Daily life supplies plenty of reasons for anxiety. The pandemic is still raging, work deadlines are tight, and family life is filled with drama. However, there is another, more insidious trigger for anxiety — climate change.
Eco-anxiety is real, and it is not something you can treat with Delta 8 edible or meditation. The physical results of the crisis caused by greenhouse gasses are well-recognized. The notion that it also affects our psyches is relatively new.
Comparison of Physical and Mental Effects
Dehydration, heat strokes, and allergies are well-known consequences of extreme weather. Calamities like hurricanes and floods hinder access to medical care. Lately, the ever-louder calls for action have pushed these issues to the forefront.
Despite its merits, eco activists’ discourse has a flipside. It exacerbates anxiety, particularly in people who are likely to be directly affected by the weather.
In 2017, after Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey, almost half of its population had symptoms of PTSD. For Americans impacted by disasters repeatedly, the consequences are particularly dire.
Even if the forces of nature have spared your neighborhood so far, knowing that something tragic may happen is a stressor. The effects are especially serious for females, marginalized groups, and people of color.
A 2021 report by the American Psychological Association found that climate change may cause a spectrum of mental effects:
In recent years, Google searches for climate anxiety and eco-anxiety have soared. Over 75% of Americans realize that the temperatures are rising, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Like other types of anxiety, worrying about climate change causes tension and fear when thinking about the future. This may lead to nightmares, insomnia, panic attacks, dizziness, and high blood pressure. In the most extreme cases, eco-anxiety derails professional and family life.
At the same time, it is not a mental illness, as its cause is rational. It even has an upside — drawing attention to real problems we should prepare for. For example, you may create a family emergency plan in case of storms or purchase a new home in a safer area.
How to cope with climate anxiety
The following ideas will help you calm your brain:
List good things in your life
Think about what you appreciate in the natural world, your career, and your family. This will shift your focus away from anxious thoughts.
Recognize we can all affect change
Millions of people are already contributing to climate action, so you can join them. These people will not gaslight you. Consider joining an environmental organization or niche group. Becoming part of something bigger is a great stress reliever.
Even small things matter. Using a colder wash cycle or driving an electric car will contribute to reducing your carbon footprint. Reach out to businesses you work with to voice your concerns and vote for politicians with an eco-friendly agenda. Every step you take has merit!