From Sun to Snow: Climate Anxiety in St. Andrews

Rivaa explores the impact this week’s changeable weather is having on students’ mental health.

After a lovely long weekend of 15-degree weather, extra scoops of Janetta’s and a plethora of picnics, the weather seems to have taken a sharp but definite turn for the worse. Not only has today seen a return to temperatures colder than even last months, but apparently it’s only going to get worse. Though here in St Andrews we only have an extremely rainy (and gloomy) week predicted, Glasgow is forecasted to have 6cm of snow this week, with places in the North-East being particularly cold and amber weather warnings even being cautioned. 

 

Credit: Unsplash

Climate change is, unfortunately, the most probable culprit for this wishy-washy weather. Scotland is more climate conscious than, well, most places, having an aspiration for net-zero carbon greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 as well as an ever-increasing reliance on renewable energy sources like wind power. Nonetheless, climate anxiety is always in the air and this recent weather instability is only making people more stressed, especially when accompanied by looming deadlines. 

How exactly are we meant to stop our planet crumbling between our fingers? There’s only so much clean eating, waiting for buses and desperately trying to sort out your trash into plastics, cans and papers one can do. In contrast to these anxieties, St Andrews was a much lighter, more positive place on the weekend, when people were flocking to East Sands and the Quad without a care in the world. Even though the few sunny days were only a temporary thing, it was fun to distract ourselves and pretend society and nature as we know it isn’t on the verge of collapse. 

 

Credit: Unsplash

Everyone knows about how seasons affect our moods and how colder temperatures equal sadder students but climate change is especially an effective student killjoy. 73% of students at Bristol, cite climate change as a source of so much tension and angst for them that their studies and grades have gone to hell and statistics are most likely similar or worse, here. It’s not even just the wild temperature shifts causing this anxiety – it’s that, on top of UCU strikes, exam dates and just general personal problems, climate change denial still exists, yes, even in Scotland where we’re more on the ball regarding global warming in general. 

 

Credit: Unsplash

Moreover, there feels like a weight upon students, on top of our already bucketloads of burdens, to take individual action against climate change, raising arms against this intangible imminent doom. As aforementioned, little-to-nothing can be done with individual acts combating climate change; at most what we can do is to either a) shut our eyes and lose ourselves in brief moments of escape under the sublime sunny weekend we just had or b) try as much as we can to alleviate others and our own desperate eco anxiety by spreading positivity and calm, as cheesy and ineffective as both those options sound. 

Nevertheless, I hope we as a student community can try and hold onto all the spells of sunlight we can in our lives, no matter how annoyingly temporary they always are. If you’re ever particularly struggling with climate-related stress though, don’t hole yourself up in your flat crying about the 4-degree weather but try and check out one of the Wednesday eco-anxiety cafes, involve yourself in the efforts of all our environmental society like Transition St Andrews and just try and spread positive, warm vibes to the people around you, despite the contrary weather.

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198 thoughts on “From Sun to Snow: Climate Anxiety in St. Andrews

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