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Navigating Climate Anxiety in a Polluted World

Oh, it is only one piece of trash”. “It is just a natural cycle, there's nothing we can do about it”. "I don't need to switch to sustainable products; the regular ones are cheaper."

How many times have you heard that, and just gone about your day?

But…did you know that for some people, listening to these remarks can be triggering and very painful? Take the opportunity to learn more thanks to some great experts who joined this conversation.

Climate Anxiety: another side effect of climate change

In the face of unprecedented climate challenges, a growing concern has emerged - a psychological burden called climate anxiety.

This is a common struggle many experience when witnessing the impact of environmental degradation and the changing effects of the climate.

Today we are taking you on a journey to better understand:

  • what climate anxiety is

  • how to alleviate the symptoms with sustainable solutions

  • some expert advice from Janna Hoppmann and Fabian Hirt from ClimateMind, and Psychologist Sara Aparicio, who works with people who tackle climate anxiety

  • plus…the cake, at the end: the best part!

But First, What is Climate Anxiety?

And to answer this question we asked the experts, our friends at ClimateMind, the startup that empowers people and organisations to become real change makers. As they explain, “climate anxiety is a healthy reaction to the real threat of the climate crisis”. It is not a pathological phenomenon and in most cases, it does not require therapeutic treatment. However, “it is important to anticipate that climate anxiety - also known as eco-anxiety - can only be one of many emotional reactions to the climate crisis. In addition to anxiety, emotions such as anger and sadness can also occur. These diverse emotional reactions reflect the profound impact that the climate crisis can have on our emotional world”. In case the frustration gets more severe, help might be needed.

And if you were to need therapeutic treatment, the good news is that mental health professionals are now more prepared to help and guide individuals who experience and have experienced climate anxiety.

Climate Anxiety Can Take a Toll on Your Mental Health

Climate anxiety is a deeply personal and emotional experience that individuals navigate. For each person, climate anxiety can feel different, as well as having various levels of emotional intensity. Some of the common feelings include:

  • Worry and fear: about the immediate and long-term consequences of climate change on their lives.

  • Helplessness and Despair: The sense that their individual actions may seem insignificant in the face of global challenges can lead to a profound emotional burden.

  • Grief and loss: The ongoing loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems evoke a sense of grief.

  • Existential angst: Especially because of the prospect of a planet that may be fundamentally altered for future generations.

  • Stress and burnout: Through the constant exposure to distressing news and the uncertainty surrounding the future

  • Sense of injustice: By recognizing the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it's a deeply human experience that requires compassionate conversations and collective action.

The Roots of Climate Anxiety

Every person has a different root cause or causes for when they started experiencing climate anxiety. These can be due to environmental factors and societal and psychological contributors.

Also, our friends at ClimateMind have pointed out that, “climate anxiety is expressed to different degrees in different countries - depending on how strongly the climate crisis is already showing its effects in the respective countries. Recent studies have shown, that climate anxiety is currently much more widespread in the Philippines, for example, than in Europe, as the climate crisis is already having dramatic consequences for the reality of people's lives. This underlines that climate anxiety is a reaction to a real threat”. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Environmental Degradation: The tangible impacts of environmental degradation such as pollution, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity play a significant role in triggering climate anxiety. A clear example is air pollution, which can serve as a concrete reminder of the consequences that human activities have on climate change.

  • Extreme Weather Events and Their Aftermath: The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, from hurricanes and wildfires to floods and droughts, plus the aftermath of these events, with communities grappling with destruction, displacement, and loss, are a “close to home” reminder of the impacts of climate change.

  • Media Influence and the 24-Hour News Cycle: Continuous coverage of disasters, scientific reports on climate change, and debates around environmental policies create a constant backdrop of worry. Plus, the saturation of distressing images and information amplifies the emotional impact.

