New statistics reveal concern for the future of our planet, but what can we do to manage anxiety and feel empowered?
As the COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow continues this week, statistics from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS’) Opinions and Lifestyle Survey show three-quarters of adults in Britain are worried about the impact of climate change. Not only this, but 43% reported feeling anxious about the future of the environment more widely in the past month.
There could be various reasons for this, but with October being unseasonably warm and the media coverage of COP26, I know I’ve had worried conversations with loved ones.
According to the survey, younger people are slightly more anxious about climate change than older people and around eight in 10 women (79%) were found to be either very or somewhat worried, compared to 72% of men.
Using their own words to describe how they felt about the future of the environment, survey respondents noted a concern for family and future generations, a sense of anxiety and helplessness and the expense of making more eco-friendly changes.
The statistics revealed were similar to results of the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Public Attitudes Tracker, which surveys UK households. Back in March 2020, this survey found 76% of adults in the UK were concerned about climate change.
The ONS survey did shed some hopeful light on the topic, too. Overall it found that 81% of adults said they had made some or a lot of lifestyle changes in order to help tackle climate change. In fact, those who reported some level of concern were three times more likely than those who were unworried to have made changes to their lifestyle to make a difference.
Coping with climate anxiety
An element of worry can be a helpful catalyst for change, but we know for some the worry can morph into eco-anxiety and become all-consuming, leading you to feel hopeless, stuck, and disempowered.
If you feel this way, know that you are certainly not alone. Seeking support for this can help you move past the fear you’re feeling so you can take action and gain a sense of empowerment. In our article about eco-anxiety, hypnotherapist Andrea Szentgyorgyi notes how hypnotherapy can help here.
“A therapist can help you to manage your anxiety, learn to relax, and boost your self-confidence. Feeling strong and empowered makes you confident, and will encourage others to listen to what you have to say. And so you can feel more in control and influential about your role in saving our planet.”
Other approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy and climate coaching may also be worth exploring. In Life Coach Directory’s article on climate coaching, coach Lindsey Ladhams explains what it can support.
“For me, climate coaching can be as simple as coaching around personal environmental goals, but it could also mean coaching around climate anxiety and the big emotions linked to feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.”
Once you’ve found ways to cope with anxiety and are feeling more confident, you can explore lifestyle changes available to you.
Making a change
Chance are, if you’re reading this you are likely making some lifestyle changes already, but here are some further resources to explore to give you more inspiration:
- Take a look at our round-up of easy environment-savers.
- Here we share a more planet-friendly diet to try.
- If you menstruate and are curious about having a more sustainable period, read our beginners guide to menstrual cups.
- Get creative! Here are eight things to do with your magazine once you’ve finished reading it.
Of course, individual changes are important, but supporting wider movements challenging the top contributors to climate change is where we can truly move the needle.
For example, Paid to Pollute is taking the UK government to court to stop payouts for big polluters. You can support them by signing their petition.
Here at Happiful, climate change is high on our agenda, and our Eco Pledge has been created so we are able to ensure for every tree used to make our magazine, two are planted in its place. We also regularly offset our carbon footprint through schemes that fund renewable energy and efficiency projects around the world, reducing global carbon emissions on our behalf.
Three-quarters of us are concerned about what the future will hold. If we can turn that concern into action and support for wider movements, we can make a change.
If you’re looking for a climate coach, search at Life Coach Directory.