3 coping tips for climate anxiety

For Peri Plantenberg, climate anxiety darkened her sense of the world at age 14. She read a United Nations report about intensifying droughts, rising sea levels and growing social instability if humans didn’t get their act together to stop global warming.

But Platenberg’s initial feeling – “I’m just a kid. I can’t do anything” – dissipated as the Cupertino teen became a leader with Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action. “Taking action makes me feel empowered,” the Homestead High School senior said. “I forget about the problems; I focus on the solutions.”

Action can indeed become the “antidote to despair” and the very real phenomenon known as climate anxiety, said retired Fairfield pediatrician Bonnie Hamilton. But sometimes people just need help processing those “intense feelings” and harnessing them for “purpose-driven change,” added Britt Wray, a human and planetary health fellow at Stanford University.

Wray offers a list of coping tips on her Gen Dread website and newsletter, which also provide a clearinghouse for how people can strengthen their emotional intelligence, resilience and mental health. Wray’s book, “Generation Dread,” was published by Knopf last week.

Here are coping tips provided by Wray and others.

Talk to a mental health professional: The Climate Psychiatry Alliance and the Climate Psychology Alliance North America offer a directory of professionals who provide psychotherapy geared to people who find themselves so depressed, anxious, overwhelmed or paralyzed that they are struggling with daily life or with continuing with their activism.

Join a self-help group: The Good Grief Network and The Work That Reconnects (TWTR) are nonprofit networks of people who help one another work through difficult climate feelings in groups or workshops. The events, which are not necessarily facilitated by mental health professionals, are offered online. The Good Grief Network offers a 10-week, 10-step program. The Work That Reconnect‘s programs are based on the teachings of renowned activist and author Joanna Macy, which help people tap into the interconnectedness of all living things using a mixture of modern systems theory and the philosophies of Buddhism and Indigenous people.

3 coping tips for climate anxiety