It’s indisputable that our world is in a state of flux. The news has been understandably dominated as of late by stories of our changing climate, ranging from meteorological extremes to natural disasters, with little in the way of positive developments to sustain our planet.
Naturally, these grim realities weigh heavy on our collective conscience, leading to mounting consternation and apprehension for what’s fast becoming an uncertain future. This spiralling worry has been coined as “climate anxiety”, but that’s still as yet an uncertain term.
As one of the UK’s foremost providers of green energy solutions for businesses, we’re at the cutting edge of climatological developments, and firmly believe that good education is the ideal way forward.
With this article, we’ll look at the concept of climate anxiety, what it means, and why it’s a pressing problem for both the planet, and for mental health services across the globe.
Climate anxiety is the overwhelming concern we might feel about the rapidly changing global climate, and the disastrous effects that a changing climate can have on people, the environment, and our way of life.
That’s an oversimplification, of course. Climate anxiety has been proven to have undeniable links to many of the symptoms we associate with more conventional anxiety disorders, such as a shortness of breath, increased pulse rate, and even panic attacks.
It’s becoming more of a prevalent issue, too. Mental health services have seen significant investment in recent years, meaning that there’s now a greater understanding of what can influence our state of mind, and chief among these is the anxiety and unease we feel about the global climate.
Not only that, but a study from renowned medical journal The Lancet found that almost half (45%) of all young people surveyed experienced negative emotions relating to climate change on a daily basis, to the point that it affected their lives.
Whether that’s an overpoweringly strong concern for the weather conditions closer to home, or further afield and for the state of the world as a whole, climate anxiety is pervasive across all aspects of our changing world.
It also has deeper and more unexpected impacts. The term climate anxiety encompasses the fear we feel for our children and those around us – it’s a deep-seated concern for the future of what could be a drastically different planet in a decade’s time.
As new a term as climate anxiety is, it’s clearly one that has wide-reaching implications for mental health, and for how we approach the future with unease and uncertainty. But what can lead to climate anxiety developing in the first place?
We’ll break down just a few of the more common triggers, and why they can lead to more pressing problems with our mental health.
While it’s true that everyone can experience anxiety about the climate and the environment in some capacity, there are a few groups who are more susceptible to the condition, or that are more likely to experience the extremes of climate anxiety.
Let’s look at these in more detail now:
Of course, this isn’t every subsect of society that’s likely to experience climate anxiety, especially as the changing planet becomes more of a focal point worldwide. Plus, even if you’ve never experienced any form of anxiety in your life, certain triggers can form a basis for climate anxiety in any one of us.
Of course, as with many mental health conditions, there’s usually an underlying trigger or reasoning behind why we start to experience that issue. Climate anxiety, while still a relatively new term, is no exception.
It’s usually a direct result of the extremes of weather and climate, including wildfires (which have been particularly prevalent in recent memory), droughts and hurricanes. But there are other root causes which can establish the condition as one that really creates an issue.
Here are just a few of the more common causes of climate anxiety, and why they’re a major contributor towards what can be a serious mental health concern.
One of the main triggers behind climate anxiety, and arguably behind many anxiety disorders that we might experience, is our personal experiences. If we’re directly affected by climate change or environmental issues, we’re much more likely to develop an anxiety surrounding that.
This is especially true of those who are most at risk of climate anxiety, such as those who work in an industry that’s weather-dependent (such as fishing or agriculture).
Doubtless something we’ll all have been affected by in some capacity, fluctuating meteorological phenomenon is a key driver behind climate anxiety, and one of the leading causes of the condition.
For many, this can be unnoticeable at first. A minor anxiety about the soaring temperatures or excessive rainfall can gradually develop into a more present, daily concern, leading into sleepless nights and constant worry about the changing fortunes of our global weather system.
This is especially prevalent if you’re living in a country or area that sees more extreme weather, or that’s got less infrastructure to deal with the effects that major changes to local weather systems can bring.
The vast majority of us consume media in some way, shape or forms over the course of every day. Part of that is inevitably negative in some way, and that’s especially true when it comes to stories about our changing Earth.
These can be especially prevalent on social media feeds, and across news networks, which many of us have some exposure to. While it’s crucial we’re informed about the latest developments in renewable energies, seeing too much of the negativity can substantially contribute towards any feelings of climate anxiety we might be feeling.
Introspection can have its benefits, especially when we’re pursuing a goal or looking to make improvements for the future. However, it can also reveal some elements of climate anxiety, especially on our past environmental decisions.
For instance, climate anxiety can develop as a result of poor habits in the past, such as littering or not using recycling initiatives, or even contributing to the global carbon emissions with your choice of travel.
While there’s no way to reverse our past transgressions, dwelling on them too much can spell future issues, especially when it comes to the anxiety we feel about the climate.
While it’s still an emerging form of anxiety that’s only become more recognised in the last decade, climate anxiety can still have a substantial impact on those it affects.
Recent research from The National Library of Medicine shows that it can be as psychologically damaging and difficult as any number of anxiety disorders, and that the approaches to treatment don’t differ from the tried-and-tested approaches of behavioural therapy, open conversation and, in severe cases, medication.
In addition to those therapeutic approaches, there are strategies and coping mechanisms you can put into place to help you deal with the lingering effects of climate anxiety.
Learning more about the ongoing climate situation can be hugely beneficial for your mental health, especially if you’re suffering from climate anxiety. Specifically, positive developments and changes in the world of renewable and green energy, and how they’re changing perceptions across the globe.
At Tariff, we’re at the leading edge in the latest movements in net-zero, carbon emission reduction, and climate change initiatives. Here are just a few of the most influential changes that are happening in the climatological sphere:
Of course, these are just cherry-picked examples of the positive news that’s coming through each and every day, and while there’s undoubtedly negative stories in the news, there’s still positivity in every day.
It can be easy to get lost in the terminology and confusing vernacular that surrounds climate change, clean energy and our globe. That uncertainty can further compound any climate anxiety you could be experiencing, as well as make it more difficult to make sense of what you’re reading.
Learning the terms that articles use, and how these form a comprehensive overview of renewable energies and schemes, is crucial in combatting the feelings of unease that can often surround the state of the global climate.
Tariff’s comprehensive energy glossary outlines all the terms and complex acronyms that you might see as you read and learn more about the world’s climate, plus it’ll help to assuage any concerns you might have about anything you’ve already seen.
For some, effective education only goes part of the way towards reassuring their climate anxieties or worries. To properly lay these fears and worries to rest, it could be a good idea to get involved with protests, marches, and other forms of peaceful demonstration.