Adulting mostly comprises stressing out due to avoidable and sometimes unavoidable situations. From paying your bills and rent to doing all your household chores by yourself, it is exhausting. Along with these, you have to manage your professional commitments and meet deadlines every single day. As if these responsibilities weren’t enough, the whole world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For people like me, who are stuck in a city away from their hometown, it is like being thrown into an ocean. You don’t know how to swim but you have to survive because that’s what life is all about.
What we have mostly heard is that depression or anxiety can be caused due to personal problems. But we often tend to ignore is that workplace stress can also trigger mental health issues as we spend most time of our day at our office.
With the COVID-19 lockdown, the work culture across the globe has changed. Work from home is the new normal, for at least a few more months. Zoom calls have replaced meetings and WhatsApp office groups have become sacrosanct. The workload is unavoidable in a corporate job. Besides being on your toes all the time, there’s a constant pressure of being ahead of all your peers (Well, this sort of pressure was fed into us long back). Moreover, now there are no office timings. You are expected to stretch your working hours as you are saving the commutation time. Also, with little job security, there is a constant fear of losing your job.
Working under a stressful atmosphere not only creates panic and causes headaches but can also lead to insomnia, hypertension, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, etc. According to a recent study by researchers at Indiana University in the US, workplace stress can also lead to death.
Two factors that are mainly responsible for mental health issues due to workplace stress are less control over work and lower cognitive ability.
According to the lead author of the study, Erik Gonzalez-Mule, “When job demands are greater than the control afforded by the job or an individual’s ability to deal with those demands, there is a deterioration of their mental health and, accordingly, an increased likelihood of death.” He added that “COVID-19 might be causing more mental health issues”.
What can possibly lead to stress during work from home?
- Besides excessive workloads, not being on the frontline can also be one of the reasons behind stress.
- When there is a lack of job security and you are constantly reminded of ‘being lucky to not have been fired’.
- Workplace politics. Urggghh! unavoidable.
- Lack of support from your seniors or colleagues.
How to realise that you are stressing out because of work?
So, what to do?
Self-realisation: First of all, let go of the things which you can’t control. Try to do the best with the resources available to you. Stressing out will do no good to you. So, try to understand and accept the fact that everyone is going through a crisis as this is an unusual situation.
Communication is the key: Everything can be fixed with communication. Try to keep your point in front of your colleagues or seniors. Speak your heart out. You can even vent out your frustration or anger in front of your loved ones. This will make you feel better.
Separate workplace: Try to separate your workplace from the rest of the house. If possible shift it near a balcony or window. Confining yourself to a corner of a locked room is never a good idea. This can have an adverse effect on your mental health. A workplace near open space allows you to steal some time to relax.
Spend time with yourself: For every 30 minutes of sitting, walk for three minutes. Stretch, have a small walk, go out and have tea or coffee at regular intervals. This will help you boost your energy levels. Remember, being glued to your chair won’t help. It will only slow down your speed and lead to poor performance. Stay hydrated. And have one hobby that helps you rejuvenate.
Good food and sound sleep: Have home-cooked fresh meals. Fix your bedtime and wake up time. Start your day with warm water, have nuts and fruits, try to have a balanced diet (the traditional Indian meal). Never starve yourself as this can affect your work performance. Stay away from gadgets as much as possible.
The core idea of all the above points is to shift your focus to yourself and channelise all the positive energies around you.