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How to Manage Anxieties About Climate Change

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If you’re passionate about protecting the environment, you probably already practice sustainable daily habits to minimize your personal environmental impact, like purchasing sustainable products and minimizing your consumption of non-sustainable energy. But at the same time, you’re only one person; there’s nothing you can do to directly impact the actions of the people and companies around you.

As a result, you might feel significant anxiety about the future.

How do you manage these feelings?

Focus on Your Individual Efforts

It’s a mentally healthy exercise to focus disproportionately on things within your realm of control. There’s nothing you can do about the habits of a random businessperson in China, but you can bring reusable bags to the grocery store and ride your bike instead of driving a car. Even though these actions may seem insignificant, you’re still doing everything within your power to affect positive change. This is something to feel good about and feel proud of – so don’t allow these accomplishments to be overshadowed by things outside of your sphere of influence.

Accept Your Feelings

Next, accept your feelings. If you beat yourself up for feeling anxious about climate change, or if you try to force yourself to stop feeling these things, you’re probably going to make the situation worse. Instead, negative emotions are often best dealt with by addressing them and acknowledging them directly. Say to yourself, “I’m feeling anxious right now,” and explain where this anxiety comes from. Acknowledge that it’s acceptable to feel anxious, and that there’s nothing wrong with it. If you truly accept your feeling, it will probably diminish in severity.

Go to Therapy

If your anxiety is beginning to affect your daily life, or if your primary coping strategies aren’t working, it’s advisable to attend regular therapy sessions. If you have health insurance, you most likely have coverage for at least some mental health services. For example, if you have United Healthcare, you can find United Healthcare therapists who specifically serve people with your insurance. A good insurance plan can make copays for therapy sessions quite reasonable.

Together with your therapist, you can come up with new anxiety coping strategies, examine your mental health more closely, and find new resources to help you live a better life.

Seek Healthy Coping Strategies and Distractions

When your anxiety feels overwhelming in the moment, there are several healthy coping strategies and distractions that can help you.

For example:

  • Physical exercise. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress, and you can practice it in almost any environment. Instead of dwelling with your own anxiety, go for a jog or a bike ride.
  • Meditation. You can also practice mindfulness meditation, which forces you to focus on the present moment, rather than the past or the future. If you’re primarily worried about the future of this planet, this is an especially powerful technique.
  • Journaling. Regularly journaling is another valuable exercise for your mental health. It can help you acknowledge and examine your feelings in greater detail and process even your most complicated thoughts.
  • Social hobbies. Socializing is fantastic for your mental health, and it’s even better when you’re enjoying activities with the people you love. If you don’t have many social hobbies, consider taking one up.
  • Counting exercises. When your anxiety reaches a peak, you can manage it in the moment by practicing simple counting exercises. Counting down from 100 or counting up by prime numbers can distract you long enough to calm even your most intense emotions.

Manage Your News and Social Media Exposure

Modern news media and social media can negatively impact your mental health, so carefully manage how you interact with them.

For example:

  • Curate more optimistic stories. If you find yourself constantly doom scrolling, make an effort to curate more optimistic stories. Follow individuals and new sources who publish and share items worthy of more positive emotions.
  • Eliminate sources of outrage and toxicity. Remember, modern content creators and organizations are incentivized to stimulate negative emotions, since negative emotions conjure more engagements. Identify these sources of outrage and toxicity, then work to eliminate them from your daily content diet.
  • Limit your online time. Finally, limit the time you spend online. Consider only spending a maximum of one hour on social media every day. Spend the rest of your newfound time outside and living in the real world.
    Nobody has the power to fix the climate crisis overnight. Many of us don’t have the power to influence others in pursuing more sustainable habits. And it’s easy to be pessimistic when so many scientists consistently hypothesize about devastating worst-case scenarios.

Even so, there are countless strategies to help you manage your climate change anxiety – and ultimately live a happier, more satisfying life.

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources, including, and, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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