Published: April 6, 2022 By

Having a love for hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, and simply spending time outdoors is a concrete aspect of living in Colorado. Many college students seek an active lifestyle when choosing to come to CU.  Having these hobbies is only one part of our appreciation for Mother Earth, with the beauty of exploring and protecting our environment becoming an even bigger passion for these like-minded people.  Advocating, studying, and moving into careers to do our part can bring its own set of challenges: mentaly, emotionally, and physically.

Love Your Mother

The reason people care enough to make change stems from a deeper love for the earth and all it provides us with.  However, it is also important to recognize when it can begin to feel too overwhelming. This can be described as climate anxiety, and many many young people feel these intense emotions of sadness, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, helplessness, and even guilt that come along with the fight against climate change. (*note definition below)

Pressure on the Youth

Climate anxiety targets young people because they are constantly reminded of their role as it unfolds. Studies show that mental health and climate change are directly linked, and the mental health of these people experiencing exposure to climatic events worsens over time.

That being said, it is vital to also discuss how to cope with holding immense love and care for the environment through careers and hobbies in sustainability while also maintaining positive mental health. As climate anxiety has only reached legitimacy in 2017, it is a new concept therapists are trying to understand.

With so many people experiencing this climate crisis, knowing how to manage this kind of anxiety is vital. Ecotherapists say that these climate change emotions can feel like grief and coping with grief must be acknowledged.  One must also allow themselves to feel these emotions to properly deal with them, reducing the potential for a pent up explosion.  (*note definition below)

Burn Out & Self Care

People who are passionate about sustainability cannot serve a burning planet if they are burnt out themselves!  Thus, coping and healing oneself is essential to be able to heal others and the planet through climate work.

Here are some tools to help deal with these intense emotions and experiences while also maintaining your passion and love for Mother Earth:

  1. First and foremost, let yourself feel. Feel every emotion you are experiencing–write it out, cry it out, run it out. Do what you need to do to feel. It takes courage to care about these issues that will affect everybody, and it takes even more courage to care for yourself.

  2. Use the feelings of climate anxiety to connect yourself with others. Oftentimes carrying this burden and doing so alone can be extremely isolating. Find others within your community that can relate to what you are feeling so you can process and heal together. It is less scary with others to support you!

 

Burn Out & Self Care

3. Find your own individual way to reset that will calm your mind and nervous system. Never push your feelings aside… address them and find what you can do to get out of your head. What I like to do is a guided meditation or a mindful yoga sequence when I get really overwhelmed.

4. Finding a professional to speak with, like climate-aware therapy, can be a significant help if you find it hard to reset on your own. But if this is inaccessible to you, consider bringing up this discussion with friends and family who are willing to have this discussion.  You may realize these feelings are more common than you initially thought.

5. Redirect the energy from negative emotions, such as hopelessness, to create positive ideas that provide motivation to take action. Voting with your dollar is one great way to get involved and be apart of the solution!

What does it mean to vote with your dollar?

Burn Out & Self Care

6. Read and write Eco-Anxious stories. A productive way to cope with these climatic emotions is to learn how others are dealing with them and can help you feel less alone. There is an online platform where this is already doing this, which can be found here.

7. Recognize that saving the climate is not a one-person job, and it is not solely your responsibility. Do not harp on yourself and feel like a failure for not being able to tackle this crisis alone. We need everyone in all skills and mindsets to be involved in climate action.  We all have our own role to play and all those roles add up to a big change!

  • Remember to love yourself while loving the earth! <3 

  • Take care of yourself while tackling these heavy issues of climate change, it is VITAL! 

  • THANK YOURSELF for being so passionate about the environment and the future of our planet. 

  • You are NOT alone.

Definitions to note:

 

Climate grief refers to a wider loss and anxiety related to the overall effects of climate change.  It is a natural response to the experience of loss or the anticipation of future loss that are resulting from human-induced changes to the Earth’s loss of species, ecosystems, and other environmental changes. 

Eco-anxiety is defined by The American Psychology Association as the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of next generations.