Illustration by Zendon Page

Avoiding getting overwhelmed by climate change

Climate change is a big talking point these days and is a crucial turning point in human history, however it…

Climate change is a big talking point these days and is a crucial turning point in human history, however it is also important to monitor your feelings towards it in order to not get too overwhelmed. Things can often feel very negative, so here are a few ways in which you can avoid letting climate news overwhelm you and using your feelings for good.

Acknowledge your feelings

Whilst it is important to remain calm and control your anxiety in relation to the changing climate, it is equally important to acknowledge why you feel this way. It is easy to feel small and insignificant when thinking about something on such a large scale, however your individual efforts are still important! Acknowledging that you are doing the best that you can given the circumstances is crucial in maintaining a sense of perspective. It could be that you feel powerless to create change, however recognising that your thoughts are valid is the first step in participating in more proactive actions. Realising that you are allowed to feel scared, upset or angry is good – don’t feel guilty for feeling it. Use it!

Three paper cut outs of hands. The middle one has a heart on, the other two plants.

Research

By researching more into climate change we can become more knowledgeable on the subject, providing us with greater insight. By doing this, our worries begin to be based less upon anxiety induced by news headlines, but more on the scientific literature which often attempts to propose solutions to problems rather than creating fear. Not only this, it provides us with the knowledge that scientists are constantly trying to do something about the changing climate. You can seek out good news about climate change, or help yourself understand the next steps to fighting it. You can help yourself understand how climate change affects and will affect communities around the world, and how you could support them.

It’s important to form your own views and gain your own education rather than relying on headlines which often lean towards exaggeration, and do not focus on actions you can take. Keep informed!

Change the narrative

The connotations of climate change are negative, and rightfully so, however in order to feel more comfortable with the phrase we can remobilize it in a positive light. Rather than viewing it as a ‘doomsday’, try associating it with the bringing together of people working towards one purpose, to prevent the rapidly changing climate. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in your fears, and that others also want to incite change for the good of everybody. By flipping what you associate the word with you can overcome its fearful connotations in favour of weaponising it for productive action. Use these negative emotions to affect change.

It’s easy to feel hopeless, but you can weaponise your anxieties by writing your MP and asking them to support actions to combat the climate crisis, going to protests or joining campaigns, donating to movements supporting those affected by climate change and efforts to improve green living, and raising awareness on social media.

A protest sign of a painted earth with the words 'One World'.

Climate anxiety is a normal emotion to feel as somebody who cares for the planet and this feeling shouldn’t be minimized, however these are a few ways in which hopefully your worries can be eased. It isn’t going away, but remember that it is neither hopeless nor your individual responsibility. There is plenty you can do, and plenty of hope out there if you look for it.

The University of Lincoln, in collaboration with the University of Lincoln Students’ Union, is hosting a week of engagement on climate action, in support of COP26. Our aim is to inform, inspire and empower our community to act in response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency that the University of Lincoln declared in 2019.

Find out more about Climate Week and COP26.

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