What is eco-anxiety:
how to address and prevent it?

Clover Hogan:
What is eco-anxiety and what needs to happen?

Clover Hogan talks about her experience of feeling anxiety about the climate crises. She talks about the need to provide space for people to express their feelings and find ways to move forward through connection to each other and to nature. She says once we have established this connection, the anxiety can be channelled into action with a feeling of energy. She stresses the need to see our current situation as a 'gift' of being a custodian of the planet, whilst it is certainly a challenge, and sometimes overwhelming, there is a strength there when we work together with others. Clover challenges us to explore exactly what is eco-anxiety and to look deeply into how we can address this in a positive uplifting way.

Sarah Roberts: ways teachers can address eco-anxiety

Sarah Roberts, working with Eco-Schools, gives a clear description of Eco-Anxiety and outlines how it is effecting many young people. She explores ways teachers can address it and also teach about climate change in a way that doesn't trigger anxiety.

Britt Wray's book 'Gen Dread: Why they Future is Looking Dystopian and What we can Do About It'

Britt Wray's book "Generation Dread: Why the Future Is Looking Dystopian and What We Can Do About It" addresses the psychological and social impacts of living in a time of environmental and societal uncertainty. Here are some key points from the book:

  1. Young people today are growing up in a world that is facing multiple interconnected crises, including climate change, political polarization, and economic inequality. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, despair, and hopelessness.
  2. The media and popular culture often portray dystopian visions of the future, which can contribute to a sense of dread and pessimism about what lies ahead.
  3. However, there are also many examples of positive actions and initiatives being taken by individuals, communities, and organizations to address these challenges and create a more sustainable and equitable future.
  4. In order to overcome feelings of dread and hopelessness, it is important to cultivate a sense of agency and empowerment. This can be done through actions such as engaging in activism, connecting with others, and pursuing meaningful work.
  5. The book encourages readers to adopt a "radical hope" mindset, which recognizes the challenges we face but also believes in the possibility of positive change and takes action to create it.
  6. The book also emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and diverse perspectives in finding solutions to complex problems.
  7. Finally, the book argues that it is essential to foster a sense of connection with the natural world and recognize our interdependence with other species in order to create a more sustainable and just future.

Britt Wray also produces a newsletter , exploring the themes -  what is eco-anxiety and how can we overcome the challenges it presents?

Per Espen: overcoming barriers to action

Per Espen also has a thought-provoking TED Talk  which sheds light on the theme - what is eco-anxiety and how can we overcome the barriers to action.


David Sobel's  'Beyond Eco-phobia' explores  

Beyond Eco-phobia David Sobel book

David Sobel's book "Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education" addresses the importance of nurturing children's natural curiosity and love for the environment. Here are some key points from the book:

  1. Children have an innate interest in the natural world, and it is important to nurture this interest in order to foster a sense of environmental stewardship.
  2. Environmental education should focus on positive experiences and emotions related to nature, rather than instilling fear or guilt about environmental issues.
  3. Children should be given opportunities to explore and learn about the natural world in a hands-on and experiential way, rather than through textbooks and lectures.
  4. Teachers and parents can play a critical role in fostering children's love and appreciation for nature by being positive role models and providing opportunities for outdoor exploration.
  5. It is important to consider the cultural and social contexts in which environmental education takes place and to be inclusive of diverse perspectives and experiences.
  6. The book advocates for a holistic and integrated approach to education, where nature is incorporated into all aspects of learning, rather than treated as a separate subject.
  7. The goal of environmental education should not only be to teach children about the environment, but also to inspire them to take action and make positive changes in their communities and the world.

Strategies that can help prevent eco-anxiety

Eco-anxiety is a type of anxiety that is caused by concern for the environment and the future of the planet. It is a normal response to the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation, but it can also be overwhelming and debilitating. Here are some strategies that can help prevent eco-anxiety:

  1. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is important for managing anxiety. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. It can also include mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing.
  2. Limit exposure to negative news: Staying informed about environmental issues is important, but it is also important to limit exposure to negative news and social media that can trigger anxiety. Set limits on the amount of time you spend on social media and news sites, and focus on positive news and stories that inspire action.
  3. Take action: Taking action to address environmental issues can help reduce feelings of helplessness and anxiety. This can include participating in community events, volunteering with environmental organizations, or making personal lifestyle changes such as reducing your carbon footprint.
  4. Connect with others: Connecting with like-minded individuals and engaging in collective action can help reduce feelings of isolation and despair. Joining a local environmental organization or participating in community events can provide a sense of purpose and connection.
  5. Seek professional help: If eco-anxiety is interfering with your daily life or causing significant distress, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide guidance and support for managing anxiety and coping with environmental concerns.

Managing eco-anxiety requires a holistic approach that includes self-care, action, connection, and seeking professional help when needed. By taking care of ourselves and taking action to address environmental issues, we can reduce feelings of anxiety and work towards a more sustainable future.

The Climate Change Playback:
Interactive Exercises to Enable Change 

Climate Change playbook

The Climate Change Playbook has 22 interactive exercises that help people (adults and children) to clarify the confusion and misconceptions that are apparent regarding climate change. reflect on the causes, anticipate future consequences in a supportive environment, and most importantly to effect constructive change.

The authors identify the six features of climate system that cause the most difficulties are : habitual behaviour; inappropriate frames; uncertainty; autonomous behaviour; long delays and magnification.

