Coping with Climate Change Anxiety

By: Claire Butcher

Climate change anxiety has become a shared struggle for many young adults, stemming from threats posed to our environmental health and lack of control over global actionable change. These feelings can lead us to feel helpless and isolated due to its large-scale nature. It can be difficult to maintain our own mental wellness when things feel so out of our control. Here are some ways we can maintain our mental well-being while also taking action to combat climate change. 

Boundaries, Balance, and Resilience

One way we can cope is by setting boundaries to protect our emotional health. We can do this by filtering the amount and the kinds of news we receive. With our now constant stream of news and a wider range of topics covered, it can be difficult to control our anxiety. Taking breaks from scrolling, setting limits, or turning off notifications during parts of the day can help ease your stress. Setting specific times to view news can help build a routine to finish your day with less external stress. For example, not ‘doom scrolling’ after 6pm. 

Balancing our exposure between bad news and positive events is another way to cope with climate change stress. Here are some ways we can practice self-care navigating bad news:

  • Connecting with others, fostering a sense of community and shared concerns
  • Logging gratitude
  • Prioritizing self-care/restorative activities
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Exercising 
  • Seeking professional help 

To balance our consumption of bad news, it can be helpful to subscribe to “good” news sites that report positive events, such as: 

Building resilience helps us manage hardships and challenges in life. This process takes time and effort, so even with these actionable steps, remember to be patient with yourself. Here are some tools you can implement to build resilience:

  • Acknowledge your feelings without judgment or trying to “fix” them
  • Remind yourself that change is part of life, and that many events will be out of our control
  • Learn how your body communicates with you to determine when you are stressed and how to take care of yourself
  • Reach out to trusted loved ones for support
  • Take care of your whole self (prioritizing sleep, adequate nutrition, movement, and connection)
  • “Reframe” problems by seeing them as opportunities for positive change

Taking action

With so many large-scale factors out of our control, here are ways we can individually make a difference to combat climate change. Before listing individual changes, it’s important to acknowledge the impact of socioeconomic privilege that can limit people’s ability to logistically contribute to fighting climate change. 


Individual Change

Climate change is a silent but very real threat, giving us an opportunity to come together to build a more sustainable future and foster a community of resilience in the face of adversity. Through the balance of collective action and individual self-care and boundaries, we can confront the mental health challenges that stem from climate change.