Climate anxiety may take place due to fears about climate related weather events affecting us, concerns about future threats, climate change impacts in other places around the globe, or even in response to existential threats to civilisation in general.

Common emotions we may feel include fear, anger, guilt, shame, grief, loss or helplessness.

Coping with the emotions we experience in response to climate change is very important so we can stay engaged with issues and reduce the impact these emotions can cause in our everyday lives.

Different strategies for coping with climate anxiety work for different people. This might include managing upsetting feelings that arise within us or using our relationships, emotions or ways of thinking to help us cope. It’s important to identify what strategies work for you in order to create healthy habits.

Here's some suggestions on ways you can take action to relieve some of these feelings:

1. Practice mindfulness ▼

No matter what kind of stress or anxiety you’re experiencing, mindfulness is always a good idea and can be helpful when we are overcome by climate anxiety.

Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment by taking time out from other stimulation and noticing our thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgement. Some techniques include:

  • One-minute breathing exercise — Sit with your back straight but relaxed. For a minute, focus your attention on your breathing, how air passes in and out of your nostrils, and how your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. When thoughts begin to take over, gently let them go and bring your awareness back to your breathing.
  • Check in with yourself — Bring yourself into the present moment by asking yourself, ‘What is going on with me at the moment?’ Don’t judge yourself during this process. You may start to feel like more of an observer instead of someone reacting to thoughts and feelings.
  • Exercise — Just a simple walk can help us feel better. No matter the location, take the time to notice any positive little things such as a colourful flower or interestingly shaped cloud. Make sure any other thoughts that creep in are acknowledged but quickly bring your attention back to your surroundings.

If you need further support, there are a number of professional services that can help. Check the Caring for your mental health section at the bottom of this page for more information. 

2. Take action ▼

Remember every action we take adds up in a powerful, collective movement. If you’re feeling upset by the impacts of climate change, taking action – from simple, one-off actions on your own to participating deeply in social movements – can be empowering for you and those around you.

There are a number of actions you can take:

  • Participate in action groups that work locally to protect nature and our communities — There are more than 40 ACF community groups all over the country coming together to speak out for nature and a safe climate.
  • Call on our elected representatives to work together and do better for our climate.
  • Sign an ACF petition to add your voice and help make a change, and even better: write to your local Member of Parliament introducing yourself, why you care, and what action you want them to take as your representative.
  • Write to your bank or super fund asking them to divest from polluting fuels like coal and gas
  • Have conversations to invite others to take action with you
  • Learn more about the Traditional Owners where you live, work and play and how you can support their work to speak for, manage and care for Country
3. Talk to others ▼

Conversations are a powerful way to connect with your community, join the dots between the climate crisis and the big polluters and talk about action we can take together for a safe future.

Chatting with a trusted person who shares your values and concerns, or helping to educate people who might not know much about the issue, can help break things down and relieve stress. Remember, it’s important to spend social time with those who share your values, as well as those who fulfil other interest areas in your life.

Here are some ways you can connect with others:

  • Reach out to someone you can talk with about your emotions freely.
  • Invite a neighbour over for a cup of tea. Use this as a chance to get closer to someone in your community.
  • Spend more time with family and friends. Try calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Connect with animals, play with your pet, leave water out for thirsty wildlife, plant wildlife-attracting flowers and watch birds, bees and bugs do what they do best
4. Look after yourself ▼

Remember, your feelings are justified and valid and it is okay to feel stressed about climate change.

Positive experiences and emotions are important for motivating yourself (and others) in the long term so remember to also think about and discuss the positive reasons you are passionate about this issue, such as the beautiful natural world, the incredible intricacies of ecosystems or the allure of Australia's unique native flora and fauna.

By focusing on the solutions and positive news, you’ll be able to support a shift in your mindset and outlook. If we adjust unhelpful thinking patterns, we can start to create a more positive mindset.

This may include:

  • Not being judgmental of yourself when it comes to climate action. You might feel as though you aren't doing enough but judgement, criticism or self-doubt is likely to fuel negative emotions and lead to less productivity. When these negative thoughts arise, think about it in a more positive way. This might be along the lines of; ‘I’m helping make a change in my own way’ or ‘I’m just at the start of my journey.’
  • Take time to reflect. This can help you stay connected to your goals and ensure they are achievable while keeping a reasonable perspective on things. Reflection can help take out the sense of urgency that can be caused by climate anxiety and helps us recognise that change is incremental.
  • Practise gratitude. Although there is a lot of negative news about climate change, there’s also a lot of positive things taking place to combat these issues. Make an effort to seek out the positive angles and write these down. It’s a way of practising gratitude for the good things that are taking place.

If possible, take a break or try to pivot your focus slightly when overwhelming feelings around climate change arise.

Some examples of this are: 

  • Turning off social media notifications to take a break from the 24/7 news cycle.
  • Undertake hobbies that are different to your environmental interests. Be creative. Write poems, make art, sing, dance, garden – tap into your creative and imaginative brain, and have fun doing it!
  • Connect with nature in a way that is meaningful to you.
  • Focus on only a few climate issues - working on too many environmental issues may become unwieldy and can be overwhelming.
5. Caring for your mental health ▼

If you need to talk to someone, there are a range of mental health organisations that provide professional phone and online counselling 24/7, free of charge.

They also provide lots of online resources and can put you in touch with additional help and services:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
beyondblue on 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Headspace on 1800 650 890
QLife on 1800 184 527

For further resources on climate anxiety:
ReachOut Australia
Psychology For a Safe Climate
Climate Council