If you’re a part of the workforce, you’ve either dealt with stress or come across someone who already has. Workplace stress has become as popular and frequent as the common cold. And why wouldn’t it be? Indian millennials spend around 52 hours a week at work – the longest working hours in the world. And this doesn’t even factor in the overtime that most of us put in on a regular basis.
The Stress Checklist
What is Work Stress?
Workplace stress is an increasing concern across the world, affecting not just employees’ health and well-being, but also company productivity. This normally occurs when a person’s skill and ability to cope with various sorts and combinations of work demands exceed their capacity. After musculoskeletal illnesses, work-related stress is the second most prevalent illness/injury.
Most of us complain about Monday blues and hating our jobs. But how much of it is regular banter and how much is stress induced? Here’s a checklist to identify if the stress is real:
Are you more anxious, irritable or depressed than usual?
Do you find it hard to concentrate at work?
Do you often try to come up with excuses to skip work?
Are you having trouble getting a good night’s sleep?
Do you find socialising more difficult than usual?
Are you often plagued with headaches, stomach issues or muscle pains?
You’ve probably felt one or more of the above at some point in your work lives. But an “off” day here and there is quite different from dealing with the above on a daily basis. That’s when you know the stress is real and lasting.
A recent study revealed that 46% of India’s employees suffer from workplace stress. Corporates are trying to combat these numbers with employee wellness and engagement activities, but the trouble continues to persist.
Why So Stressed?
Long working hours, ambiguity over roles and responsibilities, difficult managers, and the lack of balance between one’s professional and personal life are your top villains in this story. Working overtime has become the norm in almost every sector; the workload continues to increase while appreciation remains rare. When you’re sacrificing your health, social life and downtime for work but not getting enough satisfaction out of it or even appreciation for it, you’re bound to start feeling the pressure. And if you don’t address it, there comes the stress.
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Keep Calm and Follow These Stress-busting Hacks
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Let’s face it – there is too much to do and too little time, so the first thing you’re likely to sacrifice is your own sleep. It begins with taking out one hour from your regular sleep cycle to finish that project or watch that episode, and before you know it, you’re sleeping for less than half the recommended 6-8 hours. But stress and sleep are close cousins – one always affects the other. So get that good night’s sleep your brain desperately needs. Keep all your electronics switched off and away from you at least two hours before going to bed. No matter how strong the urge is to check your work mail, keep that phone switched off and far away – work will always be around tomorrow for you to tackle.
2. Get those endorphins going
For those of you who love working out, this should count as a blessing. For those of you who don’t, take one for the team and do it for your mental health. Even 30 minutes of physical activity a day will go a long way in boosting your brain’s “happy hormones” and relieving you from stress, depression and anger. Take a walk around the office building, walk to the next bus, train or metro station instead of the usual one, practice simple yoga moves, go for a swim or join a gym near the office.
3. Watch what you eat
When your mind is already bogged down with stress, it will seek comfort in junk food. But that temporary relief won’t do you any good in the long run. Curb those cravings and give your body some stress-relieving foods like green, leafy vegetables, walnuts, pistachios, yoghurt, salmon, etc. Their nutrients have the power to calm your anxious nerves, stabilise your sugar level and help you find the peace your mind could do with!
4. Find some “me” time and “we” time
Ever heard of that elusive ‘work-life balance’ health practitioners keep talking about? Find the time for it! Schedule time for friends and family every week, pick up a hobby that lets you unleash your creativity, and block at least three hours every week for “me” time. Use this to read a book, catch up on a movie or show, explore your city, try something new – anything that makes you forget about your worries for a while.
5. Accept that you don’t have superpowers
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but superheroes are fictional. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t be one. It is important to identify your limits, know what you can and can’t do, and work accordingly. Taking on that extra workload might or might not give you the promotion you’ve been angling for, but it’s definitely going to take a toll on your physical and mental health. What good will that promotion be if you’re too stressed to enjoy it? Learn to understand your limits, say NO when you’re already overwhelmed with work and – most importantly – plan and prioritise. Realistically put down what can and can’t be done, and communicate that to your manager.
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6. Treat Yourself!
That’s right, you’ve earned it! Treat yourself to a spa day. Take yourself out for a shopping spree. Book that weekend getaway you’ve been eyeing! Your brain and your body deserve a break and a treat would work wonders. The stress isn’t about to up and vanish when you come back to work; you’ll just be more rested and ready to tackle it.
While these are effective measures to tackle stress, if the going gets too tough to handle, talk to your manager, HR person or even family and friends. If left untreated, the stress could worsen and impact your mental health. Figure out what’s causing the stress. If you’re stuck in the wrong job, find something that makes you happy and work towards achieving it. We could help you with that. Just don’t let your stress levels go unchecked for too long. You deserve better.
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