Eco-anxiety: A Look into Environmental Concerns

Written by: Sabeeha Azmi 

An increasing number of individuals around the world have been experiencing a relatively new type of distress referred to as eco-anxiety. This is a unique phenomenon that can be described as a deep concern and worry for the environment and the future of the planet. As the effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent and ecological issues escalate and become more pressing, it is necessary and essential to explore, understand and address this psychological concern. 

Let’s take a dive into understanding eco-anxiety a little more. Eco-anxiety can be characterised by fear, distress and is an emotional reaction to the realisation that the planet is facing severe negative environmental impacts leading to uncertain future consequences. This anxiety often presents itself with a sense of hopelessness, guilt, despair and helplessness as people try to come to terms with the scale of these global environmental issues. 

There are several aspects that can contribute to the development of eco-anxiety. Viewing scientific evidence about the detrimental impact of climate change on the planet could be overwhelming and distressing. Along with these, exposure to social media posts, documentaries and news reports on alarming environmental events, species extinction and disasters could be a constant source of stress. Additionally, if one experiences these phenomena personally, such as witnessing environmental destruction or seeing impacts of climate change such as frequent flash floods, it can intensify the worry and fear. 

Although eco-anxiety can be overwhelming, there are several ways and strategies that individuals can implement to manage and cope with these worries. 

Awareness: understanding environmental issues in a more comprehensive and structured way can provide individuals with a sense of capability towards making a positive impact. The information one consumes should come from credible sources and try to engage in conversations that are productive instead of always focusing on the negative picture. 

Do your part: one way to reduce eco-anxiety is to get involved in advocating to address environmental concerns. Take part in environmental initiatives such as cleaning the beach, volunteering for projects or institutions working towards sustainability. You can also encourage others such as within your community to take collective action towards sustainability.  This could provide you with a sense of purpose and make you feel like you are doing something towards saving the planet. 

Limit exposure: constantly viewing negative portrayals of environmental concerns can increase worry. Set some boundaries and allow yourself specific times to view media related to environmental concerns. Finding a balance between staying informed and ensuring mental wellbeing is key. 

Self-care: remember your mental well-being is important and you shouldn’t neglect working on it. Make sure to take part in activities that bring you a sense of calm and relaxation such as meditation, spending time with friends and family, exercising etc. 

Feelings of worry and distress are natural emotional responses we have towards the environmental challenges that we face currently. Taking time to understand what eco-anxiety is and how we can develop effective ways to manage these emotions can help us navigate this experience. Always remember that even the smallest of actions can make a significant difference. By banding together to explore and address environmental concerns, we can all propel ourselves towards a sustainable and unconstrained future for our planet!