In 2017, eco-anxiety was officially defined as a "chronic fear of environmental doom" and mental health studies have revealed a surge in people reporting stress or depression about the climate. While eco-anxiety is not a 'clinical' diagnosis so to speak, it's a pretty real and debilitating thing that more and more people are struggling with (including us).
There seems to be nothing but bad news about how we are treating our poor environment, and part of our mission here at Kappi is to reduce our impact on Mother Nature. That being said - it can feel like there's always something else to be done or some brand new research about how our seemingly safe actions + choices can have a negative impact. Making the right choice for you + the planet is a rollercoaster of emotions and is wildly overwhelming. We've accepted that as a business, we are certainly not perfect, but that can't stop us from trying to do better.
Our mentality has always been one of positivity and motivation, and when it comes to tackling Climate + Eco Guilt/ Anxiety, we're no different. Here are a few things we regularly do in order to cope with our emotions and keep on keeping on.
~ Don't Try to Do It All at Once
We'll say it once, and we'll say it a million times - baby steps, folks. Going in too hard and too fast will lead you down a dark rabbit hole of frustration and despair. There's a good reason why our favourite quote is "We don't need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly," (thanks for your wisdom, @zerowastechef). It is *so* much more beneficial to do your best than to kill yourself in the chase for perfection.
We recognise that everyone is at different stages of their journey, which is why we are here for encouragement and motivation. Shaming others is unproductive and we are not here for it. Know that we're here for you 100% and your planet thanks you for doing your best. Our tip is to write a list of goals and work your way through it. Step one for us, is pretty straightforward - say no to plastic. It's a really simple action that makes a HUGE difference, so maybe start there? It's up to you!
~ Be Kind to Yourself
Following on from our last point - it's so important to have faith in yourself and to treat your efforts like the impressive feats that they are! Habits can take a really long time to develop to the point where it's second nature, and our society is structured in a way that makes you work hard to make the "right" choices. Often the most planet friendly options are the most expensive or don't work with your lifestyle and that's okay. Make changes that are manageable for you, otherwise you'll end up neglecting them and feeling even more guilty for it. You do you!
~ Take Action
Something that has had a calming and uplifting effect on our Climate Anxiety is taking collective action. When you act, you feel in control and that's half the battle when struggling with your emotions around the planet. Your voice matters and you have the ability to mobilise your anxiety into some behavioural change! Attending climate events, strikes and speeches and looking at things like whether your money is invested, ignites a feeling of community and togetherness. This not only works towards beating your anxiety, but showing your support by showing up for the planet can influence the people around you as well as enact change to government policy too!
~ Let it Point You in the Right Direction
It might sound a bit too simple, but perhaps try letting your eco guilt guide you + your decisions in the right direction. Think of it as listening to your gut. If you're feeling frustrated an anxious about a particular aspect of your life, like your diet for example, think about simple and manageable ways you can change it. Think about going vegetarian/pescatarian or vegan, or make an effort to shop at local bulk food stores to avoid packaging. This can be an overwhelming feat as there are a lot of choices when it comes to having a truly sustainable diet, but settle for small changes at a time. Maybe start of going without milk in your morning coffee or swapping to a sustainable plant-based option to start off with and go from there.
~ Surround Yourself with Positivity and Inspiration
This one is super important to us. Feelings of guilt or anxiety about the choices we make can be exacerbated by the people we surround ourself with. Think about it like this : if you decided to skip the gym today, but then scrolled past countless images of thin fitspo models on your Instagram, you're probably feeling pretty crummy about yourself and your decision (even though it was your decision). You might be one of the lucky people out there who can use this as motivation to work even harder at the gym tomorrow, but the chances are it's made you feel guilty, frustrated and depressed. This works the same for any other decision in your life, and it definitely applies to your decision to look after the environment.
Steer away from negativity and shaming each-other (we don't want to hear about it, Carol) and surround yourself with people who celebrate the small wins in life as well as the effort you put in. Effort ranks higher than anything else in our books.
~ Acknowledge your Feelings
Hear us out - we're not saying you should become best friends with something that's causing you stress and negativity - no way! What we are saying is acknowledge and maybe even accept your feelings of guilt and anxiety. Want to know something? Having these feelings means you care, and that is *so* important in this day and age when there are still a lot of people sticking their heads in the sand...
Accept that you might sometimes feel a little bit guilty about your everyday decisions because chances are, almost everyone around you is feeling the exact same feelings. If you're trying to reduce your harm on the planet in any way at all, you deserve a big old pat on the back. Talk to your mates about how you're feeling and they might just have some sage advice about how they tackled the same issue.
Your feelings of compassion and care for our special planet probably aren't going anywhere, but the good news is neither are we. We're all in this together and we're so sure that we can make a change.