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COMMENT: An Invernessian in America – Diane Knox on why 'climate anxiety' is a rational response with the planet's future in the balance after COP26


By Contributor

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COP26 is coming to a close. I wrote about it last week, and with the two-week summit ending, I wanted to add some more.

I keep hearing the phrase “climate anxiety”. And, while climate change has always been something I’ve been relatively aware of, I’ve realised over the past fortnight that it needs to take more of a precedence in my everyday life.

We don’t need any more anxiety in our lives. Well, I certainly don’t.

Anxiety is a term I used to throw around, but over the past couple of years I’ve started to understand it a lot better, be able to relate it to how I feel at certain times and find ways to manage it.

I didn’t think I was an “anxious” person per se, but once I dug deep and evaluated certain feelings and behaviours in my life, especially after moving across the world, I interpreted a lot of them as anxiety.

I’ve always been an over-thinker; over-analyser. I’ve always tried to maintain a level of positivity and optimism, and definitely tried to portray that publicly, but I’ve fallen victim to letting the dark thoughts overpower me at times.

Learning to recognise them, rationalise and deal with them has been a key factor in my happiness over the past few years.

Climate anxiety can lead to us living in a state of fear over what is happening to our world, our habitat. It can feel so overwhelming that it causes a sense of hopelessness. Maybe the task at hand is so immense that we fear nothing can be done about it?

Hurricanes, which are pretty close to home when you live in Florida, wild fires that ripped through and devastated huge parts of California – how many more can the world take?

But that’s when the rationalisation must come into play. Like any form of anxiety treatment, break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces and deal with it one bit at a time. So yeah, switching out your normal light bulbs for energy-saving ones might seem like a tiny gesture – “wow, big deal” – but it’s a start.

Government frustration is a tougher issue though. Protests, polls, debates and online rants that governments are simply not doing enough to avoid a climate crisis are all happening. So climate anxiety is really a completely rational reaction to what we’re seeing – or not seeing in this case – from the people in positions of power.

We can only hope that the outcome of COP26 is hugely positive.

So this “climate anxiety” is no doubt something that people have dealt with privately over the years, but starting the conversation is a huge step. And, as the pandemic demonstrated, if anxieties aren’t talked about they spiral into very dark places. So have open conversations, stay knowledgeable and do your bit.

Scones.
Scones.

• I’ll end on a lighter note: I’ve been making an effort to save waste and use up food in our pantry, so I decided to make some good ol’ Scottish scones, just like my Granny used to make.

Husband had never had them before, so I was eager to get his opinion (I had one fresh out of the oven so I knew they were good).

He wanted to save his, so an hour or so later he comes out of the kitchen with his scone, on a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs – and that is how he ate it!

He, too, has a lot to learn.


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