Climate change and mental health - How to look after your wellbeing

All the news about the climate crisis can have a really bad effect on your mental health. In the media or conversations, all we seem to hear is the crisis about climate change. You’re not alone with these feelings, but we at the Mental Health Foundation care about both you and your mental health.

You may also be worried about the effects on other people, future generations or about the effects on yourself.

Even though a lot of this feels out of our control, there are still many things that we can do to reduce the negative effects that this has on all our well-being.

Our six top tips to help you through this:

1. Know that you can make a difference

Our lifestyles have a profound effect on our planet. Our choices matter. Around two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to private households. The energy, food, and transport sectors each contribute about 20 per cent of lifestyle emissions. From the electricity we use to the food we eat and the way we travel, we can make a difference.

As individuals, we sometimes feel that we can’t make much of a difference. But if we all do some small things to help reduce climate change, it’ll also help you feel empowered and this will have a positive effect on your own mental health.

You can find lots of great information on things that you can do on the Act Now website of the United Nations.

2. Stop and think about how the news is making you feel

Just take a moment to think about how much information and news you are taking in and think about how it’s making you feel. If it’s having a bad effect on your wellbeing, then you could try these three quick wins:

  • Mute or turn off news notifications on your phone
  • Limit the amount of news to reading a morning paper or watching the evening news
  • If you are on social media, think about muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags about climate change that negatively affects you
  • Try not to look at or use your mobile for at least an hour before going to bed

3. Get involved with your community in a meaningful way

If you feel that climate change is affecting your community, see if you can get involved with local grassroots or community groups who are working on climate change, nature and the environment. We know that helping others is good for our mental health.

4. Use your voice

If you have opinions and are passionate about climate change but are keeping silent, this may leave you feeling powerless. Try getting involved with campaigning communities that focus on climate change.

For example, you could take part in a peaceful organised rally, or join relevant events or debates. Civic and political activism can help you to feel more empowered and give you an outlet for expressing your thoughts in a constructive way.

5. Open up about how you’re feeling

If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to talk about it with someone close to you, friends, or colleagues. We know that sometimes this can feel scary or hard to do. But by taking this first brave step in sharing your feelings or asking for help, you are starting on your path to feeling better.

You could start by talking with someone you trust, this could be a friend, family member, healthcare professional or helpline.

Remember that Samaritans are available 24/7 for free on 116 123 (UK), and whatever you’re going through, they’re here to face it with you.

6. Make time for self-care

It’s also worth remembering that sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference to how you feel. So, try to make time and space for the things, activities and actions that are good for your mental health. You could also try getting out into nature. We know that this really works!

What works for you may be different to someone else, so tune in to what little acts of self-care make you feel better.

Here are a few examples of things that can help:

  • Getting a good night’s sleep
  • Eating healthy foods – if you need some inspiration, have a look at the NHS Eating Well website. You can also download a copy of some great recipes you can make at home. The NHS also have  a great easy meals app for the NHS easy meals app for Android or Apple
  • Reducing your alcohol intake can really help and at the same time help you sleep better
  • Spending quality time with the people you love
  • Taking a break to spend time on a hobby

 All of this can help you feel better and take your mind off the stress of climate change.

This page is specially developed to the things that we can do as individuals to help our mental health. If you are interested in finding out more about what we feel or needs to be done as a wider society then check out our climate change and mental health pages.