The Anxiety of Climate Change | Private Therapy Clinic
Monday, 25 Nov 2019

The Anxiety of Climate Change: Does Your Worry Help?

By Dr Becky Spelman
The Anxiety of Climate Change | Private Therapy Clinic

Climate change has been on the world agenda for many years now. It’s prompted thousands of people to offer their opinion in government and the media on what the prime causes are and how we go about addressing them. Climate change isn’t a problem that is going away anytime soon. It’s only looming ever more ominously on the horizon. And because of that; because it represents such an impending crisis, it’s giving us cause for greater concern than anything in recent memory. We’re slowly reaching the point no return and the foresight we used to hearing about the measures we can take is now shifting towards worst-case scenarios.

This anxiety over climate change – or eco-anxiety – is a worry for a lot of people. Not just the fear mongers. The concern is genuine; because the consequences are very real. People are beginning to look at what the future holds – or doesn’t – not just for themselves, but for their children. What type of world are they going to inherit when this current generations eventual pass-on the torch of a scorched Earth? Will it come to pass that films like Mad Max eventually move out of the realm of Sci-Fi and morph into cultural commentary? Most likely not…

But there is still a genuine problem that needs to be addressed, and more so than the climate change itself, it’s the anxiety that accompanies it. This anxiety is actually a good thing. But only if it’s the beginning of conscious action that we as a collective put into motion. Because anxiety is the first step in realising that something is wrong, it is the acknowledgement that we need to do something. The problem is, however, people are so overawed by the scale of the issue, they fail to grasp the difference they make on the micro-level can trickle upstream and into the macro-levels of awareness. The actions of many individuals combined do affect the whole. That’s how we created this problem and is also how we can uncreate it.

It is a question of worry vs action. Do you want to sit back and give up the fight, accepting the inevitable and that you’ll play no further part other than to hasten what isn’t yet certain? Or, do you take on the mantle of responsibility and decide that you’re going to make a stand, even if it is just
you? The irony of taking on the role of passive observer is we acknowledge our part in creating the problems we now face, but not our power to correct it. It requires no more effort to clean up after ourselves than it does to continue creating the mess we’re in now. It is simply a change of attitude.

If you really want to get over your anxiety about climate change, start participating. Stop giving your power away, and refusing to acknowledge your role in shifting in the attitude towards the care of our planet. It is (y)our home. We don’t have another one to replace it. Taking action doesn’t mean you have to be a great thought leader and place yourself in positions you’re not comfortable with or equipped to handle. It simply means doing what you can where you can with what you’ve got.

Attend a rally, reduce your consumption of animal products, reduce your carbon emissions. And if you do want to take on the next the mantle of responsibility, start initiatives in your community, start a blog to and be a voice. Start educating people, but do so in a way that doesn’t resort on shame, blame and guilt.

If climate change is causing you anxiety, it is your anxiety that is the problem, not climate change. If you truly want to get over it, the best way is to confront the issue head-on. Don’t allow yourself to be a witness to an event that hasn’t happened yet. Be the change you want to see, and do your part to help shift the levels of unawareness that is causing us to destroy our home.

About the author:

Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.

***If you’re struggling with anxiety and think you might benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.

References

BBC. (10th Oct 2019). The Harm from Worrying About Climate Change. Retrieved on 15th October, 2019 from, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191010-how-to-beat-anxiety-about-climatechange-and-eco-awareness

Reachout. (8th Jul 2018). How to Cope with Worry About Climate Change. Retrieved on 15th October, 2019 from, https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-cope-with-anxiety-about-climate-change

Grist. (9th Sept 2017). Climate Change Doesn’t have to Ruin Your Life. Here’s How to Manage it. Retrieved on 15th October, 2019 from, https://grist.org/article/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-anddeal-with-climate-change/

Teach Green Psych. (9th Sept 2017). The Psychological Impact of Climate Change. Retrieved on 15th October, 2019 from https://www.teachgreenpsych.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Doherty-Clayton-2011-Psych-effects-of-climate-change.pdf

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