Work-related stress is defined as, “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”
How stress impacts someone will – of course – vary from individual to individual: but recent data suggests that in the UK alone over 11 million working days are lost each year because of work-related stress. Stress can contribute to conditions such as anxiety or depression. It’s a serious issue and one that employers increasingly look out for, putting measures in place to recognise or even pre-empt work-related stress, heading it off before it becomes seriously debilitating.
What happens though when work-related stress is combined with another form of stress, one that perhaps because it appears to be a more recent phenomenon is less well-understood: eco-anxiety.
‘Eco-anxiety’ is described by Psychology Today as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis”. It adds that some people “are deeply affected by feelings of loss, guilt, helplessness and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference…” Sufferers say that “no matter what they do, they are convinced that it is never enough”.
My name is Charlie Moores, and as well as creating podcasts for Lush I coordinate our War on Wildlife Project, working to help tackle what we see as humanity’s war on wildlife. For part of a mental health awareness campaign at Lush I was privileged to help bring together two other Lush employees, Suzy Hill and Rae Stanton-Smithson, and the RSPB’s Dr Cathleen Thomas, for a conversation about eco-anxiety.
All four of us have roles where – in different ways – we work to protect what might loosely be called ‘the environment’ and are steeped in concerns about biodiversity and habitat loss, recycling, waste, and minimising our personal impact. Suzy, for example, works on Zero Waste Engagement and Strategy, Rae is the Earthcare Retail Coordinator, and Cathleen has worked for the last few years as Senior Project manager on the EU-funded Hen Harrier Life Project.
In the following conversation we talk about our own feelings of guilt, how we cope with eco-anxiety, the upside of being concerned about nature and the environment, and discuss how important it is that employers recognise that concerns about the environment are real and can cause real problems for their staff – especially those with roles where they spend the majority of their time thinking about that environmental crisis.
You’ll hear first from Suzy, then Cathleen, and then Rae. Suzy starts us off by describing how eco-anxiety effects her….
“…the crux of how I feel eco-anxiety is like an intense guilt almost – you feel that your very existence, sometimes, is almost an issue…”
Eco-anxiety | Dr Cathleen Thomas, Suzy Hill, Rae Stanton-Smithson
Header Image: Dr Cathleen Thomas, Suzy Hill, Rae Stanton-Smithson
- We have produced a number of podcasts on Hen Harriers and raptor persecution with Cathleen and other conservationists which can be found at birds-and-persecution/
- A podcast with Dr Cathleen Thomas on the Hen Harrier Life Project recorded the day before this one can be found at cathleen-thomas-hen-harrier-life-report/