Understand and Cope with Climate Anxiety
Between devastating wildfires, heat waves, hurricanes, flooding, and the constant rappel that our planet is in danger, we’re all feeling worried about the future of our planet, for our kids and grandkids.
We cannot ignore the problem, or let our emotions “boil inside.” It won’t ease our burden.
According to Psychology Today, climate anxiety is emerging as a serious mental health concern, particularly among children, teens and young adults, with symptoms ranging from frustration to unrelenting anxiety.
The symptoms are:
• Feeling overwhelmed about environmental issues
• Excessive worry about the future
• Obsession about environmental news, weather forecast, recycling and waste
• Feeling anger, frustration, guilt, shame, stress
• Fatigue, headache, chest pain, lack of sleep
Climate change is happening, and the feeling of eco-anxiety is real. Here are some tips to cope with it and make a difference.
It’s OK Not to Be OK
First of all, understanding and accepting that these feelings and symptoms are normal responses is important. What is happening is scary and overwhelming. Feeling concerned and hopeless is expected; it means you care about the planet.
When you have accepted this feeling, avoid catastrophizing and being trapped in negative thoughts. This will only intensify your feelings of powerlessness and hopeless state of mind.
Instead, try the “17-second method” to attract positive thoughts and find the strength to take action. What Is The 17-Second Manifestation Rule? The theory behind this rule is to get you to think and focus purely for 17 seconds.
David Curran of Our Subconscious Mind says that according to Abraham Hicks, we have the power to place our attention wherever we want, and we can direct our attention from something unwanted and put it back on something we desire. “When you hold a thought for 17 seconds, you are setting it in motion for manifestation,” Curran says.
Imagine a Better Place
• Find a quiet and distraction-free spot
• Take a few deep breaths, get into a positive headspace
• When you feel good, choose one thing to manifest Set up a timer for 17 seconds Focus on a positive image about the environment or manifest for 17 seconds, associate this image with a positive emotion: focus entirely on this one task and don’t allow anything to appear in your mind.
• When the timer goes off, set it up for 51 seconds: allow the thought to be more detailed and more intense for the rest of the 51 seconds.
• Show gratitude and go on with your day, or maybe set up an action.
Connect with Others
Be reassured that there is nothing wrong with you, and many people are struggling with eco-anxiety. Talking, sharing, and connecting with other like-minded people can reduce feelings of climate anxiety. Also, connecting with people and organizations that protect the environment will give you support and make you feel less alone. It will even boost your resilience and increase your positive thoughts.
Taking Action Is a Good Remedy to Climate Anxiety
• Start with individual actions and stick to them.
• Gather information and data about your personal green habits.
• Do a trash audit.
• Understand your consumption habit.
• Calculate your carbon footprint.
• Get informed and educate yourself.
• Adopt new green practices, like recycling, reusing, and walking, that align with your values.
Share the Love
Take action as a family, talk and extend these green habits to your friends, community, your school, and beyond. You will see the “ripple effect” work its magic.
Know When to Take a Break
This journey to overcome eco-anxiety is not a sprint but a marathon.
Ask for Help
Overcoming climate anxiety demands swift changes in your daily lifestyle, but it is emotional work. That work can be heavy to carry on our own, and a therapist can often provide a safe place to gain confidence, self-compassion and clarity.
We do have only one planet; we all care about it; we all feel the same, and together we can support each other and make a difference.
Have compassion for yourself and others. Be consistent and patient — we often are our worst judges. Do what you can with what you have and when you can!
Aline Bloch is the owner of Aline’s Cardboard and Out of the Box Eco-Store and a Central Park resident.