It is not hard to see the effects of climate change. Whether you notice the hotter temperatures, you have been the victim of a natural disaster, or you just turn on the news, you will see that our planet is taking a turn for the worse and we need to make changes to preserve our way of life.
The severity of climate change is causing people an extraordinary amount of stress, so much so that many are developing a new ailment known as eco-anxiety. If climate change is causing you a noticeable amount of stress, then you may be personally affected.
Here are a few ways to maintain your mental health during these changing times.
What is Eco-Anxiety?
Depression, anxiety, and similar mental health issues can develop for several reasons, from working too hard to losing a loved one, and now the condition of our ecosystem could also be a trigger. It could occur because you have been personally affected by a storm or wildfire, or it could be that you are simply concerned about what the future holds for our planet.
Whatever the reason, if you feel this way, you are not alone. In fact, therapists see new cases of eco-anxiety every day, and they are actively looking for innovative methods to help those afflicted by these negative feelings.
There is also the chance that the eco-disaster itself could cause anxiety or depression. For example, during the crisis in Flint, Michigan, from 2014 to 2019, the local water supply was polluted with lead. When people drink poor quality water, it can lead to serious bacterial diseases, and when you feel physically sick, it can also impact your mind frame and mental health and make you more depressed about the environment in general.
Managing Your Mental Health
If you are an individual who has been personally impacted by an environmental disaster, then it is likely you are still working through that existing trauma. If so, it is important to get the help you need. Schedule an appointment with a therapist or try an online app that can provide mental health assistance. If you don’t feel comfortable in either of these circumstances, then at a minimum, talk to your close friends or family members so you don’t leave these feelings bottled up.
When it comes to managing your anxiety, you need to know the triggers. For climate change, the main trigger could simply be turning on the news as there is almost always a story about a dangerous storm or rising temperatures. Instead, spend that time doing things that truly make you happy, such as reading your favourite book or trying a new hobby that keeps your mind busy, like woodworking or solving complex puzzles.
Even if you try to avoid it, it is still inevitable that you will think of climate change at some point during your day. When you do, consider a mindful exercise like yoga or meditation that will put your entire body at ease. You can also try breathing exercises when you are feeling especially stressed.
You Can Make a Difference
Once you begin to feel better, you can take your fear of climate change and charge it head-on by making differences in your own life that could benefit our planet. Not only will you feel accomplished, but your mental health will also benefit. If you are overwhelmed by how much you can do, instead focus on starting with small, manageable tasks.
For instance, you can choose to walk or ride your bike to work or school instead of driving. A good way to eliminate unnecessary waste is to buy a reusable water bottle instead of using disposable cups. You can even take this one step further and explore other innovative plastic pollution solutions. You can also conserve energy as you go about your life at home. Turn off lights in rooms you’ve left, don’t leave the TV on unless you are actively watching it, and if possible, consider installing solar panels on your home, which will use much less energy than your connection to the utility company.
If you really want to go all out, you could even make a career change to a job position that focuses on sustainability or public health. One career option would be to become a wastewater treatment plant operator that would ensure clean water for the masses or even a bioterrorism researcher that does amazing work protecting the world from threats and bad economic practices.
You should understand that it is okay to feel anxious about climate change and our environmental impact, but you should not let it control your life. Try the tips listed here and feel more confident as you make the world a better place.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S.
She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to health and wellness, including mental health awareness and addiction education.