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Stress in Corporate Workers

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Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh, Director, The Mind & Wellness Studio The Mind & Wellness Studio is an organization that aims at creating positive changes in the lives, in order to ensure holistic health for a better tomorrow. It specializes in the areas of Adolescent Issues, Peer Relations, De-Addiction, Children and many others.

Stress can be defined as a feeling of strain, tension, psychological and physical pressure that one experiences due to external situations. Everyone is surrounded by stress, some stressors experienced are minor and others are major, and occur irrespective of our age and profession.

Stress in corporate workers is increasing day-by-day. Employees have to spend a lot of time at work place and its environment, co-workers, kind of work given, amount of work, strict deadlines, work pressure, constant competition and an endless ratrace are common experiences that affect the employees. Hence, high level of stress might be produced resulting in various physical, emotional and behavioral problems. They even become more prone to stress-related disorders like increased rate of heart attacks, hypertension, sleep deprivation, anxiety, headache, diabetes, and others.

Some of the reasons why people in big organizations experience stress are:
1. Workload: Excessive workload with unrealistic deadlines causes tremendous pressure and makes people feel overwhelmed. Being overburdened by work might make employees feel like they are constantly drowning under all these tasks, making them feel rushed and under pressure. Whereas, even insufficient workload can make people feel that their skills are being underused and they may feel a restriction towards their growth.

2. People-Related Stress: Individuals, who are already experiencing stress in their daily life, feel even more stressed-out in the work place. There are interpersonal conflicts among co-worker and conflicts between authority, supervisor and subordinate, like disagreements, arguments, that can create an unhealthy work environment and thereby cause stress. This results in under performance and inability to maintain relationships with other colleagues at work and with family.

3. Poor Physical Working Environment: Stress might occur due to a poor physical environment around employees. Like having excessive heat or cold weather or temperature, noise, inadequate lighting, uncomfortable seating, malfunctioning equipment, and other issues can affect the work quality and performance of employees.

4. Work & Personal Life: An individual’s profession and relationships with family or with friends often takes a toll on him/her. Finishing deadlines consumes all the energy and investing time towards loved ones is another task to balance-out life. If these roles are not well balanced, it can disturb the person’s mental and emotional well-being, and can also bother the people around this individual as their expectations aren’t fulfilled.

5. Lack of Camaraderie: Due to the tremendous level of competition among the employees for top positions or promotions, where their colleagues will try to pull each other down at the slightest opportunity they get, the workplace environment might become
stressful to deal with, also adversely affecting the person’s emotional health. Thus, it’s important to have mutual trust and friendship with the co-workers.

6. Lack of Me Time: One must spend time with oneself, introspecting where one wants to reach professionally and relationally. Running in a ratrace without having personal time for leisurely activities, can lead to a serious burn-out. Due to the high work demands from the organizations and prevailing cut throat competition, people put so much pressure on themselves in order to succeed, which only leads to an increase in stress.

"Organizations can setup workshops for stress management. Providing professional counseling sessions can help employees cope with stress"

Some of the ways in which stress impacts people are:
1. Personal Relationship: Stress affects our relationships with family, friends, significant others, and the rest. If not dealt with properly, it makes one feel irritated, anxious, worried and experience bad mood. They are not able to meet the deadlines at work; too much pressure affects employee and hinders family peace. The frustration from work being released at home might cause tension in interpersonal relationships.

2. Sleep Deprivation: Sleep deprivation is the most common side effect of stress. According to a study, nearly 56 percent corporate employees sleep less than six hours a day, causing diseases like depression, hypertension, sugar, anxiety and so on. (ASSOCHAM, 2018). Not having sufficient sleep makes a person feel annoyed, lazy and sleepy during the day. It also affects the employee’s mind and memory, causing trouble focusing and concentrating, frequent mood changes, and weakened immunity.

3. General Anxiety Disorder: Anxiety is caused due to stress. Anxiety causes worrying, over-thinking negatively, muscle tension, headache, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, frequent urination, change in appetite, trouble sleeping, fatigue, irrational anger, restlessness and many others. A study suggests that the rate of anxiety among corporate employees has increased by 45-50 percent between the years 2008 to 2015 in which Delhi is ranked No. 1 in terms of employees suffering from general anxiety disorder followed by Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Pune (ASSOCHAM, 2015).

4. Obesity: Stressed people tend to overeat and eat unhealthy fast food over a long period of time, resulting in obesity. A study suggests that 23 percent employees suffer from obesity. And 57 percent employees in corporate companies do not exercise at all, while 23 percent do physical activity less than one hour a week and 12 percent employees exercise for one-three hours a week (ASSOCHAM, 2015). Thus, lack of physical workout can cause obesity in corporate workers which can be due to the long-working hours, feeling of fatigue, stress, and many others.

Some of the techniques which can be used for coping-up with stress are:

1. Track the Stressor: Employees in the work place should be able to recognize the stressor, whether stress is due to workload or conflict or other reasons. For this, employees should record their feelings and information regarding their environment. Keep a journal to identify stressful situations and how to respond to them.

2. Develop Appropriate Response: Instead of being threatened or fighting the stress with unhealthy responses, such as having fast food, alcohol, drugs and others, employees should indulge in healthy responses, such as exercising, yoga, playing sports, eating healthy food, and getting involved in hobbies.

3. Sufficient Sleep: For effective performance of the employee, they should at least have six hours of sleep, so that they are focused and able to concentrate. Thus, in organization, there should a fixed amount of time to work. On attaining the time limit, they should be given off, so that they don’t overwork.

4. Get Support: Employees must accept the stress they are experiencing. Organizations must provide such an environment where employees facing stress can talk to supervisors, contact psychologist. Other co-workers must form an effective interpersonal relationship, so that employees can open-up about their stress. At home, there should be understanding with family members, encouraging employees to ask for the support they need.

5. Learn to Relax: Taking in between breaks, or going to get some refreshments or stretching the body, deep breathing, and mindfulness can reduce stress. Continuously sitting at the desk affects the body & mind. It reduces the concentration, making the work ineffective. So, allowing in-between breaks, some off time to rest, play rooms to keep the employees healthy and active is an effective way to keep stress at bay.

6. Setting-up Stress Management Workshops: Organizations can setup workshops for stress management. Providing professional counseling sessions can help employees cope with stress. Being able to communicate to someone without fearing judgment helps cope up with stressful situations.