Last updated on November 6th, 2021 at 11:38 AM
Right now, the threat of climate change feels huge and overwhelming, and levels of climate anxiety are on the rise. It’s no surprise that new research from the ONS has shown three-quarters of adults in the UK worry about climate change.
Just over two-fifths (43%) reported feeling anxious about the future of the environment more widely in the past month, with women more likely to feel anxious about the impact of climate change.
Women may be experiencing climate anxiety more than men for several reasons: previous research has found women are more likely to experience an anxiety disorder and are at greater risk of stress, which can increase anxiety levels.
Climate anxiety is something many of us are feeling daily, and whilst it’s not a pleasant experience, anxiety about the climate crisis is a normal response.
It signals to us that there’s something we need to pay attention to; there’s a threat and that we need to act now.
The good news is that we can each take positive steps to reduce our impact on the environment while improving our health and wellbeing.
Four Steps To Reduce Climate-Anxiety:
- Recognise your feelings
You aren’t alone in your feelings – find comfort in the fact that millions of people across the world will be feeling the same as you. You may find it helpful to spend time in nature to boost your mental wellbeing and feel more connected to the planet.
- Practice self-compassion
It’s understandable that you may feel useless and powerless given the scale of the challenge. However, it’s important to have self-compassion; don’t feel guilty or ashamed.
Be kind to yourself if you act in a way that doesn’t align with your climate change beliefs and values.
Learn from the situation and think about what you could do differently in future. We can’t be perfect all the time.
- Learn more about climate change
Educate yourself about climate change solutions – don’t focus on the doom and gloom.
Modern life has evolved so that many of our behaviours do have an impact on the planet. That isn’t your fault, but we can each take steps to minimise our impact.
- Make simple changes
Try not to feel overwhelmed by climate change. When something feels big and uncertain to deal with, like climate change, our brains will resist it and direct us towards an easier path.
To make sure your eco-friendly habits stick, start by making one or two small changes to live greener and build them up over time.
How to make your new sustainable habits stick:
Change one thing at a time
It can be tempting to want to make lots of changes all at once, especially when it comes to such an important issue.
However, research shows that people who change one thing at a time are more likely to be successful. Start small – it’ll work out better in the long term.
Create an action plan
Active travel like cycling is a great way to look after your health and reduce emissions.
Setting an action plan – the details of what, when, where, how you will do the behaviour – means you’re more likely to achieve these changes.
Make sure you choose a behaviour or actions that you feel motivated by.
Think of yourself as an environmentally friendly person
Humans prefer to behave in line with how we think about ourselves. Thinking of ourselves as someone who is environmentally friendly increases the likelihood that we’ll behave in line with that identity.
Behaviour change is hard, but it’s important not to give up at the first hurdle. There will be times when you slip up – that’s normal.
Acknowledge it but try not to dwell on it; instead, reflect on how you could learn for next time.
Share your successes
Tell others of your wins as this might encourage them to make small changes in their own lives. The more people who take action to improve their health and the planet’s health, the better.