What is Eco Anxiety? How does it affect climate activists?

What is Eco Anxiety? Anjali Dalmia tells her experience dealing with Eco Anxiety

It was extremely difficult for me to be happy, enjoy things in life, because I was so personally affected by all the injustice around me and genuinely scared by the way ecological destruction has been taking place. – Anjali Dalmia, Student Environment Activist, Ashoka University.

What is Eco Anxiety?

Eco Anxiety can really take a toll on mental health. People generally think that the major impact of climate change is and will be on physical well-being. Physical health could get affected by pollution, diseases, food scarcity, etc. Well, where it will essentially affect physical well-being, extreme changes in the environment can affect a person’s mental peace by many folds and is most common with climate and environment activists.

Anjali Dalmia defines eco Anxiety as “the fear of environmental damage and recently has been used more in connection with climate change and the idea that we, the youth, and our children, will not have a world to live in with the current rate of destruction. This isn’t just a buzzword, and has very real mental and physical consequences. It is also definitely not limited to ‘urban, privileged’ youth, just as mental and physical health is not limited by class, caste, gender boundaries.

The term is interchangeably used with ‘Climate change distress’, ‘eco-angst’, ‘eco trauma and ‘ecological grief’. People with eco-anxiety associate themselves with an extreme sense of hopelessness with the planet, changing and depleting each day. My mom got into severe agitation after she’d lost her father. It was heartbreaking to watch her strange behavior, and I was praying to God to let her feel better. When I started looking for some help, I stumbled on a ad about Ativan. I talked to our GP and ordered the drug right away to give it to mom. Ativan helped, and she got back to herself.

Read more: Mental Health for Parents: How to Keep a Check On Your Parents’ Mental Health?

eco anxiety

The common symptoms of the same can be seen in the form of

– anger and frustration generally and towards people who don’t tend to understand the environment and how to act upon it

– existential crisis

– overthinking

– feeling shame to realise their own carbon footprints

– depression, anxiety, or panic

– extreme grief and sadness for every small and big loss of nature or environment

– lacking concentration

– self-doubting

– difficulty in sleeping etc.

Anjali shares her experience of dealing with eco-anxiety

Eco anxiety is something that I, as a social and environmental activist, have faced a lot. It was extremely difficult for me to be happy, enjoy things in life, because I was so personally affected by all the injustice around me and genuinely scared by the way ecological destruction is taking place. I think what really helps is having strong, meaningful, and in-personal relationships and communities that support each other and laugh with each other. Additionally, trying to work on some of the issues which bothered me, either on my own or with other groups, helped me with the anxiety. Of course, it never really goes away, but it is about learning how to channel it rather than being drowned in it.

People who face the issue of eco-anxiety often try to find out distractions so as to be able to avoid those extreme spells of anxiety. But the fact that distracting won’t help is very simple. So, instead of distracting, they can channelize their energy in contributing to the environment in small and better ways.

To deal with it, one should-

– first and foremost, teach themselves to love themselves and understand that one can’t bring a change in everything in one day. To bring a change, at a conscious level, they can gradually start switching to a greener and environment-friendly lifestyle.

– Stop being in a state of denial about climate change. It is a fact that the climate is changing. Sitting in a state of denial won’t help but acting upon it and making it at least better can solve the problem.

– build and connect with the community and keep a check upon everyone. With community formation, comes like minds who have the same goal and a level of understanding. While you will have your burnout, they will be there to guide you through the next step.

Climate and environment will change, all that we can do is preserve it so that it can be saved to serve a good life to the lives ahead of us. Eco anxiety is real but what we need is to come together to fight for it, together.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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