Eco anxiety is a fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster that comes from observing the impact of climate change and the concern for one’s future and the next generations. Although it isn’t a diagnosable condition, experts do actually say that it is on the rise and is taking a toll on the younger generations more than the older ones.
Far from everyone’s belief, Eco anxiety and Climate anxiety do actually differ. Climate anxiety is understanding how climate change can affect physical health through pollution, the spread of disease, and food scarcity. Whereas Eco anxiety refers to persistent and constant worries about the future of Earth and the life it shelters.
These again both differ to standard, typical anxiety, which happens when your body responds to perceived threats with its fight or flight survival instinct. Often, we think of these perceived threats as being far-fetched, and irrational fears, which indicates nothing is going to happen and they aren’t ‘real’ threats. However, climate change is a ‘real’ threat and is actually quite serious no matter how distant the outcome may seem.
To understand what it means to have Eco anxiety, the symptoms, and signs to look out for are:
- Anger or frustration,
- Fatalistic thinking,
- Existential Dread,
- Guilt or shame (maybe relating to your carbon footprint),
- Post traumatic stress after experiencing climate change effects,
- Feelings of depression, anxiety, or panic,
- Sadness over the loss of natural environments or wildlife,
- Obsessive thoughts about the climate
Whilst these are some signs to look out for, it is not all of them just the most common ones which will help you to identify Eco anxiety. These issues could potentially lead on to secondary issues such as: sleep problems, appetite changes and difficulty concentrating.
Everyone depends on the health of the planet, so eco-anxiety can affect anyone. Certain groups, however, face a higher chance of climate-related distress, in part because of their greater vulnerability to climate change.
Particularly vulnerable groups include:
- Indigenous communities,
- people living in coastal or island regions, dry areas, or other regions with high geological risk,
- economically disadvantaged communities,
- children and older adults,
- people living with disabilities or chronic health concerns.
In order to help you overcome these challenges, there are some things you can do in order to cope. By adopting a “greener” or more sustainable lifestyle it can make a difference in your outlook and help with your sense of self. This can be done by things as simple as:
- Calculating your carbon footprint so give you a peace of mind, and also give you ideas to decrease your impact,
- Choosing physical commuting, such as biking or walking,
- Reaching out to community organizations working toward climate protection can help you get involved in broader policy efforts to address climate change,
- Participating in neighbourhood gardening
And so on.
Do your part for the environment and your own local community to make the world a better place to live.
Be greener, be better, be sustainable!