Occupational Stress – Can it be banished?

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Mr. X after a long day at office came home and yelled at his significant half; and later acknowledged that it was a huge mistake on his part! I am sure most of the office goers today face such situations. Well trust me, it’s not their fault as maintaining a balance between stress and work pressure is not everyone’s cup of tea. Right from employers, managers to employees, every one today complains of the rising stress levels. Each individual is under a range of stress variables, both at work and in their personal lives. This in turn is affecting their health, as well as their performance and consequently workload and stress issues are rising day by day.

Sumana, working in one of the leading MNC’s is suffering from sleep disorders and an extraordinary weight gain says, “Expectations, deadline and dreaming big, mainly to excel in my work have lead to a lot of mental and physical stress. May be I don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to work.” It could be that the intensity of job assignments has risen, but if ‘you’ don’t know where to draw a line then it becomes the main source of mental stress. And mental stress will lead to irritability, elavated BP and also arguments at home and office.

However, workload cannot be labeled as the only cause of stress. It could be poor time management, conflicting expectations and priorities, unclear goals and objectives, frustrating systems, processes or bureaucracy or people often spend too much time doing things which are not “value-adding”, or work excessive hours or remain available outside of normal work hours through communication and information technologies. According to a Kansas State University researcher, an individual can remain stress free during non work hours only if he can detach from work mentally, physically and electronically.

Another reason leading to stress could be the mismatching of the interests  and skills of the organization, and the employee.  As it happened with Eijaz(high level government employee) wherein he had put in extra effort (at the cost of his family time) and utilized his full potential just to earn more in the form of incentives, promotion or job enlargement. His efforts were not acknowledged and it became a huge stressor,and not only he but his family also had to bear with.

But what does suffering from stress mean?  Well, stress according to psychology is an adverse reaction that employee’s experience when faced with excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them. “Which pretty much covers everything from wanting to kill your boss to problems with the vending machine.”(HSE). Nevertheless, in everyday language, feelings of being ‘stressed’ often appear to supplant the use of emotion terms. Instead of feeling ‘annoyed’, ‘worried’, ‘apprehensive’ or ‘frustrated’, people declare that they are feeling ‘stressed’, even though it does not necessarily accurately describe what they feel.” Jo Rick, a research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, puts it: “These days, ‘stress’ is used to describe any negative experience we have at work, from anger and envy to exhaustion. So when we talk about eliminating stress from the workplace, it’s pretty meaningless, it’s like removing ordinary emotions such as ‘anger’ and ‘worry’ from our lives. Jo, further adds that the word ‘stress’ an evil of the workplace, has today become a catch all term and one should not hide behind it and tackle the real problem.

There being no specific diagnosis of stress, people end up managing stress the wrong way. Says Pradeep working in a leading pharmaceutical company, “We are sent for a relaxation session/ therapy for the problem of taking in too much work and then sent back to exactly same conditions. Will the problem solve? No, it would be wiser to address the volume of work.

If the underlying stressor is not addressed then it eventually results in expressing itself again. Usually there is no one right or wrong way to cope with a stressful situation. Moreover, one should remeber that stress cannot be banished completely from our lives. Stress is going to happen, and remember that all stress is not bad. One can thrive with stress too!

Moderate amount of stress helps us prepare for the challenge we all encounter during the day. But what is important is, to control it before it starts controlling you. Before it breaks you, take out some break time for yourself, maybe in the form of a few minutes from the long working day or a long weekend or a two weeks long vacation with your loved ones. Take out quality time for yourself, add a physical activity in your daily routine, sleep well and follow a healthy diet plan.

The world needs your flame and it is our duty to ignite the world, but everybody needs their own oil. So don’t forget to take out time to rest, recoup, relax and re group.

“Life is a juggling act of balancing stress and stressors with the need for life to be meaningful and interesting.”

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