In today’s world, plenty of things can rightfully cause anxiety. But in recent years, experts are seeing more and more people suffering from what is known as eco-anxiety. Let’s discuss what eco-anxiety is and ways to treat it.
What Is Eco-Anxiety?
The American Psychology Association describes eco-anxiety as a “chronic fear of environmental doom.” While the main culprit of this fear is the existential threat of climate change, eco-anxiety can also be caused by direct human activity.
There is no medical diagnosis of eco-anxiety, but it takes on many of the same characteristics as general anxiety. For example, a person may feel mad, sad, frustrated, or even helpless about things on the news or outside their control.
Other common symptoms include:
- Obsessive or ruminating thoughts
- Feelings of depression, anxiety, or panic attacks
- Guilt about contributing to emissions or carbon footprint
- Pain, anger, or grief over the destruction of natural environments
- Anger with people who don’t understand or deny climate change
If these worries start affecting everyday life, experts recommend seeking professional help.
Who Is at Risk of Eco-Anxiety?
Some parts of the world are more susceptible to environmental disasters, so it’s not uncommon that those residents would experience eco-anxiety more intensely. However, even those that have never experienced natural disasters can develop eco-anxiety. It’s also common to see eco-anxiety among first responders and emergency healthcare workers.
How to Manage It All
Feel Your Feelings
When it comes to anxiety, professionals will tell you to focus on the situation making you anxious and get to the root of the problem. However, there’s no denying that what the world is going through can be terrifying. Practicing mindfulness and acknowledging what you’re feeling can help.
In the Thick of It
Sometimes, taking action is just what the doctor ordered. You can do this by volunteering with a local environmental group, making greener choices, or working closely with a nonprofit fighting the good fight.
Know When to Step Away
It’s awesome that we have some much information at our fingertips, but it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we just need to unplug and step away. And that’s okay. Another way to disengage is to reevaluate where you get your information. A lot of sources don’t exactly tell the truth. Eliminate the ones that rely on scare tactics and only focus on those that give legitimate information.
Seek Professional Help
If at-home management tips just aren’t doing it for you, seek professional help to help you manage your eco-anxiety. You only live once, so work hard to overcome the bad feelings.