Sometimes, when you see the news or the weather outside your window, do you fear the future will become bleak?
Britt Wray, a human and planetary health fellow, knows precisely what that feels like.
Climate anxiety is a natural feeling for her, and she studies the mental health implications of environmental changes.
For example, Wray has debated having children when their future is bleak in the last few years.
Discussions about the crisis are difficult to avoid and not become consumed by the darkness.
Wray’s project aims to channel the sense of dread and grief faced by societal change into action, joy, and meaning.
Her new book, Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis, makes a case for how we can live today while making big choices for the future.
As she addresses both, she asks: Can we thrive while living in fear?
The analysis is not easy, and Wray isn’t shy about complexity. Here are Wray’s tips for dealing with mixed emotions and finding purpose in these challenging times.
Embrace Your Eco-Anxiety
Feelings like these are not pathologies; you won’t find them in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is a normal, natural reaction to a real existential threat.
Hope And Sadness Go Hand-In-Hand
The most painful aspect of extreme eco-anxiety is that it feels like whiplash. It was exciting to hear people discuss solutions, but I was scared when I heard others talk about pure doom.
Discover What Brought Us Here
We must educate ourselves on where we came from – a long history of misinformation funded by fossil-fuel companies to protect profits at the expense of the future.
Self-care Is Important
In stressful situations, we want to be our best selves, but if we get anxious, hypervigilant, depressed, or numb. We aren’t at our best in our crisis. We must be aware of our edge and know when something might trigger our anxiety.
Do Not Do It Alone
You can feel alone in a flock of apathetic people. It is essential to find a safe place to talk about being uplifted when friends say, “Your negativity is dragging me down!
Thrive By Finding Your Agency
It is possible to gain agency on the other side of grief rather than the narrative of powerlessness.
At this last stage in the game, each of us is a drop in a tidal wave. No matter how small, our actions do count.