September 22, 2021 by Coach Training EDU
The world is constantly changing, and with that change comes new fears about the future. With rising temperatures, an increased number of natural disasters, and severe weather events taking hold of the narrative, it’s no surprise that one would feel anxious. In light of the larger climate crisis discussed on the front page of many magazines, a newly coined term, eco-anxiety, has made its way into the mental health field.
One particular form of “change” fuels eco-anxiety: climate change. Most people want to do their part to lessen its impact on the future of our planet, but it often induces anxiety, making us feel helpless.
The news is a profound link to our anxiety, especially news filled with grim outlooks and sad stories. As one study found, negative news only takes about 14 minutes to stress us out. Couple this with the stress of the pandemic, and it’s no surprise we’ve seen spikes in anxiety disorders. Though the future of the environment may not be keeping all of your coaching clients up at night, it may be affecting some more than they even realize. More than half of adults think climate change is the biggest issue we’re facing today, but there’s still a lot of confusion about how to address the problem.
Despite tendencies toward comfort, style, and frugality, more people are making an effort to make socially responsible purchases than ever before. This effort to combat the effects of climate change, however, comes at a cost. This is especially true with our Inner Critic and Future Self are battling in our minds over what it means to make “the right decision.”
Before you can come up with actionable steps for your clients to take when climate anxiety strikes, take time to explore the emotions lying beneath the surface. Their emotional response to the stress and worry over the environment can have a major impact on their perception of the world. In turn, this can affect how they show up in the world.
At its heart, eco-anxiety is a mixture of some pretty intense emotions, namely fear, anger, grief, shame, and a general feeling of helplessness. You may see these emotions show up in the following ways:
So, what can we do?
As a life coach, your job isn’t to fix your client’s eco-anxiety. You’re not their therapist, and you don’t want to fall into coaching the problem instead of the person. But you play a key role in helping them see through that fear and make some small, actionable changes to improve their experience in a microcosm.
Here are a few ideas:
Eco-anxiety is a new reality - and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for a while. But instead of wallowing in it, life coaches are uniquely equipped to help clients face it head-on. Coaches have the ability to improve their clients’ lives. Turning fears into action is what life coaching is all about!