· By PYM STORE
Eco Anxiety: How to Cope with the Threat of Climate Change
It’s no secret that climate change is happening. What’s less spoken of is the impact climate change is having on people’s mental health–especially younger generations.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 62% of Americans feel that climate change is a significant source of stress in their lives. In addition, the survey found that 56% of Americans feel a sense of helplessness about the issue and 45% feel a sense of fear.
Other recent surveys of young people have found that 45% say negative feelings about climate change are impacting their daily life or functioning.
As a result, in 2017, the American Psychological Association (APA) and ecoAmerica coined the term Eco Anxiety, defined as “Chronic fear of environmental doom.”
If you find that climate change is impacting your mental health, you may be wondering how you can deal with the stress. Read on for more about eco-anxiety and ways to cope with it!
What is eco anxiety?
Let’s first talk about anxiety. Anxiety is the psychological and physiological response to a real or perceived threat to our survival. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a normal and healthy emotion that helps us survive. However, it can be considered unhealthy when it interferes with your ability to participate in daily activities.
Eco anxiety is not a diagnosable condition, but it is a very real feeling of anxiousness, helplessness, and fear in response to the ecological crisis.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens, a Holistic Child Psychologist and Medical Advisor to PYM says, "I think many young people and adults are experiencing a certain amount of eco-anxiety these days, and it makes sense given the obvious problems and concerns happening with climate change and the environment. It’s normal for people to feel some anxiousness when there is a problem that impacts us and isn’t getting addressed. When that anxiety starts to take over a person’s life, however, it becomes a clinical problem."
Some people experience mild eco anxiety where they are aware of the threat of climate change, and that stress motivates them to take action and do their part to help the environment.
Others experience more severe eco anxiety where they are hyper-aware about every action they take or don’t take that could be contributing to the crisis, and they feel a chronic sense of guilt or helplessness as a result.
Eco anxiety is normal and natural
The reminder of the threat of climate change is all around us- whether it be right in our hometowns with raging wildfires, floods, hurricanes or tornadoes, or we’re seeing it on the news or social media.
What makes it worse is knowing that we are contributing to it, every day, and oftentimes we don’t have much of a choice about that. All of that said, it’s a totally normal and natural response to feel anxiety and helplessness!
But we can use those feelings to motivate us to take action and focus on hopeful thoughts, rather than allowing the negatives to take over and bring us down.
Dr. Beurkens says, "Anxiety of any type can be useful if it stays at a manageable level, as it helps motivate us to do things. In the case of eco-anxiety, it can motivate us to take steps to address the issues we’re feeling concerned about. Actions like recycling, volunteering for an environmentally-focused organization, or communicating with lawmakers about these issues help soothe our anxious feelings by allowing us to feel more in control because we’re contributing to a solution."
How to cope with eco-anxiety
1. Cut back on news and social media
It’s most likely not helpful to continuously be reminded of all the ways our Earth is under threat. You don’t have to turn a blind eye to it and ignore it, but be mindful of your consumption of media that makes you feel even more anxious.
"As with everything in life, balance is needed. When we allow anything, including any type of anxiety, to consume us it ends up causing problems with our health and wellbeing. I often recommend that people step away from media and other sources of information about these issues periodically to take a break from the constant “doom and gloom” news cycle," says Dr. Beurkens.
2. Choose one small way to make a difference
Recognize that it’s not up to you to save the whole world, but all of us can make a difference. Choose one area of your life you’d like to start with in terms of how you can help the environment and continue from there. Here are some very simple ways to help the environment:
- Turn off the lights and unplug things when not in use
- Buy second-hand clothes or do clothing swaps with friends
- Buy second-hand furniture
- Walk or ride a bicycle when you can
- Replace plastic water bottles with one glass or metal water bottle
- Use cloth tote bags rather than plastic bags at the grocery store
- Purchase seasonal, organic and local food products
- Purchase from companies that pledge to support the environment and use eco-friendly packaging and shipping methods
- Switch to organic cotton pads and tampons or menstrual cups or washable period panties
3. Take action
Channeling anxiety into action can have a transformational effect. This may look like getting politically active and contacting your local representatives, or volunteering for nonprofits who are working against global warming. If you’re a more creative type, this may look like creating art or fashion with recycled materials!
4. Take care of your mental and physical health
The best thing you can do for the environment is take care of your own physical and mental well-being. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so when you are feeling well, you have more energy to put towards effective action.
Dr. Beurkens adds, "Engaging in a variety of pleasurable activities, getting enough sleep, moving your body, eating nutrient-dense foods consistently, breathwork, meditation, and many other lifestyle strategies all support our nervous system to stay better regulated even in the face of serious concerns like climate change. Of course I recommend using PYM mood chews regularly to support healthy neurotransmitter levels that help us feel more regulated and keep our anxiety at a more manageable level."
Our Mood Chews are made with amino acids GABA and L-Theanine that help reduce feelings of stress, anxiousness and overwhelm. Taken consistently over time, they help improve neurotransmitter function and serotonin production for a better mood.
5. See a professional
Although it’s not an officially recognized diagnosis, the mental health impact of eco-anxiety is very real. Working with a mental health professional can help you manage ecological grief and protect your well-being.
The Climate Psychology Alliance educates people and professionals about the mental and public health impacts of climate change. The resources on their website may prove both useful and validating.
How PYM is committed to supporting the environment
Here at PYM we make intentional choices to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.
We listened to our customers and reduced packaging by 75%, and use recyclable materials with non-toxic ink.
We use 100% recycled padded mailers that are also 100% recyclable after use.
Soon, we will be transitioning to eco-friendly summer shipping solutions to keep products chilled without harming the environment.
Lastly, our ingredients are ethically sourced in the USA which reduces transportation time and pollution.
Happy Earth Day!