Eco-Anxiety

Recently, Behind My Mind had the opportunity to collaborate with Clean the Air to discuss the rise and impacts of eco-anxiety!   

"Clear the Air is an online platform that seeks to educate, inspire and mobilize youth to take climate action. Founded by Jenna Phillips, CTA strives to show YOU how you can make a difference in the world through the power of individual actions. Clear the Air translates complex science into simple, clear language through blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. The ultimate goal: empower one young person every day to create sustainable change."

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Jenna on her ‘Clean the Air’ podcast where we got to explore the topic of eco-anxiety and how it influences society today. We explain what eco-anxiety is, offer helpful tips for managing your eco-anxiety, and explore what you can do to make a difference.

So, what is eco-anxiety? It has been defined as the chronic fear of climate change. More specifically it refers to a fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster. This sense of anxiety is largely based on the current and predicted future state of the environment and human-induced climate change. It is important to note that it is not a clinical anxiety disorder, but it can trigger or worsen pre-existing mental health conditions. One important thing eco-anxiety teaches us is that everyone is susceptible to mental duress, regardless of pre-existing mental conditions. It is incredibly important that we make time to acknowledge our mental health and practice self-care. Your mental health is of equal importance to your physical health.  

Eco-anxiety has become more prominent in recent years as many of us face the reality of climate change and environmental concerns society faces. With more access to information and media constantly sharing both fact and fiction, it is easy to be overwhelmed and scared of what we will face going forward.

Lucky for you, Jenna and I discussed how to manage your eco-anxiety! Remember you still have some control – anxiety often centres around concerns that we feel we don’t have control over. Climate change is a huge worldwide concern so it is understandable that we feel too small to make an impact but that isn’t true. Remember you have the power to make a difference, your voice matters and you have the ability to channel your eco-anxiety into action and advocacy. 

The Canadian Mental Health Association has also provided some great advice to managing your eco-anxiety:

1. Let climate change guide the decisions you make—what you eat, how you travel, what you buy. Being in control of your own environmental footprint can counter powerlessness.

2. Talk about climate change in your own circles. Sharing can help diminish fear.

3. Be an activist. Get on board with a campaign or start your own group. Know that you are not alone.

4. Demand that governments and business take action now.

5. Demand that health professionals and even teachers know how to recognize and respond to eco-anxiety in children.

6. Go with hope instead of doom. Catch hope from youth, whose activism is moving mountains. Believe that it’s not too late.

Finally, I can’t stress this enough, your voice matters! We face many challenging times as our world continues to grow but it is our world to keep safe and we must take action to do so. 

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” – Mother Teresa 

To hear more about eco-anxiety and learn more about Clean the Air, make sure you check out Jenna’s website here, subscribe to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, and give her a follow @_ctablog. 

Erin Murray, Calgary AB

Erin is a dog lover, coffee addict, and aspiring poet with her first book on the way. She is a mental health advocate, often sharing her journey with others to help remove the stigma placed on mental health. Instagram: @erinmichellemur

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