(Bloomberg) -- Earlier this year, Bloomberg Green reported that mental health experts are seeing a rising number of people experiencing high levels of stress over global warming and its impacts. To figure out how people are coping, we asked readers to tell us their strategies for handling climate anxiety. They sent back some inspiring responses, some of which are included below. 

Find something good to read  

Name: Matti KahraLocation: Tampere, Pirkanmaa, Finland

Kahra’s concern for the planet inspired him to dedicate his career to sustainability. After several years supporting global climate efforts in the Finnish government, he moved to the private sector where he now works as a senior climate specialist helping Nordea Bank Abp reach its net-zero goals. 

Though his work has been fulfilling, it has also meant spending his days wading through the “doom and gloom” of discouraging environmental reports. Kahra says seeking out optimistic, solution-centered research and sharing it with others has helped him put frightening news in context. His latest recommendation is Hannah Ritchie’s book Not the End of The World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet.

“Ritchie is great in explaining that we are losing hope at [a] moment when we are actually starting to see real progress,” Kahra says.

Try a change of scenery

Name: Greg NelsonLocation: Ithaca, New York

After his anxiety about the future was reinforced by the Great Financial Crisis, Nelson took a plunge into sustainable living by moving from central New Jersey in 2008 to a home he built in Ithaca, New York’s White Hawk Ecovillage. Though he still has limited faith in global action, he finds satisfaction in making his own surroundings as sustainable as possible. 


Along with his wife and a housemate, Nelson lives in a passive solar house with a woodstove and a solar rainwater heating system, and they are working to grow most of their food onsite. Nelson says taking these steps and connecting with individuals who share his concerns has helped him cope. In September, he started taking climate adaptation courses at Sterling College in Vermont.

“Community is the strongest form of currency,” Nelson says. Friendships are “a solid way of setting up the future.”

Get young people involved 

Name: Diana TsitsiwuLocation: Accra, Ghana

Tsitsiwu started to worry more about climate change when she noticed Ghana’s harmattan season — usually characterized by cool, dry, dusty winds from late November to March — was getting much shorter than normal. So she was immediately interested when a friend told her about a nonprofit she was involved in called WasteRight, which teaches community members to practice waste segregation and avoid burning their trash and the harmful emissions that come with it. 



Since then, Tsitsiwu has helped students, organizations and households understand the importance of recycling through games, music and activities. She says that putting what she’s read on climate change into action and educating younger generations has helped her feel less isolated.

“If you’re able to utilize that anxiety, it helps. You can start through your little corner … then get involved with groups on a bigger scale,” Tsitsiwu says. “To stay alone is not enough, you need to get out there.”

Don’t obsess about perfection

Name: Justin O’BeirneLocation: New York, New York

A University of Michigan senior, O’Beirne says his climate anxiety peaked when he began learning about climate change in middle school. However, after reading more about the outsized role large institutions play in polluting the planet, he realized his personal decisions alone weren’t to blame for the crisis. 


O’Beirne works sustainability into his routine by observing meatless Mondays, relying on public transportation and avoiding single-use plastics. As the president of the organization MUSIC Matters, he and other students worked to make their annual music festival SpringFest, one of the school’s biggest student-run events, zero-waste. At the same time, he no longer beats himself up when a less sustainable choice feels unavoidable. 

“If I’m trying too hard to live my life to absolute perfection, I’m going to get bogged down in the details and won’t be able to focus on anything else,” O’Beirne says.

Use your retirement wisely

Name: Anthony LambLocation: Wells, England

Lamb copes with his concerns about climate change by volunteering his free time in retirement to raise awareness about the issue. In 2018, he became a member of Extinction Rebellion and began engaging in demonstrations, including slow marches across busy streets to protest burning fossil fuels. He recalls the thrill of being arrested for the first time at age 70 at a demonstration on a bridge in London.

Lamb lives with his husband in a timber-framed straw bale house outfitted with solar heating. He gets around in an electric car and e-bike and joins organized litter pickups with neighbors. Lamb says those struggling with climate anxiety should think about daily choices they can make to avoid participating in destructive industries.

“Lots of people go into denial about it because they can’t deal with it and they just feel helpless. A lot of what we’ve tried to do is convince people everybody can do something,” Lamb says. “[People should] consider what they are buying, how they are spending their money, do they really need all that stuff?”

Help others deal with their emotions

Name: Carol PerelmanLocation: Mexico City, Mexico

As a science communicator, Perelman channeled her climate anxiety into an exhibit on ocean degradation at Mexico City’s Museum of Natural History. The exhibit, “Lente, Pincel y Palabra: Mares Mexicanos,” (Lens, Brush, Word: Mexican Seas) was a collaboration between Perelman, photographer Octavio Aburto and painter Fanny Karchmer. Perelman worried the distressing images of the exhibit might leave some visitors “in anguish,” so she added an interactive section at the end to spark action. 


“My hypothesis was if you have an existential crisis after viewing this exhibit, we’re going to accomplish nothing,” she says. “We need to transfer the emotion into action.”

Visitors selected water-drop-shaped pieces, color coded by emotions like “gratitude” and “responsibility,” and dropped them into slots representing a goal to take on, such as “learn more about the ocean” or “keep the beaches clean.” This resulted in a bar graph plotting which emotions were most tied to which goals.

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