illustration of self caring with heart

Eco-anxiety – what is it and how can you manage it?   

KIT Magazine 

Generation Z already have a lot to be proud of. If you were born after 1995 you are quite literally the poster children for protecting our planet. We all watched in awe, and with pride, when you took charge and marched in solidarity, inspired by the words of Greta Thurnberg. You demonstrated to our political leaders and the world that you have inherited a history of inaction on climate change and intend to correct this. You are paving the way for older generations to join you in your fight to right this wrong and we are right behind you. You should be proud! 

 

However, what may come with this increasing consciousness is a growing anxiety and unease about where our footprints may be leading us. Many young Australians are showing signs of fear and helplessness, thinking things like “What’s the point if there won’t even be a planet in the next 100 years.”  Many are becoming anxious and depressed. This is what is known as ‘eco-anxiety’.  

 

According to reports, 96% Australians aged between 7-25 consider climate change to be a serious problem and 89% are concerned for the effects it will have. This is no small number that weighs heavy on your shoulders. 

 

As I mentioned at the start, I salute you for your rising voices and the mindfulness you are showing around this issue. But as a mother, and as a yoga teacher who works with youth,  it’s important to cultivate a set of wellbeing tools to help you manage the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling – be it around climate change or any other stressful issue.  

 

Harnessing a healthy mind and strong body through Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness will build your resilience, keep you energised and give you tools to stay calm and centred when you’re feeling stressed. It will also keep you healthy so that you can continue to be an inspiring voice and an active participant in this important fight. 

 

What can you do? 

  • Join a community of like-minded youth that are being pro-active in healthy and safe ways. Talk to people who have similar views and come up with actions that are positive, safe and effective. 
  • Encourage your school to become greener; 
  • Connect with the environment – go on silent walks in nature; participate in Clean-up Australia Day; 
  • Begin journaling – write, draw, express yourself creatively; 
  • Start a petition and send it to your local MP. 

 

Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness will help you stay connected to yourself in healthy ways. When we feel stressed, it’s important to move and breathe the stress out of our bodies. 

 

Here are some suggestions: 

 

Belly Breathing  

  • Lie on your back or sit up with a straight spine. Place your hands on your belly, with middle fingers touching. 
  • Inhale slowly and smoothly through your nose, feeling your belly swell and your fingers separating. 
  • Exhale slowly and smoothly through your nose, feeling your belly fall as your middle fingers return to touch.  
  • Continue for at least 6-8 full rounds of breath. 

 

Even and smooth breathing is the quickest way to bring your body and mind back to feeling calm and centred, and the best part is, no-one needs to know you’re doing it! 

 

Shake your worry out (this can be done to a piece of music) 

  • Find a quiet space and stand with your feet hip width apart. 
  • Start to bounce your knees slowly.  
  • Over the course of a few minutes, allow the bounce to grow, just your legs moving. 
  • Then include your arms and hands; then shoulders. 
  • Allow the bounce to keep growing and begin to make some noises – ahhh, ohhh – let your worries shake themselves out! 
  • After around 3-5 minutes of your whole body and head shaking, begin to slow down, returning to the gentle bounce and then slow down even more toward a stillness.  
  • In stillness, notice the sensations that are flowing around you and breathe calmly and slowly. Bring your hands to your belly and track the sensations as they slowly dissolve. 
  • Stay still for at least 1-2 minutes. 

Pound it out – a yummy self massage to relieve emotional and physical stress and tension. You can pound as hard as you like, but don’t hurt yourself! 

With the soft side of your fist, begin to gently pound: 

  • up and down each arm;  
  • across the shoulders and chest; 
  • down your belly; 
  • as far into your back as you can reach; 
  • down your legs and under the souls of your feet. 

 

Find a yoga class for youth or contact me about our Karma Class deck of cards . They’re packed with lots of ideas for yoga, breath and mindfulness to do at home. 

 

Beth Borowsky is a mum and the CEO of The Karma Class They bring kids yoga classes to schools and train school teachers to weave Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness into their classrooms to keep students healthy, strong and resilient.  

 

 

 

References available on request 

https://www.millenniumkids.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Young-People-and-Climate-Change.pdf 

https://www.millenniumkids.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Young-People-and-Climate-Change.pdf 

 

https://www.psychology.org.au/for-the-public/Psychology-topics/Climate-change-psychology/Talking-with-children-about-the-environment 

 

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/hopeless-or-hopeful-how-eco-anxiety-affects-kids-and-youth-1.4608324 

 

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/experts-fear-children-may-suffer-eco-anxiety-over-climate-change-fears 

 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354.php#how-to-manage