An average individual spends 13 years and two months of his/her life at work. A study by the Swiss Investment bank, UBS revealed that an average employee in Mumbai works 3,315 hours a year. New Delhi is ranked 4th with an average employee engaging in 2,511 working hours per year. These numbers depict the overwhelming importance given to work by Indians. However, this involvement comes with perils.
Work-related stress is one of them. Factors like extended work hours, short deadlines, interpersonal conflicts, over-supervision or unreasonable expectations from managers, demanding clients, multi-tasking, etc. are a few of the many reasons that typically lead to stress at workplace.
Work-related stress may cause relatively non-threatening consequences like headaches to the more serious ones like heart disease or metabolic syndrome over a period of time. Unfortunately, finding a low-stress occupation may not be easy, if not impossible for everyone. Workplace stress must be dealt with before it becomes a serious threat.
Shobha Sawant, Global Head - Human Resources at InstaReM, A Digital Cross-border Payments Company, recommends some effective ways to deal with workplace-related stress and overcome this potentially dangerous challenge:
Identify triggers causing stress: The most important way to deal with a problem is to find the source of the problem. The way to go about finding causes of stress is to keep a track of events that trigger stress. Keeping a record of the frequent situation/triggers that cause the most stress can be a doable way to identify the root cause.
You must also note how you respond to such a situation. Also note information about the circumstances, people, backdrop and your reaction to these situations. The objective of recording these events should help you identify the key triggers and how your reaction impacts the situation – whether it reduces or aggravates the level of stress.
Set clear demarcations between work and lifeworlds: For the digitally native population, not being “available” 24x7 typically cause stress. It is important – in fact essential – to set your individual work-life limits. For instance, it might be a good idea to stay off-emails when at home in the evening, or not taking work-related calls while having dinner.
If there's an emergency at work, someone will call you. Don't worry - the world will still exist when you wake up the next day. Although people have different preferences when it comes to balancing their professional and personal lives, setting clear limits for these two key aspects of life can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and, the stress associated with it.
Develop smart responses to stress: People tend to respond to emotional stress with actions that are generally unhealthy – like overindulging in unhealthy fast food or alcohol. While these responses may make you feel better with a temporarily feel-good feeling, they can cause serious damage in the longer run. What is recommended in such situations is to react smartly with healthy choices to stressful situations? Some sort of exercise or a mild workout can be an effective way to deal with stress.
While any form of physical activity can be good, something like jogging or Yoga can be a good way to start. Activities like reading, dancing or indulging in a sport that you love can help you relieve stress. Another effective way to deal with stress is ensuring good-quality sleep. Human bodies have this magical quality that heals stress while sleeping. It’s strongly advisable to lower your caffeine intake and minimize sleep-depriving activities like overwork/playing on a computer or watching TV for long hours.
Recharge, rejuvenate and reclaim: To deal with stress-induced exhaustion at work, experts strongly recommend going back to the pre-stress situations. This calls for completely “switching off” from work – staying away from it physically as well as mentally.
An occasional complete disconnect from work can be a great way to de-stress and reclaim you’re the sweet-spot. A vacation with friends or family can do wonders. Vacation breaks are meant for you to rejuvenate. Take time off to relax, and reclaim your peace of mind, so you go back to work rejuvenated and ready to perform at your best.