The only thing certain about our lives on Earth is that everything is uncertain. Apart from our long list of regular problems like bills, homework, deadlines, breakups and other stressors, we can now add environmental ruin to the mix. Stressing about environmental concerns has become so common, it now has an official name: Eco-anxiety
So, What Is Eco-Anxiety?
It’s the anxiety that stems from worrying about the deteriorating state of the environment. With all the science and evidence presented to us confirming the disastrous future of our ecosystem if present trends continue, it is becoming increasingly common for people to feel worried about their future on the planet.
Who Does It Affect?
Anyone really. Eco anxiety can creep up on any of us from any part of the world, especially if we’re seeing and/or experiencing the environment deteriorate in real-time. Apart from this, the influx of horrific news regarding climate change and impending ecological doom could result in us experiencing varying levels of anxiety about the same.
A schoolchild protesting in Edinburgh in March
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
However, the youth seems to be most sensitive to it. A reason for this could be the fact that the breakdown of our environment will cost them the future they were supposed to have. They have a lot more to lose than the other demographics, which is why they have become the face of the environmental protection movement world over.
How Do I Know If I’m Experiencing It?
The telltale signs are feeling helpless and hopeless about the future of humans on this planet. A sense of fearfulness about not being able to do anything to stop this disastrous outcome is another common experience. Other symptoms include existential dread, feelings of uncertainty and giving up on big plans like having children.
While eco-anxiety is not a clinical disorder, it can coexist with other clinical conditions. For instance, people with pre-existing anxiety issues can suffer from panic attacks brought on by stressing about the environment.
How Do We Cope?
The best way to deal with eco-anxiety is to be a part of the solution to this global crisis. While you can’t control the bigger forces at play like governments and conglomerates, you can control your response to the situation by adopting a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.
Some small lifestyle changes you can make include:
- Saving energy. Turn off all your lights and fans when not in use
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Shop from sustainable labels instead of brands that pollute
- Skip the scooter or car and walk or cycle short distances instead
- Manage your waste
- Contribute to your community. Sign up for cleaning drives
- Teach your friends and family more sustainable practices
- Take care of yourself. Switch off from negative news once in a while.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. In your own way, focus on the things you can do to improve the situation and hopefully your eco-anxiety will be put to rest.