Anxiety, a mental disorder that has always been around, is now increasingly being recognized. Modern society is slowly accepting anxiety as a "real issue" that needs attention and treatment. We are now aware that it stems from variable causes, and we have learned to accept these factors. Unfortunately, this acceptance does not equally extend to all types of anxiety. Eco-anxiety is still something that most people laugh off and brush aside as an over-exaggeration.
What is Eco anxiety?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes eco-anxiety as an amalgam of feelings of powerlessness, anger, or exhaustion due to gradual, long-term changes in climate. Witnessing these irreversible changes, worries of environmental sustainability begin to creep in, leaving us in distress about the future.
Some may say, "What is the point of worrying about something that isn't under your control?" or " Aren't we all facing the same conditions?"
But isn't that exactly why it's terrifying? The fact that one person alone cannot change the state of our planet. Protection of future generations and our natural resources does not lie in the hands of one individual. Unlike other contributors to anxiety, it is much more challenging to find a solution, tackle the problem, and work it out all on our own.
The majority of people harbor the fear of climate change but suppress these fears out of helplessness.
As I sit writing this, I recall the time not too long ago when the rains and floods washed away many homes in my hometown. With every dark cloud in the sky, our hearts began to race, and our minds feared the worst. The aggressive weather changes are terrifying. It is now evident that this is just a glimpse of the side effects of urbanization. All the people caught in the middle of this unfortunate situation will be forever scarred by nature's wrath. Those who read about the damages to life and property will feel unsettled emotions stirring inside them.
Everyone will eventually realize the obvious, that nature will lose its elasticity and power of accommodation. All of the damages incurred will catch up to us, and we must, at the very least, accept it to make amends.
The truth is, there's no more room for optimism. Environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, emphasized the need to panic. Only when we worry will we work towards a solution.
But without channeling these fears into action and plans, worrying alone will alter the stability of our minds. Worrying without acting on it will only lead to sleepless nights. In addition, we may find other stress-induced disorders knocking on our doors. Stress can take a heavy toll on our lives. Apart from the psychological impact it leaves, cardiovascular diseases may begin to manifest in the form of hypertension and may even aggravate, leading to more severe conditions. It will also interfere with our professional life and decrease our efficiency.
So, here are some ways to deal with Eco- anxiety
1. Spending more time in the great outdoors!
From time to time, it is essential to unwind and reconnect with nature and its gifts. The first step to improving the environmental conditions is, being grateful for what we already have.
2. Exploring environment-friendly products
With all the information going around, we are bestowed with the duty to make responsible choices. As a consumer, it'll be beneficial to look to eco-friendly options before making a purchase. Not just sustainable shopping bags made of natural biopolymers, this extends to the actual product as well!
3. Reading up on environmental hazards.
While environment conservation is a pressing priority, it is also crucial to protect ourselves from environmental hazards.
We must raise awareness of occupational carcinogens, address ecotoxicology and its impact on organisms, and discuss the acute and chronic effects of chemical exposure(including household chemicals like detergents, pesticides, bleaching agents).
4. Joining environment enthusiasts in their movement.
Join hands with local, national, or international nonprofit environmental groups to make an impact.
To start a movement individually, one may tap into their passions to express and pitch in ideas.
Through art, photography, literature, or contributions to the already growing technological advancements, it's possible to make a difference.
5 . Building a community of other like-minded individuals.
It is essential to recognize these symptoms and find a group of like minds.
In unity, we find strength. Not only does it give us the comfort of sharing mutual concerns, but it also keeps us motivated to bring a change together.
From here on out, it is imperative to embrace the sensitivity born out of fear and weaponize the anxiety to safeguard our home. As Jochen Zeitz pointed out, sustainability is no longer about doing less harm, it's about doing more good.