*This article is not a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. For youth, counsellors at Kids Help Phone are available 24/7 via text, chat or phone. If you want to learn how to support a loved one who may be struggling with their mental health, visit bethere.org.

Eco-anxiety is real. More and more people are reporting that it’s a major cause of mental health struggles. And while obviously this causes pain on an individual level, it’s also bad news for climate action: a side effect of eco-anxiety is that we grow apathetic. We lose hope. We give up.

Here we’ve laid out some inspiration, ideas, and resources to help you work with eco-anxiety, whether you’re dealing with it yourself, or supporting someone else.

Spend Meaningful Time in Nature

Yes, human activity is wreaking havoc on the environment. No, it’s not irreversible.

Dr. Goodall loves to tell the story of a quarry in Kenya, a “monstrous almost-500 acre scar where almost nothing grew”, where a cement company had devastated the land. Two tiny plants were found sheltered behind some rocks, and were used to rebuild the entire ecosystem. (Yep, you read that right!)

When you’re feeling eco-anxious, it’s helpful to remind yourself how incredibly resilient nature is. This can involve observation and/or mindfulness. Try some of these apps and videos to get started.

image of hands planting seedlings in dirt.

Take an Action You Can See

Climate change is very visual. It splashes pictures of wildfires all over your newspapers. But climate progress is harder to see. When the Chatham Island robin is saved from extinction, that doesn’t make your front page. And you might have spent your whole life recycling, but have no physical proof that it’s made any difference.

Undertaking actions with visible outcomes is a great way to reconnect to your own agency, and help combat eco-anxiety.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Plant a tree with our Greening Your Community and Responsibly Planting Trees guide. Planting a tree is a great way to see the fruits of your labours. And this free, downloadable guide from the Jane Goodall Institute is a great place to start.
  • Start a text chain with your favourite people, and ask them what they’re doing to live more sustainably. You may be surprised how much conversation it starts, and you may see your friends and family start to adopt some of the practices mentioned in the chain.
  • Pick up litter. Work it into something you already do, like walk your dog or walk to school. You’ll instantly see a more beautiful environment, and know that you’ve likely saved a bird or two from choking on someone’s plastic bottle cap.
  • Instead of laying grass seed next spring, sprinkle clover seed. It’s dirt cheap (pun intended), drought-resistant, requires almost no watering, and produces flowers for the bees. With ten minutes of work, you can turn your outdoor area into a thriving ecosystem.

Surround Yourself With Do-Ers

When we’re on social media, it’s easy to stumble down a rabbit hole of rage, righteousness, and despair. But when you look at all the accounts in that rabbit hole, there’s often one thing they have in common: they’re not DOING anything about it.

But people who do things are inspiring. People who take informed, thoughtful action can give us hope. People who share goodness and kindness and grittiness are worth finding time for.

Here are some wonderful accounts of people who are DOING great things, and who make us feel hopeful every day.

  • Ana in the Wild (TikTok). This Canadian Indigenous creator educates viewers about food history, ecology, foraging, and Indigeneity.
  • Asalah Youssef (Instagram). A member of our very own Youth Advisory Council, Asalah is using her platform to explore sustainability, well-being, and mindful photography.
  • Karishma (Instagram). Another Canadian content creator, Karishma speaks up on a range of climate issues, and often provides tangible ways we can all take action to make a difference.
  • Happy Eco News (Twitter and Instagram). This account tweets out all the good news stories about climate, biodiversity, and the environment that aren’t making it into your local news feed.

And finally…let yourself be frustrated.

That’s it. That’s all. But let it feed your determination to act, not slip into despair.

You got this. We’re here with you.

*This article is not a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. For youth, counsellors at Kids Help Phone are available 24/7 via text, chat or phone. If you want to learn how to support a loved one who may be struggling with their mental health, visit bethere.org.

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