Originally published in thriveglobal.com on August 20, 2020
2020 has been a year of disruption, loss, and change.
Gen Z (those born from 1997 to present) are struggling to create a positive picture of the future. A global pandemic, economic insecurity, systemic racism and global warming reflect converging crises that heighten Gen Z’s anxiety about the state of the world.
Gen Z experiences anxiety about the future of the environment. Photo Credit: Heather White
The good news is that action can help alleviate stress.
More and more doctors and psychologists witness clients with anxiety about the future. While not a specific Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) malady, the American Psychological Association defines “eco-anxiety” as a “chronic stress about environmental doom.” Many of us feel this impending doom as we bear witness to wildfires, extreme heat, melting glaciers, and intense floods, which portend a stressful and uncomfortable future.
As authors Lise Van Sustereren, MD and Stay Colino write in the their new book “emotional inflammation: Discover Your Triggers and Reclaim Your Equilibrium During Anxious Times,” action can help people feel some control and progress about the state of the world. Agency is powerful.
Here are 7 Ways to Calm Your Angst about the Future:
1. Support a local environmental organization.
I knows this sounds incredibly simple. Community connection — even if it’s virtual during Coronavirus — can help you and your teen feel better about the future. If you support water conservation, local land trusts, or climate action at the local level whether by financially or by volunteering, you will gain a stronger sense of community and possibility of hope.
2. Call your utility and ask about their renewable energy portfolio.
This simple step lets your local power company know that consumers expect renewable energy options, especially as we face the reality of climate change. A phone call or even a snail mail letter to the power company CEO or local branch officer can make a difference.
3. Compost your kitchen waste.
It’s so simple even a luddite like me can do it. There are terrific resources online to learn how to compost. In many communities, small businesses that support kitchen scrap compost are popping up around the country. Check out this directory to see if there is a composting service near you.