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Eco anxiety: how food, well-being and climate change interrelate

Last week, we celebrated World Mental Health Day, an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Individual well-being has been frequently seen as a taboo topic, but especially in times of pandemic, more attention has been paid to mindful well-being. This is a very important step towards sustainable living. Not only is mental well-being, part of Sustainable Development Goals (Good health and well-being), but it contributes to a transformative vision for a better world. In fact, the environment can influence either positively or negatively a person’s mental well-being.

eco anxiety; a “psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis

Climate crisis is believed to affect anxiety and depression levels of individuals. A common and agreed term for this phenomenon is eco anxiety; a “psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis” from Psychology Today. The skyrocketing magnitude of social media on climate crisis has taken over the biggest headlines and most of the points of discussions. By appearing everywhere, it has an effect of “anxiety’ on viewers and listeners who take the issue personally. The feeling of actual “anxiety” derives from feeling an inability to make a proper difference and powerlessness. It also refers to worrying about the future for oneself, children, and later generations.

In order to be sustainable, we need to ensure physical, social and mental well-being.

Furthermore, the effects of our changing climate—economic uncertainty, job insecurity, extreme and volatile weather patterns, and displacement—also influence mental health. It is essential to keep in mind however, eco anxiety does not only derive from social media, but practical experience. After the fires in Greek refugee Moria camp, inhabitants of the area had to endure 40 degrees heat while being cramped together and trying to escape the area. Due to the area being very dry, the fires spread very quickly causing horrific damages. What followed almost a month later, were heavy storms and rains on the campsite. The storm, lasting several hours, according to sources at the Greek Ministry of Migration, flooded 80 of the 1,100 tents of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which are home to some 8,500 people. There is a direct link between consequences of climate change, and in a situation where it affects people that need the most urgent help, it can result in mental health conditions among other health disparities. Behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, constitute a major challenge for sustainable development, and inability to openly talk about personal struggles is an obstacle in obtaining sustainable justice. In order to be sustainable, we need to ensure physical, social and mental well-being.

Food & well-being

Nonetheless, just like climate crisis affect mental health condition, ecological progress and overall sustainable movement can have a positive impact on well-being; in the form of hope and community building. In itself, knowing that you are contributing to a sustainable development of the planet makes you feel better about yourself. Specifically, consuming healthy, sustainable and locally produced foods, is known to impact our mindset and make us feel more positive about ourselves (Alamgir, 1991). Our brains require a constant supply of fuel to keep up with our daily actions. The foods we consume directly influence the structure and function of our brain, as well as our mood. When we eat high-quality, nourishing foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals, our brains function best. Alternatively, when we eat processed and refined foods, they promote inflammation, oxidative stress and mood disorders, such as anxiety (Healthy Human Life, 2020). Moreover, there are certain foods that reduce our anxiety levels, some of these are: turmeric (also! can stop the bleeding from a cut), avocados, asparagus, oranges, oatmeal, and salmon! Therefore, paying extra attention to the food we consumer and incorporating nutritional therapy into our daily lives maximizes our health potential by making nutritional and lifestyle changes based upon our individual needs.

At Freshatble we prioritize our mental well-being and we strive to be supportive of one another. If you are struggling, please know it’s perfectly natural to feel scared to reach out, but it is better to face your mental health condition with a supportive friend, colleague, or a family member, than by yourself. And every once in a while, give yourself a proper pat on the back and remember what a wonderful human being you are!

 

 

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