Each game is either a mass game for a lot of people, a demonstration game for a few people to be involved in and others to reflect on, or a participation game for up to 30 people. Drawn from the author's time studying and teaching systems thinking, the games are effective in enabling participants to see the bigger picture, change their perspectives and assumptions, see interdependencies, think about the long term view, see cuase and effect relationships and much more. A fascinating approach: the games are simple and flexible and enable memorable and deep learning. 

Anouchka Grose: Guide to Eco-Anxiety

Guide to Eco-Anxiety

A Guide to Eco-Anxiety is a thorough analysis of eco-anxiety, its causes and how to address it. The author and psychoanalyst, Anouchka Grose, explores the growing phenomenon of eco-anxiety and provides a useful selection of emotional tools and strategies to ease anxiety, with a particular focus on taking action both individually and with others. The need for, and power of, talking about climate change are explained and practical ways to provide openings for these discussions suggested.

Different treatments and therapies are explained and a toolkit is provided, full of practical ways to foster connection, provide support and self-care, and strategies to spread awareness and impact change. 

So, if you are keen to explore the questions 'What is eco-anxiety and what can we do about it? this book is for you.

Renee Lertzman: Project Inside Out Toolkit

Renee Lertzman has produced an excellent website with tools, strategies and explanations about her approach to being a guide for people at this complex time. Getting Started - PIO (projectinsideout.net)

She provides video explanations of the different stages, approaches and tools. It is a very thorough and meaningful guide - invaluable for practitioners such as teachers as we consider our role not just as imparters of information, but a guides to support our pupils through their journey of discovery, with their sense of self and hope thriving. An excellent resource! 

Games to help with Eco-anxiety

There are several games that can help with eco-anxiety by providing a fun and engaging way to learn about the environment and take action. Here are a few examples:

  1. "Eco" - Eco is a multiplayer game that simulates a virtual world that players can work together to build and maintain. It emphasizes sustainability and the interdependence of ecosystems, and players must work together to prevent environmental collapse.
  2. "Journey to the Savage Planet" - This game is a first-person exploration game set on an alien planet. While not explicitly focused on the environment, the game's colorful environments and quirky creatures can provide a fun and immersive escape from anxiety.
  3. "Planet Zoo" - Planet Zoo is a simulation game where players build and manage their own zoos. It focuses on animal welfare and conservation, and can help players learn about the importance of protecting and preserving animal habitats.
  4. "SimCity" - SimCity is a classic city-building game where players build and manage their own cities. It can be used to explore environmental issues such as pollution and resource management, and can help players learn about the impact of human activity on the environment.
  5. "No Man's Sky" - This game is a science fiction exploration game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe. While not explicitly focused on the environment, the game's emphasis on exploration and discovery can provide a sense of wonder and awe that can help alleviate anxiety.

These games are just a few examples of the many games that can help with eco-anxiety. By providing a fun and engaging way to learn about the environment and take action, they can help individuals feel more empowered and hopeful about the future.

Simulations that can help with Eco-anxiety

Simulations can be a useful tool to help individuals understand the impact of their actions on the environment, and to explore solutions to environmental problems. Here are a few examples of simulations that can help with eco-anxiety:

  1. "Fate of the World" - This is a global strategy game where players take on the role of a leader trying to manage resources, deal with global crises, and prevent environmental collapse. It can help players understand the complexity of environmental issues and the need for global cooperation to address them.
  2. "Earth Day" - This interactive simulation allows players to see how small individual actions can add up to create a positive impact on the environment. It includes challenges such as recycling and reducing energy use, and can help players feel empowered to take action.
  3. "Sustainaville" - This simulation game allows players to create and manage a virtual town, with a focus on sustainable development. It can help players understand the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental factors in building sustainable communities.
  4. "EcoSim" - This simulation game allows players to explore the impact of their personal choices on the environment. It includes challenges such as choosing sustainable products and reducing energy use, and can help players develop eco-friendly habits.
  5. "SimCity" - As mentioned earlier, SimCity is a city-building simulation game that can help players explore environmental issues such as pollution and resource management.

These simulations can help individuals feel more informed about environmental issues and empowered to take action. By allowing players to explore solutions to environmental problems in a safe and interactive way, simulations can help reduce anxiety and promote positive change.

Worry Monsters can be a useful tool to ease Eco-Anxiety

Worry monster

Worry monsters can be a helpful tool for individuals experiencing eco-anxiety. Worry monsters are stuffed animals with a zippered mouth that individuals can use to "feed" their worries. The idea is to write down worries or concerns on a piece of paper, and then "feed" them to the monster by placing them in its mouth. This can help individuals feel like they are acknowledging their worries and taking steps to manage them.

While worry monsters are not specifically designed to address eco-anxiety, they can be used to help individuals manage any type of anxiety or worry. By externalizing their worries and putting them in the hands of a stuffed animal, individuals can feel a sense of control over their anxiety. Additionally, the act of writing down worries and physically feeding them to the monster can be a cathartic experience.

There are also worry monsters designed specifically for eco-anxiety. These may be designed with images or themes related to the environment, and may include prompts or exercises to help individuals manage their anxiety in a constructive way. While worry monsters are not a substitute for professional help or other forms of support, they can be a helpful tool for individuals looking for a simple and accessible way to manage their eco-anxiety.