How to cope with eco anxiety

9 Apr 2024
4 min read
Eco anxiety

I hear a lot about eco anxiety – the state of concern people have for the planet and the environment.

Every day a dedicated and growing group of people across the globe are rolling up their sleeves, doing what they can to make a difference.

It’s especially prevalent in young people who feel helpless and powerless to stop what they see as an inevitable decline they have no choice but to inherit as they get older and become parents and join the workforce themselves.

It’s not all hopeless though and there are ways to help with the feelings here:

All’s not lost

It’s easy to think we’re doomed when you hear of Governments or corporations back tracking on climate targets but I’ve worked in this sector for decades and the reality is every day there’s progress.

I channel my energy into the significant work to be done including helping to educate citizens on climate solutions. I also take strength that every day a dedicated and growing group of people across the globe are rolling up their sleeves, volunteering and turning up to work and doing what they can to make a difference.

Change is happening

Whether that’s experts in green energy who are pushing the envelope all the time or whether that’s protestors or teachers writing to their local MPs, or families planting trees in their local park or recreational area. Change can happen at micro and macro levels, and it all counts and can subdue feelings of anxiety about our planet.

Some people talk about being on the edge of a cliff but we’re simply not past a level of pollution where giving up is an option.

Woman looking at rugged landscape

Things can and will get better

There is no one point where we are ‘doomed’. The more we pollute the worse global warming is therefore, we have to stop burning oil and gas as soon as possible.

Yes, politicians and businesses definitely need to move much faster to make changes and yes, I wish things were happening at a far greater pace but there are also great changes happening.

Clean energy is cheaper than polluting fossil fuels. Overwhelming majority want to protect the planet for future generations – no matter their age or wealth.

The American Psychological Association refers to eco-anxiety as ‘a chronic fear of environmental doom.’ There’s more information on eco anxiety and how to deal with it here:


Adults who admitted to being worried about the impact of climate change were three times more likely to have made changes to their lifestyle.

Eco anxiety symptoms include panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability, weakness and sleeplessness. Psychoanalyst Joseph Dodds author of a 2021 research paper into the Psychology of Climate Anxiety says: “The symptoms of climate anxiety are not necessarily feelings to be got rid of, but lessons to be learned, although only if they can be felt in a safe way, through developing meaningful action and positive social, psychological and ecological change.”

There’s a lot of advice on how to cope though:

Every generation is feeling it

But the concerns about how our planet is changing are amplifying far beyond the youth who will inherit the worst impacts to solve.

Ahead of the 2021 COP summit, research found 75 per cent of adults in Great Britain said they were worried about the impact of climate change. Staggeringly, just over two fifths, that’s 43 percent of those surveyed said they’d felt anxious about the state of the environment more widely in the past month. 

There’s plenty of advice out there on how to cope though:

Change is coming

But rather than feel helpless, those feelings of concern are translating to action.

The adults in the study who admitted to being worried about the impact of climate change were a massive three times more likely to have made a lot of changes to their lifestyle than those who were relatively unworried.

The bottom line is that yes, eco anxiety is real, but it’s leading to behaviour change, so a little worry if it’s followed by action will help the planet and us feel less helpless and more hope.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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