Are you constantly worried about the state of the planet? Does thinking about all the plastic in the ocean keep you up at night? Do you worry you’re not doing enough to live a low impact life? You’re not alone! This is something called eco-anxiety and lots of people have it. I am no exception to this – there are plenty of times I feel anxious over the planet’s welfare. That said, I do have some coping mechanisms that help me deal with eco-anxiety. I figured I’d share them with you, so we can both take a collective deep breath in and out. Here are 10 ways to cope with eco-anxiety.
10 Ways to Cope With Eco-Anxiety
First, what is eco-anxiety?
It can also be a general sense of worry about the shape the planet is in: How species are going extinct, how there’s predicted to be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, the dying forests and coral reefs etc.
Who gets eco-anxiety?
Anyone can get eco-anxiety, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. Some people may feel eco-anxiety more intensely than others.
Certain people may be more vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather, such as coastal communities. Also, people whose livelihoods depend on the environment, like fishing or agriculture, are more likely to be affected.
Also, people who tend to live in indigenous communities may face fear of losing housing, livelihood, or their cultural heritage.
Obviously, anyone who works environmental jobs can suffer from eco-anxiety as well.
All these groups face more physical and mental health effects from changing climates and environmental disasters.
How do you cope with eco-anxiety?
So now that you know what eco-anxiety is, and who it’s most likely to affect, what do you do about it? Thankfully, there are ways to cope with this feeling – you are far from helpless. Here are 10 ways to help you deal with eco-anxiety better.
1. Spend time reconnecting with nature
If you’re worried about the environment, that means you care about nature. So take a break from all the doomsday news and click bait articles to get outdoors and reconnect with nature.
When you reconnect with nature, you’ll remember what it is you’re striving to protect. Plus, nature is a natural way to ground yourself and make you happier.
Did you know spending 60 minutes in nature helps you disengage from brooding, ruminating thoughts? Also, within just five minutes of being outside, our heart rate slows, our muscles start to relax, and regions of our brain involved in decision making and emotions simmer down.
Spending at least five hours in nature per month will make you a happier person overall. Whether it’s a simple walk in the park or a full day out in the wilderness, any interaction with nature is better than none.
I recommend looking into forest bathing, birding or gardening! Those will certainly get you out of the house and connecting with nature.
2. Surround yourself with positivity
Who you follow on social media can really influence your mood. If you’re seeing a lot of unnerving statistics all the time about how the planet is doomed, it’s understandable you’ll get depressed.
I don’t believe we make good decisions when we’re feeling helpless, hopeless and upset. It’s very hard for us to make positive change in that mindset.
Instead, follow environmental leaders and influencers who lift your mood while providing actionable tips and solutions to climate problems. There are so many eco activists who have an optimistic outlook and will inspire you.
I consider myself a climate optimist and try to keep things as positive as possible, while providing solutions, on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Be sure to follow me on my Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts if you aren’t already.
Also, here are a few other accounts I absolutely love that are climate optimists and overall uplifting:
There are so many other uplifting accounts on Instagram, so these are just a few that pop into my head. But I follow each and every one of these amazing women and can’t recommend them enough! Super inspirational.
3. Don’t beat yourself up
It’s impossible to be 100% sustainable all the time. Simply for existing, we create carbon emissions and waste all the time. So we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it to the point we get sick.
If you encounter some plastic you couldn’t avoid, don’t fret over it. If you have to take your car (which is still gas powered) instead of your bike, don’t worry yourself sick over it. That kind of mentality serves no one – least of all the planet.
The last thing we want is eco-purists: The people who believe it’s all or nothing. As Anne-Marie of Zero Waste Chef says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. I couldn’t agree more.
You don’t need to have the perfect zero waste home, sustainable wardrobe or vegan diet to make an impact. The little changes you make in your life really add up and make a difference.
Anyone who tells you otherwise should look in the mirror. We’re all imperfect creatures, even if we won’t admit it out loud. There is no such thing as being truly “zero waste” – all we can do is get mighty close to it. And that’s enough.
Just do what you can and what’s accessible for you. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
4. Make your voice heard
Your voice matters. If you’re feeling worried about the environment, it’s time to act on it!
There are so many ways to make a stand for the climate and have your voice heard. You could start an environmental blog, podcast, or social media account. You could join protests and sign petitions. The possibilities are endless.
One of the best ways to use your voice to help protect the environment is to vote. Make sure you’re registered to vote and start participating in elections, both big and small.
Be sure to stay on top of people running your state, as these are the people who will directly influence your local environment the most. You want people in there who believe in the same things you do, trust me! This will create tons of progress.
You can also reach out to local businesses about their packaging and plastic usage. This is a great way to make your voice heard and make change. Consider asking to speak with a manager about it, or sending the company an email.
If all of that feels too big for you, simply starting a discussion about climate change, zero waste, and plant based living with family or friends is a great option too.
There are so many fun, proactive ways to get your voice heard – so start talking!
5. Find a community
Climate change is a huge issue – and we can’t tackle it alone. Finding a community is vital for making a big difference, as well as battling feelings of eco-anxiety.
Connecting with like-minded people, even if it’s just on Facebook groups or on Instagram, is a healthy way to lighten your own load. It’ll help you realize you’re not in this alone, and that there are other people who care, just like you.
