Anipā o te huringa āhuarangi
Climate change anxiety

Climate change can affect your mental and physical wellbeing.

We’re experiencing more severe weather events such as floods, droughts, and wildfires. All of a sudden, the things we've heard talked about for decades are here and they're real.

This can be stressful and as a result, people are experiencing climate change anxiety, also know as 'eco-anxiety'.

Climate change anxiety is fully acknowledged by the New Zealand Psychological Society. The Climate Psychology Taskforce investigates, promotes and acknowledges the implications of environmental damage and climate change impacts on wellbeing.

How can I deal with climate change anxiety?

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we feel powerless. We need to recognise the boundaries of the control and influence we have on issues, and focus our energy within these limits. Luckily, there are a number of practical steps you can take to manage climate anxiety.

1. Recognise what it is

Although climate change can be a challenging topic, we're dealing with something the human race has never faced before. It’s important to recognise these feelings are normal and valid.

There are no rule books on how we deal with this, so be kind to yourself and know you are not alone.

2. Talk about it

Talk to family, friends, colleagues, neighbours or teachers. It can help to share your feelings and understand other people’s views, even if they might have different views.

This guide from Climate Outreach on how to have a climate change conversation can help with these conversations.

3. Make it personal

Taking action and advocating for change is a great place to start.

Think about the things that are important to you, or where you can make changes in your personal life, including:

  • the products you buy
  • how you travel
  • the political action you can take.

For more ideas, see five ways to take climate action. Taking action on one area at a time can help by connecting your anxiety to an action.

Some resources to help you:

  • Gen Less and FutureFit have free tools to help you understand your carbon footprint and reduce your impact.
  • Toitu’s free Carbon calculators let you calculate your household and travel emissions.

4. Take part in community-based action

Connecting with like-minded people is a great way to share your views in a proactive way that can enhance the causes you care about. Not only will you be able to expand your influence through collective action, but you can spend time with people who have similar views on life. Connecting with people in your area contributes to your sense of Taha whānau family health.

Delivering action through environmental groups can help bring you closer to the areas you love and help improve your Taha wairua (spiritual health). This could be through activities such as tree planting or ecological management.

Volunteering outdoors with the council
Conservation Volunteers New Zealand Facebook page

You can also join groups such as Generation Zero. This is a youth-led climate action group set up to mobilise New Zealanders to engage with decision-making and campaign for intergenerational climate justice.

Generation Zero website

5. Be present

Some climate change information is challenging and focusing on them too much can become overwhelming.

Try to switch off, meditate, and get some personal perspective from time to time.

And remember, there are many positive stories to focus on.

A young child standing by a large tree, reaching up to see if his arms are wide enough to stretch around it.