Beat the stress

Indians are the most stressed about jobs and financial security globally. We find out what steps can be taken to turn the situation around.

Update: 2018-07-17 18:30 GMT
A still from Dear Zindagi.

A recent survey concluded that Indians are the most stressed about work and financial issues globally. The survey by Cigna TTK Health Insurance involved nearly 14,500 people in 23 countries, exploring people’s perceptions and concerns related to several factors like physical health, family life, social life, financial status and work situations. Where are Indian millennials headed in terms of their life quality and what measures can be taken to turn the situation around?

“It is extremely important to have a work-life balance. Most countries in the West are trying to implement a work-life balance by offering a vast support system at work. Work-life balance is an individual’s ability to maintain an equilibrium between work, home and self. It aims to achieve the perfect amount of time in each of the areas without spilling over to the other,” says Mamta Shah, consultant clinical psychologist and psychotherapist.

She further adds, “Indians hold work in the highest esteem leading to a compromise in other areas. This in turn tips the work-life balance to one side leading to high pressure and stress situations. Support systems at work, home and individually are of utmost importance for things to turn around. Having a work environment which caters to flexible working hours or working from home can be helpful for individuals who don’t live in joint families or don’t have support at home. Taking care of one’s emotional health and going to a therapist, although a taboo in India, is extremely important to help one deal with stress. Investing in a hobby can also release a lot of stress.”

On the other hand, life coach Suneel Vatsyayan feels that most people do not even realise they are under stress. He says, “A profession gives us an identity but it comes with certain expectations. What we are missing is empowering workplaces because of negative/envious/cut throat competitiveness. People are often trying to hide their problems from their family members due to stigma or lack of trust. Talking about finance and work pressure in the family is a taboo. Even parents find it hard to discuss openly about financial difficulties one is facing at work.”

While there is much stigma attached to admitting that one is under stress, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Samir Parikh is against comparisons with other nations. “Work creates stress all over the world for people. Only saying India has a lot of stress in terms of work won’t be fair. Yes, India is stressed out but there is a remedy. The solution to this is people shouldn’t be ready to work from home all the time. Organisations keep checking on the physical well being of their employees through various tests but there is nothing done for mental health. This is critical as stress levels can fall if the company takes care of their employees and ensures mental health relief,” says Samir.

De-stressing can also include yoga, meditation, adequate sleep, a restful annual vacation and pursuing hobbies etc. “Yes, it’s true that Indians are the most stressed people in the world. According to the WHO statistics, every one out of three Indians is under stress. Also according to the WHO statistics, Delhi and NCR has the highest number of depressed and anxious people in the world. This could also be because India has such a huge population. The advent of social media also creates a variety of psychological illnesses. Pollution is also known to cause hormonal imbalance leading to depression and anxiety,” says senior psychologist Akshay Kumar.

He adds that research by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, at University of California, stated that people who wrote about five things they were grateful for during the day, every night before they slept, were happier and more successful than people who did not write them. “There can be a number of things which can be done: don’t hesitate to ask for help. Go to a professional counsellor or psychologist and things will get fine. It is also important to be satisfied with what you have achieved. Enjoy your present moment to the fullest and be grateful for what you have.”


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