In today's world, eco-anxiety is emerging as a profound response to looming ecological crises. As part of World Environment Day, celebrated on Wednesday June 5, Dewendra Dookna of the Brahma Kumaris spiritual movement offers a transformative perspective on overcoming this malaise.

This is a term that Mauritians may not be familiar with. And yet, in their hearts, and in their minds, eco-anxiety has found its way. Moreover, around the world, we are talking more and more about eco-anxiety.

What exactly is it? Dewendra Dookna, Project Coordinator for the global spiritual movement Brahma Kumaris at the Global Peace House in Khoyratty, explains that eco-anxiety has several definitions. “They all point to the stress or unease generated by climatic events. Even if it's just a heavy feeling at first, it can quickly turn into a general feeling of unease, influencing daily interactions and choices,” he says.

Eco-anxiety, he adds, can be a normal, healthy physiological response to a real threat in the outside world. “How you react to this feeling will depend on your mental resilience and attitude,” he says.

The profound impact of climate change on mental health was highlighted for the first time in 2022 in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), continues Dewendra Dookna, thus highlighting the urgent need for 'to act. “Mauritius being a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) whose pace of life is closely linked to the pulse of nature, eco-anxiety can have a significant impact across the country,” he explains.

And concretely, how does eco-anxiety take root? Since it is a climate-related response, ecological anxiety finds a place in the hearts and minds of planters and farmers. Because the specter of climate change casts a long shadow by manifesting itself in irregular weather conditions and uncertain harvests, underlines Dewendra Dookna.

“Witnessing the ravages of environmental and ocean degradation, fishermen are also faced with declining fish stocks and coral bleaching,” he notes. This hampers their livelihoods, causing them to worry about the socio-economic future of their children. Added to this is sea level rise, which contributes to the mental burden on communities located primarily in coastal regions.

By engaging in meaningful activism, we Mauritians have the power to transform our anxiety into a catalyst for change.

In urban centers, such as Port-Louis in particular, “concerns about air pollution and the disappearance of green spaces weigh heavily on residents, highlighting the omnipresent reach of eco-anxiety”.

Dewendra Dookna is Project Coordinator for the Brahma Kumaris spiritual movement.

The younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of the breadth and depth of the undesirable legacy of the climate crisis, notes Dewendra Dookna. Following in the footsteps of young environmental activists, more and more of them are committed to restoring the environment and urging political decision-makers to reverse the trends.

“Ecological concern has also affected businesses and government policies as the economic weight of the climate crisis becomes considerable,” he maintains. For him, the recent disbursement of millions of rupees for cars lost in the floods linked to the passage of Cyclone Belal is one example among many others.

During the rainy season, parents and children are also affected by ecological anxiety. They have to wait until early in the morning to find out whether the school will open or not. “The same goes for public and private workers, whose access to work is sometimes limited due to security measures taken by the government in relation to the climate. » Too much obsession with an ecological future that is uncertain, or even doomed to failure, can lead to a disruption of daily activities and have an impact on social relations, he indicates.

Can we get out of this? ” Yes. This requires a multidimensional approach, involving individual well-being and collective action,” responds Dewendra Dookna. “In Mauritius, as elsewhere, awareness of eco-anxiety and the fight against it should be essential steps to strengthen resilience within society,” he believes. “It is by accepting humanity's collective responsibility towards the environment that we will be able to create a better and more sustainable future for Mauritius and its generations to come,” he insists.

So, seeking solace in nature can provide relief, but education and advocacy are pillars of building resilience, he argues. For him, communication is more necessary than ever in order to strengthen the feeling of solidarity. “By establishing community connections and engaging in meaningful activism, we Mauritians have the power to transform our anxiety into a catalyst for change,” he believes.

For the Project Coordinator, “we must remember that ultimately we are the only ones responsible for our state of mind. This is why we must learn the tools and techniques to master our minds and emotions.”

The Brahma Kumaris Global Peace House offers free meditation and personal development classes to the public and organizations, he said. “Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to participate in our meditation classes. »

These coping strategies


Stay informed, stay balanced

Dewendra Dookna advises staying informed about environmental issues while remaining attentive, while limiting exposure to distressing content. He also suggests seeking out credible sources of information. “We often see fake news and media outlets trying to exaggerate problems,” he says.

Connect with nature

Mauritius is a tourist destination renowned for its splendid green spaces and nature. “But do we, Mauritians, take full advantage of the beauty of our island? » Whether it's a leisurely stroll along the coast or a hike in the mountains, spending time outdoors can ease the mind's daily torments.

Prioritize self-care

Taking care of your physical and emotional well-being is essential, insists Dewendra Dookna. He advises participating in activities that bring joy and relaxation to the person, whether it is practicing yoga, a hobby or spending quality time with loved ones. .

Practice Raja Yoga meditation

Raja Yoga meditation, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris in Mauritius, promotes meditation with open eyes. According to him, it is a useful strategy for dealing with life situations where we feel distressed but where we need to be able to make informed decisions despite everything. “Raja Yoga also offers significant wisdom rooted in the philosophy of the human cycle and the geography of life, which provides new perspectives on climate and the human crises that are actually occurring. This helps to create the mental detachment and understanding necessary to manage our emotions,” he explains.

Participate in advocacy

“Be an advocate for change. Join local environmental organizations, participate in conservation efforts, and advocate for policies that promote sustainability and resilience,” encourages Dewendra Dookna. While such activist groups are thriving on social media, physical connection with people helps regulate the harmonious energy of relationships and escape the senseless trap of the digital world, he makes clear.

Ask for support

If you're having trouble managing eco-anxiety, reach out to friends, family, or mental health professionals for help.

Did you know?

Free personal development courses are offered in more than 20 centers across the country.

The Brahma Kumaris organization is an international spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and global renewal. Founded in India in 1937, it has spread to more than 110 countries on all continents. However, his true commitment is to helping individuals transform their worldview from materialistic to spiritual. The Brahma Kumaris movement supports the cultivation of a deep collective awareness of peace and respect for the intrinsic dignity of each soul. Present since 1975 in Mauritius, it offers numerous free personal development courses to the community in more than 20 centers across the country.

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