Coping with Climate Change Anxiety and Depression

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Sam Romano - Mental health, alcohol and other drug counselor at Lutheran Social Services in Janesville, Wisconsin.


If you have found this website, “10,001 ways to save the environment”, it’s a good bet you are someone who feels deeply about some pretty negative impacts of global warming and the degrading of our environment that are right around the corner, if not immediately staring us in the face. If you stay abreast of environmental headlines and the current responses from our political leaders (who shall not be named), it’s easy to have feelings of powerlessness, profound pessimism, significant anxiety or depression and simply feeling overwhelmed. It’s understandable to want to shut down, stop those negative racing thoughts, and throw up our hands believing there’s nothing we can do to solve the problems, let alone feel better and get some piece of mind.


Well maybe there are a few things that can help, a little and a lot.


We can enjoy our planet while we have it. We can go for a walk in our neighborhood, we can hike in the woods, or bike, we can go fishing, or kayaking, play golf or Frisbee golf, or we can attend a day baseball game.


We can try some or several of the changes and suggestions offered in this website. At our house, there’s a push to stop buying paper toweling (I will miss that), avoid plastic grocery store bags, use fewer lights, only turn on the “air” when we really need it and only use one family car when traveling to grandchildren's soccer games. Hardly draconian, but it’s a start.


We can join a local advocacy group such as the Sierra Club or Citizens Climate Lobby or a local United Nations group and lobby for the UN 2020 Sustainable Development goals. We feel much better when we’re actually doing something, rather than just reading and ruminating.


And if going to meetings and officially becoming part of an active group that meets on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 in your local church basement isn’t your cup of tea, you can easily call or write your elected officials to let them know how you feel about an issue. Post cards are pretty simple as is calling your members of Congress (202-224-3121). Advocating for specific bill or pending legislation makes that process much easier.


We can talk to family and friends about our concerns. We won’t feel alone and we help get the word out. That’s pretty therapeutic. And if you don’t feel like actually talking to someone, there’s always social media to let people know how we feel, though don’t forget about face to face visits, much healthier for the soul.


For sure you’ll feel better if you support candidates for office who acknowledge and want to invest in saving the planet. One can contribute funds, join a political party and actually work for candidates helping with calls or knocking on doors or registering voters or giving rides to the polls.


We can get some solace if we don’t look ahead 50 years to 10 billion people on the planet or increasing temperatures or climate migration or glaciers only existing in history books. Sometimes it’s more helpful to think about what can I do today. It’s also just as helpful to acknowledge there are some things I can do and there is much I can never control, and be ok with letting go of what we can’t control. Not easy.


Finally, just recognize and believe that positive change can come. It's possible. It starts with us making small changes in our lives and thinking differently. Let’s do it.


Sam Romano

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