Climate Grief 101: What Is It And What To Do Next
Do melting ice caps, deforestation and plastic pollution keep you up at night? You might be experiencing climate grief. Also referred to as ecological grief or climate anxiety, this growing phenomenon is a human response to our changing environment. While it’s completely normal to feel hopeless and anxious when faced with the crisis of our planet, it’s also important to try to balance with feelings of optimism and support from those around us. Of course like with all of our mental health, we can expect good days and bad days. We hope that tuning into our tips below will allow climate grief to be channelled into positive action.
A 2019 study found that people who are emotionally closer to the climate crisis – following the news, anticipating the next natural disaster - and consider it an immediate threat are more likely to experience anger, fear, sadness and guilt. Conversely, those with greater psychological distance are generally more hopeful about the future.
Self-preservation can be the most powerful tool of all, in a fight for our future. Anxiety is especially frustrating when it limits our ability to act and imagine a brighter and better future. By striking the balance between climate grief and optimism, you can begin to redirect your energy towards helping our planet.
Take these four steps to productively cope with this complex emotion.
1. UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM
Instead of letting your fixation on global warming run away with you, read constructive books on climate change that offer solutions, rather than feed into your hopelessness. We recommend All We Can Save, edited by Ayana Eliza Johnson.
2. JOIN A COMMUNITY BASED GROUP
Good Grief Network brings together people suffering with climate grief to “process their heavy emotions, so that these feelings may be transformed into meaningful action.” Alternatively, getting involved with activism groups like The Climate Coalition may alleviate your sense of guilt.
3. RECOGNISE ITS NOT YOUR SOLE RESPONSIBILITY
Tackling the climate crisis is a shared responsibility. No one person is going to change the future of our planet – even Greta Thunberg needs our support to make a difference. Evaluate what you can realistically do, and go easy on yourself if it’s not always enough.
4. EXPLORE NATURE BASED THERAPY
Don’t prematurely mourn nature when you could be appreciating it. Try gardening or practicing outdoor yoga to ease your anxious mind, and help you see the value in what we’re trying to preserve.