Do you ever worry about the future of our planet? What will happen to the world, to us? Will we still be able to save the Earth? Will there be wars over food? Will we even have enough living space left? Is it still fair to bring children into the world? Such thoughts and fears are summarized under the term "eco anxiety". Feelings like sadness or despair can also arise. Sometimes it is quite difficult to get rid of these thoughts and feelings and to look positively into the future..
Today, I would like to share with you opportunities and tips to help you deal with these environmental concerns and thoughts
Greta Thunberg's statement "I want you to panic" in a speech to Parliament seems justified to me - if it is addressed to politicians and world leaders who are hesitant about climate policy or even deny climate change.
But we ourselves should not "panic". We can all feel pressure to act without directly panicking
When we are in a state of fear, panic or stress, we can no longer think clearly. We are not able to make rational decisions. How should we be able to change the way we treat the planet in a sustainable way?
We all know headlines like "The ice is melting", "We have 10 years to change something - otherwise everything is lost" or "One million species are threatened with extinction". How can you not be worried when you read something like that? Sadness and despair are also natural reactions to such news. It is all the more incomprehensible that some leading personalities seem to want to do nothing. After all, the survival of our species will eventually depend on Earth's resources..
How do I deal with eco anxiety?
Acceptance is probably the most difficult step in this whole thing. Acceptance here does not mean just sitting back and watching. It is rather about accepting that a certain duality exists. If we want to keep our eco anxiety in check, we must learn to live with the positive AND the negative emotions. We don't have to approve of the negative emotions or become attached to them, but we can acknowledge that they are there. Try to be mindful of them. It is absolutely human to feel fear. But we do not have to identify with this fear. Let it be there, and then let it go.
Against eco anxiety it can also help to think up a mantra that you can recite when you are overwhelmed by such thoughts, e.g: "God/Universe/..., give me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can change, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other".
2. Change your point of view
In the same way that we have to accept that bad things can happen, we also have to accept that good things can happen. This is usually not so easy, especially when we are surrounded by a dystopian view. News, books, documentaries - everyone seems to believe in the apocalypse. These images quickly get into our heads. And because our head thinks in pictures, it is difficult to get rid of these pictures. It is clear that in today's times we usually do not have a positive, colourful and happy picture of the future..
But why don't we change that? What if we were to rely entirely on renewable energies? If every roof and every house was decorated with plants? What if these green spaces were planted with organic food that could supply the entire neighbourhood? What if we worked with nature instead of against it?
We must transform the dystopian image of eco anxiety into a utopian image. This will help us to see what we are fighting for. A completely different feeling arises in us when we have an exact picture of what exactly we are fighting for, instead of simply thinking about survival. Having a concrete picture in our minds also helps us when we get into conversation with people who don't care much about our planet. It also makes it easier for us to take action if we have a clear vision in mind.
So take a moment to dream or journalise about how beautiful the future could be. Describe the picture you have in mind in great detail. What does your picture of a beautiful, green future look like? You can always come back to this picture in difficult situations to remind yourself of what you are fighting for.
3. Exchange ideas and find support
A feeling of being overwhelmed is often accompanied by a feeling of loneliness. It always helps us to hear that we are not alone with our worries and fears. Entrust yourself to your loved ones and share your feelings
If the people around you cannot really understand your thoughts, it can also help to find a community with people who think like you. On Facebook, for example, there are a number of groups where people talk about zero waste and sustainable solutions. In almost every city in Germany there are now regular meetings where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people about all kinds of things!
The Fridays For Future demos are also a good way to get in touch with like-minded people. They also give a lot of hope!
Which brings me straight to my next point:
4. Search for the positive
We always reflect inside and outside the things we surround ourselves with every day. When we watch the news from morning to night, it is no wonder that we feel that there is only bad in the world... So look for the positive! This is not to say that we should ignore the negative things happening around us. But we can all determine for our own protection how much of it we let in and where we direct our attention
Follow accounts on social media that have a positive attitude towards things and that give you hope. Surround yourself with people who give you strength instead of robbing you of it. This not only makes you feel positive, but also motivates you.
5. Become active
There is probably nothing better to fight the fears and worries of eco anxiety than to take action yourself. If you actively support the environment, you show not only yourself that something can change. Nobody expects you to stop producing garbage, go on a completely vegan diet or go to the sea to fish plastic out of the water
Even small changes can make a difference! Think of ways that feel good and feasible for you and put them into practice. It is perfectly okay to start small. On our sustainability blog you will find lots of tips and inspiration for concrete things you can change.
Eco anxiety can also be caused by the fact that we feel the pressure of having to be perfect and we don't want to allow ourselves any mistakes, because then the world could end and everything would be our fault. Such thoughts are, of course, nonsense when seen rationally. But if we get into a spiral of fear, such thoughts are not that unlikely
None of us is perfect. Do what you can. Even if that means just getting a reusable coffee mug to begin with. You can always go one step further from there. But you don't have to become perfect overnight. Everything is better than nothing .
If you would like to learn more about environment and sustainability, mindfulness or healthy eating, take a look here over.