Don’t listen to that voice telling you it’s too late to save our planet.
In our fast-paced world, many of us rarely take a moment to breathe, to still our racing minds, and become aware of our surroundings. We rush through our days, only momentarily stopping when headlines like Deadly Hurricanes, Devastating Wildfires, and Rising Sea Levels find their way to us. We try to brush them off and carry on with our lives, telling ourselves that these incidents are normal, we are safe, and our world is not dying… even if it is, we still have time, we can fix it.
However, several people have started to accept the bitter truth. Our planet is suffering, and if we don’t heal it soon, it may cease to exist. That is our reality. We are literally carrying the weight of our world on our shoulders. Thus, it comes as no surprise that along with the various things we find ourselves worrying about, almost all of us experience anxiety when thinking about not only our future but that of the ones who will come after us.
Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, occurs when people grow anxious about the issues facing our environment and the threats they pose. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) described it as “a chronic fear of environmental doom,” in 2017. Climate anxiety may also be characterized as feeling emotions of sadness and grief.
Now that we’ve discussed what climate anxiety is, the next step is to try and understand how we can harness our energy, and even anxieties, to fight climate change instead of running away from it.
Take a #Selfcare Day
While it is essential to participate in the fight against climate change, it will be harder to do so if you are not in the best shape. Take time to check in on yourself and the people you love. We as individuals are facing questions of what will happen to the human race if our world dies, which can make any human go mad. Understand that climate change is a phenomenon that’s been years in the making, so it will take some time to heal Earth.
Furthermore, while you check in on yourself, make sure to limit checking in on the news. Although keeping regular tabs on what’s happening regarding our climate is important, it can also be very overwhelming. Take time to digest a piece of news and make sure you also follow the positive headlines as well as the negative ones.
Talk About Your Anxiety
While this tip seems relatively easy, it can be difficult to find a starting point for an honest conversation about climate anxiety. However, I guarantee that once you do, you’ll discover that you are far from being alone. In fact, a global study led by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom revealed that out of the 10,000 people surveyed (aged 16 to 25), 75 percent felt that the “future is frightening.”
Turn to your friends and family, communicate your fears, acknowledge them, and normalize the conversation. Although these discussions could start as a way for you to air your anxieties, they might turn into something more significant. Who knows? A simple conversation could lead to the creation of an environment club in school or even encourage a town-wide volunteer clean-up.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Now once you’ve really acknowledged your anxieties and talked through them, the next step is to take action. Here is where the real hard work begins. But worry not, this step can still be extremely fun. “How?” you might ask. Well, the first action that can bring immense satisfaction is silencing that voice telling you it’s too late for you to try and save our planet.
Another action that can be fun is researching what it is you can do to help fight climate change. While I know grouping the words research and fun in the same sentence might make you doubt my understanding of fun, trust me this step will certainly bring a smile to your face as you discover just how many small actions you can take, and decisions you can make to really help make a difference.
For instance, walk or take public transpiration to school or work if assessable. Decrease meat intake. Lower food waste. Read eBooks instead of paperbacks. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Even just educating yourself on what is going on and fully understanding what’s happening to our planet and why can be vital in your battle against climate change.
The most important thing to remember is that you have to start somewhere. Don’t stress too much about perfection that you forget to actually take part in the action that’ll help you live a more sustainable lifestyle. Understand that there will be good days, okay days, and bad days… but that’s just how life works.
There is no way to sugar-coat it; having anxiety sucks. You never know how and when it’ll creep up on you. Sometimes global temperature statistics can paralyze you with fear, while in other instances, hearing reports of hurricane warnings can make you feel numb. However, in these situations, we usually find it easier to revert back to denial and hide behind comforting lies. And while that does make us feel better about ourselves, it does nothing to save our world. Luckily, we can still make things right.
We are all mourning our planet, reminiscing in memories of the place it once was. But we can’t get stuck in one stage of grief for too long. The fate of our collective home rests in our hands, so let’s work to ensure that our future remains on Earth.
Photo: Mary Long/Shutterstock
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