Climate Anxiety: What It Is and How to Deal With Our Changing World

Rising sea temperatures. Hurricanes. Forest fires. Record-breaking droughts. 

Across the globe, natural disasters like these fill our news outlets and they don’t show any sign of stopping. There are still people in charge that deny these events are related to climate change, if they even believe it is real. It fills you with a deep sense of dread concerning the future of our planet. If you’ve felt like this before, you are not alone: in fact, over two-thirds of people your age (18-24 year olds) feel the exact same way. 

What is Climate Anxiety?

According to the American Psychological Association, climate anxiety (or ecoanxiety) is “the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of next generations.” 

Research on the increasing subject of climate anxiety has shown that the younger generations are experiencing this at a much higher rate than older generations- probably because we know that the damage is already done and now we must face an unpredictable outcome for the future of the environment. 

Obviously, this is a LOT of pressure weighing on your shoulders and along with the normal anxieties of college life, it can really take a toll on your mental health. So, in order to relieve even a little bit of that, here are three ways to help manage your climate anxiety:

  1. Go outside!  Sometimes we get so caught up in our heads about the future of the environment that we fail to see what is still around us now. Go outside and do homework, read a book, chat with friends, or just soak in the sun and appreciate the beauty of nature to remember what we’re fighting for.
  2. Get involved!  At CofC, there are so many ways to get involved with the environment! Whether it be through classes, joining student organizations like the Alliance for Planet Earth (@allianceforplanetearth) or the Sustainable Fashion Club (@sustainablefashioncofc), interning with a sustainability-focused organization (like the Center for Sustainable Development!), or working with non-profit organizations found in Charleston, there are so many ways to get your hands dirty and meet like-minded people that feel the same way as you!
  3. Recognize you are not alone. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed and believe that you single-handedly have to stop climate change, which makes you feel like you’re in this fight by yourself. There are so many people that feel the same way as you! That is why it is so important that we stick together so that we don’t have to face the climate crisis by ourselves- we can tackle it head-on knowing we have each other’s backs!