Dealing with eco anxiety
What is eco anxiety?
Eco anxiety (also known as ‘eco distress’ and ‘eco grief’) describes the wide range of negative thoughts and emotions people may experience when they hear about the global challenges our planet is facing. It can include an overwhelming sense of hopelesness and doom.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists describe a range of emotions such as
feeling anxious, worried, upset, scared, sad, angry, distressed, vulnerable, or unsure about the future. Research by Marks et al. 2021 showed the impact of eco anxiety among young people aged 16-25.
Watch these short videos by psychotherapist Ro Randall on Coping with the Climate Crisis (2020) to help understand and accept these intense feelings.
How to deal with eco anxiety
First, it is important to acknowledge that these feelings are rational and show how much you care.
Secondly, people should be allowed to express their distress about the climate crisis. It is important to listen to each other.
Consider joining a climate café (see below), which offer safe, informal spaces for people to talk about their feelings, fears & uncertainties about the climate and ecological crises.
In the words of We Are Possible, “The best remedy to climate despair is to take action, together.”
Explore this website to make a difference in reducing carbon emissions and protecting Nature. You will be joining millions of others across the world..
Sign up to We Are Possible - a UK based organisation who “face our climate dread with a can-do attitude and sense of fun” for practical actions and approaches.
The Climate Majority Project is enabling mass citizen-led climate action across the UK, connecting people across social, political and strategic boundaries, and building communities so that the climate majority can find their power and voice. “Most people sense that we’re in deep trouble with climate change, and they want to do something. We help projects to grow, get funding, and connect with as many willing hands as possible… Join us in creating the future you want, wherever you are, however you can, with all that you’ve got."
The Climate Optimist newsletter, by Marcy Franck from Harvard University is based on the premise that “Climate optimism isn’t about denying what we can see or ignoring our grief for what we’ve lost. It’s understanding the fact that we know how to prevent things from getting worse, that we are making real progress... [and that climate action is] about making our lives better.”
Check out this book “How to Live in a Chaotic Climate: 10 Steps to Reconnect with Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our Planet” (2023) By Laura Schmidt, Aimee Lewis Reau, Chelsie Rivera “Eco-distress is real. How to Live in a Chaotic Climate is here to help you rediscover meaning, joy, and connection as the tumult around us increases. Based on the Good Grief Network’s acclaimed 10 Steps to Resilience and Empowerment in a Chaotic Climate program, this book unpacks the social, political, and spiritual nuances of the climate emergency, step by step"
Listen to this 10 mins segment about Eco-grief and anxiety on BBC4 Women's Hour (broadcast 15/6/23) in which climate scientist turned campaigner Jen Newall from the Climate Majority Project, talks about how growing numbers of people are experiencing eco-grief and anxiety and explores what exactly is the impact on people and how we can turn the tables and help people to feel more hopeful about the environment.
Climate cafés: Joining with others to support one another
Online Climate Cafés facilitate talking and listening to people who share your concerns and who want to take action.
The Climate Psychology Alliance (of therapeutic practitioners, researchers, artists and others) hold regular climate cafés online each month. Follow this Eventbrite link to find a date that suits you.
Consider starting a climate café in your area: Contact Climate Café® who have been running climate cafes across Scotland and in Solihull for seven years. They love to share ideas, support and guidance and can connect you with others to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive venue.