  • Fear of the Unknown Future and Eco-Grief: The uncertainty surrounding the future, combined with the anticipation of potential catastrophes, brings apprehension or angst. Additionally, the concept of eco-grief emerges as individuals grapple with the loss of familiar landscapes, the decline of species, and the realisation that the world they know is undergoing profound and irreversible transformations.

Some people might have one of these as root causes, some or even all. For someone who is experiencing climate anxiety, after having identified the root cause or causes the next steps of finding solutions to cope with anxiety become easier.

What can I do if I Experience Eco Anxiety?

Empowerment is a key aspect of combating climate anxiety. We talked with Sara Aparicio, Psychologist and Expert in climate anxiety and she advises that “sustainable changes can make you feel better in the battle against climate change”. Have a look at some specific strategy changes she advises.

4 first steps towards peace of mind

  • Understanding Individual Impact: A key aspect of solving climate anxiety is recognizing the influence of individual actions and how they may play a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable future.

  • Small Actions Leading to Collective Change: Small actions, when multiplied across communities, lead to significant positive change, and by engaging in conversations, sharing knowledge, and supporting sustainable initiatives, you can become a catalyst for a broader movement towards a greener planet.

  • Eco-Friendly Practices in Daily Life: Simple changes in daily habits that lessen ecological footprint, such as reducing single-use plastic, conserving energy, and practising mindful consumption, are powerful tools in mitigating environmental impact and provide a sense of purpose and agency in the fight against climate change.

  • Mindfulness and Mental Health Practices: Mindfulness practices, including meditation and nature immersion, can act as a balm for the anxious mind. By cultivating a deeper connection to the environment and fostering a sense of presence, you can navigate the emotional challenges posed by climate change with greater resilience.

A surprising ally: technology

Technological innovations play a crucial role in addressing climate change, and one such innovation is Pure Air Zone. By providing clean air in your spaces (like your office, the stores you frequent, and even health clinics), and introducing the ultimate purification services for office spaces that align with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, we not only combating pollution but also contribute to climate anxiety relief.

Together we are stronger: finding peace if you or your loved ones experience climate anxiety

The guidance of experts, including psychologists and mental health professionals, is indispensable. Insights from these professionals shed light on the holistic relationship between environmental and mental well-being.

Sara Aparicio explains that “a great way to navigate climate anxiety is to take community action and try to make the younger generations get involved {...} I’ve observed great progress from individuals that also take action with children and teenagers because they are the future. In a way, it provides a sense of relief because the generations that are coming will also be taking care of the planet.”

The experts at ClimateMind suggest that “there are two ways to deal with climate anxiety in a healthy way: an emotion-oriented approach or a problem-oriented approach. In the emotion-oriented approach, the focus is on dealing directly with one's own anxiety. Here, the aim is to recognise the anxiety, reflect on it and apply effective strategies to regulate it. This can be achieved, for example, by talking to others about the fear or by regular mindfulness exercises. The problem-oriented approach, on the other hand, focuses on addressing the roots of the anxiety. In the case of climate anxiety, these are the causes of the climate crisis, which should be actively addressed for a healthy approach to anxiety {...}”.

Alleviate climate anxiety with clean air

A great way to find peace of mind and to also help others reduce anxiety is through a clean-air environment.

How come?

Clean air can be a source of comfort and peace of mind, providing you with a haven amidst the uncertainties of a changing climate. In fact, one key study published in 2018 analysed data from nearly 150 million people across the United States and Denmark finding that air pollution exposure is significantly associated with an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, even at relatively low levels of exposure.

Pure air can aid well-being by profoundly influencing mental health and also supporting individual impact through depollution.

Creating hope for the future, Pure Air Zone does both, and we would like for you to try it. Together, we can breathe easier!

We want to especially thank Janna Hoppmann and Fabian Hirt from ClimateMind, and Psychologist Sara Aparicio for participating in this article!! The social start-up ClimateMind trains and advises leaders across Europe on how to build transformational skills and become true change makers. More information here.

Sara Aparicio is an experienced climate education psychologist based in Lisbon.



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