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Eco-Anxiety: A Phobia of the Living

As a notification on her phone pops, 22-year-old Diya’s (name changed) face undergoes a triggered change. A perilous domino of thoughts inflicts her mind, and she says in a muffled, worrisome tone, “What if I can’t make it? Am I too privileged? Will I die soon? Drowning? Why do I keep on picturing myself like I’m already dead? It’s too scary.”

Living under a racing clock, she tries to convey the magnum of her thoughts, a constant hammering inside her head. But she is just one among many. As eco-anxiety grips the youth of today, one need not just fathom its enormity. With scarce resources and callous approaches plaguing the world, there’s turbulence reflected externally and internally.

What is eco-anxiety?

The term was first defined by the American Psychological Association in 2017 as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” The term encompasses a plethora of aspects that relate to this definition. For instance, people have expressed woes and are combatting distress arising out of the fear of death. Scarce resources, raging temperatures and overflowing oceans have instilled.

Yashi Jain, a media professional says, “It is quite scary- reading the news of forests burning down, volcanic eruptions, a drought somewhere and a flood on the other side. Directly or indirectly, it is eating up human life; earlier people used to live a long life, but now, that number (sic) stands at about just 60! What also bothers me is that the work being done to protect the environment is quite minimal.”

The aftermath of environmental chaos is seen echoing in several parts of the planet. A dizzying glance through numbers and situations alike should ideally suffice to underline its intensity. Somehow, it has become seemingly difficult to get people to act. Perhaps for the question, “Is there an instant benefit that I can reap from my efforts?

Gravity undermined

The severity of the ongoing crisis has often been dismissed by a large section of the populace or those who haven’t undergone the torment of the after-math. Even fewer acknowledge the plausibility and the reality of a mind-set being affected by this. Barring a small count, most with uninterrupted water supplies see no concrete reason to conserve water. A sense of half-education prevails when the challenges of today are met with a rhetoric like “But isn’t 70% of the world is made of water?” Freshwater is present in a smaller percentage, and the accessibility to it is even scarcer. A complex weaving of political, geographical and societal attributes spells disparity. The world is not on simmer anymore; the issues have become supremely raging.

Trivialisation is another problem. News spaces have been flooding in with environmental disasters by the days, but they’re being dismissed tragically. The ones affected by the upheavals and expressing their plight are dismissed too, because the environment isn’t being seen as a mammoth problem in the first place.

Reaching out

Consulting a counsellor seems to be an ideal way to tackle eco-anxiety because it frequently overlaps with other mental health concerns. Shreya Rangwani, a counsellor, states, “This feeling of uncertainty is creating stress and people all over the world are trying to cope up with it.” Bringing out the need to accept it’s real, she adds, “It is really necessary to ACCEPT that climate is changing drastically and it’s stressful to just think about it. But accepting this situation can make a person feel liberating on so many levels.”

As the rage among activists, the concerned, and the frightened billows in unison, it’s imperative to respect the situation and the state of people. If people start changing in simple ways, it’ll bring about a positive atmosphere. Living in a community, needs to look at the ways in which change will affect everyone. For instance, Yashi points out small changes she incorporates- “On my personal level, I try not to litter. I water near-by plants, use public transportation, and try doing all I can on a regular basis. It’s high time to change habits because the oceans have already started giving us answers.”

It’s a long process, of unlearning and shedding years of unfriendly environment practices and respecting the fact that people are dying. It’s not easy living in torment and seeing dystopia escorting us. Have you been experiencing eco-anxiety? Let us know in the comments below!

©️ 2020. Gut and Flow Media Pvt. Ltd.


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