December 8, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

Complete News World

One in five young people suffer from climate stress

One in five young people suffer from climate stress

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  • Judith van de Holsbeek

    Climate and Energy Editor

  • Judith van de Holsbeek

    Climate and Energy Editor

One in five young people say they regularly or often feel stressed when thinking about the climate crisis. They feel hopeless, helpless, anxious about it or sleep poorly. This is evidenced by a study conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Meliodefense Jung.

One thousand people between the ages of 16 and 30 were interviewed for the study. The majority of participants find climate change to be a problem and feel negative emotions when thinking about it. A quarter indicates that a great deal of attention is being paid to the crisis.

Angry, anxious and sad. These are the (negative) emotions that almost all participants recognize when they think about climate change. As for those for whom this turns into real climate stress (21%), they also often suffer from physical complaints such as fatigue and headaches. According to researchers, this group is often more highly educated than practically educated, and they are more often men than women. Despite climate pressures, women are more likely to believe that something can still be done to combat global warming.

Doubts about children

Nearly a quarter of participants indicate that they have doubts about their desire to have children. Milieudefensie president Jung Winnie Osorin (20) can imagine it: “The fact that you are thinking: Why do I want children in a world that is becoming increasingly less livable? It shows how deeply rooted these fears are.”

There are different ways participants deal with stress. Some become apathetic and avoid climate-related news. It’s not just people experiencing climate stress, with 44% of all respondents indicating they sometimes skip climate news, and 26% doing so regularly or often. Others take action, clarify or modify their behavior (41 percent). For example, they started eating vegetarian or vegan or traveling less by plane. But among young people who do, only 12% believe their behavioral changes would make a big difference in combating global warming.

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Osorin says the feeling of helplessness is particularly concerning for young people. “Don’t blame them. You see that little action is taken, but you have no control. This is very frustrating.” According to young people, the greatest responsibility for combating the climate crisis lies with politicians and companies.

Emotions make sense

Psychologist Joachim Bockmann regularly communicates with young people who are stressed by the climate crisis. “What I see a lot of is general despair.” Bookman often hears tension over the climate crisis mixed with other concerns. “This could be something private, for example the loss of a loved one, but also problems at work, and stress about the future.” He was not surprised by the results of the research. “All that negative news. People get a trigger all the time that says, ‘Hey, things aren’t really going well.’ They also often think it doesn’t matter what they do.”

According to Bookman, dealing with this type of stress is different from other psychological problems. “You are often trying to change your mind or address obstructive thoughts. This is not possible in this case, because emotions like anger and fear are very logical in this topic. You must first recognize that and give it space.”

Then you can try to relate to it differently, Bookman says. For example, by taking action or talking to people in a different way. “What works varies from person to person.”