Feeling Anxious About Climate Change? Here’s How To Cope
October 11th, 2021 at 2:03 am
In recent times, we have been witnessing an increase in severe weather events such as floods and droughts, wildfires, intense storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the intensity and frequency of these incidents are about to increase. These severe weather events can have lasting disruptions in the weather patterns, which are causing climate change.
While these events cause an immediate impact on the environment, agriculture, economy and physical health, they can also impact a person’s mental health. This is called climate change anxiety.
A recent landmark survey found that climate change has caused distress, anger and other negative emotions in children and young people, who felt let down by their government’s inaction towards reducing the impact on the environment.
Weather events such as extreme storms or heat waves can lead to depression, anger, and even violence. The American Public Health Association recorded, 25 to 50 per cent of people exposed to an extreme weather disaster were at risk of an adverse mental health effect, with 54% of adults and 45% of children recorded to have experienced depression after a natural disaster.
Following natural disasters, psychologists have seen a rise in what they call distress reactions, which include things like: insomnia, irritability, increased substance use, and depression. These reactions are supposed to subside gradually, yet it is not always easy for vulnerable groups directly affected by the incident. They may, later on, show signs of PTSD and anxiety disorders.
Rather than feeling anxious about what is taking place around us, we can look at the following methods to cope with climate change anxiety:
- Acceptance – Accept that you do not know what will happen or what the future holds, and that you can only change your actions.
- Get a new view – Rather than focusing on post-apocalyptic scenarios, try to imagine a world running on renewable energy sources, have gardens that produce organic food and a sustainable environment.
- Find a support system – Find an eco-friendly community around you, so you can share your thoughts on how you feel about climate change.
- Get to work – Take control and ownership over your actions by reducing waste, switching to eco-friendly, recyclable and reusable product packaging. Urge policymakers to take action on declaring climate emergencies and work towards establishing carbon-neutral states/cities.
- Focus on the positive news – There are various initiatives that countries are currently taking to combat climate change, such as banning single-use plastic, reforestation initiatives, governments’ setting up carbon-neutral policy goals.
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