Make work work for you
Ms Juhi Parmar, Psychologist at MPower shows the way to cope and deal with the mental stress at the work place.
How often do you mentally script a Grammy-winning ‘most hateful monologue’ directed at your supervisor or subordinate, while silently nodding at them?
Do you feel flustered at work even though you love what you do?
How frequently have you started looking for work elsewhere while still working someplace?
The average person spends roughly eight hours a day, five days a week, twelve months a year, forty years in a lifetime, working. That’s over half your waking life. If you aren’t thoroughly enjoying this aspect of your life, chances are the distress has started spilling into other areas.
Stringent timings, arduous commutes, demanding clients, deadlines, juggling projects, applying for leave - it feels like most things related to the workplace have some amount of stress attached to them (not to discount the role of exciting projects, coworkers-turned- friends, and conscientious organisations in personal and work satisfaction). This is not to say that all stress is bad. In a groundbreaking study, psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson found that some amount of stress is necessary to motivate us to perform and succeed.
It is when the stress becomes too much to handle that submissions are delayed; pills replace dessert at the lunch table. Not only this, you may find yourself more irritable, never having time for anything, sleeping erratically, and downright dissatisfied. In fact, according to a 2016 study, 46% of the workforce in India is suffering from the effects of stress – which is roughly one in two employees
Often, even though most things at work are running smoothly, you may find yourself fretting over tiny matters, or dreading things you are good at. Unaddressed, continued stress leads to all kinds of troubles - from diabetes and hypertension to depression and anxiety to a plethora of oohs and aahs. A US survey reports that 77% people suffer from physical effects of stress, while 73% suffer from psychological effects – which is 3 out of 4 employees.
How then, do we deal with stress? How does one stay more than just sane at work? How can we aim beyond appraisals, bigger officers, and fancier titles? Here is a neatly compiled list of ways to maintain mental wellness at the workplace.
Saying “no”: Nobody wants to be the calculative employee who won’t go beyond his JD and KRAs. However, taking on more than you can handle will ALWAYS be a disaster. Saying yes to everything leaves you with a feeling of being pulled in too many directions, affects planning, delivery, and the quality of your work. The long-term effects of chewing off more than you can bite are not only a high-stress life, but also gaining a reputation of being a less efficient worker than your potential.
Feel secure about yourself: Figure out your unique skillset and contribution to the company. Insecurities and comparisons will cause restlessness, underperformance, and overthinking. Put those beasts to rest. And if you don’t find yourself coming up with something, address that – acquire knowledge, hone your skills, feel confident about your position in the organisation.
Re-evaluate your attitudes: Having spoken about saying no, it is equally important to analyse your attitudes towards work. Are you too calculative? Too defensive? Too rigid? Extra work isn’t always the company’s attempt at squeezing out the last drop of their money’s worth. Look at new work as opportunities for growth – after evaluating your workload, ofcourse.
Build a relationship with your boss: Ask for advice if you need it. Clarify if you are confused about something. Bosses come with varied experience – learn from them as much as you can. Additionally, if you start to feel exploited, have a conversation about it. Wallowing in feelings of injustice and betrayal will only make you feel like a victim. Discuss it with a peer, then voice your opinion.
Constructively address problems: Gossiping and allowing issues to brew will never solve the problem. And while gossiping is a fun activity, never addressing serious issues will let the problem fester. Take it to the right authorities, and have the problem dealt with. Speak to a counsellor when necessary: Managing personal and professional life can become overwhelming. When the time comes - and speaking to your confidante is not as effective - seek professional help. There is no shame in feeling a little pressed under the weight of responsibilities. You are only human.
Find the purpose behind all that work: Your work is not simply a means to pay bills. It isn’t a road to bigger bank balances and longer cars. Ask yourself what your work means to you. Finding yourself? Testing your potential? Making lives a little easier, a little more tolerable?
Pure, absolute fun, thrill, and adrenaline? Whatever it is, make that the reason you jump out of bed and stick a toothbrush into your mouth every morning.- Attributed to Ms Juhi Parmar.
About Juhi Parmar
Juhi has completed her MSc in Clinical psychology from Bangor University, UK. She has worked at various mental healthcare set-ups and is also involved in spreading mental health awareness through workshops and trainings. A Bharatnatyam dancer and theatre artist, Juhi incorporates expressive art into her practice, research, and workshops.