Stay positive! Six helpful tips to overcome climate change anxiety

Discover practical tips to combat eco-anxiety and find hope amidst the climate crisis. Breathe, reconnect with nature, and take small actions, to empower yourself to combat anxiety and contribute to a brighter future.

May 26, 2023

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We’re all beginning to experience the effects of the climate crisis in some way. As a result, climate change has entered the mainstream consciousness and is changing the way all of us think, feel, and live, as we begin to face the truth about our collective situation.

Receding glaciers, droughts, flooding, and extreme weather are just the tip of the iceberg – pardon the (unfortunate) pun. Everyday, there is more evidence of the impacts our bad habits are having on the environment and communities, near and far. 

This is leading to a new widespread phenomenon known as eco-anxiety.

What exactly is eco-anxiety?

This newly coined term, eco-anxiety, refers to feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, helplessness, and guilt associated with the climate crisis. 

It is increasingly used in the media, and by psychologists and doctors,  to describe the emotional response many of us are feeling in the face of our growing, or in some cases newfound, awareness of the effects of human-induced climate change.

And, who could blame us for being scared as we all experience the often devastating changes taking place in our natural world.

On a positive note, the idea of eco-anxiety has also been recognised by psychologists and health practitioners as a valuable emotional response, allowing them to offer positive help in overcoming this new emotion.

But now, more than ever we need to stay positive about the future, and keep hope alive!

So, here are a few things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just can’t escape the doomsday thoughts swirling around in your head.

Stop and take a breath

Woman sitting outside practicing diaphragmatic breathing
"Without mastering breathing nothing can be mastered." George Gurdjieff

As breathing is one of the most natural and automatic things your body does, it may seem strange to you to learn that most people don’t actually know how to breathe! By the time most of us reach adulthood, we have turned our breathing upside down and adopted stressful breathing patterns.

But before you panic, it’s easy to fix. 

First things first, take a deep diaphragmatic breath. Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your upper chest. Then draw a  breath deeply, into your abdominals, back and sides, and relax the shoulders. The hand on the belly will rise first. And remember practice, practice, practice makes perfect!

And there are many other breathing exercises like box breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and lion’s breath, that are excellent ways to calm your nervous system and bring yourself back to earth.

Take a break from the outside world

Women smiling in nature

Did you know that fear evokes not just mental but physical stress? Those fear-inducing headlines, news stories, and social-media posts actually cause a physical response. 

How, you ask? Well, fear increases levels of the hormone cortisol, a necessary regulator in the body that lowers blood pressure, induces sleep, and even lowers inflammation. 

But like everything else, too much of a good thing can have a detrimental effect. The reverse occurs when too much cortisol is released in the body. 

Constantly following the doom and gloom stories ever-circulating in the media is a sure-fire way to send yourself into an anxiety-fueled downward spiral.

So, turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, and avoid social-media, even for just one day.  Not reading or listening to every single climate related story out there doesn’t mean you don’t care. The world will survive and you’ll give yourself a well-needed psychological and physical break that just might uplift you.

So yes, it’s ok to give yourself permission to take a no-guilt break from the incessant external noise, spend some time with yourself, and cultivate some inner peace. 

And if you simply can’t resist the pull of the media, check out some Positive News instead!

Stop and smell the flowers

Woman smelling wildflowers
"Where flowers bloom, so does hope." Lady Bird Johnson

With all the negativity about the state of our planet coming at us from all directions,  it’s easy to get overwhelmed by eco-anxiety and forget - the world is still a beautiful place, waiting for us to explore and enjoy. 

Getting out in nature has been proven to enhance our mental and physical wellbeing, in turn helping us overcome our concerns and enabling us to take positive steps toward overcoming climate change. 

There’s still time to make things better, and plenty of ways to keep our world protected and safe.

Stopping to smell the flowers can empower us to do just that!

Remind yourself that your small actions do make a difference

"A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand." Ankita Singhal

While it may seem the task is too big for your small actions to have any impact on the environment, quite the opposite is true. 

If we all strive to make change, simple actions such as recycling your plastics, walking instead of driving, and reducing your chemical use, collectively we can make a significant difference. 

So it’s important not to give up when it seems it’s not worth the effort.  Remember, small changes really can make a big difference!

Read inspirational stories 

Environmental activist sign reading "There is no Planet B".

Most of us are familiar with many of the famous names actively working against climate change, like Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, Emma Thompson, and Jessica Alba

And let’s not forget about the incredible activists like Vandana Shiva, a renowned scientist, prolific writer, and policy advocate. She has been championing environmental causes since the early 80s!

But it’s not just celebrities who are stepping up to try and tackle this global problem. There are  many initiatives and projects initiated by ordinary people who are striving to make a difference for society and the planet.

Why not bring some positivity into your life by reading about some of the amazing people who are out there working under the radar, maybe not celebrities, but definitely superstars.

You might be inspired to start your own initiative. How uplifting would that be?!

Do good, feel good

Person cleaning up plastic bottles on the beach

Did you know that there is a feel-good hormone in our bodies, serotonin, that actually regulates our mood and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression? And, that this hormone is released whenever we do good deeds.

Taking positive action can be the greatest cure of all when it comes to anxiety, especially if you focus on something you’re passionate about. 

With a little bit of research, you’ll find all kinds of ethical volunteer work that is right for the environment, and also for you.

So, on those days you feel like throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, remember - you are not alone! There is plenty of positivity and hope out there, and you can definitely become part of the solution.

Learn about some of the small changes you can make to improve your environmental footprint in our Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Living. Or why not make your underwear drawer a little more sustainable by shopping some of our beautiful consciously made essentials.

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Siobhán Dunphy

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.