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What is Eco Anxiety?

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

World Environment day is on June 5th and it got us thinking, here at Grow Your Mindset, about how the environment plays such a huge role on the development and function of our mindset in a variety of ways.

Gemma's blog is aiming to tackle this, but also get you thinking about how you can make small changes that will make huge differences, not only to your mindset, but the mindset of others.

What is World Environment Day?

Since 1974, World Environment Day has been at the forefront for environmental action. It's an opportunity to bring together as many influential people and businesses as possible, asking them to focus on a specific environmental theme. This year, the host is Columbia, in partnership with Germany and the theme is 'bio-diversity.' With the global pandemic of COVID-19, horrific bush fires that have swept parts of Brazil, USA and Australia, it seems like nature is really talking to us and asking us to take action.

Even though these examples are challenging, this is a day of positivity, a chance to reflect on the way we operate, how we can develop and adapt to ensure our environment is cared for and remains a thing of the future and not the past, but to make big differences, like this, we all need to play our part.

How has the Environment changed during lockdown?

What I've found incredibly interesting during this lockdown period, is the effect it has had on the environment in a short space of time. What is now being called the 'CO2 Crash.' Nothing in our history has seen such a dramatic fall in the levels of CO2. This is largely down to traffic. By air and on roads, the world has cut back heavily on travel. The skies are cleaner and the once common jet flying overhead with its CO2 whisp trailing behind, has now become a rarity. But other contributing factors have lead to this too. Global electricity use is down by at least 20% and across the full year, there is a prediction that the demand for electricity will drop by 5%. That is the biggest drop since the 1930s and the time of the Great Depression and this drop in demand, also has a knock on effect for coal production and use.

We're seeing incredible pictures from once highly air polluted areas, now showing amazing views, skies and greenery. Paris, Nepal and China. These figures show just what can be achieved in a relatively short space of time, if everyone pulls together.

"If Covid-19 leads to a drop in emissions of around 5% in 2020, then that is the sort of reduction we need every year until net-zero emissions are reached around 2050. Such emissions reductions will not happen via lockdowns and restrictions, but by climate policies that lead to the deployment of clean technologies and reductions in demand for energy."

Glen Peters, Cicero.

This is great news for sufferers of Eco-Anxiety.

What is Eco-Anxiety?

“Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.”

Greta Thunberg 2018

Unfortunately, due to the release of a damming environmental academic paper, Greta has had her wish. People are panicking, seeing therapists and finding the threat of climate change, all too much to bear. Described by Psychology Today as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis”.

Although 'Eco- Anxiety' is not an official term for making a diagnosis, nor are there any related statistics, there are still a significant amount of people who are highly concerned and worried about the impacts of climate change. They worry about the slow deterioration of the environment that is being left for their children and the seeming helplessness feelings they have about stopping the potential disaster from occurring.

Sam Johnston, a sufferer of eco-anxiety, from Manchester, spoke to BBC Radio 1 recently for a documentary about eco-anxiety:

“When you go to sleep, but you start thinking about everything - the state of the planet, really, and the potential future of it - and knowing that there's only so much you can do as one person. I think that's the anxiety - because you just feel a bit powerless in it all.”

And it's here where mindset comes into play.

What can we do about Eco Anxiety?

At Grow Your Mindset we talk a lot about the circle of control, the things we can do and we encourage people to focus on this, otherwise we fall victim to wasting our energy on worrying about the things that we cannot control, the choices of other people. That is not to say that this isn't a serious matter, it absolutely is and even scientist Owen Gaffney, who is the co-writer of the paper outlining steps for governments to take to tackle climate change, says the response of eco-anxiety is actually the correct response to have, but what we need to change immediately is our perspective. Look at this situation with optimism because without it, we won't put things into actions.

Those with more of a fixed mindset, would approach this situation and think, "Well this is hopeless, there is nothing we can do, we might as well give up now, the damage has been done," whereas someone who is more growth orientated would approach this as, "Ok, what can I do? What changes can I make? What other solutions are there?"

A lot of this is about responsibility and quite often we can find our fixed mindset will allow us to blame others or place it on something, or make quick fire judgements about other people's actions before reflecting and looking at ourselves. This is one of the first and more important steps about developing and changing your mindset. Reflect and make changes to yourself. Imagine if 1000 people read this blog and took on board the tips I'm about to share. That's a 1000 people making changes to the environment. Then imagine if those 1000 people gave those tips to 1 or 2 people, who then took on the changes. You see where I'm going? It's like the 'R rate', but with a bit more positivity attached to it! Change has to start with you and once you've made those changes, you then have the power to influence and inspire more people than you realise.

So top tips on things YOU can do, that collectively will make a big change to the environment.

1) Make careful decision about what you eat - does it contain palm oil (huge factor in deforestation)? Is it from an ethical source? Has it been chemically treated? What packaging does it come in and is it recyclable?

2) Think about how you travel - lockdown has seen an increase in people walking, running and cycling -do you really need to use your car for those shorter journeys?

3) Think carefully about what you buy - The clothes you buy. Are they made with ethical materials or are they a throw away bargain? Again, palm oil can creep it's way into toiletries too!

4) Talk - Who can you influence about the changes you are making? Family or friends perhaps? Talk to them about what you're doing and why. You might not convince them all or they may only make one change, but nothing will change unless you mention it!

5) Write (or email) - Send your views to local councils, politicians or businesses and ask them to make changes too. We're not talking about all out protests here, but reminders that your opinions should matter them, should be noted, should be listened to and changes made.

6) Take care of your environment - Go as far and wide as you want with this one. It could be just you back garden, your street, your village or beyond. What can you do here? Planting plants or trees or litter picking

These are just some simple steps that you can do, but there a ton more on the World Environment Day website.

So what changes will you make? We'd love to hear from you. And remember those positive changes will make a big difference, not only for the environment, but for your mindset too and as we always say, "Mindset is everything, what you think you will become."

Much Love

Gemma x

If you love a good read, why don't you check out our other blogs about mindsets.

If you would like to know more about Grow Your Mindset click here.

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