Five Simple Ways to Combat Eco-Anxiety

March 18 2020 | Elke Scholz, MA, RP, REACE

Five Simple Ways to Combat Eco-Anxiety

It is impossible to ignore the climate crisis. Headlines everywhere are focusing on the increase in CO2 emissions, the warming of the oceans and climate disasters. While we want to be aware of environmental issues, it is not uncommon for these events to trigger our anxieties. Many experience feelings of helplessness, sadness and fear for future generations. But what is the expense of these anxieties on our well-being?

Eco-anxiety is a growing problem for today’s youth. The unpleasant feeling of anxiety is a cue to pay attention. Next time you are beginning to feel anxious, try these five tips to alleviate your stress.

First things first. Acknowledge your unease, your discomfort, and your anxiety. You need to listen to it, just as you would a friend in need or a child trying to express their feelings. We need to listen first and then accept it. Notice when you do that, the anxiety tends to lower a bit, enough to think clearly. Pause, try and figure out where the anxiety is coming from.

Take action. Try making some positive greener choices right now, including reusing, repurposing, fixing things, and reducing what we use. Use recycling as a last resort. Have you ever thought of joining a Field Naturalist Club? It is a great way to connect with like-minded and caring people, and for new ideas. Try walking and cycling to work. It reduces fossil fuel usage, is healthier, and produces endorphins (feel-good hormones).

Know when to disengage. The media has a unique way of frightening people. Notice how you get influenced by advertising, TV, radio and social media. Seeing the same information over and over again can cause stress. Can you focus on what you need to pay attention to and filter out the rest? While it is important to know what is going on around you, sometimes disengaging to save your anxiety levels needs to take priority.

Worrying comes from an old English word ‘wrygan’, meaning ‘to strangle’. Worrying is not beneficial to anyone or anything. Write down all your worries. Consider the worries that are anticipatory. Write down the facts that support the worry thought and then write down the evidence that doesn’t support the unhelpful thought. Reframe the thought to a more realistic, balanced perspective and positive practical way.

Another great way to combat anxiety is to cultivate a strong and more intimate relationship with nature. Spend more time outdoors, explore and discover, be aware of trees, birds, and animals. As your relationship with nature grows, so does the respect and love for it. Be present. Enlighten your senses. Let nature open your heart.

For more tips and free resources, Elke Scholz, MA, RP, REACE, is a registered Psychotherapist, an internationally registered Expressive Art Consultant/Educator, and internationally certified EMDR Therapist. She is the well-known author of 3nd edition, Loving Your Life, containing over 40 creative exercises as an e-book and paperback. This book is internationally accessible and teen friendly. Elke has launched Anxiety Warrior Vol One and Vol Two, resource books for anxiety. She manages her own anxiety and she believes these strategies are accessible and easy for people to lower their anxiety levels. Her work includes creative antianxiety-wellness kits for employees, youth-at-risk and seniors in managing anxiety and depression. For over 35 years Elke has helped people and runs her private therapy practice in Bracebridge, Muskoka. She has spoken and facilitated at conferences, on radio and TV.