You care deeply about the earth, about animals. Each day you check news sources and read about what’s going on in the world. Maybe you’ve centered your career or volunteer time around rescues, cleanups, or awareness campaigns. But over time it starts to get to you. The vast amounts of destruction, suffering, and unfairness of it all. And now you start to question whether or not your efforts actually make a difference. Or if your sweat and tears and time are wasted and shallow.

Even if you may not have heard of eco-anxiety and depression, you may have felt it. It is affecting people more and more. A recent Gallup poll shows that 50% of Americans consider climate change a critical threat, 51% think the state of the environment is getting worse, and 34% personally worry about the quality of the environment.

Ways to cope with eco-anxiety

Living your life to the fullest means taking care of yourself, spending time with your family, and navigating through our modern society. Those realities aren’t always in line with what is best for the Earth or animals, but in order to be in a position to help, you must create a balance.

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Remember: you do make a difference!
Maybe it’s small. Maybe it won’t save the world. But if you feel passionately about a cause then someone else out there does too. And even minuscule changes will shift the overall tide.

Also remember: you can’t make all the difference
In contrast to the point above, it is important to remember that you are one person and do not have the ability to save the world. Cut yourself some slack! You do what you can, you do your best, and that’s all you can do.

drop of water

Focus on the present
A good mantra for anything in life, focusing on the present will keep away regret of an unchangeable past and dread of an unknown future. Try to work on one task at a time, focusing your mind in the here and now. Recognize when you are worrying about the future or past and mindfully refocus on the present. You could even try meditation.

Get outside
Connecting or reconnecting to nature is powerful medicine. Get out into a forest or even neighborhood park and feel the peace that it gives. There are still a lot of wild places left on this planet and it is easier than ever to gain access to them. Plus being active is shown to reduce stress and depression.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Take a break from the media
Stop reading the news reports about all the bad stuff for a week. I promise your life will go on without a daily fix of the headlines. Or seek out uplifting stories for a while to bolster your spirits. We will be at our most effective when we feel refreshed and motivated, not when we are down and out.

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Get help from others
Seek out an eco-therapist  or eco-therapy. Talk to friends and family about how you feel and get their perspectives on the state of the Earth.


Resources

If you feel suicidal, seek help right away.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Chat online:http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

‘Eco-anxious’ about climate change? Try a dose of natural beauty by Bates Magazine

Despair, Courage & Hope in an Age of Environmental Turmoil by Psychology Today

In Despair Over the Polar Bear by Time Magazine

Hope on Earth: A Conversation by Paul R. Ehrlich and Michael Charles Tobias