What is climate anxiety and what can I do?

by Suffolk Mind Team | 12 Apr 2023

Climate anxiety occurs when we feel fearful or worried about climate change and its effects. The future is uncertain, particularly when it comes to this topic – which is often discussed in the news.

We’ve spoken before about how current affairs can affect our sleep and stress levels. In this blog, we look at ways of managing with climate anxiety, and supporting your mental health overall.

Do what you can

We may feel pressure to ‘do our bit’ for the planet, but it’s important to focus on what we can change and control in our day to day lives. We cover five top tips later on, which may help you focus on what you can do.

Limit news intake

Try to avoid being pulled into the constant stream of updates, or ‘doomscrolling.’ This could include deleting certain apps or limiting your time on them, or changing channels when the news comes on the TV. You could also try looking for good news, such as the BBC’s uplifting stories page for balance.

List things to be thankful for

Taking stock of good things in our lives can help to quiet anxiety over things we can’t directly control. Try writing a regular gratitude journal, or pausing every now and then to make a mental note of things to be thankful for.

Lead by example

What are you already actively doing, big or small, to combat climate change? You’re probably doing more than you think. Show your those around you how they can help too – perhaps by suggesting a car-share to your colleagues, teaching others which plastics can be recycled, or encouraging your friends to shop local.

Talk, learn, share and take action

If you’re feeling the effects of climate anxiety, then you could benefit from talking to those close to you about it. Your friends, family and co-workers may also be feeling the same way, and you might be able to share more ways to help the planet together. By coming together to do something practical, you can meet your emotional needs for Community, Meaning & Purpose, and Achievement.

If you’re in need of some support, Suffolk Mind is here for you, too. Take a look at our services for more information.

Reflect on your emotional needs

In order to help us stay well, we have 12 physical and emotional needs, along with 9 resources to help us meet our needs. This is called the Emotional Needs & Resources approach, which we at Suffolk Mind use to inform all of our services. Find out more about yours by taking our Emotional Needs Survey.

5 top tips to make a difference

Here are some small ways that you can make a difference, both to the environment and to yourself, to help deal with climate anxiety and meet your needs.

  1. Control your impact on the environment by recycling as much as possible at home, and where you can avoid single-use plastics
  2. Meet your need for Meaning & Purpose by litter-picking while out on a walk
  3. Make small changes to your Food & Drink choices, such as choosing vegetarian, organic or locally-sourced items
  4. Meet your need for Movement by swapping short car journeys for walking or cycling
  5. Meet your need for Achievement by recycling ink cartridges, which can help raise money for charity while helping the environment

And finally… remember to breathe

When anxiety gets a hold of us, it’s important that we remember to breathe. One of the ways to help ourselves calm down is to take a short in breath – say 7 seconds, hold it for a beat, followed by a longer out breath – for instance 11 seconds. We call this 7/11 breathing.

Watch our video to find out more about the 7/11 breathing technique.

by Suffolk Mind Team
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