Climate change is an unfortunate reality that triggers many people’s anxiety, sadness, anger, or guilt. This is called climate-related anxiety, and it is becoming more and more prevalent. Thankfully, there are ways to cope and take action!
Let’s look at why negative news stories make us anxious, five ways to manage your anxiety, and how science, education, and activism can help create a better future.
Why We’re Attracted to Negative News Stories
One of the sources of climate-related anxiety is the constant exposure to negative news stories about the environment. Whether it’s wildfires, floods, droughts, heat waves, or melting ice caps, we are bombarded with images and headlines that paint a bleak picture of the world.
Why are we so drawn to these stories? The answer lies in our brain. Our brain has what is called a negativity bias. This means that we pay more attention to negative information than positive information. This evolutionary adaptation helps us survive by alerting us to potential dangers and threats.
However, this bias can also backfire when it comes to climate change. Reading stories about weather patterns and destructive events activates the brain’s stress response and triggers anxiety. This can create a cycle where we are more drawn to stories about adverse events and feel more anxious and powerless.
Feeling powerless and helpless is often a deep trigger for panic and anxiety, ultimately affecting our health and sleep.
5 Ways to Manage Climate Anxiety
So, how can we break this cycle and reduce our anxiety? Here are some strategies that can help:
- Set boundaries with news about the climate. If you are reading the news, give yourself a specific window of time to consume news, and make sure it’s not within 2 hours of bedtime. This will avoid overstimulating your brain and disrupting your sleep.
- Practice mindfulness around reading news stories. Don’t just click on stories that catch your eye or feed your fears. Instead, be intentional about what you read and when you read, and even practice setting a timer for how long to focus on negative news stories. This will help you balance your exposure and avoid getting overwhelmed.
- Take care of your mental health. Reading about climate change can trigger various emotions, such as anger, sadness, guilt, or grief. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and process them in healthy ways. You can do this by practicing meditation, getting physical activity, journaling about your fears, or talking to someone you trust. You can also seek professional help if you feel that your anxiety is interfering with your daily life.
- Find ways to engage actively. One of the best ways to cope with climate-related anxiety is to take action and be part of the solution. This can help you feel more empowered and hopeful. You can search for initiatives like charities to support or volunteer with. You can also take small steps in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Seek professional help. If you feel that your climate-related anxiety is too overwhelming or debilitating, you may benefit from seeking professional help from a therapist specializing in anxiety-related issues. A therapist can help you understand the root causes of your anxiety, teach you coping skills and strategies, and provide you with support and guidance.
Therapy for Climate-Related Anxiety
Different types of therapy can help with climate-related anxiety, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on challenging negative thoughts and behaviors; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which helps you accept what you cannot control and commit to what matters to you; or mindfulness-based therapies, which can increase your awareness of your thoughts and behaviors in order to work on changing them.
At DC Metro Therapy, our team of experienced therapists is here to guide you on your journey toward improved mental well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out – take the first step in managing your climate-related anxiety today. Your mental health matters. Contact us now.