What is eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety, also called solastalgia, is a feeling of deep distress caused by thoughts of irreversible changes to the environment. It’s a major worry arising from current environmental issues.
What can you do to soothe your eco-anxiety?
Take in distressing information in small doses
We now get daily news about climate disruption, which is helping raise collective awareness. However, only consuming this kind of news or consuming it even when it causes anxiety can be harmful. Be attentive to how news about environmental issues makes you feel and how it impacts your view of life.
Get socially involved
Using your fears as a driving force to act and get socially involved can help you channel your anxiety into concrete actions. This can give you power over the situation, making you feel useful and part of a collective movement. Also, getting involved in movements (e.g. awareness-raising groups, marches) will help you meet people with the same worries as you, which will make you feel less alone.
Live more in accordance with your values
Recycling, composting, looking into zero-waste living, eating less meat or any other small daily action can help you affirm your values and take concrete steps in response to climate issues.
Learn to live with uncertainty
Because climate change is such a monumental issue, it’s impossible to feel completely in control of the situation. That’s normal, and it’s for this reason that you need to learn to manage your fears and tolerate uncertainty. How? By focusing on the present and on concrete actions you can take, depending on what is possible for you. Keep in mind that, like in any other situation, you can’t control the future.
Recognize difficult moments
Try to analyze the signals your brain and body are sending you: in what situations are your environmental worries more intense or more present? This will help you identify unhelpful elements or situations, so that you can reduce or eliminate them. You can also identify moments in which you feel good, like when taking action to protect the environment, for example.
While eco-anxiety is not currently recognized as a diagnosable condition, the symptoms are similar to other forms of anxiety:
- Panic attacks, anxiousness
- Mood swings
- Obsessive thoughts
- Loss of appetite
Specifically concerning the environment, the anxiety can manifest as:
- Chronic or excessive fear of natural disasters
- Fear of an environmental catastrophe, causing distress
- Deep despair about the future
- Recurring obsessive thoughts about the environment
This can be accompanied by a loss of the will to fight climate change, a strong feeling of helplessness, guilt or sadness.
If your eco-anxiety becomes painful or paralyzing, don’t hesitate to contact us.