Coping With Eco-Grief and Climate Anxiety

Source: Catapult

You can’t look at the news these days without being bombarded by new scientific findings on the state of nature, or images of wildfires burning across the globe.

Climate change and its impact on the environment can cause a lot of anxiety and sadness for many people. This feeling, termed eco or climate grief, is increasingly common now as we become more aware of the effects of climate change and feel the urgency to act. It can manifest in different ways, including feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness, and anxiety. It is not only about mourning the loss of species and natural habitats but also about grieving for the future of our planet and the impact it will have on future generations.

As eco-grief becomes more prevalent, it is essential to understand that it is a valid and necessary response. I see many people struggle with it regularly in the sustainability community. Acknowledging these emotions can be the first step towards accepting the reality of the situation and finding ways to cope.


Here are some strategies that can help us cope with eco-grief:

  1. Acknowledge that eco or climate grief is a valid and important emotional response to the environmental changes happening around us.
  2. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is crucial when dealing with eco or climate grief. This can include getting enough sleep, eating well, spending time in nature, and engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
  3. Seek support: Talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional can help you process your emotions and find ways to cope. Support groups and online communities focused on eco or climate grief can also provide a sense of belonging and understanding.
  4. Connect to nature: Spending time in nature can be incredibly healing and grounding. Whether it’s taking a walk in the park, hiking in the forest, or swimming in the ocean, connecting with nature can provide a sense of awe and wonder that can help balance our emotions.
  5. Focus on what you can control or influence: While we may not be able to control global climate policies, we can make a difference in our own lives, organisations, and communities. Focusing on what we can do, such as reducing our carbon footprint, supporting sustainable products, advocating inside our organisations, and educating others, can provide a sense of control and purpose.
  6. Take action: Engaging in activities that address environmental issues can help individuals feel more empowered and less helpless. Actions such as reducing plastic waste, using public transport, or participating in protests can help individuals feel like they are making a difference.
  7. Focus on positive changes: While it is essential to acknowledge the negative impact of climate change, it is also important to focus on positive changes that humanity is making, and progress towards a more sustainable future. Celebrating successes such as the increasing use of renewable energy, innovations in the carbon reduction sphere, or the reduction of carbon emissions in some sectors can help individuals feel more hopeful.

Leaders Like You, Nick Sceats & Andrea Thompson


I recommend limiting the amount of doom scrolling you spend and subscribing to sources of good news. Through these you’ll learn about progress being made and feel more hopeful for the future. For example:

  • An abundance of electric vehicles now on the roads — 1 in 10 cars sold globally is electric (in Norway that figure jumps to 8 in 10 cars!). This uptake has occurred much faster than predicted, indicating combustion engines may soon be a thing of the past.
  • Coal is on the way out. This is the first year where the USA is generating more power by renewable energy than with coal. As building coal plants becomes harder to insure and to find funding, and renewable energy becomes cheaper and more available than ever, we should see a trend of decreasing emissions from coal over time.
  • Global additions of renewable power capacity are expected to jump by a third this year (IEA).
  • This animated video shows that humanity isn’t doomed as we might think: We WILL Fix Climate Change! — YouTube.

Eco-grief can be a difficult and overwhelming experience, but it is important to remember that it is normal and valid. Acknowledging these emotions and finding ways to cope can lead to a sense of empowerment, and help individuals become part of the solution towards a more sustainable future.


Academic Articles

Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or Functional Response?

Coping with eco-anxiety: An interdisciplinary perspective for collective learning and strategic communication

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Eco-Apocalypse: An Existential Approach to Accepting Eco-Anxiety

The nature buffer: the missing link in climate change and mental health research

Website Pages

How to Deal with Climate Grief and Mourning the Environment

Climate Anxiety & Climate Grief: Expert Coping Tips

How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’

Eco-grief: How to cope with the emotional impacts of climate change | News | University of Calgary

What’s the Difference Between Eco-Anxiety and Ecological Grief?

TED Talks

Britt Wray: How climate change affects your mental health

Renée Lertzman: How to turn climate anxiety into action