climate anxiety workshop
On The 7th of June 2022 students gathered to find ways to better manage their climate anxiety with the help of Wageningen University & Research psychologist Roeland Cloïn.
‘Climate anxiety’ is a concept which lately has been experienced by many young people. We are unsure about the future of our world, i.e. climate and nature and this ‘unknown’ is creating a lot of uneasy feelings. These feelings are particularly strong amongst the students of natural sciences. We asked psychologist Roeland Cloin to lead a Climate Anxiety workshop and provide us with some daily tools in dealing with the anxiety.
The event started with the introduction of the concept of the ‘circle of influence’, which talked about the things that are within our control like our daily actions. The things we can influence, e.g. through our connections with other people, through our jobs, etc. And finally, the things we are concerned about. What this highlighted is that there are many things we are concerned about and focusing on such things daily actually results in the feelings of helplessness, anxiety, depression, or suffering. Instead of being able to do something about the things we are anxious about, we do not even know where to start with the insurmountable concerns. But there are things we can do.
The first step is to actually to accept that there are many things we cannot change and have no control over and therefore we should try to let it go. What we should focus on instead is our circle of influence. What we have is control over our daily actions such as buying vegetables in a local market, choosing to go by train rather than plane, eating less meat. We can also supplement that with various other things, e.g. sharing our knowledge about the nature with the people we know, joining some small initiatives or organisations that are inspiring hope about our future, like Future For Nature Academy. Small things like this should not be underestimated, since most of our impact is often unseen, but it is there. Roeland highlighted the simple rule he lives by – where the attention goes, the energy flows.
Following the explanation of the ‘circle of influence’ Roeland encouraged us to draw our own circles and fill them out with the things that concern us, the things we can control, and our circle of influence. This started a lively discussion and encouraged students to share the things they struggle with in their daily lives, as well as the things they can control. Through sharing such experiences, the participants were able to feel that they are not alone in their worries and anxiety about the future of nature and humankind. However, if each of us focus on what we can do, we can create our little impacts without the disabling anxiety, and all together we create a big circle of influence. While the workshop came to an end with this message, many students expressed how we need more of such events to spread the knowledge and tools to as many students as possible.
By Greta Galdikaité