Climate anxiety is real, and not so many people would come to terms with it as it can sound pretty ludicrous, especially when economic growth is evident in various regions of the world. However, environmental destruction still persists because of human error, and being worried about the consequences of mankind’s actions is reasonable. If you’re unaware of climate anxiety, it is a psychological disorder affecting a rising number of individuals who worry about ecological crises. These crises include loss of wilderness, poverty, and diseases, among others. The implications of climate change have affected the mental health and well-being of a number of people. Individuals suffering from climate anxiety go to the extent of starving themselves for days to feel a solace of soothing those facing difficulties. We find it painful to enjoy life while others are suffering. We are always willing to help, but seeing the majority of the world’s unwillingness can lead you to a hole of depression. 

From having dealt with climate anxiety for many years,  there has always been an unconscious effort within myself to help educate the world on the mental health risks due to climate change and ways to heal one’s self. I have always been passionate about creating positive change and it’s on that path that I co-founded The Collective, an online community for everyday climate leaders and change-makers. As I advocate for transparency, sustainability, and empowerment for all, I am here to share some of the effective ways of dealing with climate anxiety.

Identify and acknowledge the pain, fear, and grief 

The first step to healing is always identifying the problem. Once you have identified the root, you can learn to accept it and seek help. People suffering from this condition might not even realize what contributes to the constant anxiety and fear they feel. One of the ways to discover the causes is writing a list of the things that make you feel worried or angry. You could also write a letter to the world or even to ourselves, venting out people’s unwillingness to care about humanity. No one will read it, but it doesn’t hurt to write it down. Afterwards, you can read it to yourself, concentrating on how you feel, allowing emotions to materialize without holding back, and letting the physical pain flow through you. 

Holding back our feelings can cause a lot of distress. You don’t allow yourself to feel and therefore, negative emotions continue to build up inside. By identifying and acknowledging the fear and pain, and by allowing those forces to leave your body, you can proceed towards the path of healing. Crying, screaming, or punching a pillow can be super helpful (yes, it works!).

Keep in mind that awareness hurts

Ignorance is bliss, since knowing certain things can lead to unavoidable feelings of pain. But opening up to reality is okay. It is an essential step to healing. If you fear accepting harsh realities, the pain and anger will suppress you, which develops into more negative emotions. When you become aware, it opens you to other beautiful things you ought to appreciate – it’s a give and take. Awareness means allowing yourself to be human. To be human in today’s world can be challenging, but remember that you can’t heal what you cannot feel, so allow yourself to feel – all of it!

Speak about it 

A problem shared is half sold. There is a feeling of enormous relief when you voice out your fears, insecurities, and emotions. You get to let your pain ease, bring comfort, and provide guidance. Knowing others understand and empathize with you helps alleviate the pain you feel. With that interaction, you discover people who have gone through worse, which encourages you and gives you the strength to deal with your circumstances. It also contributes to starting a discussion, which can help spread awareness about the detriments of being a passive individual in a vulnerable world. 

Be the change and allow for optimism

According to psychologists, the best treatment for climate anxiety is action. Janet Swim once said,  “When you get closer and closer to a goal, you can feel more pride and there is hope.” The importance here is understanding that your actions alone won’t change the world, but the person who you’ll become through being the avenue for change will. To be an optimist is not something you choose, it’s something you create. By showing up for work every single day, even in small individual actions, you’re creating the world you wish to see. The action itself is what will fuel the optimism, you are an optimist in action.

Stay connected with nature

Your worries about the climate are associated with nature, which reminds you of the beauty that needs care. Being exposed to nature also allows for different kinds of healing. Spending time outdoors and in green environments can improve your health faster than expected. It is said to lower blood pressure, stress, and heart rate, while enhancing mental health. 

Some of the regular practices you could engage in through the process of healing could be journaling, grieving when necessary, connecting with nature, gradually learning new things, and engaging in community work. To get more insights on climate anxiety and healing, you can hire or associate with me, Anne Therese Gennari, from the following sites and accounts: Website, Instagram, or LinkedIn.