9 Ways to Prevent Eco-Anxiety Affecting Your Mental Health

Sad young Girl on a swing

9 Ways to Prevent Eco-Anxiety Affecting Your Mental Health

The increase in climate related events has led to an influx in eco-anxiety, particularly among younger generations. 

Whilst the impact on mental health is becoming more frequent, it shows our perceptual awareness and desire to take action to steer us back onto a stable course for the future. Believe it or not, this is a good thing.

Anxiety can be used as a propellent, to fuel you on. But everyone needs assistance to deal with it sometimes. 

1. Take a step back

Take a look around you. 

What can you see?

The chances are; many buildings, a whole lot of concrete, and very little nature. 

In 2018, 55% of the world population lived in urban or city areas. This number is projected to increase to 68% by 2050. If you live in the US that number is closer to 80%. 

Eco-anxiety, or any feelings of anxiety or depression can be greatly helped by heading into nature. 

Taking a step back from our normal lives can greatly benefit our overall wellbeing. For climate-conscious people, this includes taking a step back from over-saturation of information. 

It has been proven time and time again, that nature has many healing properties. This idea was developed in the 1980’s. The Forest agency of Japan started advising people at this time to forest bath in order to improve their mental health. 

Dr Qing Li found that trees emit a chemical called phytoncide. Which has a similar effect on the brain as essential oils.

By breathing in phytoncide, we increase our bloods natural killer (NK) cells. This helps combat cancer, infections, auto-immune disease, heart disease and many other ailments. 

Spending 40 minutes within natural surroundings has also been linked to reducing blood cortisol levels, the stress chemical. 

Honestly, the list goes on and warrants its own post altogether. 

Nature provides us so much that we seek. When it comes to eco-anxiety, you need to learn when it’s time to engage and when it’s time to shut off. 

So, maybe long walks aren’t your thing. Pop on some Netflix instead, turn off your phone notifications, hang out with friends.

You can’t do everything for the world, if you don’t first look after yourself. You are always a priority. 

2. Write down your achievements

Looking at the mountain ahead can make us forget the path we have traversed.

It’s easier to knock yourself down about what you aren’t doing, than to build yourself up for what you have. 

Sadly, it’s human nature to behave this way. But, you can overcome it. 

So, pull out a notepad or open the notes app on your phone and write. Write all the things you have done so far to accomplish your climate goals. 

Do you use a reusable coffee cup? Do you limit food wastage by freezing food? Have you switched to products that use less plastic packaging? 

Small actions count. And when we do them collectively, they make a big difference. 

You’ll likely surprise yourself with how far you have come. Don’t let your own pressures and expectations deter you from where you are going. Don’t lose sight of where you have come from. 

Little set-backs aren’t devastating, they’re normal! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! 

Meditating man

3. Breathing exercises

For those particularly overwhelming moments, breathing techniques can help bring you back to the now. 

Intense feelings of eco-anxiety if not managed can lead to panic attacks and greater feelings of despair. 

Bring yourself back to earth with this simple breathing routine. 

In for 4, hold for 4, out for 8, hold for four. Repeat 4 times. Make sure the breathe comes down into your stomach. 

What is so special about this particular method of breathing?

Well, it slows the heart rate and reduces blood pressure. Concentrating on breathing will help to stop you from ruminating too . By focussing solely on your breathe, there’s little room for anything else. 

If you’re looking for more results, you could try the Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof is nothing short of a genius and has helped millions of people worldwide. 

His breathing focuses on oxygenating the blood, paired with gradual exposure to cold.

Here we should note that cold therapy should only be done if okayed by your doctor. As for the breathing technique, he has a beginner version you can begin with. We would strongly this recommend to any one starting out! 

We’re sure you will have heard of headspace too, or any of those awesome meditation apps; headspace, breathe, balance etc. When used daily they are brilliant for building long-term mental resilience. 

It’s about finding the technique that suits you. So, if it doesn’t feel right, move on and try something else. 

4. Focus your energies

Trying to do everything all at once will cause burnout.  

There are so many pressing issues that require our attention. The ocean is acidifying, our soil is degrading, and plastic pollution is taking over, to name a few. 

With climate catastrophes happening more frequently, you have every reason to feel anxious about where we’re heading. You are not alone in this feeling. 

The best way to take action and take care of your mental health is to choose one cause. 

Just one thing that you feel is important. 

Now, focus your time into that alone. 

Maybe, that one thing is removing meat from your diet? If so, spend your time researching recipes, finding good food alternatives and scoping out new stores in your area. 

Perhaps you’re really passionate about limiting plastic use? Well, choose 1 new item a week you will buy in bulk or in different packaging. 

Or, you could plant a tree. This low maintenance step towards a more sustainable future lasts a lifetime and takes 60 seconds. The efficiency reduces the strain on your own mental health. 

