How Climate Change Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health and What You Can Do About It

This past summer, I’m sure we all experienced, heard or worried about, and maybe even benefitted from the looming cloud- or sun, in this case- of climate change. Enjoyable summer evening drinks, or days in the park with friends are coupled up with a  jaded feeling of helplessness and fear.

In July, we saw temperatures rise above 30 degrees celsius, even in Scotland, which we can usually rely on as a cool haven… with a rain drop here and there. And, we weren’t prepared. Public transport lines were impacted with delays, workplaces and shops had a lack of air conditioning. Even the line at Loop and Scoop reached dangerous lengths. Consequently, not just the environmental activists among us felt disdain and stress towards our drastically changing climate, and future fate of our planet.

It has been made clear that the main factors impacting the world’s climate, are large corporations who refuse to accommodate the pressing, limited timeline we have remaining to make a difference. However, as individual consumers it is difficult not to feel the weight of global warming on our shoulders. This, particularly in recent years, has led to a rise in feelings of hopelessness and fatigue in response to climate change, according to the American Psychological Association. I have found that millennials and students in particular are experiencing emotional hardship in the face of our planet. For example, should I learn how to drive? What if more environmentally friendly choices were made 30 years ago, could it be different? Should I ever have a child in this global crisis? And, is there even anything I can do? On days where I’ve found myself deep in an internet hole of articles about the short timeline we have to save our planet, or the striking 10 year transformation images of the amazon rainforest, I find it more and more challenging to look at the world in a positive light, and constantly thinking ‘what is the point in trying?’.

If anything, these so-called ‘apocalyptic fatigue’ thoughts should only be used as fuel for action against climate change. Turning our dismay into action will ease our consciences and decrease the lack of hope we have for the state of the world we have to grow up in. Years ago when the topic of climate change arose, it felt like a far off issue both geographically and in time. Something was happening miles and miles away in space, or among the ice up north. All while I, somewhat ignorantly, compliantly recycled my plastic water bottles. Was this taking up a realistically significant space in my mind? It is now clearly an inevitability, it leaves trails of helplessness in the minds of anyone who feels the consequences of it, or even just takes the time to educate themselves on the issue. And this spreading attitude of the lack of individual power results in deafening silence and little preventative action.

This feeling of loss of ability to create change can and should be pulsed into applying effective and lasting changes to our own lifestyles. Further, to improve our mental and physical health and the environment- while putting ourselves at ease. For example, making the choice to include less meat products and more plant-based products into your diet betters your own well-being. These attitudes instill a feeling of control as an individual over the well-being of the planet, knowing you are making a difference.

We can’t all be, or have the time to be as awesome as Greta Thunberg. However, the small act of continuing to have conversations about climate change, developing our own knowledge and sharing that with others, or even signing and sharing a petition can help to battle those feelings of helplessness in regards to making a combating climate change, and actually create the needed action we seek!

On Friday the 20th of September there will be a Youth Climate Strike March gathering at 11am at Kelvingrove Park and marching to George Square. In order to be more accessible to those who aren’t comfortable in crowds there will be a quiet strike between 10am and 11am by the skatepark in Kelvingrove.

by Gabrielle Gorman

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