Tossing and turning of climate, melting ice and record breaking heat waves are causing a stir in each one us. After all it is the effect of climate change and leaves each one of us in a fearful state.
Even a recent survey conducted in December by The Harris Poll found that more than two-thirds of people experience “eco-anxiety” and more than a quarter of the population feel a lot of that stress. Such eco-anxiety is defined as anxiousness or concern related to climate change and its direct effects.
People between the age group 18-34 who were found contemplating the existence of earth on the verge of environmental collapse, were actually found worrying & stressing about climate change.
More than 60% of the population taking the survey said they had made changes in response to climate change. Optimizing waste through reusing and recycling items, upgrading home insulation, limiting use of utilities like water, heat, and electricity were the most popular changes opted for by more than three-quarters of respondents.
It was observed that people who experienced eco-anxiety felt the need to adopt change more than the others. Despite trying hard only 2/3rd respondents could make changes like carpool, walk, bike, eat less red meat, or become a vegetarian or vegan.
Though the eco-anxiety is troubling people, as per Arthur C Evans, Jr. CEO of the APA suggests ways to overcome these issues and manage stress.
Evan suggests few ways to keep eco-anxiety and stress in control-
- GET KNOWLEDGE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
According to Evan, getting to know the unknown aspects of climate change could help with fighting the stress associated with it. One should be aware about what can we lose and how small efforts from each one of us, can make a difference.
- FIND SOLUTIONS TO ALL THE STRESSORS IN LIFE AND NOT JUST FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
Eco-anxiety is surely unique and different and feels the same when compared to other sources of anxiety. It is essential to take climate change-related stress as part and parcel of mental health and not entirely a condition. In addition to climate change stress, one might also be facing financial, relationship, professional, or physical stress, which can increase the level of climate change anxiety. Thus, it is important to address those issues. Try seeking professional help if you need.
“The more stressors you experience, the more likely you’ll feel greater psychological stress,” says Evans.
- TURN NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE
It is observed through research that converting negative thoughts can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. As per Evans, “It really is rethinking an issue that may seem big and amorphous and putting that into proper context.”
When there are thoughts of the apocalypse crawling and creeping in your mind, try focusing on the present moment. Keep looking for something positive in every situation. People who can convert their negative thoughts into positive can cope better with tough thoughts, feelings and situations.
- LOOK FOR EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As per APA survey, half of adults didn’t have any idea about how and where to start to combat climate change.
Though the truth is that governments and the private sector hold major power to create significant differences, the average person too can alter their habits in important ways.
It can be done with lesser red meat consumption, reduction of carbon emissions, saving energy, etc.
Taking part in strikes and protests can shift attention to the issue and inspire others to act.
“People can do things in their own community,” says Evans. Get involved with climate change activism with letter writing campaigns, volunteerism, and political and public advocacy.
- IMPROVE RESILIENCE
Enhancing resilience can be helpful in overcoming eco-anxiety. According to Evan enhancing resilience is simple. It can be done by simply continuing to develop a social network of friends and family. It is observed that overall wellbeing can be enhanced with strong social and emotional support. It can actually lower psychological stress that usually people go through after a disaster.
Evan says, “We know…that social support is probably one of the strongest predictors of how people are doing psychologically. It’s important to do and act and to feel like you have some agency around this issue.”