How Do We Cope With Climate Anxiety?

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How Do We Cope With Climate Anxiety News

A new study, conducted at the University of Arizona, revealed how different people manage climate anxiety. The research aimed to understand ecological coping—behaviorally and psychologically—with the stressor as climate change.

The researchers surveyed 334 parents with children aged 3–10 years. The questionnaire revolved around their general climate beliefs, climate anxiety, and techniques to cope with climate-related stress. They were also asked about their environmental behaviors, such as eating meat, traveling by flights, conserving energy, etc., as well as their physical and mental health. Lastly, they were asked if they believed consumer effectiveness can help combat climate change.

The findings, published in Anxiety, Stress and Coping, identified two climate change-coping profiles: adaptive approach coping and maladaptive avoidance coping.

About 70% of the participants belonged to the adaptive approach coping-group. They had higher levels of environmental concern, climate anxiety, and belief in consumer effectiveness. They also expressed greater wishful thinking and climate-related problem-solving. This group was also more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviors. It also had more women.

The rest 30% belonged to the maladaptive avoidance coping-group. Their answers revealed lesser personal responsibility or guilt for climate change. They also believed less in consumer effectiveness. This group was also less likely to engage in climate-related wishful thinking or pro-environmental behaviors.

The two groups, however, showed no difference in mental health outcomes related to environmental stress, such as anxiety or depression. There was also no significant difference in the demographic makeup of the two groups when it came to secondary factors like income, race, employment, etc.

In a way, the study refuted the usefulness of social demographic targeting in raising awareness about the climate crisis.

The researchers are enthusiastic that this research can help formulate more customized policies and campaigns to combat climate change effectively.

The lead author, Sabrina Helm, said, “Those who are already acting pro-environmentally need reinforcement of that behavior, versus those who are in the maladaptive avoidance coping profile who don’t do much at all and need to be incentivized to start doing something.”

The researchers look to further study to understand climate anxiety in children and adolescents.

To Know More You May Refer To

Helm, S. V., Li, X., Curran, M. A., & Barnett, M. A. (2021). Coping profiles in the context of global environmental threats: a person-centered approach. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 1–14. Advance online publication.

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