It’s no secret the climate crisis is one of the biggest threats we face and many of us are understandably worried about the state of our world. This feeling of anguish is called climate or eco-anxiety. We’ve commissioned research which found that a growing number of us are feeling this way.
Our research found:
- 23% of UK adults reported feeling worried about the future due to growing public concern about the climate crisis. 17% of UK adults reported feeling anxious, 12% feel powerless and 11% feel depressed
- 10% of UK adults say the climate crisis has caused arguments with parents or children
- 15% of those aged 16 to 25 say they have climate anxiety and a further 16% say they’ve felt depressed as a result
- 9% of UK adults feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about how climate anxiety is impacting them and 18% say more needs to be done to help people who have climate anxiety*
How can we handle what’s becoming an increasingly common state of mind and prevent ourselves from overwhelmed by climate issues?
Our member, therapist, and coach Linda Aspey shares eight top tips to help with eco-anxiety:
1. Find ways to talk about it
"It’s a relief when you find people you can talk to. Whether that’s a relative, friend, therapist, group of peers, community members or strangers, talking really helps. Climate cafes offer a space where you can talk honestly and openly with others who share similar feelings, or even different ones. These gatherings acknowledge and validate everyone’s feelings and that helps them from becoming overwhelming. The Climate Psychology Alliance runs regular online cafes, hosted by trained facilitators who also participate fully."
2. Give others time to talk – just listen
"There are rifts happening in some families across the UK. Older generations don’t know what to do about the climate crisis and young people can feel helpless, alone, dismissed, angry or frustrated, which can then lead to friction at home. This can compound your own climate anxiety. Asking people what they think and feel – and listening to them – is so much better than giving them a lecture on the facts. Give people time. It’s a lot to deal with."
3. Avoid doom scrolling
"Try to find a balance with your news intake so that you aren’t completely avoiding it but you’re not hooked on it either. It’s good to stay informed but remember to take breaks as and when you need to."
4. Practise regular self-care
"It’s important to identify your stress triggers and what helps to alleviate them. Whatever you usually do to manage stress, use that now. That could be spending time with families or pets, physical exercise, keeping a gratitude journal, yoga, Pilates or meditation or anything else. Do it regularly if you can."
5. Reconnect with nature
"Being out in nature can be incredibly stress relieving and therapeutic. You could try planting trees, picking litter or going for a walk in nature. Get outdoors as much as you can and it will remind you that you’re a part of something far bigger."
6. Educate yourself
"Read constructively, through books such as Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robert Wall Kimmerer. Check out the educational resources on the Work that Reconnects."
7. Speak to a therapist
"Climate anxiety is a very normal response to our collective awakening of the threats of climate change. If you feel that talking to friends or family is no longer helping, speak to a therapist. There’s a growing number of climate and ecology orientated therapists, coaches and psychologists who can help you with coping strategies and much more. Search our directory for a qualified therapist who can help you."
8. Find purpose and take action
"Spend time thinking about what matters and do something purposeful to stop you feeling overwhelmed and help you reconnect with what’s important. The more you look after your eco-anxiety, the better equipped you may be to engage on climate issues. Taking considered actions can be very empowering."
Linda Aspey is an executive coach, BACP therapist, BACP fellow, supervisor, Time to Think global faculty and former founding Chair of BACP Coaching.
* These results are from a survey carried out by BACP and Opinion Matters of 2,014 UK adults in October 2021.
What is counselling?
Find out how counselling works, what therapists do and what happens in a therapy session.
How to get therapy
Where, when and how you can get access to counselling and psychotherapy.
What is anxiety? How do you deal with anxiety or help someone with anxiety? BACP member Caz Binstead explains how counselling can help.