Sunday Scaries

Have Climate Anxiety? Try Out These 7 Resilience-Building Resources

Have climate anxiety? Try these out.

Originally Published: 
climate anxiety lady staring at bridge
Getty Images / Lais Borges; Inverse
Sunday Scaries

As the climate crisis worsens a related phenomenon has emerged: climate anxiety. People, especially young people, are reporting increased distress as a result of the very real effects of climate change on their lives now — and how it might affect their future. In a 2021 survey, the Pew Research Center found that far more people in the Gen Z generation were anxious about climate change than their older peers.

But researchers are also starting to notice something very interesting: climate anxiety can also transform into hope. Climate anxiety becomes a call to action. It offers a chance to rebuild systems that are an improvement on what came before. In that same 2021 survey, Gen Z also reported being more likely to believe we can reduce the effects of climate change.

Thankfully, there are resources to help people cope with the changing world and feel inspired to make it better.

For example, Hold This Space is a web platform created to help young people with eco-anxiety process their emotions, learn about collective climate action, and imagine a better future. It was launched in 2022 and developed by the youth-led nonprofit Force of Nature, the think tank Common Vision, and Climate Cares, a program at Imperial College London. Psychologists, scientists, policy experts, and activists all contributed to the project.

Demonstrators during a climate strike march in Rome, Italy.

Simona Granati - Corbis/Getty Images

Hold This Space takes you through a series of self-guided activities centered around the prompts to feel, imagine, and connect. Where this leads you might vary: You may end up reflecting on a future where we’ve achieved sustainable food systems or listening to other people talk about their climate fears.

These prompts emerged from workshops related to the project and are related to previous research on climate-related mental health support, explains Emma Lawrance. She is the Mental Health Innovations Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College and a part of this project.

“Initiatives like Hold This Space are here to help people see that they are not alone in what they are feeling and that it’s normal to feel a range of strong emotional responses at different times or sometimes to feel numb,” Lawrance says.

“However, we don’t have to just sit with the feelings,” she adds. “Once that window is opened it is also possible to begin imagining the opportunities the climate crisis provides for transforming societies in directions much better for us in many ways.”

Ultimately, the creators of Hold This Space want it to combat common but toxic narratives about climate change — like the idea that it’s too late to change anything or that individuals are too small to make a difference.

Here are some other resources that share a similar message:

Climate anxiety resources to read, listen, and watch

Many of these resources combat common but toxic about climate change.

Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gen Dread

Gen Dread is a newsletter by Britt Way, a professor at Stanford University and an advisor to Climate Cares. It’s described as a newsletter “about staying sane in the climate crisis” and is the namesake of Way’s book on the subject. Way offers a range of diverse angles on the topic, including articles about how to navigate having a family during the climate crisis (or choosing not to have a family), how to take breaks from the news without living in denial, and why gardening can be a healing practice.

“Facing It”

This is a podcast by Jennifer Atkinson, a professor at the University of Washington who teaches the seminar “Eco-Anxiety and Climate Grief: Building Hope in the Age of Consequences.” In the six-part podcast, she tackles topics like how to cope with climate despair and how to embrace uncertainty. Atkinson speaks directly and honestly, and teaches you how to transform despair into action.

Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet

This book is also an “existential toolkit.” Written by Sarah Jaquette Ray, a professor of environmental studies at CalPoly Humboldt, the book goes over how to resist burnout, let go of eco-guilt, and advocate for climate justice. Atkinson says this is one of the books her students appreciate most.

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In wiith Unexpected Resilience & Creative Power

This book explores how people can “access unexpected resilience and creative power,” writes authors Joanna Macy, an ecophilosopher, and Chris Johnstone, a doctor with a background in developing self-help resources. A blend of spirituality and science, Active Hope is a guide to cultivating compassion for yourself and the planet—and converting that compassion into action. Originally published a decade ago, Active Hope is now available in its tenth edition. Aktinson also recommends this book.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

In this 2020 documentary available on Netflix, the legendary broadcaster discusses the need for better stewardship of the Earth while interweaving stories from his own life with moments of natural splendor. Attenborough describes the film as his “witness statement and his vision of the future.” If we act now, he says, we can secure our future.

“Climate Change and Happiness”

This podcast is hosted by clinical and environmental psychologist Thomas Doherty and climate emotions scholar Panu Pihkala. They discuss research on ecological grief and the psychological impacts of climate change, along with how to cope with climate stress and stay hopeful.

An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators

While created for educators, this site is a helpful tool for anyone looking to learn more about cultivating resilience, climate justice, and processing eco-anxiety. It was launched by Atkinson, Ray, and Elin Kelsey, an educator and author of Hope Matters. You can also find reflective practices related to the climate crisis and further reading related to decolonization, antiracism, and intersectionality.

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