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How to Manage Climate Anxiety

by | Apr 22, 2023

Today is Earth Day, and we have some complicated feelings around that. It’s common for young people to feel helpless these days, while stuck in a constant out-of-reach news cycle of doom and gloom. If you are experiencing climate anxiety, and feeling like the world is falling apart around you, you are not alone! 

According to a new study by Lakehead University, “Almost 80% of young people in Canada feel that climate change has impacted their mental health. 37% say their feelings about climate change have a negative impact on their day-to-day functioning and 56% report feeling sad, anxious and powerless.” Those are very high numbers!

Climate anxiety or climate ‘doom-ism’ is a real and demanding issue. If not addressed, it can take over our lives and fill us with a never-ending sense of dread. We’re here to say that you are not alone, and the weight of the world doesn’t have to be on your shoulders. 

We’ve put together some tips for managing climate anxiety.

Learn from Indigenous knowledge

With constant reminders of the scale and impact of human activity on our planet, it can feel like our existence is the problem. For many, this is an overwhelming and disheartening thought. Indigenous knowledge argues this, and tells us that human existence is necessary. Just like bees pollinate flowers, humans play a vital role in our ecosystem. Take out a book from your local library by an Indigenous author to learn more!

“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”

– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Use Peer Support to find comfort in connection

Talking to others who are going through similar feelings and situations can be hugely therapeutic. It’s reassuring to know that we are not alone and that there are others who are working towards making the world a better place.

Talk to a friend, or download our chat-based app BeanBagChat to talk online with one of our Counsellors at Stella’s Place. The app is available Mondays to Thursdays from 4 to 9 PM and available for anyone from 16 to 29 who live in Toronto.

Curate your news intake

Did you know, less than 3% of news outlets cover any solutions to the climate crisis? After all, a lot of news outlets aren’t concerned with the wellbeing of their subscribers, they’re concerned with the most views! It’s important to stay up to date with world issues, but it’s hard to not let this seep into our everyday lives. Especially when so much of it comes through our social media accounts (often without any content warnings). Watching far away tragedies happen in the world can leave us feeling so hopeless, with no tangible thing to do other than to sit and watch. As Isaias Hernandez (@QueerBrownVegan) advocates, there needs to be solution-focused journalism, featuring local responses.

For every news outlet you follow on social media, try to follow one positive, or solution-focused account. You can start with @GoodGoodGoodCo, who only share good news from around the world.

“Climate change is an urgent issue, but when we only hear about what’s broken, it leads us to believe that it’s been broken, that it’s always been broken, it’s too late. We have to change this narrative.”

– Dr Elin Kelsy on ‘Evidence-based Hope’

Join a local environmental group

There are many climate justice and environmental groups in Toronto that are doing great work. Not only can you put your passion to action, but it’s also a great way to meet others who are aligned in that passion! Community building and collective healing can help to ease our climate anxiety together.

Check out these local groups:

  • Climate Justice Toronto
  • Rising Tide Toronto
  • Fridays for Future Toronto
  • 350 Canada
  • Toronto Environmental Alliance

High Park in the springtime. Image by Alex Sawatzky.

Spend time in nature

It can be hard to find green spaces when living in a city, but it’s important to prioritize spending time in nature! High Park and Don Mills are two great places in Toronto to be immersed in nature, but you don’t have to go that far. Just going to your local park will suffice! There are some recent studies that show that spending time in nature is good for your mental health.

“Nature is good for a wide variety of conditions, from diabetes, to high blood pressure to ADHD and depression, there’s almost no health condition that nature does not make better,”

Dr. Melissa Lem, Physician in BC

Acknowledging our climate anxiety

While we should take steps to control our climate anxiety so that it doesn’t take over our lives, just like any anxiety or stress, it can be the body and mind’s response to try to fix things. It’s a good thing to be concerned about the wellbeing of our planet and the wellbeing of others. It can inspire us to make changes in our everyday lives, or inspire us to push for change on a systemic level. It’s all about a balance of managing our climate anxiety, and not letting it manage us.

We hope that some of these items listed here will help you to take control of climate anxiety. Download our BeanBagChat app to continue the conversation!