When I was twelve I watched a made-for-TV movie called ‘The Day After.’ It depicted a nuclear war and its aftermath. It terrified me. I obsessed over evacuation plans and pleaded with my parents to build a bomb shelter in our yard. This was fallout (no pun intended) from a fictitious movie.
Imagine how our children feel when they learn about today’s real climate crisis.
I’m struggling with my children’s need to know versus their need to be protected from the unsettling truth. They see the headlines and hear second-hand recaps from their friends. I don’t want to downplay the facts or discount their concerns, but how much information is too much?
Talking about climate change with kids is difficult because there are no clear-cut solutions. Typing “clear cut” made me think of deforestation and I immediately envisioned the Amazon in flames. Fear and anxiety are causing me to revert back to my childhood escape plans and doomsday bunkers.
Knowledge is power, but in this case, it has left me feeling quite powerless. Out of frustration and concern, a friend demanded I get it together and stop reading so much. She’s right. Though I need to know the facts, panicking isn’t healthy or helpful.
Here’s what I’m trying to do to turn my climate change-anxiety into positive action:
Spending as much time in nature as possible. Hiking, playing outside and walking my kids to school. It’s difficult to imagine the worst while surrounded by trees and buzzing bees.
Planting a garden. And filling it with butterfly and bee-attracting plants.
Reducing plastics. As well as waste in our home.
Buying in bulk. And using refillable containers when making purchases.
Remembering to bring a reusable mug to the coffee shop. And cloth bags to the grocery store.
Reusing and repurposing. As much as we can.
Supporting politicians who make the environment a top priority.
Attending climate strikes and rallies with my kids. So they can see like-minded people united and fighting for the same cause.
Continuing to follow a plant-based lifestyle. To help lessen greenhouse gas emissions.
Refusing to support companies who pollute.
Choosing eco-responsible products.
Making plans for the future and enjoying every day.
Eliminating scary apocalyptic movies and zombie TV shows. (This one is specifically for me).
I read a quote that is helping to change my perspective. It was something to the effect of:
“The weight of the world is a little too heavy to hold right now. Just know things can get better. Keep doing your best. Your best is always enough.“
I’m holding onto that. We will do our best. I want my kids to see me doing everything I can to help fix this. And we can fix this. Kids need to believe that.
Eco-anxiety is a prevalent mental health issue affecting a growing number of adults and children. If symptoms persist or escalate, seek support from a therapist. There are strategies that can help.