How Not to Melt Down with Climate Anxiety as the Planet Burns

Climate anxiety can get you down just as easily and ubiquitously as any other anxiety.

The world is on fire, and it can feel a whole lot like we’re the meme dog in the burning room, like our environment has well exceeded a point where we could realistically convince ourselves that we have any control over it. Like there’s little else to be said except: “this is fine.”

But it’s not fine, and constantly feeling like it’s the end of the world and there’s nothing you can do about it isn’t healthy.

Here are some coping suggestions for when climate anxiety has you heating up.

Activism

This may seem obvious, but whenever there’s a climate strike, march, or activist meeting near you, go.

Don’t make excuses; don’t choose work; don’t assume you won’t make a difference.

Because even if your one voice doesn’t change the impact of the march or the way a certain politician votes, the action of you prioritizing climate activism will impact your circle.

The people close to you will note that you care strongly about this. Everyone is somewhere on the spectrum of caring about the climate — whether they’ve just bought their first reusable water bottle, or whether they are a vegan who buys all their food in bulk and never touches plastic.

By putting your body in the street (or park, or occupying space anywhere in a meaningful way), you’ve given every person who cares about you (even marginally) another reason to try harder.

Not only that, but think about six degrees of separation — everyone is related to everyone else by six social connections.

When you feel like there’s no possible way you can influence the people in power to make decisions in favour of the planet, think again.

Those people have loads of people influencing them, and every person you influence gets you one degree of separation closer.

Communalism

Spend time with other people who think like you.

Organize a climate crisis wine night and draft emails to local congress representatives, or have an evening with friends playing board games and distracting yourselves from the world at large.

Being with other people will help you remember why the world is worth saving in the first place.

Nihilism

When all else fails remember The Myth of Sisyphus. Nihilist philosopher Albert Camus wrote about Sisyphus, who is punished by being forced to push a boulder up a hill, only for it to fall back to the bottom every time he reaches the top.

In writing about the absurdity of life, Camus asks us to imagine Sisyphus happy. Life may be mostly suffering and hard work and so so much absurdity. But inside that absurdity can be a refuge; there can be joy.

In times when you feel helpless, it can be useful to think about how crazy it is that we find ourselves in this situation.

Remember we’re all just doing our best, tomorrow isn’t promised (not just because of global warming — tomorrow has never been a sure thing), and all you can do is be with the people who make pushing the boulder day in and day out feel not just bearable, but worth it, even if you never see the top of the mountain.

Alex Prong
About the author

Alex Prong is a bartender, fern enthusiast, and writer who prefers writing pieces that blur the lines of genre. Alex tends to ascribe cosmic significance to trivial events and people. You can find her sitting at a kitchen island, wearing cabin socks and lingerie, and writing erotica about the woman who delivers her mail. ☉ Scorpio ☽ Cancer ↑ Leo

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