Earth Month is a time to get pumped up about the planet, but climate news doesn’t always have a positive spin. If you’ve ever felt a little freaked out by the state of our planet, it’s okay—you’re not alone. More than two-thirds of American adults say they’ve experienced at least a little bit of “eco-anxiety,” and of young people from around the world, 84% are at least moderately worried about climate change.
But while it’s normal to be concerned about the consequences of the changing climate, it is a problem if it’s stressing you out or keeping you up at night. So how can you better manage eco-anxiety?
Well, one method is with mindfulness and gratitude. According to Project Happiness, developing a regular gratitude practice counters the brain’s tendency to cling to negativity. Counting your blessings helps you be more positive, reduce stress, and become happier in your day-to-day life. Check out their inspirational articles if you’re interested in trying it out!
That’s not all you can do, though—in fact, one of the best ways to fight climate anxiety is with action. Getting more involved in in the eco movement brings a sense of empowerment and connects you to a larger purpose alongside others in the community. Plus, it helps you and the environment, so it’s twice as effective! Here are some lifestyle changes you can make—and though some are bigger than others, every small step can help make a difference!
- Walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation instead of driving, whenever you can. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, it can save you some cash when gas prices are high.
- Cut down on packaging and single-use plastics. Look for a zero-waste store nearby to shop for groceries or other staples—instead of grabbing a pre-packaged product, you can bring your own reusable containers to fill. There are also plenty of plastic-free and refillable options for the personal care and cleaning products you use all the time, from shampoo bars to reusable paper towels.
- Eat vegan. A plant-based diet reduces the demand for factory farming, which has a big impact on the environment—the production of animal-based foods, especially beef, is responsible for about half of the food system’s greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t have to cut out meat entirely; try implementing Meatless Mondays or only treat yourself to that steak when you eat out at a restaurant. A growing demand for plant-based and non-dairy alternatives means that you can find a lot of tasty options.
- Keep it local. Buying from local markets and businesses supports the people in your community while cutting down on the emissions created by shipping products around the world. Reducing your own travel—by planning errands more efficiently or staying close to home on that vacation—can help as well.