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Hearing constant news and events about climate change in Australia and overseas can make you feel worried, angry and frustrated.

‘Ecoanxiety’ and ‘ecological grief’ are terms that have been coined recently to describe what you’re feeling. Yep, it’s actually a thing.

There are lots of reasons why young people might feel stressed about climate change:

  • They feel like planning for the future is hopeless.
  • They are angry that the people around them aren’t doing anything to help.
  • They are frustrated that there’s nothing they can do now to change things.
  • They are worried about whether it’s responsible to have children.
  • They feel like everything is out of their control.

Lots of young people are worried about climate change. Thousands of students went on strike from school in December 2018 to demand that the government do more to address climate change. In March 2019, they held another strike, with students involved in 60 locations across Australia.

If you’re feeling stressed out about climate change and what it means for your future, here are some tips to help you cope.

Know that you’re not alone

There are young people all over Australia who are worried about climate change. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) has over 150,000 members, and School Strike 4 Climate has almost 20,000 Facebook followers.

climate change activists holding signs at rally
Students at School Strike 4 Climate in Sydney. Source: ReachOut.

Take action – every little bit counts

If you’re feeling hopeless about what others are (or aren’t) doing to address climate change, doing something yourself can feel super-empowering.

There are lots of ways you can take action as an individual to live a more environmentally friendly life:

  • Use your reusable coffee cup.
  • Take reusable bags and containers to the shops with you.
  • Turn off lights when you’re not using them.
  • Reduce, refuse, recycle.
  • Use public transport or car-pool.
  • Eat less meat.

And that’s just the beginning! For more eco inspo, here’s 101 things you can do to help address climate change!

Advocate for change – your voice matters

If you’re already taking individual action, there’s still plenty more you can do:

  • Write a letter to a politician, asking them what they’re doing or urging them to take action.
  • Talk to your school or workplace about what they do to be environmentally friendly. If they’re not doing anything, perhaps you could spearhead change!
  • Vote with your values – or talk with your family or friends who can vote!
  • Go to a protest.
  • Join the AYCC or ASEN, which organise campaigns and volunteering opportunities.

girl holding sign that says temperature is rising so are we
Students at School Strike 4 Climate in Sydney. Source: ReachOut.

Talk to others

Chat with a trusted friend or family member who shares your values and concerns about the environment. Talking to someone can be a massive stress reliever by helping you to break things down when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Learn about why talking helps here.

For some tips on how to have the conversation, check out our 5 steps to talking to someone you trust.

Take a break

It might seem like a weird thing to do, but taking a deliberate break can stop you from burning out and help give you a perspective on the best way to take action. It’s also really important to take care of yourself when you’re feeling shitty. Try these tips:

  • Turn off your newsfeed and email alerts.
  • Tell your friends you need a break from climate change chat.
  • Take a ‘doona day’, where you do nothing but chill.
  • Hang out with friends and have a picnic.
  • Try any of these: Great ways to chill for cheap.

its so bad introverts are here sign at rally
Students at School Strike 4 Climate in Sydney. Source: ReachOut.

Remember what HAS been done

Things might seem pretty hopeless right now, but there is good news among the negative stories. The Conversation put together this list of 6 positive news stories about climate change.

It’s also pretty freaking cool that a bunch of students are running school strikes across the whole country. When you feel like everything is out of your control, take a moment to write down one great thing that you or somebody else has done for climate change. This is kind of like practising gratitude, which has been proven to be an excellent mood-booster.

Be kind to yourself

It might sound corny, but as Mama Ru says: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ And it’s perfectly okay to think of that ‘somebody else’ as the environment.

Give yourself time and space to feel. It’ll help you do more for climate change in the long run, anyway. You could try saying the following statements to yourself:

  • ‘It’s okay to feel stressed about climate change.’
  • ‘It makes sense that I’m nervous about taking a break, because I really care about making a difference.’
  • ‘I can create change, but change takes time.’
  • ‘Most scientists say that there’s still a window of time to limit greenhouse gas emissions. There is hope.’

What can I do now?