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Combatting Climate Change Anxiety

Climate change has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year. We’re constantly told about the physical dangers posed by climate change, but only recently has attention started to turn to the impact the climate crisis is having on people’s mental health. This is why we felt it was vital to run this session on Combating Climate Change Anxiety.

The chat began with panellists offering a definition of the term climate change anxiety – what it means, and the ways in which it can be defined. The panellists discussed the fact that climate change anxiety is known by several different names and can all mean different things to different people and can vary in intensity. Terms include eco-distress, environmental melancholia, eco-anxiety, and pre-traumatic stress disorder due to environmental threats.

The panel went on to discuss the ways in which we can combat this feeling of anxiety and what we can do both on an individual and collective level to improve the situation.

Key points included:

Balance staying engaged with self-care

You don’t have to be constantly engaged as this can lead to burnout. Often taking a break to do something you enjoy, will refuel you and prevent you from becoming disengaged. Don’t feel guilty for detaching once in a while.

Connect with likeminded individuals

A problem shared is a problem halved. There are lots of fantastic Facebook groups including panellist Alex’s The Sustainable Vet Nurse, and the Veterinary Sustainability Forum.

Vet Sustain has lots of useful resources for practical action.

Communication

Bringing up a conversation on climate change and environmental issues can be difficult. Sometimes just being heard or listening to others can really help with the conversations – especially when they are such emotive topics. Panellist Dr Catriona Mellor sign posted some useful climate communication toolkits which can be accessed via the following links:

  1. Positive Communication Toolkit – Conservation Optimism
  2. Six ways to change hearts and minds about climate change (onroadmedia.org.uk)

Shop local and support farmers

Imported food may be cheaper, but shopping local is a key way of reducing our carbon footprint. Farmers are part of the solution both in terms of animal welfare and sustainability, and wider stewardship of the countryside, and we need to work with them to continue to develop sustainable farming practices.

Feeling anxious shows you care

Being anxious, fearful, or worried is never a good thing, but it means you care.Caring makes you a bigger part of the solution than those who remain disinterested.

Be kind to yourself

Start small and build your way up. It’s often the little things that can make the biggest changes. You never know what impact you may be having.

A list of useful resources created with the help of our panellists can be found below::

General:

Activists and environmental accounts to follow on Instagram:

@mikaelaloach @jessicakleczka @envirobite @ayisha_sid @ninagualinga @climateincolour @greengirlleah @toritsui_ @vanessanakate @lizwathuti @intersectionalenvironmentalist @futureearth

If you’re currently struggling with your mental health, Vetlife is there for you 24/7 and can be reached on: 0303 040 2551. The Samaritans also provide 24/7 support and can be reached on 116 123

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