As a young person, it’s easy to get caught up in the influx of climate headlines that pollute the media today. Pictures flash from one natural disaster to the next as testimonies of the event’s victims dishearten readers. Typically, these pieces reinforce our feelings of impending doom, calling on younger generations to step up and take control of the situation which their predecessors neglected to address.
Even during times of positive momentum for climate action, such as the COP26 conference which is being held in Glasgow until November 12, young people are reminded in petrifying detail how little time we have left to reverse the damage. A lack of initiative displayed by those in power only perpetuates this anxiety for younger generations who are left to build a more sustainable future while simultaneously being told that the time to act has passed.
Feelings of disillusionment and uncertainty disproportionately affect young people today. According to a recent global study, 75% of young people between the ages of 16 and 25 are frightened for the future. The same study cited that 64% of young people are irritated with their government for their lack of initiative in combating climate change.
On the positive side, data like this works to unite younger generations across borders, ethnicities, races, and religions. It is important to recognise that young people are valid in their feelings of anxiety and hopelessness but until the time comes for us to pick up the torch, we will continue growing and learning, educating ourselves on the social, political, economic, and cultural implications of the problem we face.
It is also vital that we practice self-care in the meantime. There are steps we can take to reduce the overwhelming effects of climate-related anxiety and irritation.
Firstly, finding a community where it is safe to discuss your feelings, and frustrations. It is important to express your concerns to those who are in the same position, reinforcing a sense of unity and calming these negative thoughts before they become isolating.
Another way of alleviating climate-induced anxiety is to only focus on that which is within your control, such as your own ecological impact. This could include simple practices like thrifting, biking to work or cutting back on the amount of meat you consume.
Lastly, acknowledge that it is also okay to take a break from climate news. Oftentimes, we feel the need to be constantly informed but it is important to also realise that your mental health takes priority. In the end, the headlines will always be there when you are ready to tune back in.
Readers who wish to educate themselves can also tune into positive news as an alternative. Young people can connect to these stories by following Instagram accounts such as @officialhappyeconews or @unep, platforms that focus on local and international initiatives to reverse the effects of climate change. Supporting these creators and their mission will enable climate organisations to do more in terms of raising awareness and money.
Photo via Callum Shaw (Unsplash)