Worried you're not doing enough for the environment?
I don't know about you, but some nights I toss and turn, fixated on the probable fact that we're all doomed to extinction because I'm not doing enough to save the planet.
I'm not recycling well enough, or I'm driving when I could walk, or I'm buying stuff I don't strictly need (chicken swing? Take my money!). Sometimes the anxiety is about much bigger stuff--large scale environmental disasters that I have absolutely no control over. I can't fix it, so I go round in circles worrying.
Eco anxiety is a thing.
Welcome to eco anxiety. Quite a few people who care about the planet (and the folks confined to living here) occasionally suffer from this type of anxiety.
Have you ever felt like no matter what you do, it won't have an impact on the world, or it won't be enough to make a difference? That you could be doing so much more? Felt frustrated or angry at the people around you who either don't believe in climate change, or simply don't care? Bam. Eco anxiety.
So what's the cure?
The best cure would be if the world magically sorted itself out. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen. So where does it leave those of us who are trying to do better, even in the face of the overpowering voice in our heads muttering that it won't be enough. How do we cope?
Tip #1 - Avoid triggers, and focus on what you can control.
Maybe skip the doomsday documentaries if you find they trigger you. Although they can be helpful at informing us of the situation the world is in, they can also send an already clued in person over the edge. You probably don't need the message driven home.
What can you control? How are you already making a difference? Do you use a bamboo toothbrush? Have you made the switch to shampoo bars instead of the stuff in plastic bottles? Amazing. Keep at it. The key is to focus on the stuff you're doing already. Work to your strengths.
You can't do everything--it's just not possible. But you can, and probably are doing something to help the world. Remind yourself of all you already do.
Tip #2 -- Switch off, and if you can't switch off, do something for you.
Some people swear by meditation as a way to calm anxiety. Unfortunately its never clicked with me. Maybe it's the caffeine running through my veins, or the fact that I'm happiest when my mind is busy, but I'll work at it for a few minutes and then I'll get straight back to gnawing over whatever issue is at hand.
That said, it definitely can help people, so it might be worth looking into if the idea appeals. There's some great short videos on YouTube that even I can stick with!
If you struggle to relax, try and do something that you enjoy, something that feeds your soul. The aim is to break the cycle of negativity, and for me that means doing stuff that helps ground me firmly in the here and now.
I like activities that take a bit of attention over something passive like walking or yoga. Some of the folks over on my Insta recommended a variety of ways to chill out when you're feeling anxious.
A tip I really like is from Karen (@soakbathsalts) -- leave the phone at home and go for a digital free walk every single day. This one is harder than it sounds, but disconnecting from the online world will allow you to recharge, and focus on the world in front of you.
Naoi Store's Namitha talked about doing something that helps you to zone out the outside world. For her, it's painting. For you, it could be something like playing the drums, or reading a fantasy novel. Try some new crafts or a different genre of book than you'd usually read.
Other recommendations included going for a walk and running through all the senses, what you can smell, taste, hear, see, feel. And gardening too! I completely agree with this one, there's nothing like growing stuff to make you feel a bit hopeful.
Tip #3 -- Connect with others
Reach out to your community and find like minded people. Maybe you can get involved in local litter pick ups, or community action projects. Surrounding yourself with people who also care about the environment will help you feel more optimistic about the future.
Last of all, always remember to be gentle with yourself. It's good to have high standards and expectations, but never at the expense of your mental health.
Over and out,