News and Analysis | Richard Ravelin | July 20, 2022
Feeling the heat: how to handle eco-anxiety
For the deniers and sceptics who think that man-made climate change isn’t real – just step outside.
The current heatwave is a wake-up call. Wildfires and extreme hot weather conditions are causing havoc, climate scientists are warning that the UK should no longer consider itself as a ‘cold country’ and Secretary-General of the United Nations has said that we are facing ‘collective suicide’ over climate change.
There is no doubt that we need to be preparing ourselves for more common, and severe, heatwaves. And it’s not just heat – according to climate experts, we can expect storms, floods and more extreme weather in the future too.
Despite the clear evidence, there are still many sceptics out there. However, on the other end of the spectrum, the situation is causing many of us to experience ‘eco- anxiety’ – extreme worry about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change.
Eco-anxiety is on the rise, especially amongst younger generations concerned about the future of the planet. It’s not actually a new phenomenon, as you might expect. Many people living in the Victorian-era worried about the effects of pollution, and climate activists in the 1960s and 70s suffered with the condition too.
Feelings of helplessness, loss, frustration, anger and guilt about the planet are all signs of eco-anxiety. You might feel powerless, wondering how you can possibly have any impact on something as huge and significant as global warming.
What can you do to combat climate anxiety? Here are our top tips:
- Acknowledge how you feel: don’t ignore it and remember, you’re not alone – many of us are feeling anxious at the moment. Talk to your partner, a friend or family member.
- Step away from the screen: whilst it’s important not to deny what’s going on, doom-scrolling and immersing yourself in media coverage about the climate crisis can leave you feeling more anxious. Try taking a break or limiting your exposure to the news for a while.
- Try some relaxation techniques: meditation, yoga, swimming or taking a walk are all great ways to feel calmer.
- Speak to others: you’re not the only one feeling this way – share your concerns with others and if you have children or know young people with eco-anxiety, help them to process their concerns too. This BBC article has some brilliant tips on how you can help young people to cope.
- Make some lifestyle changes: whether it’s making less car journeys or buying second-hand clothes, there are lots of small changes that we can all make. You might feel like these changes are insignificant, but it’s all a piece of the puzzle. If we all take personal responsibility, it could affect massive change.
- Take a “staycation”: you might be in need of a break, but feel guilty about flying. A holiday in the UK is much more sustainable and there’s so much to explore – why have the hassle and stress of flying abroad?
- Consider activism: turn your anxiety into a force for good by joining a local climate action group or attending a march. This can give you a sense of belonging, working together with others towards a solution.
- Volunteer in your community: this could be taking part in a local litter pickup, helping to care for a community green space or joining a local conservation project. The Conservation Group has a list of groups across the UK.
- Look at your finances: of course, we couldn’t forget this! The biggest change you can make is with your money. Through your savings and investments, you could be propping up industries that are contributing to the climate crisis, such as fossil fuels. So, consider shifting your money where it doesn’t harm the environment or planet. At Path, we help to review your finances to make sure your money is not only there for your future, but also for the planet’s future too.
Finally, remember that eco-anxiety can actually be a positive thing. It’s a healthy response to the climate crisis and means that you care about the world around you. Processing how you feel and finding meaningful ways to fight climate change as an individual will help you to feel less isolated.
At Path, we are always keen to speak with you about your individual needs and concerns. Get in touch with us with us for a chat.
As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.