Climate change triggered by various factors like global warming is currently bothering environmentalists and world leaders. It is a serious issue backed by relevant data and evidence. The irreversible effects of climate change on the environment pose a significant threat to global public health and even the habitability of the planet.
The recent climate catastrophes and natural disasters have resulted in negative psychological outcomes like severe distress among Millenials. This distress is termed Eco-anxiety and is the consequence of climate change. Eco-anxiety has become extremely common among teenagers and young adults taking the initiative to minimize the effects of climate change on the environment.
Eco-anxiety occurs when a person experiences intense anxiety and stress thinking about climate change and the environmental damage it causes. People who suffer from eco-anxiety worry about the environment excessively. Slowly, it becomes extremely difficult for them to function as they constantly live in a state of fear and panic.
Manifestation of eco-anxiety
Eco-anxiety manifests itself in a variety of ways. It is now common among young people who are disproportionately worried about climate change. The symptoms of eco-anxiety vary based on one’s personal experience with the effects of climate change. Some experts, however, do not regard eco-anxiety as a clinically diagnosable illness. Their reasoning for the same environmental notion is that the psychological response associated with the effects of climate change is simply a natural reaction to the potential environmental risks.
Population vulnerable to eco-anxiety
Most of the people who generally suffer from eco-anxiety are from countries that do not have the appropriate resources or tools to combat the direct effects of climate change. People who constantly witness the damaging effects of climate change firsthand and routinely consume media that covers climate change are more likely to suffer from eco-anxiety than the general population. Government inactivity and adverse industrial activities have also fueled eco-anxiety in environmentally conscious people.
Effects of eco-anxiety
Eco-anxiety can damage a person’s mental health and overall well-being. Chronic stress and anxiety can push people into severe depression and hopelessness. Eco-anxiety can also render individuals unable to function in their daily lives. Eco-anxiety is distinct from other types of environmental anxiety because it can lead to an existential crisis. People with eco-anxiety become hopeless because they cannot solve the issue themselves. Moreover, they believe that government intervention is extremely limited in this area.
Symptoms of eco-anxiety
Eco-anxiety is a form of environmental anxiety that affects everyone differently. Common symptoms of eco-anxiety include severe distress, tension, sleep difficulties, hopelessness, substance abuse, aggression, excessive nervousness and worry, and so on. People with eco-anxiety may feel suffocated in some cases when they feel like they cannot control anything. They may feel a significant sense of remorse about the current state of the planet, which can exacerbate their future and their children’s future on earth.
Tips for handling eco-anxiety
Think optimistically: Pessimistic views will make a person demoralized and demotivated. It could seriously hamper our growth and emotional well-being. You should be optimistic regarding the future of our planet. Take actions that can reduce the feeling of powerlessness and guilt. Optimistic thoughts can significantly reduce the negative emotions that people experience due to climate crisis.
Connect with nature more People suffering from eco-anxiety need to avoid sitting idly and spending most of the time indoors as it can do more harm than good in the long run. Connecting with nature more frequently can help alleviate some amount of anxiety related to environmental damage. Try visiting places that offer a serene and peaceful environment that will instigate some positive experiences with the environment. Grounding techniques are a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Similarly, incorporating healthy habits like journaling and meditation into your lifestyle to track negative thoughts can help you achieve a stable emotional reaction towards the environment.
Be active: An active lifestyle can significantly help reduce your anxiety. People suffering from anxiety will also experience depression at some point. The same applies to eco-anxiety. Regular physical exercise can help lower stress, anxiety, and depression. As a result, you will start to feel more energetic and motivated. An active lifestyle can also alter mood by keeping you focused and attentive. Having an active lifestyle will make you more optimistic, and thus you can combat anxiety effectively.
Get educated: There are a lot of myths and fake news circulating on the internet regarding climate change. Some of these myths contribute to the increasing paranoia that people with eco-anxiety generally experience. Therefore, we must educate ourselves on climate change to understand the problem better. Using credible sources of information to educate yourself will help you get accurate and reliable information on climate change. Having the proper knowledge can also help prepare you to face challenges during an unfortunate environmental crisis. It can also help you be resilient and empower your community.
The term eco-anxiety has gained popularity in the mainstream media in recent years. It is a cause for concern as it is a danger to global public health. The term has also drawn interest from researchers around the world. However, due to a lack of research, there is no clinical diagnosis available for eco-anxiety.
Extensive research that employs a variety of approaches and incorporates populations who are particularly affected by climate change is required. The global fear reaction that climate change elicits, particularly in individuals living in impoverished countries that lack appropriate resources to combat climate-related calamities and indigenous populations, needs to be comprehended and addressed immediately.