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July 13, 2024

EarthTalk

Dear EarthTalk: Do you have any tips on how to deal with climate anxiety?

Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, is the chronic fear of environmental doom. It is becoming increasingly prevalent as the impacts of climate change become more evident and the urgency of the crisis grows. Addressing climate anxiety is crucial not only for maintaining mental health but also for ensuring effective climate action. When individuals are paralyzed by fear, they are less likely to engage in the proactive behaviors necessary to combat climate change.

Climate anxiety manifests through various psychological and physical symptoms, including persistent worry, sleep disturbances, a sense of helplessness, and even physical symptoms like heart palpitations and headaches. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step towards managing them effectively.

Art therapy is a unique way to cope with climate anxiety. Engaging in creative expression can help people process their emotions and reduce anxiety. According to Yale Climate Connections, art therapy allows individuals to visualize their fears and hopes, providing a cathartic release of pent-up emotions. “Art offers a way to express the inexpressible,” notes the article, highlighting its therapeutic potential.

Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation are effective in grounding individuals and reducing anxiety. Practicing mindfulness helps individuals stay present and reduces the constant worrying about the future. This practice can be as simple as focused breathing exercises or guided meditation sessions.

Being part of a community can significantly reduce feelings of helplessness associated with climate anxiety. According to researchers at the University of Colorado, engaging in collective action can provide a sense of purpose and solidarity. Participating in local environmental or community projects can help one feel they are contributing to a larger cause, thus mitigating feelings of isolation and powerlessness.

Adopting eco-friendly habits can help, too. Reducing waste, conserving energy and buying sustainable products can provide a sense of purpose. Staying informed and engaging in advocacy can also help. Being informed allows one to make good decisions and contribute to meaningful change. Advocacy work like writing, speaking or participating in demonstrations, can provide a sense of purpose and hope.

Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help, which can be crucial for those severely affected by climate anxiety. Therapists and counselors can provide coping strategies and emotional support. The World Economic Forum emphasizes the importance of finding climate-aware therapists specializing in eco-anxiety. These professionals understand the unique stressors associated with climate change and can offer tailored support. By managing our anxiety and participating in collective action, we can contribute to a healthier planet and a more hopeful outlook.

CONTACTS:

If climate change keeps you up at night, here’s how to cope

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-climate-change-keeping-you-up-at-night-you-may-have-climate-anxiety-202206132761

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more athttps://emagazine.com. To donate, visit https://earthtalk.org. Send questions to: [email protected].

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