10 recommendations for people with eco-anxiety

10 recommendations for people with eco-anxiety

Don’t feel weak or unsuccessful if you experience eco-anxiety.
It’s understandable to be embarrassed by difficult emotions, because our society is afraid of these feelings. However, difficult emotions are actually a sign of health and strength rather than weakness. Being concerned about the scope of global problems means that you’ve made a healthy analysis of the situation.

Appreciate and respect your eco-anxiety. 
Successfully retaining your sensitivity to the world’s pain is something to be proud of. It means that you can also experience more joy, because you haven’t become numb. However, do remember to respect that anxiety by keeping it at a suitable distance. Allow yourself to experience the sea of emotions, but don’t become completely submersed.

You’re not alone. Don't remain alone.
It's comforting to know that a lot of people experience eco-anxiety. So far, we just haven’t found each other because it’s been difficult to acknowledge these feelings in our communities. Now the door is open. Look for or create your own peer group where you can share emotions and activity.

Take action, but not all the time.
Action is an essential part of processing eco-anxiety. Everyone can improve the world within the scope of their own resources. But dealing with your eco-anxiety only through actions can easily lead to exhaustion.

Look for balance.
What kind of things keep you going? And what drains your energy? Try to build a balance. If you’re active, allow yourself to get some rest and recreation. This is a continuous process: don’t feel guilty if you’re unable to find a balance, just keep going and try again.

Practice self-regulation.
It’s difficult to cope if you're constantly monitoring the world’s problems. Learn about self-regulation methods and gradually build your own way of living so that you can be open while still setting limits. Examples:
1) Morning. Start slowly. Then find a suitable state of mind for reading the news: “I’ll show that I care but I won’t get emotionally involved in all the world’s misery.”
 2) Evening. Turn off your electronic devices well before going to sleep. For example, the climate change news can wait until the next morning. 

Make friends with your emotions.
We often try to hide difficult emotions. We have the challenging but ultimately very rewarding task of getting reacquainted with those emotions. This relationship requires time and mutual respect. It can’t be forced and can only be invited. Friendships require a lot of different things from us, such as patience, but they enrich our lives in a very important way. As we become friendlier with our emotions, we learn more about our self as well. At the same time, we gain tools for richer interaction with the world.

Listen to your body.
Our feelings live not only in our mind but also in our body. Western culture has a long history of questioning the importance of overall physicality. Listen to your body and provide time to meet its needs for movement. What part of your body feels which emotion? And how does movement help with the flow of emotional energy? Our body is also a bridge to nature, and spending time in nature helps to ease eco-anxiety in many ways.

Listen to your dreams.
The dreams we experience while sleeping are the way our body and mind tell us what’s happening in our subconscious. Examining those dreams can teach us a lot about our emotions. We also need dreams in the sense of conscious visions for desired futures. Our times are plagued by “radical futurelessness” and a lack of visions. How could you participate more in envisioning a better future? Our society has a great need for visions of the future that take a serious approach to both problems and opportunities.

Accept the seasons of the mind and practice the skill of seeing on two levels.
No one will ever be perfect. Just like in the natural world, the human mind also has seasons. Sometimes you just have to accept and live through a period of dark melancholy while waiting for the spring. Difficult emotions are also a part of life. Seeing on two levels means regularly focusing on difficulties and good things. A paralysing bout of eco-anxiety can often hide the many signs of hope that exist in the world. Remembering the good things and being grateful allows us to cope better.

Published in Finnish by Panu Pihkala 1.9.2018
Translated into English by Jacolyn Kosonen and reviewed by Timothy Wilson, with permission to use in Nature Center Haltia, Nuuksio National Park, Finland.
Swedish version available. 


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