Do you have Eco Anxiety?

Eco Anxiety is becoming more common
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Over the last few months many of us have been glued to the news of a string of natural disasters that have gripped the globe.  Some parts of the world are on fire, Australia, South Korea, part of America and Africa continue to burn with a startling ferocity. In other areas floods have decimated the countryside including Indonesia and more locally in Yorkshire last year.  The UK Government declared a climate emergency in May 2019.

The trauma and stress experienced post-disaster is understandable to most people, but even those whose lives and livelihoods don’t depend directly upon the climate are feeling the strain. For some people, the world is starting to feel like a deeply unsafe place.  This anxiety is being termed ‘eco anxiety’  or solastalgia and is defined as “the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.”

The anxiety can manifest in many ways, from hesitating over decisions to start families or to move country because of a work opportunity to feeling paralysed by the smaller decisions that form daily life.  When these anxieties become a problem they affect the day-to-day functioning of your life.  School, work and interpersonal relationships can become strained as the person suffering feels overwhelmed by the scope of what is happening and unable to cope.

So what are the practical steps we can all take to better manage our anxiety about the state of the world?

Firstly, we can remind ourselves that everyone experiences anxiety and that it’s a natural response to stress. We can switch our focus from international catastrophes to areas where we can make an impact.  If you’re feeling hopeless about what others are (or aren’t) doing to address climate change, doing something yourself can feel empowering.

An effective technique to reduce anxiety is to focus on the things that you can control.  There are many changes that you can make at an individual level that will not only be beneficial for the environment, but may also instigate change in others:

  • Use your reusable coffee cup, bags and containers while shopping
  • Buy local produce when it’s in season and be mindful about food miles
  • Learn more about recycling
  • Lobby your local government to invest more in sustainable initiatives

If it all feels overwhelming, then know that it is okay to switch off.  Give yourself the time and space that you need, by taking a deliberate break from the news stories.  Many people find that reducing or eliminating television coverage of these disasters is helpful for them in maintaining a sense of perspective about what is happening in the world and helping them to keep their focus on the things that they can do to affect positive change.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression. Working with a therapist you’ll learn how to change your focus and put your worries into a wider perspective you you’re able to carry on with daily life.

Clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with mental health conditions and helping to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

“After sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you. Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily,” states the National Council for Hypnotherapy. In these challenging times it’s calmness and clarity of thought that we need as we face our future.

Click here to access the NCH directory, with over 1,800 therapists all around the UK there’s sure to be someone to help close to you.