Climate anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your life. Here’s how to manag...

Eve Andrews talks about how climate change isn't just an existential threat, it a unique threat. Coping means facing your own death and finding your own way to make a difference, remembering that doing your part matters.

... because you know what you should do to foil it: Don’t drive, don’t fly, don’t eat meat, don’t buy lots of things, don’t vote for (most) Republicans. But in practice, it’s hard to do many of those things. At best, they are mildly inconvenient; at worst, they obstruct your daily life and long-term goals.

And climate change — while slow-moving — has already begun to alter the places in which we live in ways that cannot be reversed. That, to the average person, is a viscerally depressing sentiment.

Here’s what I gleaned: Confront the end of your own life, and then figure out one thing you can do to channel your anxiety effectively.

A portion of environmental psychologist Renee Lertzman’s work is devoted to what she calls “environmental melancholia,” our unconscious sadness over ecological loss and degradation. 

No one likes being told what to do. They also don’t typically enjoy pondering their demise. But resistance to confronting climate change is essentially choosing not to think about your own death. [emphasis mine]

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That is the guiding philosophy of Michael Apathy, a psychotherapist in New Zealand who treats environmental anxiety. In some of his younger patients, he says, he’s seeing “a real terror and despair that the picture of our individual and collective future is just so, so dark.”

But feeling terror and despair isn’t the same as truly coming to grips with the fatal implications of climate change. They’re the product of futility brought about by anxiety — the running-in-circles sensation of not being able to do enough to save the world.

“The impulse to do something proactive is very, very healthy, ... But when that becomes over-relied on as a substitute for facing the fear and deep rage and loss periodically, we get uncreative and disillusioned and backed up against a wall.” [emphasis mine]

image source (text from article)

... there are a million ways to attack a problem as big as climate change. A single one of them can’t fix the problem, of course, but each chips a piece off the carbon burden. It’s up to you to figure out which one can be your strongest little pickaxe, and how to wield it to have the most impact. [emphasis mine]

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