governments and 61% said governments were not protecting them, the planet or future generations.
The authors have warned that, “Such high levels of distress, functional impact and feelings of betrayal will inevitably impact the mental health of children and young people.”
The study is said to be the first large-scale research of its kind, and was led by academics from the U.K.’s University of Bath and the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health among others. – www.cnbc.com
In an article titled The Psychology of Climate Anxiety written by Joseph Dodds,
“Climate anxiety can lead to symptoms such as panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability, weakness and sleeplessness.”
Such feelings in CER’s view can lead to violent / aggressive behaviour over time if bottled up.
More recently however, University of Bath environmental psychologist Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh is quoted to have said that:
“People who are really aware of climate change may be more motivated to take action.”
Her research has found a link between climate concerns and taking effective action, including reducing carbon footprint by cutting down on waste or buying second-hand. – www.bbc.com
Being anxious in light of climate change / the climate crisis is perfectly normal. One’s body has simply found a physiological stressor that needs attention, and attention can be given to the said stressor by way of taking action. Consider this a phone call to which one either picks or hangs up. To pick the call means taking action and vice versa.
It is important to understand that, in taking action no effort is insignificant. Little drops of water will make a mighty ocean.
If you experience climate change anxiety, you can consider:
*Understanding that you aren’t alone.
*Sleeping extra well.
*Looking for and focussing on positive news in regards of climate change mitigation.
*Going outdoors often and spending time with nature.
*Talking about it with friends / family.
*Joining a support group.
*Joining an environmental cause / taking environmental actions.
*Fighting for climate justice.
*Supporting legislation that seeks to address the matter.
Although not exhaustive, doing the above said would lead to one taking action. Such actions represent the response to one’s call.
N.B. If eco-anxiety starts to interfere severely with your normal daily life, then its time to see a doctor.
Find resource materials at:
Young people’s voices on climate anxiety, government betrayal and moral injury: a global phenomenon: https://deliverypdf.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=412117110095127126123078075098001011054024001018005001005058036063122099060087015082003057027002061011114008105124111070117077021071111073064087022087082069001011028009011094066046001123111117104052103097081041014088100105101106074086009012005127091093110086065030066030106024088120008096025&EXT=pdf&INDEX=TRUE
The Psychology of Climate Anxiety: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8499625/#:~:text=Climate%20anxiety%20can%20lead%20to,whether%20they%20themselves%20feel%20too
Climate anxiety: What predicts it and how is it related to climate action?: https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/publications/climate-anxiety-what-predicts-it-and-how-is-it-related-to-climate