This is done easily with TreeTime by downloading the app or heading to the web app.

Breaking your goals down into bitesize chunks makes them more attainable, less daunting, and overall more enjoyable to achieve. 

The moral of the story here is – don’t spread yourself too thin. You can’t be everything the world needs, but what you can do, matters. 

We all work at a different pace. But please do not compare yourself to online eco-warriors who appear to be doing it all. Yes, they may seem to have it all perfectly worked out. Remember, you don’t know what may be going on behind the scenes. We’re confident that no one is perfect. 

Cheering couple of sofa

5. Celebrate the small stuff

This feeds on very nicely from our last point. 

Celebrate your victories! Shaking off taught behaviours is one of the hardest things to do. 

Even if you’ve found an eco-deodorant that finally works well. Or, your tomato plant has sprouted its first fruit. These changes all matter. 

We’re facing a crisis like nothing before. All efforts that go into the fight is worthy of celebrating. 

6. Find like-minded individuals

Converting those you love to an eco-friendly lifestyle may come with a great deal of mental exhaustion. 

Education is important, if you’re trying to convert your family and friends to new ways of thinking, keep going! 

However, when it gets too much, it is incredibly uplifting to feel the support of others. Those with the same set of priorities as you and you don’t have to explain your choices to. 

Do any of these arguments sound familiar? 

“Why can’t you just eat meat, you’re being very awkward!”

“The earth is naturally heating, climate change is just a myth!”

*Simply scoffs at your choice to clean a beach on the weekend*

We’re all on our own journeys. Those we fight against have had a different upbringing, and been exposed to different values along the way. 

Compassion for everyone is important. 

But, we get it’s tiring! So why not check out one of these in a way to meet like-minded people: 

  • Online sustainability forums 
  • Classes or courses into the environment 
  • Attend community events such as beach cleans or documentary airings
  • Follow people on social media that educate on the subject
Man walking through forest

7. Disconnect

Disconnection is crucial for our overall survival in this big bad world. 

We are more connected than we have ever been in history. Our phones never leave our side, and we spend most of our work days glued to a computer screen. 

Has the rise of social media inevitably left us feeling less connected and more anxious? 

This subject has repeated a few times in this post alone. The ever present social media monster that we’re all beginning to question. 

Connection online can be beautiful, but we should regulate it for ourselves. Taking time to disconnect from the online world. From social media. From news channels. Can be revitalising. 

The breath of fresh air we all need. 

We don’t need to be so connected all the time, and it can do us all bloody good to step out of it for a little while! 

Man and woman running on beach

8. Move

It’s no new revelation that moving our bodies does wonders for our mental health. 

Although it can feel like a chore, steps like these are imperative to taking control of eco-anxiety. 

When we exercise endorphins are released into the body. Whilst this chemical will elevate your mood and make you feel overall happier, they also do something else rather exciting. 

Endorphins encourage new brain cell growth. Enabling you to have clearer thoughts and improve your memory. 

The above can help align your priorities, take efficient actions and build the strength to combat eco-anxiety when it creeps up. 

Learning to listen to your own body can bring you more in tune with yourself. The more you learn about yourself, the more you know your boundaries.

If exercise historically hasn’t been a top priority for you, it can be difficult learning to work it into your routine. 

Start small and build on your foundations.

Similar to earlier discussion surrounding choosing one sustainable change at a time. Doing the same for exercise will reduce any feelings of overwhelm..  

9. Seek professional help

When it all becomes too much, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. 

Whether you need someone to help you blow off steam, or you’re looking for a more long-term solution to eco-anxiety. There are excellent professionals out there ready to help. 

Therapy isn’t just for those diagnosed with serious conditions. It’s there for people who have simply piled too much on their plate. Or, are going through a hard time. 

As the years progress councillors are beginning to integrate eco-anxiety into their practice. 

Pre-2015 this term hadn’t yet been coined, and therapists found themselves in an uncomfortable position. 

Treating those with eco-anxiety is a new practice, but it is becoming increasingly more commonplace. 

Don’t wait until you can’t carry the burdens of climate change around with you any longer. To the point where you can’t move on with everyday life. 

Unfortunately, we can’t provide help lines for everyone in the world here. However, we can for those based in New Zealand. Here are some excellent points of contact if you are struggling and need to speak to someone: 

Lifeline Aotearoa0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline0508 828 865

Healthline0800 611 116

Samaritans0800 726 666


You are not alone. Many people around the world, Gen Z and millennials in particular are falling victim to eco-anxiety. And the feelings of helplessness that come in its wake. 

Turn off the news, disable social media and turn your focus to that which is good and brings you joy. 

It certainly won’t be an easy journey ahead for many of us. No matter what is happening, the important thing to remember is to prioritise yourself. 

Your mental well-being may seem to pale in comparison to other things happening in the world right now. But always find time for you, and what makes you happy. 

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