A monthly exploration into the world of sustainability in the built environment with commentary and input from UCEM’s Vice Chancellor and academics.
The reality of eco-anxiety and how to confront it
Posted on: 16 November, 2022
The catastrophic effects of the climate crisis are not confined to the natural environment or the disastrous impacts on physical health. A strong correlation exists between climate change and a growing sense of anxiety and depression, particularly among younger generations.
“The need to address the climate crisis has never been more urgent, and this urgency, coupled with the vastness of the task ahead, can have an effect on our mental health.”
It’s no wonder why, since we all have a monumental challenge ahead of us if we are to confront the climate catastrophe and avoid an apocalyptic future. This burden can feel overwhelming, especially when faced with what feels like indifference and (outright denial) by many in a position of power.
Eco-anxiety or climate anxiety is a term that has become quite prominent over recent years, defined as feeling anxious or worried about climate change, and the impact and the work needed to address it. Although not currently a diagnosable condition, it has been well researched and appears in the media regularly. The need to address the climate crisis has never been more urgent, and this urgency, coupled with the vastness of the task ahead, can have an effect on our mental health.
When you’re feeling low, reach out to your friends and family. You can tell them how you’re feeling if you’re able to. Whether you talk about the climate emergency or action, or something else entirely its up to you but reaching out to your community, no matter how big or small can be a powerful antidote.
Going out for a wander or sitting in nature can help you ‘reset’. It might sound a bit kooky, but going out to seek some green space and taking the time to sit in it, breathe it in and really observe your surroundings, can really help. A fantastic campaign is the 30 Days Wild by the Wildlife Trusts which takes place every June. It’s a great way to challenge yourself to find ways to connect with nature.
In a world filled with technology and constant connectivity, it’s easy to become submerged by the news, frustrated by injustices (both social and environmental) and trapped in a cycle of despair. Try to switch off from social media and news at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Try listening to an audiobook or reading some fiction instead. Setting yourself time to switch off, whatever time of day, is important.
When the enormous task of tackling climate change lies before us, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and find ourselves blocked from taking any action at all. If you can make one or a series of small actions, it can help alleviate some of the anxiety. Small actions can be as follows: cooking a meat-free or plant-based meal; always recycle where you can; going on a walk and doing a mini litter pick; listening to a climate action or social justice podcast (Friends of the Earth have got some fab podcasts); reading an environment-themed book (such as ‘The Intersectional Environmentalist’ by Leah Thomas).