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How to Cope With Climate Anxiety, According to Experts

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You already know this, but in case you need another reminder: Davenport adds that it’s also a good idea to develop a solid self-care plan. That can look like running, meditating, listening to music, or anything else that soothes you. Try to make the time for it, even if it’s just carving out 15 minutes in the morning before you head to work or 15 minutes at night before you head to bed.

Consider talking to a therapist.

You may also want to talk to a specialized expert, especially if you’ve been personally affected by climate change. For now, mental health professionals have no official climate anxiety certification, although they can receive training from colleagues who do specialize in the topic. To find an eco-sensitive practitioner, check the directory at the Climate Psychology Alliance of North America, a nonprofit run by mental health professionals, including psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, researchers, and journalists. Therapists may also list “ecotherapy,” “walking therapy,” or “climate-aware therapy” as their specialties, says Davenport.

If you can’t find someone who specializes in climate anxiety, it’s still helpful to find a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety in general. You can also interview a potential therapist or counselor first to make sure they understand and validate climate anxiety. “Some are tuned in, and some are not,” says Davenport. You might ask questions such as: Have you worked with clients with climate anxiety before?; How often do you see clients with this concern?; Can you tell me what your therapeutic approach would be to this issue?

Ultimately, a good therapist should show compassion and acceptance. And your therapist should offer practical advice that helps you to understand your anxiety and learn skills to cope with it, which may require working through other stressors, like work or family conflicts, that are feeding your anxious feelings as well, Davenport says.

How your therapist will then work with you will vary, says Davenport, since treating climate anxiety is an emerging concentration and doesn’t have a set protocol. For example, your therapist may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a heavily researched form of treatment that focuses on changing thinking patterns, if you tend to ruminate. This can help you pause unhelpful thought processes and take actionable steps so you feel more empowered.

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If you’re not sure you can pay for therapy, here are some tips to find an affordable therapist. If you’re a survivor of a climate disaster, you can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 for toll-free crisis counseling and support.

Connect with others who get it.

For low-cost, remote support, Davenport suggests joining a peer support group—Google “climate cafes” or “climate circles,” or visit the Good Grief Network, which focuses on eco-anxiety. It offers a 10-step process in which participants discuss how to accept the severity of the climate predicament, practice gratitude, reinvest in meaningful efforts, and more. Two-hour sessions, which are held in person or online, occur once per week over 10 weeks and are led by trained facilitators. You’ll use embodiment exercises, journaling, and group sharing, among other practices, with the goal of building resilience and strengthening community ties.

Source: Self

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