"Solastalgia" is a generally new term coined by psychologists in response to feelings of climate-induced despair following an influx in negative environmental events like the wildfires along the west coast.
Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor, Jen Hartstein, offers tips to ease some of the negative effects that solastalgia may be having on your mental health.
“When we feel disconnected from the Earth, which solastalgia highlights, we want to looks for ways to be connected or places and locations that we do feel secure and safe,” she says. “Maybe it's finding that special place in the park that you know is there, and you know is safe, that you can get to every day or as often as you can. That will help us get the balance we need to get through each day more effectively.”
Hartstein recommends talking with others about how you're feeling, to find support in your community as everyone goes through this together. Then we can find out if there are ways to make a difference. “Can we help rescue animals? Can we help send money for the Red Cross to provide materials and goods to the people who are losing those things? Maybe it's getting involved in eco-friendly organizations to help work on things related to climate change,” Hartstein explains. “Engage in those things and be active in your community, figure out how you can work with your community, that you live in to make things better and safer for everybody.”
Doing what you can to create change is one of the best weighs to combat feeling powerless and overcome solastalgia.
JEN HARTSTEIN: There are a lot of environmental issues going on right now. The fires on the west coast, the ongoing hurricanes. That's creating a whole lot of stress and worry with climate change for many of us. And the climate is really causing us to feel sad and anxious and overwhelmed. And our mental health might be suffering. Because we just don't know what's going to happen.
Many people are suffering from climate-induced despair or solastalgia, and what that means, is that there is this sense of kind of feeling lost even when you're at your home, because it is so uncertain and things are so unraveling around us. The fires are forcing people to flee and not know if their homes are going to be there. Hurricanes are creating flooding, also forcing people to leave their homes.
But we also be worried about the country and the world at large, and the changes that climate change is bringing to that. And it's kind of taking away for many of us, a place of solace or a place of peace. The place we live in is suppose to be a place of safety and security. And when we feel that it's not that, it can send us really out of whack.
When we're feeling disconnected from the earth, which solastalgia highlights, we want to figure out ways to feel connected or locations and places where we do feel secure and safe. Finding that special place in the park that you know is there and you know is safe and that you can get to every day or as often as you can. That will help us find that balance we need to get through each day more effectively.
If you notice that you're really starting to fall into a hole related to solastalgia and all of the impact of climate change, there's a couple things to do. First off, talk to people about it. You're not alone in this worry. So engage with others around the conversation, see how everyone's feeling, find some sense of community. Next, see what you might be able to do. Can you contribute? Can you help out? Can you learn more ways to prevent it from continuing?
Maybe it's getting involved in eco-friendly organizations to help work on things related to climate change. Can we help rescue animals? Can we help send money for the Red Cross to provide materials and goods to the people who are losing those things. Be active in your community. Figure out how you can work with your community that you live in to make things better and safer for everybody.
While many are experiencing a sense of dread during this time, we have to validate that for ourselves. We don't really know what's going to happen in the future. It's very easy to get stuck in the bad news [INAUDIBLE] cycle, where all we see is the negative. So find the good stories. There is a lot of good stuff happening, a lot of heroes, a lot of change makers. Find those stories to feed your soul and give back to yourself, so that you can feel more enlightened and feel more empowered at a time where things feel very overwhelming.