Climate change feels like an insurmountable challenge for all of us right now, and with daily updates in the media about the state of the planet, it’s unsurprising that eco-anxiety is on the rise. In particular, eco-anxiety is something affecting younger people who are feeling intense worry and depression about the climate crisis.
It’s understandable that we should be feeling this way with so much to contend with. But positive action can feel harder to achieve when you’re struggling with your mental health. So, with that in mind, how can you manage your symptoms of anxiety?
What is eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety was dubbed in 2017 as ‘a chronic fear of environmental doom’ by the American Psychiatric Association. While it’s not an officially diagnosable condition, mental health professionals are aware of the impact that it can have on a person’s wellbeing and psychological health.
This can manifest as reduced feelings of autonomy and control, feeling helpless and fearful, aggressive, or as depression. It can cause chronic stress and may also lead to people experiencing general symptoms of anxiety, such as sleep problems, trouble concentrating, fatigue, nervousness or panic attacks. For those already struggling with mental health disorders, the worry surrounding the environment may exacerbate their symptoms.
Tips for managing eco-anxiety
Understanding how to manage your symptoms of anxiety in a healthy way is the first step to tackling your condition and avoiding it overwhelming you. Here are some of our tips for taking positive action to control climate-related anxiety.
Learn to recognise your anxiety as a reasonable and entirely natural reaction to what’s going on around you. You’re certainly not alone in feeling worry or concern for the environment – in fact, millions of people around the world are having the same fears as you are. It’s easy to worry that you’re not doing enough or that you’re not living up to the perfect standards you may have set for yourself. But understand that any positive action you take is beneficial and that no-one can do it all on their own. Focus on what’s within your control and try to be kind to yourself.
Speak to someone about how you’re feeling. Counselling can be a great way to manage anxiety symptoms, whether you choose in-person sessions or online counselling, enabling you to see a different perspective on the situation and learn what your triggers are. A trained professional will be able to teach you techniques for managing your symptoms more effectively too, such as CBT techniques to help you gain control over anxiety attacks and symptoms of worry and fear.
Educate yourself on the issues and what you can do to make a difference, but don’t dwell on the doom and gloom of the situation, as this may make your anxiety and mental health worse. Instead, focus on joining groups where you can work with other likeminded people or take part in group activities that are designed to have a positive impact.
It’s also worth taking time to invest in your mental and physical wellbeing, as this will boost your mood. Getting active has been proven to help with anxiety and depression, along with spending time in nature, doing relaxing hobbies and activities, and nurturing in-person relationships with those around you who can offer support when you need it.
Climate change is a real concern and something that we all play our part in resolving. But for some of us, the stress and uncertainty of the situation can become consuming, leading to intense stress and poor mental health. From talking to a professional or someone you trust to taking positive action, getting educated on the ways you can make a difference, and investing in self-care to alleviate your anxiety, you can manage your symptoms in a healthier way.
KlearMinds offer a range of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy services to help individuals and couples with their mental health, relationships and career concerns. Contact the team today to book an appointment or for further information.
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