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The Importance of Understanding Eco-Anxiety


Welcome back to Siempre Eco.’s Sustainable Saturday! 

Don’t be mistaken, it’s more common than you think. Eco-anxiety is something that many people struggle with and can affect their mental well-being, their loved ones and more around the world.

In a British Medical Journal article, scientists referenced a 2020 survey of child psychiatrists showing that 57% are seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis and the state of the environment. 

Eco-anxiety is a universal issue, and it is important to understand and acknowledge it in order to take the proper steps in dealing with it. Below is an overview on eco-anxiety, its effects, and ways you can cope or help someone else cope. 

What is Eco-Anxiety?

“Eco-anxiety” is an anxiety related to humans’ relationship with the environment or the state of the environment. 

In 2017, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) described eco-anxiety as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.”

For some people, this could mean frustration, fear, and anxiety in the increase in environmental crises and can stem from experiencing or being at risk of environmental disasters (e.g. extreme weather, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, etc.)

This could also mean feeling guilty or anxious about how future generations will have to cope with the state of the Earth. 

Eco-anxiety can be chronic and severe anxiety and is not to be disparaged. People struggling with this can have a difficult time managing this, as discussed in the next section. 


Effects of Eco-Anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself differently in every person, and there is no set way for one’s anxiety to present itself. We are all unique, and we experience life differently. 

The APA say that some common ways eco-anxiety can manifest itself can include:

  • Trauma (including PTSD) and shock
  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • aggression
  • reduced feelings of autonomy and control
  • feelings of helplessness, fatalism, and fear

These are just some ways, but just because you have eco-anxiety does not mean you will necessarily feel all these emotions! You may feel only a few, or one. Your anxiety is still valid either way. 

Some Ways You Can Cope

1. Limit Your Media Consumption

Doom-scrolling and engrossing yourself in the media (e.g. social media, news coverage, etc.) about ecological crises can have a negative impact on your mental health. Learn to set boundaries for yourself, and have equal exposure to positive news and media. 

2. Remember, You’re Not Alone

Encouraging hopeful thinking is vital in taking care of yourself. Another way is making use of all the relationships you have in your life. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and alone, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to fix everything by yourself. Your family, friends, and partners are all there for you when you need it.

3. Journal

Studies observe that journaling is related to having “less mental health concerns, increased insight to mental health, and heightened physical stability”. 

Journal provides insight into the changes you’ve made over time and how your self-growth has developed, along with being a place to freely rant with no judgment!

Being able to write down your feelings is just as effective as verbalizing them for some people, and very important regardless. It becomes a source for you to organize your thoughts, which can do wonders for your understanding and mental health. 

4. Practice Self-care

When you’re worried about the state of the environment and things in a much larger scope, it can make you lose sight of what is equally important: taking care of yourself.  

5. Attend Therapy

With the stigma around attending therapy changing, it is important to take advantage of all the resources that are available to us today in terms of getting help. 

Resources:

Medical Emergency - 911

Suicide Hotline - 800-273-8255

BetterHelp (Online Therapy) BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy.

Headspace (Meditation App) Headspace is the leading mindfulness and meditation app with over 70 million members. Headspace offers guidance and exercises for all skill levels, including beginners.

.oOo.

We know this was a different Sustainable Saturday than the rest, and we hope you still enjoyed and understood the importance of being educated on different topics like this! 

Have a great weekend, and make yourself a cup of tea. You deserve it!

- Team Siempre Eco. 


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