• Carli Van Stolk

How To Cope With Climate Anxiety

Updated: Oct 8

The state of the world right now is no joke. Living in British Columbia, this wildfire season is unlike any other. There are thousands of hectares of burning forests, hundreds of displaced people, exhausted firefighters, and countless plants and animals burned to the ground.

Coupled with unprecedented floods in Germany, India, and beyond, it's no surprise that climate anxiety—that impending feeling of environmental doomis unanimously felt across the globe. And it's a never-ending problem: we know that the climate crisis will only worsen. So how do we cope with climate anxiety?

I am certainly no psychologist, but I do have my bachelor's degree in environmental studies and I've worked through my own climate anxiety in the past. Here's what I try to do:

1. Get involved in politics.

Individual action only does so much. As much as we like to think otherwise, drinking from a paper straw won't stop record-breaking wildfires. This isn't to say that we shouldn't all reduce our footprints (we absolutely should!). But in order to have greater impact, we must think bigger and vote in people that can make systemic change.

So, how does voting help mitigate climate anxiety? For me, I feel like I'm making an actual impact. I personally feel better better voting for a climate-forward government than drinking from a paper straw.

A picture of someone filling out a ballot. Getting involved in politics is an action that can help mitigate climate anxiety.

2. Take news breaks.

Staying up-to-date with current events is undeniably important. But there's a fine line. The media (seemingly exclusively) focuses on negative information. Today alone, my news cycle was dominated by footage of the BC wildfires, the rising coronavirus cases, and people fleeing Afghanistan. On top of other devastating information, news about the climate crisis can make you feel even more anxious. All this to say is: although staying informed is necessary, take it with a grain of salt. Try limiting your intake. And for information about the climate crisis, sometimes you may need extended breaks (days or weeks) altogether.

3. Do your part.

To mitigate your climate anxiety, it does feel good to do your part! But recognize that you can't do it all, so pick your areas of impact. For me, I mostly eat vegetarian and try to buy fewer clothes. When I shop, I buy second-hand. I also make more of a concerted effort to drive less, carpool, and bike more. But as one person, I can only do so much in the world that we live in. I will never not have an environmental footprint, and that's okay.

Any other tips for reducing climate anxiety? This anxious girl would love to hear.

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