Climate change is a hot topic these days, especially among teens. Greta Thunberg has triggered a movement in the youngest generation. She has made teens want to talk about the world’s future as much as about TikTok videos and Instagram posts. Seeing teens taking a stand against companies and leaders is encouraging, but the rise of eco-anxiety has begun with such a movement.
Unlike social anxiety and generalized anxiety, eco-anxiety is relatively new, but we cannot ignore it. If you are worried about the effects of climate change, you have probably suffered from symptoms of eco-anxiety, especially when anxiety peaks. That includes panic attacks, anger, irritability, fatalistic views of the world, a sense of dread, and restlessness.
Dealing with your eco-anxiety is critical if you hope to live a good life. Although you can’t reverse all of what’s wrong with our climate, you can take practical action to channel your fears more suitably. The following are eight ways you can deal with eco-anxiety.
1. Acknowledge Your Fears
Avoiding your fears will lead to your anxiety manifesting itself in other ways, such as causing you insomnia. Instead of distracting yourself with social media and a busy lifestyle, you must acknowledge your fears. Buddhists are known to meditate on death by sitting with the idea of degeneration and going through it consciously. Similarly, by sitting down and acknowledging your fears, you can go through those terrifying emotions in a safe environment and then focus on the present moment through your breathing.
2. Consider Taking CBD
CBD flower without THC can help ease your anxiety naturally, without causing you to become high. Researchers have observed the antidepressant-like effects CBD has on users. This happens because of the cannabinoid’s impact on the ‘happy chemical’ in the body known as serotonin.
3. Workout in Nature
Exercise is scientifically proven to lower anxiety and boost our endorphins, but instead of hitting the gym, why not head into nature the next time you want to burn some calories? Staying indoors for long periods is not healthy as your mind will go into overdrive to remind you how dangerous climate change is. Yet, when you are in nature, you realize that despite the pressing issues we need to address for the environment, the natural world still holds a great deal of beauty.
4. Limit Your News Coverage
Staying informed is essential, but it doesn’t mean you must refresh your feed every ten minutes. Being aware of every crisis in the world will not help us change the world. Besides, the news is always negative—that’s how it is designed, so there is no point in refreshing your feed and knowing everything. Try to stick to listening to the news on the radio or television and steer clear of social media for long periods.
5. Talk About it
Undoubtedly, climate change is a pressing issue, but we can amplify our fears to another level when we get inside our heads. The best way to appease your worries is to talk about them. Find like-minded people who share similar concerns so you can realize that you are not in this alone.
6. Change Your Lifestyle
An effective way of easing your eco-anxiety is by changing your lifestyle. Would you consider going vegan? You could invest in an eco-friendly car or use your bicycle more. You can travel less by plane and support sustainable brands.
7. Change Your Community
Once you implement changes in your home and lifestyle, you may change your community in small ways. You could organize a cleanup day at your local beach and park or encourage more people to recycle. You could give talks to inform people about the small ways they can make a difference or write articles for a blog. You could also head to your local school and volunteer your time to make the school more eco-friendly. Strive to instill hope in school children while teaching them how they too can contribute to better the climate. This could be your opportunity to keep these children safe from eco-anxiety.
8. Hold Tight to Hope
Despite the bleak picture that comes with the consequences of climate change, you must hold on tightly to the sentiment of hope. Humanity has gone through terrifying things in the past, and yet people have always managed to find beauty around them. Taking a Buddhist approach is a helpful way of dealing with eco-anxiety and infusing yourself with hope. Buddhists teach us that the present moment is the only moment there is, so while you should take action and do your part to help climate change, consider focusing on the present moment and enjoy life.
Having to go through anxiety on your own is never the answer. If you find you cannot shake this feeling of dread by yourself, seek the help of a trusted friend or a professional who can help you navigate this uncertain moment with love and compassion.
Author: Lisa Dinh