Parenting comes with endless worries, including "eco-anxiety." Luckily, there are ways to manage your eco-anxiety as a parent before it becomes unmanageable.
Parenting comes with endless fears and anxieties, and as climate change becomes more important than ever to address, it's hard not to worry about what kind of world your children will inherit. Clinicians have coined "eco-anxiety" to describe the negative mental health pressures associated with climate change and environmental disasters. Often defined by feelings of helplessness and a fear of environmental doom, eco-anxiety can cripple parents, but it doesn't have to.
You cannot be the best version of yourself, and thus the best parent you can be, if you are constantly in a state of despair. Luckily, there are ways to manage your environmental worries and resulting eco-anxiety before it becomes untenable.
Regulate your nervous system
Biologically, humans are programmed to feel a stress response that lets them know they are in immediate danger. However, our stress response wasn't meant to last for months at a time. What makes eco-anxiety so overwhelming is that the uncertainty is ongoing, and thus the body feels the effects of stress over unnaturally long durations. One of the simplest and most effective ways to manage a negative emotional state is to take physical action that helps regulate your nervous system. Meditation, long walks, regular sleep, and deep breathing are all believed to reduce stress in the body1.
Be conscious of what you're consuming
Consumption is more than the food we eat. We consume an endless stream of news, social media feeds, and podcasts. Thanks to the internet, most people have overwhelming access to information they didn't just a few decades ago. Limiting screen time and setting boundaries around the amount of information we consume is empowering and crucial in reducing anxiety. It's also good to consider following positive news sites to balance out negative mainstream news streams. For example, The Happy Broadcast shares uplifting, fact-checked news specifically aimed to ease anxiety.
Let kids be kids
Play is linked to reduced stress and anxiety. Creating an environment with unstructured play and outside time reduces stress for little ones2. Incorporate the outdoors into playtime and teach kids about conservation and the importance of taking care of the earth using language that's easy to understand. Kids should feel free and comfortable to discuss their concerns about the environment with you, but try not to pile your fears on top of their feelings.
Recognize what you can control & take action
Spoiler alert: you alone cannot determine the future of the planet. It's entirely outside the realm of your control. However, you are in control of setting your familial tone. You can create a more sustainable home life by shopping locally, eating less meat, recycling, and taking other minor but impactful adjustments to your family’s routines. While it might feel like the earth around you is on fire, you can take some level of comfort in knowing that not only are you doing your part to protect the environment, you are also raising your children in a home that is reflective of eco-centered values. Recognizing what you do not have control over and taking action where you can will eliminate unnecessary worry.
Give yourself grace
Parenting is demanding. It requires an incredible amount of time, energy, and emotion. Raising healthy and happy young ones in the middle of a climate crisis is not ideal, and it's certainly not easy. When times get rough, and the future of the planet seems hopeless, parents should give themselves grace.
To further your learning, check out our other blog posts about sustainable living, clean energy, and climate change. And once you're ready to take steps towards living a more eco-conscious lifestyle, consider switching your electricity supply to Inspire. When you become an Inspire member, not only will you access 100% clean energy and help reduce carbon emissions, you will receive a predictable monthly rate for electricity supply to reduce bill volatility throughout the year.
To get started, visit our homepage and enter your address and/or ZIP Code. If Inspire’s clean energy supply plans are available in your area, you can proceed with linking your utility and discover the benefit of consistent and predictable monthly energy bills.