I cannot tell you how many friends and connections I’ve made through the zero waste community. It’s honestly amazing and there are so many people who continuously inspire me on a daily basis.
Don’t be afraid to connect with someone online with shares your values! Send them a message or leave comments on their posts to engage with them. Feel free to connect with me on Instagram – I love responding to DMs and comments!
It’s always nice having someone who you can relate to in your social circle. Plus, there’s always the chance you can collaborate on something fun together in the future that makes an impact!
6. Vote with your money
Vote with your wallet – protest with your purchases. You want to live in line with your values as much as possible, and this will certainly do the trick.
When we purchase an item, it tells big corporations that’s what we want more of. So, for example, by purchasing more disposable paper plates, companies are going to continue cutting down trees to make those paper plates. Supply and demand.
But if you stop purchasing disposable paper plates, and instead purchase a set of reusable plates that are handcrafted by a local artisan – that sends a different kind of message, don’t you agree?
The big corporations aren’t getting your money, and you’re not telling them “hey, go cut down a tree for the next batch, will ya?” You’re protesting it and instead helping support a local artisan whose products have a smaller carbon footprint and can be reused for years.
See how voting with your dollars work? Make sure to back brands and companies that help create change in the system. Shop small, local and eco-friendly whenever possible.
Here are my top 10 favorite zero waste shops to get you started!
7. Volunteer and give back
It’s so important to give back to the earth – and it will help you feel better too, knowing you did something good for it. Volunteering your time for the earth’s sake is a great way to make an impact and resolve restlessness within yourself.
Often times we feel helpless thanks to eco-anxiety. But when you take that restless energy and put it into motion, you can really help get things done and make progress.
Don’t be a watcher, be a doer! Whenever possible, try one of these volunteer activities that give back to the earth:
- Host or join a beach cleanup
- Find a local river cleanup
- Volunteer time at an environmental organization
- Join a community garden
- Join local beautification programs or organizations
- Volunteer at your local park
- Plant a tree, or have one planted on your street
- Help out on an urban farm
- Host a workshop on zero waste
- Volunteer at a local farm
- Help out local beekeepers
- Plant some native wildflowers
8. Get educated
It’s super important to get accurate information about climate change and the environment. This will help you feel more prepared if a crisis occurs, but will also help you simply when conversing with others about the climate.
If you’re getting inaccurate information, you’ll have a harder time convincing people climate change is real. Plus, inaccurate information can also cause eco-anxiety, if it’s from clickbaity headlines.
I advise going on sites that can be trusted to learn about climate change. The New York Times, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA are great places to start. They are trusted sites and always have the latest, most reliable (and objective) information to date.
It’s often said knowledge is power, so understanding what climate change is and how it impacts the world is essential. It will leave you feeling less in the dark to learn about these things.
There’s a lot of different environmental topics out there to learn about too, aside from climate change. There’s sub categories you might want to look into as well, such as zero waste, water waste, food waste, veganism, renewable energy, and so much more.
Obviously, my blog specializes in zero waste so you’re welcome to browse around and find heap loads of tips and tricks on that. Living a zero waste life will certainly reduce your carbon footprint!
If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading my free ebook 10 Ways to Reduce Trash so you can start your zero waste journey today.
9. Get active – and exercise
Believe it or not, regular exercise can help reduce most types of anxiety, eco-anxiety included.
Just going for a walk or run can help so much. Biking is another fun form of exercise that doesn’t involve using fossil fuels.
If you have to commute somewhere, you might want to consider biking or walking to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower your anxiety. As mentioned in tip #1, even just five minutes spent outdoors will help lower our heart rate and relax our muscles – so there’s a lot to be said for this way of commuting.
I personally love taking walks and try to do so at least twice a week, if not more.
Also, I like to workout at least three times a week where I focus on my arms, middle section and legs. I have go-to exercise videos that I’m kind of obsessed with. I’ve been doing them for months and loving the results.
Here are my favorite workout videos you can literally do from the comfort of your home.
Workout video for arms:
Workout video for banishing belly fat:
Workout video for legs:
Yes they really work. I suggest doing all of them together in one day, every other day. When you start getting used to it, you can make it every day for at least 3 to 4 days a week. Trust me, you’ll notice results.
I love how it makes me feel too – it helps relieve anxiety and helps me focus on just doing the movements. So make sure to get in some type of exercise if you want to reduce your eco-anxiety.
10. Know when to disengage
Sometimes, we suffer from information overload and it gets to be too much. When you’re constantly bombarding your brain with politics, social media and advertisements, it can be overwhelming.
That’s why it’s important to know when to disengage. Everyone needs to take a break.
While you can benefit from educating yourself about environmental issues, being exposed to a ton of information can create anxiety.
Take a break and unplug every once and a while. Turn your phone off, turn off the news, and stop looking at articles online. Do something that makes you happy instead.
You’ll be amazed at how much this drops stress levels.
Personally, I like to unplug by playing Sims 4. As funny as that sounds, it helps me to unwind and is a nice distraction. I also love to paint, draw, write (creatively), and bake. All these things help me unwind.
And, when none of that works, I just plop onto the couch and watch a movie with my folks or my boyfriend. One that has nothing to do with the environment, what so ever. Simple is best sometimes.
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