Eco-Friendly Living · Mental Health

What Is Climate-Anxiety? How To Cope With Eco-Anxiety

Although I’m not a mental health professional, I do have my fair share of lived experience, so I’m more than familiar with eco-anxiety. I try to live as green as possible, but it’s hard to be hopeful when world leaders seemingly don’t take the climate crisis seriously, and celebrities would rather hop on a private jet than sit in traffic for a few minutes like the rest of us. So, what is climate anxiety, and how do you cope?

Eco-anxiety definition: Eco-anxiety, or climate-anxiety, is defined as stress or chronic fear associated with climate change and the impact it will have on our world & lives. So, is eco-anxiety a mental illness? Eco-anxiety is not classes a mental illness, but symptoms of eco-anxiety can still be incredibly distressing.

Climate Change Doesn’t Impact Everyone Equally

people holding banner reading "climate justice" at climate protest, as part of "eco-anxiety tips"
Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen on Pexels.com

To be blunt, we can’t exactly therapize away what are systemic issues; like climate change, or poverty, transphobia and homophobia or racism etc. They are real, tangible issues and very much “not in your head.” Plus, the climate crisis doesn’t effect everyone equally, it disproportionally, people living in poverty and people of colour. So, not everyone is going to feel eco-distress of climate anxiety the same.

While you can learn coping mechanisms, it would be very out of touch with me to suggest that we can just recycle a plastic bottle and our eco-anxiety symptoms will just magically alleviate. There are lots of systems to dismantle if we’re actually going to fix this.

Remember, I’m not a mental health professional, I’m just someone with lived experience sharing what works for me – and it may not work for you. If you’re struggling with your mental health, please seek the help of a professional. With that said, here are the eco-anxiety resources that helped me to cope with eco-anxiety.

My Tips On How To Cope With Eco-Anxiety

Remember That Changes Are Being Made

I’m as frustrated as the next person; it feels like very few people – especially those in power are taking the climate crisis as seriously as they should be. With that said, there have at least been some changes made.

  • There are 193 parties in the Paris Agreement – which means, 193 states and the European Union.
  • The ozone layer is healing.
  • The Earth is greener than it was 20 years ago; mostly thanks to India and China’s efforts.
  • More people are going vegan or reducing animal products in their diets.

It’s Not Your Fault

Climate guilt is one of the main eco-anxiety causes, but the thing is, it’s not your fault. That’s no to say that were not responsible for our actions. We should strive to live greener lives. If we all collectively make a positive change, it all adds up, but, the bulk of the problem is on big players like corporations, politicians and those with the resources to do better, seemingly choosing the most polluting ways to spend their money.

Avoid Doom Scrolling

person holding iphone showing social networks folder - as part of "how to cope with eco-anziety: avoid doomscrolling"
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed I’m not retweeting as many bad news climate stories as I used to. Staying informed is important. However, doom scrolling is not doing anyone any favours.

At this point, I know what’s at stake, I know what a future with no action will look like. I do not need to read essentially the same bad news over and over again. Otherwise, you just end up too paralyzed by fear to do anything.

Do Your Best, But Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

I used to feel awful if I accidently lost something or broke something, like a French press or reusable bottle, and had to buy a replacement. Is there an impact? Of course. Is one broken French press going to end the world? No.

It’s Okay To Treat Yourself

I’m pretty stingy with myself but for awhile, I just was not letting myself have nice things because they weren’t the greenest thing ever. Everything has an environmental impact, but at the same time are you really gonna never drink tea or coffee again and then watch influencers replace their entire wardrobe every time a new microtrend comes in?

Make greener choices, avoid impulse buying or over consumption ,but you’re not a bad person for not wanting to suck all the joy out of your life.

Call Out Green Washing

Green washing is so frustrating because so many people fall for it. Greenwashing is when something is presented as eco-friendly when it’s actually not or is not as eco-friendly as it seems.

Since environmentalism is trendy at the moment, businesses are cashing in. It’s great that much of the general public wants to be greener, but we can’t make meaningful change when capitalism refuses to. So, when you see green washing, warn your loved ones who are falling for it and call out the brand for being inauthentic.

Focus On The Now

woman sitting on tree
Photo by Raffa Silva on Pexels.com

Being so caught up in the future (which I will admit, I struggle to imagine a future that’s not bleak) isn’t productive. I know all too well that it’s very hard to stay in the moment.

Think of it this way; when you’re thinking too far ahead you can’t appreciate the current moment, and you’re also to paralysed by fear to do something productive anyway. The future will come, there’s no point living through it twice – or multiple times – because you were never in the moment now.

Direct Your Anger At The Right Sources

it’s natural to be angry. I am, I feel like we’ve been handed a doomed planet while the people the least responsible will face the most consequences. Direct your anger at the people doing the most harm.

Do not target disabled people for needing plastic straws, or average people who do not have the means to go fully zero-waste or vegan. We need to start holding people accountable, but hold the right people accountable. Getting angry at the average Joe who just wants to enjoy nice things every now and then is not how to get people rooting for the cause – it just puts them off and creates resentment.

Don’t Repress Your Feelings

It’s okay to be overwhelmed, and scared, but you’ll explode if you just bottle them up. Find people to talk to, journal, or find creative mediums to release your feelings. Joan Jett released a climate song, 12 years ago!

Join Eco-Anxiety Support Groups

If you can find any eco-anxiety support groups in your area, consider joining. If there’s none near you, might consider setting it up yourself or finding an online group. This is a space to vent, make new friends, pool together eco-anxiety resources, and also consider taking action together.

The Bottom Line On How To Cope With Eco-Anxiety & Climate Distress

Do you experience symptoms of eco-anxiety? If so, I hope these eco-anxiety resources were somewhat helpful. What do you do to cope with eco-distress or climate-anxiety?

If you want to take action, check out my guides on eco-friendly apartment living, sustainable period products, eco-goth living, upcycling old clothes, and how to be green on a budget or how to be green without going vegan. I also made a list of my favorite climate charities.

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