The fear of the consequences of climate change is a real thing. Sometimes you might have thoughts that you’re afraid we’re not doing enough, or you won’t live peacefully in the future. Living in BC, surrounded by breathtaking, postcard-worthy landscapes, you may wonder if you’re doing enough to protect it, or why the people around you aren’t more panicked. You might feel selfish or judged for wanting a peaceful and simple life when the fight against climate change is right there in front of you. All of these things are part of experiencing eco-anxiety.
What is eco-anxiety?
Climate change can affect your health and mental health. Eco-anxiety is a type of stress caused by seeing the negative effects of climate change and worrying about the future for yourself and later generations. Eco-anxiety also describes the feelings of helplessness, loss and frustration someone might feel when they think they are unable to make a difference in stopping climate change. You can combat eco-anxiety through things like mindfulness and connecting with others.
If you feel anxious about the environment, how do you take care of yourself?
While it’s important to be aware of climate change and its effects, you should also take steps to take care of yourself when it gets overwhelming.
- Connect with your family, friends, neighbours and community groups about your feelings toward climate change. You can check out youth-led events led by Climate Strike Canada and Fridays for Future Canada. You can also check out volunteer opportunities available with other environmental organizations such the BC Parks, Wildlife Rescue Association of BC or Environmental Youth Alliance.
- If it helps you to take action, you can start an initiative in your own community to fight against climate change. The government of BC provides funding for environmental projects, you can see more information here.
- Spend time in green spaces. Time in nature has been shown to reduce stress. Enjoy the green spaces available to you like parks, beaches, and trails. See the places you want to protect.
- Engage in learning about what you can do. It may not feel like it sometimes, but you are not powerless in the fight against climate change! There are things you can do: including using reusable bags, using energy wisely and eating less red meat.
- Talk to a counsellor or therapist. Counsellors and therapists may not be climate experts, but they understand overwhelming feelings and how to approach them. Consider reaching out to talk to these professionals if you begin to notice your stress and worry affecting your daily life. You can find support options here.
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