Caring about the health of the planet and acting sustainably is without question very fulfilling. But it can get tough at times – many of us occasionally experience something called “climate anxiety”. Climate or eco anxiety is defined as a ”fear about the current and predicted future state of the environment caused by human-induced climate change” (Wikipedia). This is a completely reasonable and common reaction to the global crisis we’re facing.
But worrying about climate change can get to a point where it reduces our productivity, motivation and ability to focus on actually improving the state of things. That’s why today I want to share 5 ways to stay optimistic about the environment and alleviate the feelings of guilt and helplessness that often come with climate anxiety.
5 Ways to Cope with Climate Anxiety
1. Make A List
Feeling overwhelmed by the sustainable lifestyle and being under the impression that you’re failing or not doing enough is something most of us have experienced at some point. This is something I personally find helpful: write down all the things you’re doing for the environment and take a look at all the effort you’re already putting into helping our planet. It’s probably much more than you expected, right?
Environmentalism is a journey and ultimate sustainability isn’t achieved overnight. By not pressuring yourself, you’re more likely to stick with the changes you make to your lifestyle and less likely to feel overwhelmed. Progress over perfection!
2. Recognise you’re not the main culprit
The media and concepts such as the “personal ecological footprint” trick us into thinking that we are the main cause of global warming. This causes us to feel extremely guilty and diverts the blame from the actual culprit.
While individuals are a big part of climate change and the fight against it, the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gases is emitted by fossil fuel companies and mega corporations such as China Coal, BP or ExxonMobil. They’re the main drivers of global warming along with factory farming and fast fashion.
These large-scale issues are neither our fault nor 100% in our control. The best we can do to help is vote with our voices and dollars, sign petitions and donate to environmental organizations aiming to boycott these huge corporations. Hold corporations accountable instead of letting them guilt-trip you!
3.Change your internet usage
Staying informed about climate change is important, but instead of constantly looking at bad news, try to also celebrate the good news. There are multiple social media accounts that share good environmental news, which will help shift your focus to more positive global developments in the fight against climate change.
4. Connect with Others
Anxiety makes us feel like we’re going through something alone, but climate change is just the opposite of that. We’re all experiencing it and it will affect all of us eventually, which means most of us are probably also experiencing anxiety about it. You’re definitely not the only one.
Reach out to your friends and family to talk about climate anxiety, global warming and sustainability! Sharing your environmentalism and connecting with others also happens to be a great way to increase your positive impact on the environment and create a movement.
5. Take Breaks
Don’t forget that it’s impossible to care about everything all the time! If you feel like constantly stressing about being sustainable is taking away from your quality of life, you can and should take a break and do some things you enjoy without any pressure. You’ll be more motivated to continue your sustainable journey afterwards!