As concerns rise for our climate and the future of our world, so does the anxiety that’s sweeping the planet. Increases in frequency of widespread wildfires and the length of wildfire season, along with rising temperatures and shifts in weather patterns leave many concerned and considering the long-term consequences for the Earth as well as the mental health of those who inhabit it.
The sobering ramifications of climate change are real, and present. It’s normal to react to these with emotions like anxiety, despair, depression, or grief. Studies have shown for many, many years that the physical world around us can significantly impact our mental health and wellbeing, both positively and negatively. Nature can even help us recover quicker, reduce stress, and strengthen our immune systems. It’s therefore understandable that, with our deep physical ties to the earth - we find ourselves concerned and overwhelmed by the potential and looming destruction or death of our planet.
With news feeds, social media, broadcasts, radio, and much more, it’s fairly impossible to escape the reality of the climate crisis, and consequently, the impact of these fears and anxieties on our stress levels and potential disregulation of our nervous system.
Symptoms of climate anxiety include:
Unaddressed symptoms of anxiety can become chronic and lead to a significant, ongoing sense of fear along with restlessness, panic attacks, insomnia, headaches, nausea, body aches, stomach pain and more. Ongoing symptoms can be debilitating and seriously decrease your quality of life.
When it comes to climate anxiety, one of the challenges is that the root cause of the anxiety is valid and rational. Therefore, treating these types of symptoms has to be done in a way that addresses the controllable factors around our experience, rather than removing the concern itself.
While many types of therapy can help with anxiety, one type of therapy in particular may be significantly beneficial for those struggling with climate anxiety. This type of therapy is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which focuses on acknowledging and supporting the reality of our situation, while creating coping mechanisms that can help us live in the moment. Most anxiety, at its core, focuses on the future or situations, obstacles and challenges we can’t control. DBT helps us stay grounded and present in order to avoid focusing on those things.
DBT is founded upon the concept of dialectical thinking, which means our ability to embrace two opposite ideas or truths - in this case, the willingness to accept your reality and live in the moment, combined with a willingness to manifest positive change.
There are four specific modules in DBT:
In addition to utilizing DBT therapy to manage your climate anxiety, joining a peer-oriented online therapy group or support group can help you avoid isolation and create a common sense of understanding. In fact, there are online therapy groups that focus on DBT therapy which combines the best of both solutions.
Looking to experience relief from climate anxiety? Grouport can help.