How to overcome eco-anxiety and look after the environment as well as yourself

In today’s world where it can seem like we’re one plastic straw away from disaster, how can we advocate for the environment whilst also protecting our own wellbeing, ensuring we aren’t consumed by a fear of an ill-fated future and succumb to the pressure of eco-anxiety?

From rapidly-rising sea levels to the fact that in 2022, it hit 40 degrees in Lincoln for heaven’s sake, rarely a week goes by where the news isn’t flooded (excuse the pun) with distressing stories about the critical state of our planet. 

Whilst increased awareness of climate change is a good thing, the steady barrage of stories on dwindling species and devastating forest fires is, unsurprisingly, impacting our mental health. However, it’s young people who are suffering the most in the echo-chamber of hopeless headlines about the climate. 

Inés Hart, young climate activist

“I find it can be crippling, because of the sheer scale of climate change and the fact that it literally intersects with everything,” admits Inés Hart, who is all too familiar with a phenomenon known as eco-anxiety.

“My favourite quote by Clover Hogan, ‘climate change is a symptom of broken systems’, I think encapsulates the climate crisis and how it feeds anxiety, because you can see how our systems are exacerbating climate change.”

Eco-anxiety is not a diagnosable medical condition, but rather a colloquial term that has been coined to describe the chronic fear of doom stemming from overwhelmingly negative climate news. 

It’s hardly surprising that this feeling is burdening younger people more than anyone else, as less young people are in a position where they can incite institutional-level change and face living through the detrimental environmental decisions of the generations before them for many years to come.

Inés is not alone in her despair. A report led by the University of Bath in 2021 asked 100,000 people aged 16-25 across the globe their thoughts about climate change. It found that 75% of respondents believe ‘the future is frightening’ and nearly half confessed climate anxiety and distress is affecting their day-to-day lives.   

But, instead of letting her eco-anxiety win, the 21-year-old geography student used her emotions as a catalyst for action, finding a balance between effective activism and maintaining a positive state of mind.

“I don’t look at the news all that much anymore,” she admits. “I keep up to date on what’s going on, but once you have an over saturation of negative news, you become desensitised to it.

“I think our generation is particularly susceptible to that, because we’re impacted by the 24h news cycle on things such as TikTok and Instagram.

“In order to tackle it, I follow a lot of positive climate news accounts, or people who are doing proactive things in the climate space. I feel like that helps to counteract everything.”

Going one step further, Inés also joined an online programme which helped change her outlook on the climate crisis, and also provided her a gateway into the world of activism.

“During Lockdown in 2020, I signed up to an organisation called Force of Nature and put my name down for their newsletters,” she explains. “I’ve been able to complete their training, which included a programme called ‘anxiety to agency’, which helped my eco-anxiety massively. 

“Through that and further work with Force of Nature, I’ve been plugged into lots of different opportunities and, currently, I’m part of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, so have a hand in a lot of grassroot activism there.”

It took time, but Inés no longer thinks about what she can’t do when it comes to the climate, instead focusing on the impact she can have.

”I think it’s all about your mindset, which is easier said than done,” she says. “It’s learning not to catastrophize.

“I think it’s still crucial to understand the impacts and the science behind climate change, but I personally focus on the developing solutions and what people are already doing and how I can contribute to that.”

So, what can I do to help, but also stop my worries from spiralling out of control? 

Everybody’s situations are different, and it’s important not to feel guilty if you’re unable to make significant lifestyle changes to tackle climate change. Your mental health should always come first. 

Offering advice from her own experiences, Inés says: “There’re lots of things that people can do on a local scale. Anything from growing your own food if you can, to making small plastic free swaps. 

“I used to put so much importance on my individual actions, and whilst they’re still important, I think it’s more important to remember that the system that we live in isn’t built for us to be able to make a big impact, so it isn’t your fault.

“I’m a big advocate for collective action rather than individual action. It’s such an empowering process to be part of a community working towards the same goals. I think finding your people helps you with your wellbeing and your motivation and ensuring that you don’t have burnout or are overrun by anxiety.

“One single person cannot tackle all of these intersectional issues. My advice would be to focus on one aspect of the climate crisis that you would like to do something in and, most importantly, find a community.”

The fight against climate change is not a one-person battle, and it’s vital to remember that to keep any brewing eco-anxiety at bay. Every eco-conscious choice, no matter how big or small, makes a difference.

If you’re looking to join forces with others, Force of Nature and the UK Youth Climate Coalition are two fantastic organisations Inés mentioned where you can access educational materials about combating climate change or even get involved with grassroots activism (UKYCC are actively recruiting!) . You could also check out Facebook groups and local societies to help find like-minded people.

If you’re looking to put an end to your gloom-ridden doom scrolling, creators such as Sam Bently (@sambently) and Alaina Wood (@thegarbagequeen), as well as pages such as @earthtopia, @friends_earth and @ecosia are dedicated to sharing positive climate news on social media

And, if you are in need of a dose of good news today, we’ll start you off: in March 2024, The EU made a revolutionary decision to make ‘servere ecosystem destruction’ a criminal offence know as ‘ecocide’, to make sure big companies responsible for environmental damage can be charged and held to account. 

Bet you probably didn’t know that!

We don’t endorse any organisations or content creators mentioned in this article. If you have concerns for your mental health, we urge you to talk to friends or family and seek professional help. Resources can be accessed from organisations such as and For more Messy mental health advice, click here.

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