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Eco Anxiety
Aishwarya Chavan
Architect, Kolhapur, India
(Published on: 02 March, 2021 @08 AM)

Reading the word ‘anxiety’ itself sends a wave of negative ripple in our mind. It is supposed to be one of the most damaging emotions that humans experience. However, this new form of anxiety- ‘eco-anxiety’ is a term that has been coined only a few years back when people at large felt overwhelmed, anxious, angry and helpless as a result of the ‘ecological disasters’ that we are witnessing. Climate change, global warming, uncontrolled plastic wastes, deforestation, depletion of natural fuels, are only a few environmental threats to mention. However, as chronic as it may sound, there are multiple simple ways and techniques by which we can control if not completely get rid of this psychological illness.

 How can you know whether you are a victim of this psychological illness? Well, if you get upset on watching the image of a polar bear clinging to an ice berg that is about to melt, if you get afraid on the fact that the climate change is going to end this earth, if your blood boils on watching people using and disposing unrecyclable plastics, if you almost cry on watching the images of plastics entangling a tortoise or a fish, if you get overwhelmed on hearing to the news of thousands of birds dead as a result of micro-plastics found inside their stomachs, if you get depressed on the news of deforestation and the constant loss of green cover across the globe; and all this and more, then, my friend, you are suffering from ‘eco-anxiety’. To add to the list, eco-anxiety is associated with a feeling of helplessness, which further facilitates the feeling of depression. You are under constant pressure and the fear for not only you’re future, but for the generations to come. You can clearly see that we are all doomed and the future seems more horrible than you have ever imagined!

 The year 2020 has been a classic example of people all across the globe experiencing eco-anxiety as a result of multiple depressing news such as the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus that killed millions of people across the world, oil spills in Russia, Mauritius and Venezuela that threatened wildlife, wildfires in the U.S., Australian Wildfires that killed as many as 500 million animals, earthquakes in Turkey and the Caribbean, locust swarm outbreak in South Africa, Pakistan and India, the floods in north India that left thousands of people helpless and hopeless. The social media played a very important role where we could see people all over going through the same fear, anxiety and trauma. This indicates that eco-anxiety has affected far more people that we even know!

As helpless, lost and disoriented as you may feel, remember you are not alone. We are in this together. Reach out and hold hands. Be vocal about it. There is help out there, just ask! Learn to deal with your anxiety; and the first step is to ‘accept’ it. The next is to start ‘acting’ upon it. Different people will find solace in different things; but start somewhere and take baby steps. Join an NGO where you can assist them with various environmental conservational activities, reduce plastic waste, educate yourself and people around you to be environmentally sensitive and sensible, plant a tree or adopt one, make a team and clean your environment, go for nature treks and get connected, feed the stray, and much more. These are just a few ways that could really help you manage your anxiety and cause a significant positive impact on you. When you know you are doing something about the things that are bothering you, you will eventually feel peaceful and empowered. You will get a satisfaction and feel more responsible for the wellness and betterment of the environment.

Remember, you have it in you! 

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