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How to Fight the "Freeze" Response of Eco-Anxiety and Move into Action

Originally published on on October 9, 2020

In a recent piece for The Guardian, reporter Jillian Ambrose chronicles how a growing consensus of psychologists think that our anxiety about the environment creates a significant barrier to change.

The Climate Psychology Alliance warns that eco-anxiety is increasing as the reality of climate change bears down on more and more people. The overwhelming existential crisis, however, can create a freeze response that hinders action.

Photo credit: Cady Diamond 2020. Hope stems from action.

Climate psychologist Renee Lertzman says we must start talking about solutions at the individual and collective levels:

“Frankly, what a lot of us are doing unintentionally is simply retraumatising each other over and over again,” Lertzman says. “I feel like we have allowed ourselves to be hijacked by our own anxiety, our own urgency, our own recognition of the high stakes, such that it makes us tone deaf and blind to the human dimension of this story, which is that we all want to be heard and seen and respected and valued, and we all want to feel like we’re part of the solution. What we’re seeing right now is the impact of that.”

We can move from eco-anxiety to eco-action by focusing on climate solutions, teaching young people how to move from protest to policy, and doing #onegreenthing each day to set the stage for a cultural change for bigger systemic action.

One small step - composting, skipping the straw, talking about a climate book you've read -- can help break through the paralyzing fear and help create the foundation for systemic change.


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