The heat waves across the UK aren’t the only recent record breakers; My anxiety about climate change has also been hitting an all time high. I understand that increased awareness of the issues is important, however I find the feelings of powerlessness surrounding the climate crisis to be completely overwhelming. In my search for how to cope with this, I’ve discovered that journaling is recommended as a way to create calm in a world that seems to constantly be on fire.
What is Climate Anxiety?
Also known as eco-anxiety, climate anxiety is defined as feelings of fear, guilt, and powerlessness caused by the climate crisis. This might affect people personally experiencing the effects of climate change. However they can also trouble anyone living in our increasingly “unprecedented” present. I know that I have personally experienced these feelings more than once. While news stories can inform us about climate change and its effects, they can also drop me into a doom-scrolling spiral.
Practising mindfulness is a technique which is commonly suggested for increasing resilience to climate anxiety. I’ve found creative journaling to be a great way to be mindful for a few minutes each day. Doodling, scrapbooking and recording memories can help me to find calm. Sometimes it’s the little changes that can make the biggest difference when looking after your wellbeing and mental health.
Preventing panic and burnout
It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis. With floods, fires, melting ice caps and more, coping with feelings of climate anxiety can feel impossible! Educating yourself about what is happening to our planet and exploring ways to help can sometimes ease climate worries. Unfortunately, other times it can add to the feelings of hopelessness. Writing feelings down is an easy way to give your brain a rest and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Bullet journaling, also known as BuJo, is particularly useful for making connections between your mood, external triggers and proactive responses. Try writing down the worries caused by climate change and connecting them to activism or policies focused on countering it.
Similarly, understanding your reaction to climate change can make it seem more manageable. Journaling is useful for creating a safe space to acknowledge and reflect on the feelings involved in climate anxiety. Many of these feelings can be difficult to deal with. However, taking the time to examine them can take away some of their intensity and power.
Climate anxiety can include feelings of guilt about past actions. Journals are a good place to work on compassion for yourself as well as others. Using creative journaling to forgive yourself for past mistakes and set goals for future behaviour is a great way of protecting your mental health.
Making a plan of action
Lack of agency is a particularly common climate anxiety feeling. So it makes sense that finding ways to actively respond to the climate crisis can be very helpful for your wellbeing. I’ve been looking for groups who are actively involved in the fight against climate change by volunteering in the community. Building a network of people who share your feelings about the climate emergency is a good way to build social resilience to eco-anxiety. You might make some new friends too!
Climate anxiety can take the form of sadness and grief regarding the natural environments that may be destroyed. One way to counter these feelings is to spend time in nature, perhaps by going for walks or spending a day at the beach. It’s important to make time to relax and enjoy the world as it is now. The nature-inspired Billy Floral and Hedgerow notebooks remind me of the things I love about the natural world and can be customised with plain, lined or dotted paper to suit your style of journaling. It’s easy to add a schedule page to your notebook and organise how, where and when to take action against climate change. Check out how BuJo can be your new super power for more ideas on how to do this!
If you feel your mental health is in crisis, use the support and services page at Mind to seek help.