Eco-anxiety is defined (via ‘Healthline’) as “persistent worries about the future of Earth and the life it shelters”. If you have ever felt a level of guilt for your climate footprint, the chances are that you have experienced eco-anxiety.
It’s a common phenomenon now, particularly when the news bombards us with soul-crushing statistics and images of the climate emergency. That helpless feeling of wanting to help change the world for the better, yet having no idea where to even start.
“Nearly half of those aged 18-34 have reported feeling anxious about the climate crisis”
Eco-anxiety includes feelings of anger and frustration towards those who don’t see the bigger picture of climate change, as well as an overwhelming sense of panic and obsession. It is a form of anxiety and is a condition widely believed to be most common amongst young adults (nearly half of those aged 18–34 have reported feeling anxious about the climate crisis).
The term ‘eco-anxiety’ first appeared in 2017 with the American Psychiatric Association and, whilst this is not currently considered a diagnosed condition, a majority of mental health professionals do consider this to be a very real, prevalent issue. After all, any feelings of anxiety (whether environmentally-related or not) are relevant and important to open up and talk about.
The truth of the matter is, as individual people, it is much harder to make an impact. Realistically, using paper straws and reusable water bottles will not solve the larger issues of climate change. These multi-millionaire corporations are damaging our planet at an inconceivable rate and it feels impossible to stop them. But, does that mean we should stop?
“Any change is good change and we, as individuals, should not feel guilty for that”
Eco-anxiety often makes the individual feel as though efforts are futile, that there is no point. The important thing to remember here is that every little helps. If one paper straw used means one less piece of plastic in the ocean; that is good. If we can live our everyday lives in an environmentally-conscious way, that is a positive impact. Keep doing your ‘Meat-free Mondays’ and cycle-to-work schemes. Any change is good change and we, as individuals, should not feel guilty for that.