Turn on the news, and you’re sadly met with the impact of climate change across the globe. This summer alone, we’ve seen devastating footage of – and in some cases, experienced first-hand – floods across mainland Europe, fires in Turkey, Greece and Algeria, and fatal heatwaves. As the years go by, extreme weather is becoming more and more commonplace, and as things stand, it only looks to get worse. If you’re experiencing eco-anxiety, you’re not alone. According to Healthline, eco-anxiety (also known as ecological grief, eco-angst and climate change distress) refers to “persistent worries about the future of Earth and the life it shelters.” It’s a very real issue: as we know, climate change presents a major threat to the planet, and governments aren’t moving quickly enough to introduce suitable measures. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed at the state of the climate, here are some tips that will help you focus on what we can do to help.
Fill your cup
There’s no doubt about it: eco-anxiety is a profound issue. If you’ve got kids or nieces and nephews in your life, you might feel an additional level of stress about the world they’ll grow up in. First things first, make sure you’re sensible about the content you’re consuming. While it’s important to stay abreast of news and developments around the world, it’s also crucial to prioritise your mental health. If you’re having a particularly difficult week, consider muting news apps, and avoid spending too much time reading heavy stories about environmental catastrophes. You can only take action if you’re not pouring from an empty cup, so make sure you’re making time for yourself and not overstepping your boundaries. “I remind myself that I’m only one person and can’t save the whole world – it’s hard and heavy though,” says holistic coach Rebecca Caution. It can also help to share worries with family and friends. They might be feeling the same way, and you can brainstorm together about ways to manage your eco-anxiety. As always, if you feel like your anxiety is overshadowing other aspects of your life, or that you’re finding it difficult to focus, consider seeing a therapist who’s equipped to help you manage your feelings.
Focus on solutions
It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that there are plenty of amazing developments taking place at the intersection of technology and sustainability. We reached out to our community to find out how they manage feelings of eco-anxiety, and collected their top tips. “Practice optimism wherever you can,” advises Charlotte Horler, founder of Nula Carbon. “It’s tricky when we are consistently fed bad news, however, if you can, always believe there is a way to fix it.” Do some research into the companies that are making strides in sustainability, from fashion and lifestyle, to aerospace and transport. “If you’re the kind of person that gets fixated on statistics, try and turn your attention to the solutions available to us instead,” suggests Charlotte. “There’s so much innovation taking place within the industry right now. It’s a pretty exciting space and one area that definitely offers me hope if I ever feel overwhelmed.”
If you’re full of anxiety when you think about the state of the planet, consider trying to devote some of that nervous energy into positive action: you’ll feel better whilst doing good at the same time. Start with the easiest steps of all, by signing and sharing petitions that you come across online. It will take you two minutes, and while it doesn’t feel like a big deal, if everyone on your timeline signs it too, petitions can bring about tangible change. The same goes for charities: if you can afford to, donate a percentage of your sales to a positive impact change on a regular basis. And if you want to get out and about in the fight to save the planet, why not join a march? “I’ve joined a local climate action group to channel energy in a better direction,” says Caitlin Gwynn, founder of The Handmade VA. We love this idea: doing good whilst surrounded by like-minded people? It’s a win-win.
Make small changes
As the adage goes, it’s the little things that really make a difference. Eco-anxiety is majorly distressing – and when it comes to living sustainably, there are endless resources out there. While this is a great thing, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information. “Try to take back a little control by making positive choices – even if they’re tiny,” advises Eirlie Chisholm, founder of Over All 1516. Kick off with the basics, and look into things you can do on a daily or weekly basis that will really make a difference in the long term. Are you recycling in the correct way? This doesn’t start and end with plastic – the majority of the materials we use can be recycled in one way or another. “I focus on the smaller, day to day things that I can control, like using the local refillable shop,” says Laura Robinson, founder of Web and Flo. This is another great option, along with limiting meat and fish consumption, and shopping from sustainable companies. Go one step further by trying to reduce your general consumption levels. Before you buy yourself something new, ask if you really need it, or if you could borrow it instead.
Finally, remember that eco-anxiety is a very real, very valid concern. The statistics surrounding climate change are shocking and worrying. We can re-channel these feelings by using them to motivate us to take action now. As Mary Annaise Heglar says, “The thing about climate is that you can either be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem, or fall in love with the creativity of the solutions.” At Found and Flourish, we’re committed to educating ourselves on what we can do to contribute to the preservation of the planet, and we’re helped in our journey by our fabulous members working in the fields of sustainability. Here are some of our must-follows:
About your author
Phoebe is Found & Flourish’s resident Business blogger, she is London-born and Frankfurt-, Paris- and Amsterdam-raised. Combining her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship with 10 years writing for international publications, she’s the founder of BURO155 and Wellby, helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals through strategic online content. Phoebe is also a writer, and has written for outlets including the Huffington Post, the Guardian, the Next Web, For Working Ladies and Restless Magazine.
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