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Blog Post 11 May 2022

What is eco-anxiety and how can you cope with it?

How much do you know about eco-anxiety? It’s not an officially recognised mental health problem but, with the climate emergency being covered more frequently in the news, these days the term is being used more often.

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re looking at eco-anxiety, who it affects and what you can do if you’re experiencing it.

What is eco-anxiety?

Eco-anxiety can be expressed in lots of different ways: eco-trauma, ecological grief, climate change distress and climate anxiety.

Each of these terms relate to feelings of anxiety caused by an awareness and understanding of environmental issues and the need to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Eco-anxiety can come from:

  • A dread about the state of the world and the future.
  • Mourning the loss of the natural world and habitats.
  • Feeling guilty about not doing enough personally to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Feelings of frustration at the lack of global action or the pace of change.
  • Feeling overwhelmed at the scale of the challenge.
  • Obsessing over the climate emergency.

With the scale of the climate crisis, eco-anxiety is an entirely natural reaction.

Who is affected by eco-anxiety?

Knowledge on the subject is still evolving but recent research shows that eco-anxiety is becoming a more common, global issue that can damage our health in the long-term.

Young people, for example, are having to deal with the longer term impacts of climate change and an uncertain future. A 2020 survey found that 57% of child psychiatrists recognised eco-anxiety in their patients.

How can you look after your mental health?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the climate emergency, there are things you could try that might help:

  • Try to be more compassionate to yourself.
  • Read less about climate change in the news.
  • Talk to others about how you’re feeling.
  • Book an appointment with your GP.
  • Talk to Mind, the mental health charity.

What can you do to feel more in control of climate change?

There are also several changes you could make to your lifestyle to help you feel more in control of climate change. We’ve listed just some of them below:

  • If you drive, try leaving the car at home for a regular journey or car share.
  • Try to waste less food and re-use your leftovers or eat less meat.
  • Buy less fast fashion.
  • Start or engage with your company’s ‘green group’ or engage in activism.
  • Write to your local MP and ask them to take action.
  • Get involved in a community gardening or biodiversity project.
  • Invest in green technology.
  • Visit a climate café where you can talk to others who feel the same.

And remember, if you slip up with any of these things, don’t beat yourself up about it. There’s only so much all of us can do, and you as an individual can’t bear the weight of such a large issue.

We’re trying to help people through these challenging times, so if high energy bills are affecting your mental health, read our blog to find out what support is available to you.

Last updated: 13 May 2022