Getting on Top of Eco-Anxiety — What’s Worked for Me

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
  1. Playing my Position. I now recognise that I can’t save the world. Just as it’s not my fault alone that we’re in this ecological mess, it’s also not entirely in my hands to stop climate change. It’s taken me many years to get comfortable with the realisation that I can only achieve so much, that I only have a certain amount of influence. But I’m also at the point where I see this as a potential super-power — I may just make that final nudge, create that final piece of the puzzle, ask that one final clever question that helps someone else achieve something incredible. It’s a team effort, and I play my position like a boss.
  2. Finding the Levers. Once I realised that climate change is the symptom of a very complex and complicated human-capitalist-market-driven system and that there are more elements than we can possibly count, I started looking for the root cause of each symptom and finding ways to press that one lever. It’s meant that I can be comfortable with ignoring many of the elements that are only the result of the root cause. I keep my eyes on the prize and don’t get distracted.
  3. No Judgement. I’ve stopped judging others. Well, mostly. I’ve recognised that we’re all trapped in this same messy complicated system and to varying degrees we’re all victims of what we’ve created. I’ve given up trying to change others’ behaviour and now focus on those levers instead. If I can’t get someone to make recycling a habit, for example, I just accept it, and make sure that I keep looking for those levers that remove the need for recycling in the first place.
  4. Leave Blockers Behind. I accept that not everyone accepts the climate science. They’ll trust science in general, like driving through traffic lights when they’re green, or eating food from a microwave, or taking medicine, but they just insist on politicising climate science and looking for ways to verify their own biases. Where once I might have argued and tried to ‘educate’ them, I now just move on. Let them catch up when they’re ready. Time is too precious, and I’m needed on the frontline.
  5. Self-Kindness. I manage my energy. If I try to solve everything and hit burnout then I’m no good to anyone, so I regularly check in with myself to reflect on how I’m feeling, what are my energy levels, how strong is my motivation, what’s frustrating me at the moment and what’s inspiring me. Self-awareness. It’s ok to take a break, to stop for a while, to disengage. You’ll never win the race if you don’t take a rest from training.
  6. Connect. The more I reach out to connect with others who are also playing their own parts in climate action, the more I realise I’m not alone. I share ideas, thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. There is strength and solace in numbers. When I’m feeling down, I know that some others in my tribe will be on top, and they’ll help me back up with care.
  7. Learn. I’m a lifelong learner, and the more I learn the more I’m able to find those levers, inspire others, call out BS when I need to, and most importantly be even more effective through my work. Knowledge is empowering and builds confidence, and I can’t help but wonder if eco-anxiety gains a foothold when there’s a lack of it.
  8. Help Others. Maybe it’s just the way I am, and it’s not really conscious — but I find great comfort in helping others on their own journeys toward climate action. And I’ve discovered that when I see how other people have amplified their own climate action because of something I’ve done or said or shown, my own eco-anxiety is quietened for a while.
  9. One Step at a Time. As I’ve mentioned above, climate change is a wickedly complex and complicated problem with literally millions of moving parts. I know I can’t solve everything and I can’t be everywhere at once. And that’s ok. What I can do is choose the next action I want to take in my climate action journey then give it the full court press. Research, learn, test, troubleshoot, test again, move forward. Do each thing well, then move onto the next. Step by step I can walk miles, which builds the sense that I’m making a difference and getting somewhere.
Individual Climate Action Does Matter. by author.

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Digby Hall

Digby Hall

Climate adaptation architect, striving to help tackle climate change through positive adaptation. Think. Move. Act.