Climate Anxiety: When Things Feel Out of Your Control

By: Rachel Jackson, MFTC

Climate anxiety can lead to feelings of fear, helplessness, and depression.

Coping with Climate Anxiety

Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, is on the rise due to the state of the planet. You may be experiencing feelings of helplessness, discomfort, worry, anxiety, tension, and uncontrollable thoughts.

We all are working to grapple with how to cope with this increased emotional distress. Our environment, across the world, has changed, especially over the last two years. As the climate changes incrementally, we slowly see the shifts — in temperature, drought, and pollution. Additionally, there has been an incredible increase in disastrous events such as wildfires, illness, and war. As a result, we have been faced with a sense of fear. Climate anxiety can feel overwhelming and, at times, hopeless to control.

Remember, you have control over three things: Your thoughts, your actions, and your feelings.
You can also take action in three ways in order to cope with climate anxiety: Slow down, reflect, and connect.

Control Your Thoughts

How are you thinking about the world? You can validate the possibilities of disaster and the presence of challenge WHILE actively choosing where to put your focus.

Choose positivity. When you choose a positive outlook and shift your focus from the negative to what is going RIGHT in the world, anxiety begins to lift. Change your thoughts, and your thoughts will change your feelings.

Control Your Actions

After having awareness of your thought patterns, you can realize your power over how you ACT. Your thoughts impact your actions, and your actions impact your feelings. Each action you take will cause a type of re-action. What type of reactions do you hope for? Take steps to actively move toward what you want. Focus on what makes you feel powerful, talented, strong, smart, capable, and filled with life.

Take actions that support not only you, but the betterment of the world. Recycle, pick up trash, support the earth, be conscious of your waste, carpool, and help a friend in need. Pay it forward and it will empower you that your actions matter. Each person impacts the world.

Control Your Feelings

You can and must validate your fears, sadness, struggle, or pain WHILE actively choosing to put your energy into what makes you feel good. Choose joy. When you choose to spend your time around positive, happy people, environments, and situations, you set yourself up for more opportunities for feeling joy. It’s a domino effect: Change your thoughts, changes your actions, change your feelings.

Slowing down to enjoy nature can help alleviate climate anxiety.

Slow Down

Racing thoughts may be a normal occurrence for you and a normal state of being. If so, encourage a daily practice of slowing down: journal and get your thoughts to paper, get outside and be in nature, go on a walk and move your body, meditate and turn off your brain for a moment.


Ask yourself if your thoughts are realistic or if they hold the intensity that you are experiencing. Do you have proof that something bad will happen? Do you have action steps that will help protect and support you at this time?


Often, we may feel we are alone in our feelings until we connect with someone and realize they, too, feel this way. You are not alone. Instead of isolation, connect with others through honesty and vulnerability.

Bottom Line

You hold a powerful role. In times when life, collectively, feels out of control, it is important to 1.) realize you are not alone, 2.) focus your time and energy on what you can control, 3.) validate the discomfort in the state of the world and the unknown, 4.) recognize the good and the beauty that is still present around you.

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. While the domino effect certainly happens with negative thoughts, actions, and feelings, it also occurs when we choose positive thoughts, actions, and feelings. By choosing the positive domino effect, you manifest what is meant for you and you radiate a greater good for not only yourself but all the lives you touch.

Feeling overwhelmed and helpless? Slow down, reflect, and connect. You can choose resiliency.


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