15 Things You Can Do To Feel Less Hopeless About The Climate Crisis

Because eco-anxiety is real – but there are tools out there to help.

Woman standing with her bike looking at her phone.

From the endless stories about species extinction to the wildfires ravaging the Mediterranean coast, the deluge of floods that engulfed Europe this summer, and the disappointing news around the COP21 summit, it’s easy to spiral into aimless moods of worry and guilt about the planet and its future.

A recent report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) certainly made for bleak reading. It confirmed that the past five years have been the hottest since 1850, that sea levels have been rising triply as fast compared to 1901-1971, and practically confirmed that bouts of extreme hot weather have not only intensified since the 1950s, but that they have become more frequent, too. Enough to send anyone into a tailspin, frankly.

With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that eco-anxiety is a real thing, per medical journal The Lancet. Especially among young people. Defined by the American Psychological Association in 2017 as “a chronic fear of environmental doom” and also known as climate distress or climate anxiety, its symptoms are panic attacks, insomnia, and obsessive thinking; and can worsen overall mental health.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to do something about it. First things first: you should reach out to your GP if the condition feels unmanageable – they should be able to offer you a number of options.

One possible solution to eco-anxiety is trying to adopt a slightly different mindset. It’s true our planet is in a dire state, but instead of focusing on the damage that’s already been done, you may be keen to focus on what you can do to help tackle the problem. Below, I have five lists that may help. The lists contain a selection of books, films, and podcasts that focus on solutions to the climate crisis. Plus, I’ve included a suggestion of petitions to sign and activists you can follow if you’re on the lookout for actionable steps to take. They may feel like small steps in the grand scheme of things, but they can also be powerful.

Read These Books

  • We Have A Dream by Mya-Rose Craig: What could be more hopeful than reading about the amazing work of 30 young climate activists? In this book, Craig specifically spotlights Indigenous people and people of colour from around the world to hear their experiences and place them at the centre of climate conversation where they belong. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
  • How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle At A Time by Will McCallum: Although capitalism’s responsible for the terrible state our planet is in, that doesn’t mean we can’t help out, as individuals. For tangible steps to take, consult this guide – and start making meaningful change at home now.
  • All We Can Save by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K Wilkinson: Who run the world? Girls. Or so says Beyonce. And this essay compilation by over 50 key women leading the charge against climate change.

Watch These Films

  • Ice on Fire: We all love Leonardo DiCaprio. But Leonardo DiCaprio raising awareness about climate change? Now that’s even better.. Produced and narrated by the man himself, Ice on Fire focuses on the new innovative solutions being conceived to our climate crisis. It is available to watch on NOW TV.
  • Paris to Pittsburgh: If you’re feeling anxious about climate change, just remember that people ARE fighting against it — as passionately portrayed in this film, which focuses on the local efforts of American communities to combat the issue. No one’s waiting on Washington here. It is available to watch on Disney+.
  • Kiss The Ground: It’s hard to feel good about something as devastating as climate change, but Kiss The Ground regenerates any sense of hope you might have lost. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film argues that the solution might have been there all along: in the healing power of soil. It is available to watch on Netflix.

Listen To These Podcasts

  • Jane Goodall: The Hopecast: A podcast that’s entire aim is to give listeners hope for the future. World renowned primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall speaks to changemakers from around the world to hear about their lives and their dreams for the future.
  • Sustainababble: Learn something new about climate change without experiencing soul-crushing anxiety with this self-proclaimed comedy podcast. Each episode aims to clear any confusion you might have, and all delivered in a funny, relatable way.
  • Sustainable(ish): A podcast that makes sustinability feels manageable. Sustainable(ish) asks you to focus on what you can do, rather than worry about what you can’t. Basically, its “your BFF who will share easy ideas for do-able changes you can make.”

Sign These Petitions

Follow These People

  • Lizzie Carr: A campaigner and the founder of On Planet Patrol, Lizzie Carr is driven by fighting plastic pollution. With her regular posts featuring facts and videos demystifying information about climate change, Carr is one to follow.
  • Wilson Oryema: If you’re interested in fashion and clothing, Wilson Oryema is one to follow, with his focus on building sustainability into our materials and textiles. He’s also the founder Gen Z sustainability initiative Regenerative Futures.
  • Alexis Nikole: Forager and environmental science enthusiast Alexis Nikole will definitely add a touch of joy to your timeline. Nikole is passionate about teaching people about wild food and sustainability. Come for the food content, stay for the charm and humour.