The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Resisting climate-triggered distress

When reading through news headlines or scrolling through social media, senior Riley Yonaites sees a lot of worrying information about the current state and future of the climate.

“I just worry because we’re so young still,” said Yonaites. “That it’s like we’re gonna have to keep growing up and our world is gonna just keep failing and dying.”     

According to climate psychology consultant Leslie Davenport, eco-anxiety is a sense of dread related to climate impacts that are projected to occur and are already occurring. 

Eco-anxiety is just one feeling a person can experience under climate-triggered distress. 

“[Climate-triggered distress] is just our full myriad of emotions that speaks to us, given that climate change touches so many aspects of life,” Davenport said.

A person can also experience emotions like anger, grief and fear on a spectrum of intensity as a result of climate-triggered distress. 

“Whether your grief is very strong and very extreme, or whether your fear is, or whether your anger is, any of those could potentially be paralyzing in terms of being so overwhelming that it interferes with functioning well,” Davenport said. 

Physical symptoms, like a headache or a stomachache, can occur as a result of climate-triggered distress. 

“Sometimes it also can look like lashing out, just like really angry,” said Davenport. “Not always fully articulated but kind of this sense of like, ‘Why do I have to be dealing with this? Why is this interrupting my life in a way that it didn’t [affect] my parents or my grandparents?’”

According to Yonaites, one day, while she was driving on Shermer Road, she saw pieces of cardboard scattered randomly on some lawns. 

“I was just so upset that we live in a town with so much money and influence … [and] we’re still littering, we’re still leaving trash just everywhere,” Yonaites said. 

A lack of short-term solutions to climate change can be one reason a person experiences climate-triggered distress.

“The problem with climate change is that we’re on a trajectory where, according to science, things are going to get worse,” said Davenport. “So it’s hard to say, ‘Okay let me do these things and then I’m going to be okay,’ because the ground continues to shift under our feet.”

According to Kristina Dahl, principal climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, climate change is a huge systemic problem, but there is a lot individuals can do to help fix the problem. 

Some solutions include buying used clothes, carpooling when driving, taking public transportation and eating less dairy and meat. 

“Even small shifts like that, if we all made them, would have a huge impact onour country’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Dahl said. 

Some coping mechanisms for climate-triggered distress include listening to music, drawing, singing, therapy or using breathing techniques. 

Another way to cope is getting involved. 

“When you’re distressed, a great way to handle that distress is to take action,” said Marilee Feldman, Illinois regional coordinator for Climate Psychology Alliance.

“So being involved, …  anything you can do to feel like, ‘I am part of the solution here,’ is probably going to help you. So, getting involved with a school climate organization, attending a rally, volunteering with even a nature preserve or any climate organization.”

Unplugging LED lights and her alarm clock, taking short showers and turning off all of the lights in her house before leaving for school are all ways that Yonaites tries to make a difference. 

“If I’m doing what I can in the place that I live, it kind of makes me feel better, like at least I’m doing something,” Yonaites said. 

About the Contributor
Marissa Fernandez, Executive Opinions Editor, Copy Editor
Marissa Fernandez (‘24) is the Executive Opinions Editor and a Copy Editor and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Opinions Editor (22-23), Copy Editor (22-23).