A lot of young people today are affected by eco-anxiety, but don’t know it. Simply put, eco-anxiety is the anxiety to or extreme fear of humans’ relationship with the environment and climate change. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is still very real.
How does Eco-Anxiety manifest?
Constant media coverage of environmental destruction and evidence of just how bad climate change really is can be extremely overwhelming. Even being affected by extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding, drought, and more can cause eco-anxiety. According to Medical News Today, “For some people, the increase in environmental crises is not only frustrating, frightening, and shocking, but also a source of constant or debilitating anxiety. People may also feel guilty or anxious about the impact that their or their generation’s behavior may have on the environment and that of future generations.”
Who is affected?
Eco-Anxiety does not affect all people equally. It tends to affect people who are younger (such as Gen Z and Millenials) and will have to deal with the permanent repercussions. It also affects indigenous communities and people who are currently losing resources and having their homes destroyed by natural disasters.
How to Know if You Have Eco-Anxiety
There is no medical definition of eco-anxiety. But if you feel sad, angry, frustrated, helpless, and overall stressed about climate change you likely have eco-anxiety.
How Do You Manage Eco-Anxiety?
- Take Action: Taking some form of action can reduce feelings of anxiety. An example of taking action could be protesting, signing petitions, and going to clean-ups.
- Getting Educated on Climate Change: A lot of news and media will overdramatize headlines to get people to click on their article. Educating yourself beyond the headline can help to reduce eco-anxiety.
- Connecting With Nature: If you foster a stronger connection with the environment, you can gain a greater appreciation for how it is now.
- Being More Active: Hiking, canoeing, simply going for a walk not only connects you with nature but helps your mental health in general.
- Try to Prevent Water/Energy Being Wasted: Simply turning off lights or turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth can have a huge effect on the amount of waste produced from your home.
Climate change is very real and dangerous,but unfortunately, not one person alone can stop it. Keep that mind when feeling stressed about climate change: that as long as you try your best you are doing amazing! Please do not let eco-anxiety consume life with fear, rather use it as fuel in this ongoing fight against climate change.
Plautz, Jason. “Eco-Anxiety Is Overwhelming Kids. Where’s the Line between Education and Alarmism?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Feb. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/02/03/eco-anxiety-is-overwhelming-kids-wheres-line-between-education-alarmism/?arc404=true.
“Eco-Anxiety: What It Is and How to Manage It.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#summary.
Watson, Stephanie. “How Eco-Anxiety Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 22 June 2020, science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/eco-anxiety.htm.