Known as ecological grief or “eco-grief,” these strong feelings can have a negative impact on mental health, especially when current events such as a global pandemic or a natural disaster occur.
Ways to cope with eco-grief
Connection to community
Validation that you are not alone in experiencing these complex emotions can be beneficial. There are many eco-grief circles that organize over Facebook.
The similarly named Good Grief Network is a non-profit organization that provides social and emotional support in the face of climate change and offers a series of digital meetings, online courses and other resources.
Lament is an expression of sorrow or grief. Lament rituals are extremely old and very human methods for healing. Lament rituals include writing, photography, singing, and visual arts. It’s a way of capturing your emotions as they flow through you.
An online community, Work That Reconnects Network, has published resources to honor and cope with psychological pain that include prompts through art therapy and creative writing to cope with eco-grief.
Focus on what you can control
Action can inspire a sense of hope and help us feel less helpless. Find something you feel comfortable acting upon. This could be sending a monthly donation to a climate action group or signing a petition. Finding ways to support your local community through volunteering for a community garden not only can provide an additional support network, but also helps build identity, both of which are known protective factors in mental well-being. All of these actions count and may relieve feelings of helplessness.
Find solace in natural spaces
Mental health restoration through natural environments has been an area of study for environmental psychologists. Studies have shown that tending to an outdoor garden or taking a walk in a natural environment can have positive impacts on well-being.