Do you worry about the impact of climate change? Do you feel guilty about the environmental impact of your actions? Are your environmental concerns matched by a huge sense of helplessness that there’s nothing you can do? Then you might be suffering from eco-anxiety.
In 2017, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defined eco-anxiety as “the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of next generations.” Although it isn’t recognized as a medical condition—at least not yet—eco-anxiety or climate anxiety describes distress related to the effect of climate change on our mental health. It is a type of anxiety rooted in uncertainty about the future and alerting us to the dangers of a changing climate. And you may not even know you are experiencing it.
Climate anxiety is a growing concern for many people around the world, and a regular fixture of our news cycles and social media feeds. According to a recent survey, more than two-thirds of Americans experience climate anxiety. But some people are more eco-anxious than others. Climate anxiety tends to be more prevalent among people who are more aware of its current impact.
As active players in the sustainability space, at Quest Impact Design Studio we are surely acquainted with eco-anxiety. We work hard to stay positive, but it’s not easy when the threat of climate change becomes increasingly real and urgent. Sometimes it feels as if the progress we can make individually and the impact we’re having is such a tiny drop in the ocean. And we are not the only ones. Many fellow companies in the sustainability space feel the same. A spokesperson of fellow B Corp Dataflex told us:
With all we know that needs to change to ensure a sustainable future, it is easy to get overwhelmed and feel deflated. However, when starting to look at smaller pictures, setting goals, and making those goals measurable, it helps to make real progress and feel motivated again – Sophia Kleesattel, Sustainability Ambassador at Dataflex
This got us thinking that, as much as health is a personal journey, businesses are responsible for employees’ health. By addressing climate anxiety at work and supporting your employees’ well-being, you will have a happy team and a more resilient company overall.
- Raising awareness: Understanding climate change, its effects, and how it relates to your business is the first step in addressing it, and it will help your team feel more empowered.
- Making work a safe space: Create a safe and supportive environment where your employees can share their concerns about eco-anxiety. Encourage open communication and active listening to help your team feel heard and valued.
- Promote sustainable practices: Implement sustainable practices within your organization to reduce your environmental impact. This can include things like reducing energy usage, minimizing waste, and supporting sustainable suppliers. These actions can help your team feel like they’re making a positive impact and can reduce their climate anxiety.
- Foster a sense of community: Creating a sense of community within your organization can help your team feel more connected and supported. Encourage team-building activities, volunteer opportunities, and other initiatives that promote a sense of shared purpose and connection.
- Implement health policies: Consider implementing health policies that support your team’s overall well-being, including mental health. One such policy is remote working, which can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with commuting and can also reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. Other policies may include flexible work hours, access to mental health resources, and promoting work-life balance.
- Seek external support: Consider partnering with external organizations or experts to provide resources and support to your team. We can recommend Breathworks, a non-profit organization providing specialist programs for businesses wishing to incorporate mindfulness into their workplaces. After the opportunity of working for Breathworks Mindfulness Centrum Ghent, we can vouch for their amazing services.
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All of us are making a difference. And the more of us who choose to do things differently, the faster systemic change will happen. Because what’s an ocean when you break it down? An infinite number of tiny drops. And so, the more drops there are, the bigger the wave.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. And if we all work collectively we can make the big steps together. ‘ – Sophia Kleesattel, Sustainability Ambassador at Dataflex
What is your company doing to tackle eco-anxiety?
Is employee wellness a top priority for your company? Share your company’s best practices and be featured in this piece!