Ecological emotions & eco-anxiety: Finnish activities

In this blog, I give a brief overview of the many initiatives that have been taken in Finland since 2017. I have personally taken part in many of these efforts. For the initial history of eco-anxiety discourse in Finland, please see this another text. A news story is also available.
(Version 7.7.2020: basic information added. More to come.)
Education Many initiatives have been taken, such as the “Hope and action” –project, which has developed activities for encountering ecological emotions and for increasing agency. Ecological emotions are finding their way into Finnish curriculums. There has been increasing discussion in environmental education (and sustainability education) about emotions and affect.
Social and health sectors Awareness of eco-anxiety and climate anxiety is steadily growing, but much still needs to be done. Many health professionals distance themselves from eco-anxiety and/or see it mainly as pathological. On the other hand, many organizations have started to produce good…

Mind map of ecological emotions

In brief The exercise enables people to create a mind map of their own ecological emotions (or emotions related to broader sustainability issues). A brief list of emotion words is used in support of the activity.
Topics Very often we have used this exercise with a focus on climate change emotions (in brief: climate emotions). However, the mind map tool can be used with many framings. It can be drawn in relation to a specific issue of concern, such as a wildfire or flood that is causing distress. Naturally it can also be used for non-ecological issues, such as emotions about a pandemic.
To whom? The major group that we have used this with is educators, but the exercise can be used with people of different age and profession. With the educators, the aim is to increase their emotional skills and also to enable the possibility that they would offer this exercise to their students. As with all emotional exercises, it is important for the educator to try this exercise first on their own or with…

Spectrum Line of Ecological Emotions

This activity helps people to share their emotions and thoughts about the ecological crisis. If wanted, you can focus explicitly on climate change.
(Version 0.9, work in progress)
Length: minimum 60 minutes, preferably 90-105 minutes. It is important to move towards empowerment near the end, and to provide enough time for this.
Number of people who can attend: preferably around 20. For experienced facilitators, it is possible to include a quite large number of people.
Requirements for the facilitator: Please do not lead this activity if you have not done inner work about ecological emotions yourself. You also should have at least basic experience of facilitating group work. If you are not very experienced, it is wise to guide this with a colleague.
However, you do not need to be a professional therapist to facilitate this activity.
Further ideas and tips More information and tips about facilitating this kind of work can be found at: - Carbon Conversations Facilitator’s Guide, Rosemary Rand…

Eco-anxiety in Finland: A tale of a national awakening

(June 2019)

Numerous Finns have realized that they are not alone in their anxiety about the global environmental crisis. In the last 18 months, a small nation of five million people has started a national discussion about eco-anxiety. Peer support groups are being formed, educators are starting to be trained to encounter these feelings, and a project aims to develop skills in the social and health sector to alleviate difficult forms of eco-anxiety. Alongside these events, social conflicts have also intensified, writes Dr. Panu Pihkala, a researcher in multidisciplinary environmental studies and author whose work focuses on these developments.
The word ‘ympäristöahdistus’ is a mouthful –even for a native Finnish speaker; but back in 2017, you hardly ever heard the word for ‘eco-anxiety’ in Finland. A few pioneers had addressed the psychological impacts of climate change since 2007, but this remained mostly unrecognized. The devious mechanism of “socially constructed silence” about eco-an…

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