Combatting Environmental Anxiety
How to Champion a Brighter Tomorrow without feeling helpless
We are all acutely aware of the many challenges our planet faces. It can be overwhelming, leading to a sense of anxiety that leaves us feeling powerless and daunted. But remember, our collective potential is enormous, and each action, no matter how small, brings us closer to a sustainable future. It is something I have had to do a lot of work on for myself, and I wanted to offer you some strategies to disarm the despair and inspire you to make impactful actions for your life and others.
Firstly, I think it is important to acknowledge feeling anxiety about the environment is entirely natural – it is a very human response to the issues we are facing, But it also serves a purpose. This sense of helplessness and lack of control over our environmental impact is useful by design to the people who are profiting from it. It is intentional that we are repeatedly reinforced that small actions are insignificant. And this feeling is magnified by the enormity of the issue, often leading to despair and a belief that our efforts are meaningless. The truth is, if you believe you can't make a difference, it will drive you into a self-fulfilling prophecy of inaction. Remember, the cycle of environmental destruction is designed to be the path of least resistance. Resistance takes energy. This energy can't grow from despair. It is a decision and an active choice, not a passive reflex. It is seeded in the audacious belief in the possibility of a different world.
Rising Above Environmental Anxiety to Foster a Greener Future
Faced with Environmental Anxiety, the path to meaningful action might seem fraught with obstacles. But let's break it down into manageable steps, which you probably already know, but frankly, it is good to remind yourself when you feel like it is all spiralling:
Knowledge is Power
Equip yourself with a deep understanding of the environmental issues we face. Digest books, documentaries, and reputable sources that throw light on these challenges. The more you understand, the less powerless and overwhelmed you will feel.
Embrace the Power of Small Actions
We're not aiming to save the world in a day. Instead, embrace the power of small changes. Each action counts, from reducing your carbon footprint to recycling and conserving energy. And personally, I believe the most important and underused skill is dialogue. Have conversations with people who have different opinions to you. Try to engage other people in conversation rather than persuasion techniques. Understanding why someone disagrees with you will teach you so much about the road we have to travel.
Find Strength in Community
Connect with like-minded individuals. Shared concerns and values will lessen your feelings of helplessness and isolation. Consider joining a group, volunteering, or getting involved in local initiatives. Refrain from overlooking the power of creating change in your own neighbourhood. And I say that as someone who has spent a lot of my life running overseas, thinking that was the way to make a difference.
SelfCare is Paramount
In the fight against our own brains' fears, your wellbeing is crucial. Take breaks, ensure you're getting enough rest, and engage in activities that bring you joy and centre rest as much as action. If you are not listening to yourself on the journey, you are going to burnout. And if there is one thing the world does not need more of, it is burnt out activists.
Focus on Solutions
Though the problems may be huge, harnessing your energy towards solutions and actions you can take will shift a sense of empowerment and control and foster a hopeful outlook for creative solutions rather than 3 hours of doom scrolling on Instagram.
The environmental issues we face can seem overwhelming, and it's easy to believe your actions won't make a dent. But the world isn't a fixed entity; it's a living, breathing construct of 8.2 billion people's actions. And the impact of your actions always lies in your hands.