The Sunday Post (Inverness)

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

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While not a diagnosabl­e condition, eco-anxiety is something we should not ignore or brush aside, say mental health experts. Stirling-based counsellor Heidi Soholt describes eco-anxiety as “people’s worries, fears and distress at the impact our actions are having on the planet, particular­ly in relation to climate change”.

She explained: “This includes concerns and anxieties for themselves and their own future, for future generation­s and for people from less advantaged background­s who may be more at risk of the consequenc­es of climate change.”

Soholt says that eco-anxiety can present in a range of symptoms. “Psychologi­cal issues can span feelings of panic or dread, difficulty concentrat­ing and thinking about the situation over and over,” she said. “Physical symptoms can include dizziness, sleeplessn­ess and increased heart rate. It can also bring on muscle tension, shortness of breath and sweating.” Nadine Andrews, former chairwoman of the Climate Psychology Alliance Scotland, said climate distress or eco-distress are more accurate and nuanced terms. “Eco-anxiety has become a popular, catch-all term but distress better covers the complex range of emotions, which can include anger and grief,” she said. “Climate change and the current ecological crisis present a profound threat, including a psychologi­cal once, which many people might not be consciousl­y aware of.

Yet research suggests a large proportion of people are worried about climate change, so feeling concern is a common response.” There are positive steps we can all take to address any overwhelmi­ng feelings related to fears and concerns around climate change. Andrews says Climate Cafes, informal meet-ups held across Scotland, can be a useful way to talk with like-minded people. “Simply talking to people about how you feel without judgment can help a lot,” said Andrews.

“It’s important to know you’re not alone in having these feelings and that they are actually an appropriat­e response to a very real crisis.”

 ?? ?? ● Expert Nadine Andrews.
● Expert Nadine Andrews.

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