Eco-Anxiety Is Real — Here’s How To Cope With It

Recently Dr. Sally Gillespie was interviewed by REFINERY29 in response to the release of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR6 Climate Change 2021 report.

Dr Gillespie said, “it’s not surprising that many of us feel worried and anxious about the future after the report’s release — but there are ways to manage the anxiety.”

She recommended not denying our distress, but instead using the report as a prompt to reach out to others and start discussions about your eco-anxiety.

She also addressed a few common sources of eco-anxiety:

Prospective Parents

For those worried about becoming a parent, she acknowledged that climate change is a concern for many young people when they are deciding whether to have children.

“I think we need to acknowledge it as a collective situation. Many young people are going through this, and I think there’s a lot of good in getting together with others to talk about that decision” she said.

She also emphasised that there are no right or wrong answers.

Young People

For those struggling with the existential threat of climate change, Dr. Gillespie again recommended acknowledging your feelings and talking to someone about it.

“”It’s important for young people to acknowledge what they feel and to talk to other generations,” says Dr Gillespie. After processing those feelings, we can decide what action we can take to help the climate cause.”

She also recommended reconnecting with nature as a source of healing.

Those feeling guilty

 “Dr Gillespie says we can deal with the guilt by asking ourselves, “What else can I do?” and remembering that we’re in this together.”

Individual actions are important, but the biggest potential differences can be made together, through collective action and systematic change.

Those feeling despair and powerlessness

Dr. Gillespie recommends acknowledging and monitoring feelings of despair and hopelessness, particularly related to government policy changes. She says to remember the connection between individual and collective action, and think about how we can leverage our individual changes into systematic ones.

Getting Help

Above all, Dr. Gillespie recommends talking to someone about your feelings, or joining one of a growing number of groups where you can share these feelings, but if they are interfering with your daily functioning, seek professional help.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety, please contact Lifeline (131 114) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). Support is available 24/7. 


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