Repeated natural disasters, multiplication of pollution, pessimistic forecasts... if you happen to feel worried or even overwhelmed by the news and the environmental challenges to come to preserve our planet, perhaps you are part of the growing number of people prone to eco-anxiety.
What is eco-anxiety? How does it manifest? What are the solutions to soothe it? Let's lift the veil on this phenomenon which, we reassure you right away, is far from being inevitable.
The term “eco-anxiety” comes from the contraction of the terms “ecology” and “anxiety”. To date, there is no precise definition, nor international consensus around this notion which is increasingly used in the media to describe a phenomenon which would affect more than 50% of French people, and a fortiori 72% of 18-24 year olds. years according to a recent survey .
One of the most comprehensive definitions has been offered by Australian and New Zealand researchers who define eco-anxiety as the set of anxiety experiences related to environmental crises . These include both anxiety related to climate change and growing concern about the multiplicity of natural disasters.
In her book Eco-anxiety: living serenely in a damaged world, Dr. Alice Desbiolles describes it as “anxiety of anticipation” that one can feel in the face of the environmental and social issues with which our civilization is now confronted. Anger, sadness, fear, it can bring out a multitude of negative emotions, even more vividly among younger generations. For what ?
Simply because their daily life is more modified than that of previous generations, who also see in them the next generation on whom it would be incumbent to save the planet... Refusing fate, some of them mourn an ideal of life and give up to their childhood dreams in order to adapt, even commit themselves in order to move the lines.
Do you think you have similar emotions? Here are some signs that can help you identify eco-anxiety.
It is important to specify that to date eco-anxiety is not considered a pathology. However, it is a state of mind that can seriously affect daily life. Indeed, this chronic worry creates stress with a direct impact on the body and its rhythms.
Nevertheless, it is not always easy to recognize the symptoms of eco-anxiety because they are identical to those caused by any other source of stress. Here is what we can say about it: insomnia, eating disorders, stomach aches or even anxiety attacks... These signs can be those of eco-anxiety if they are triggered by worry about ecological issues and current environmental conditions.
Beyond the physical symptoms, the stress caused by eco-anxiety acts on the metabolism, in particular via the production of so-called stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. If the action of these substances can be beneficial in the short term to deal with a given situation, in the long term they are harmful and can give rise to pathologies. It is therefore essential to learn to tame this state before it causes too much damage.
In addition, eco-anxiety can lead those who suffer from it to change their lifestyle. Food, transport, leisure, each decision is now taken with regard to its environmental and societal impact. A responsible approach that only increases the mental burden of those affected.
It remains that eco-anxiety is not inevitable: there are solutions to calm down and find a little serenity.
How to better live with eco-anxiety?
We are not born eco-anxious, we become one. It is therefore possible to learn how to overcome eco-anxiety to find lightness in everyday life. For that, here are some tips.
The first: do not plunge into hyper guilt or become more responsible than necessary. We cannot solve alone a problem that is beyond us. But everyone can act on their own scale and, in the face of fear, there is nothing like action...
There are many ways to get involved, at its “small” level, via associations for example. Without necessarily becoming an activist, it is also possible to set up new habits within your home. Selective sorting, reasoned consumption, education, every gesture counts and reflects a desire to change things. Choosing to consume committed and responsible brands is another concrete way to support an ecosystem on the way to preserving the environment and living things. Be careful, however, not to fall into the trap of greenwashing: favor brands that make awareness and transparency a priority.
Beyond the theory, what to do when the emotion is too strong and the fear overwhelms us?
Eco-anxiety is always the result of a projection. Also, one of the main keys to soothing it is to reconnect to the present moment. By doing this regularly, the mind moves away from sources of worry to focus on what is really at the moment T. For this purpose, there are many grounding techniques such as mindfulness meditation, breathing , yoga or simply reconnecting with nature.
In addition, a healthy lifestyle combining a healthy diet, regular physical activity and breaks is necessary to combat the deleterious effects of stress on the body. And because it's not always obvious, we can occasionally turn to natural solutions to help the body cope. Adaptogenic plants are particularly interesting in that they stimulate our natural resistance to stress. The Serenity Complex of Days Of Confidence , enriched with Ashwagandha titrated KSM 66®, helps to rebalance the nervous system and helps to find a good emotional balance.
Finally, where possible, let's cultivate optimism by focusing on solutions rather than problems. Because yes, there are, and more and more. From this perspective, it is better to select sources of information rigorously and to prefer independent media. Social networks offer a lot of committed and optimistic content that blows a life-saving and necessary wind of lightness.
To learn more, here are some resources to get you informed and learn how to ease your eco-anxiety:
Eco-anxiety, living peacefully in a damaged world, Dr Alice Desbiolles
Eco-anxiety will not pass by me! Elise Rousseau
The emotions of climate change, Dr Céline Massini and Pr Antoine Pelissolo
Little survival guide for eco-anxious, Charline Schmerber
An art of living and loving in times of disaster, Jean-Yves Leloup
Hervée: the ecological trigger, Maud Zilnyk
Some describe eco-anxiety as the evil of the century. If we cannot deny the harmful effect of the chronic stress it causes in those who suffer from it, it is clear that it is also the engine of positive change. Once tamed, it brings together and encourages the movement of an entire generation that is burning to change things. And, don't forget, the human being has shown on many occasions his ability to adapt and reinvent himself to continue to inhabit this world. Perhaps we can therefore believe that the best is yet to come, it costs nothing to try.