Eco-anxiety is a disorder linked to a negative vision of the future of the Earth threatened by disastrous problems related to the environment and whose effects also translate negatively on a social level, increasing economic instability and causing various kinds of crises such as water and food.
In recent years, this disturbance has become increasingly important, going hand in hand with the global awareness of the great environmental challenges we face, such as climate change, extreme events, increased waste in the oceans, pollution, loss of biodiversity, deforestation. etc...
Although not yet included in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the manual used by professionals of mental pathologies, eco-anxiety is a disorder defined by the American Psychological Association as "the chronic fear of cataclysm. environmental impact that derives from observing the apparently irrevocable impact of climate change and the relative concern for one's own future and that of the next generations ".
Eco-anxiety is not a disease to be cured of, but an anguish that comes as a reaction to the strong ecological crisis of our time. This "fear" is growing rapidly on a societal level, and experts estimate that it will increase further in the coming decades as environmental problems increase.
Not everyone is affected in the same way by eco-anxiety, but we can say that the internalization of problems related to the environment seems to have a greater incidence in children born between 1995 and 2010, that is, those who have a longer life to live in perspective.
Symptoms related to fear of the future are varied and range from the feeling of helplessness to loss, from anger to frustration, depression and guilt for the disastrous contribution to the environment that our very existence gives. In the most extreme cases it can even go as far as suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and to elaborate thoughts related to suicide.
How to proactively deal with eco-anxiety
Although it is a recently discovered phenomenon, eco-anxiety cannot be absolutely trivialized but must be framed as a reaction to a threat that unfortunately is real and tangible like the future of the planet as we know it.
Eco-anxiety, therefore, seen as the physiological response of the individual must be managed proactively, avoiding always focusing on the news of "environmental disasters" which, in the long run, feed negative thoughts endlessly.
Living proactively to prevent eco-anxiety means carrying out a series of activities that put us in close contact with nature such as:
- take care of the plants on our balcony or a small vegetable garden if we have the possibility;
- spend more time outdoors by taking walks in our city parks;
- do various outdoor activities (trekking, yoga, meditation or bike rides).
Furthermore, it becomes important to make environmental protection a sort of personal "mission":
- actively participating in ecological initiatives promoted by bodies and associations (for example cleaning beaches and city districts from waste);
- implementing in their daily lives those ethical practices that allow saving both energy and natural resources (such as turning off the water from the tap while brushing your teeth);
- by joining groups and movements sensitive to these issues (for example Fridays for Future) where to meet other people with whom to participate in mobilizations and initiatives and with whom to share personal ideas and thoughts.