Mental Health

How to Handle Workplace Stress?

Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that happens due to job demands at the office. Many times meeting deadlines and the instructions of seniors make employees nervous. They find it too hard to tackle Monday morning blues and daily routine anxieties.

MedPiper Technologies and JournoMed in association with IMA WDW Trissur and ISA Thrissur City Branch conducted a special webinar to deal with workplace stress in a better way, considering the importance of 1st May 2022. Speakers provided crucial information on workplace stress management.

One of the speakers, Dr Joy Manjila president, of IMA Thrissur welcomed Dr Arun Krishna, dynamic secretary of ISA. He gave insight on workplace stress, and how it is more common among women. Another speaker Dr Sharmila introduces Dr. Aparna Bhudhakar, consultant anaesthetist at Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai over the last 20 years. She also has a special interest in oncology and transplant anaesthesia. Dr. Bhudakar is an American Heart Association accredited basic life support and advanced cardiac life support instructor. She is also a faculty teacher in the Art of Living and Wellness Centre. She discussed stress and how to manage it in a simple way.

Stress is omnipresent throughout the lifecycle, right from childhood to old age. Stress management can also be called mind management. The majority of individuals do not know how to manage their stress irrespective of their knowledge level. They find it difficult to calm down after stressful conditions and boost their confidence. Most individuals do not know how to lower their anger or anxiety level. Not much is known about the mind and its complexities.

What is stress?

Stress generally happens when there is too much to do and the time and energy levels are less. In 24 hours, loads of work are there to finish. On the day when the energy level is high, the chances to feel happy and finishing work are faster without being affected by small mundane as much. Hence, to manage stress, energy level needs to be kept high.

What are the sources of energy?

There are four components of energy, breathing, food, sound in-depth sleep and a positive mental attitude.

As per Ayurveda, freshly cooked vegetarian food is a preferred food. Fruits and vegetables give more energy. It is a good idea to observe and watch eating patterns on the day when tiredness and lack of energy feeling are high. One must avoid processed food, deep-fried food, preservative and colour containing foods as they lower energy levels and make you feel sluggish.

Good 7.5 to 8 hours of sound sleep enhances energy levels. Taking out time from night sleep to finish work is not advisable. Good sound sleep will help to get work done faster.

Many individuals do not give importance to their breathing and not even 50% of our breathing capacity is being used. Breathing is important because every incoming breath energizes the body. Doing Pranayam techniques daily can help to improve breathing and increase energy levels. A happy meditative calm mind provides energy. Most often a happy mind does not encounter any problems. Also, one should try not to get affected or feel upset by any criticism or difficult work situation.

A positive approach, confidence, hard work, peace of mind, good relationships and motivation are needed to be successful. To be successful, soft skills are needed more than domain knowledge. One requires 85% soft skill and 15% domain knowledge to work well. In a lifetime, effort and money are invested in learning domain knowledge. Soft skills are not taught anywhere. Soft skills like working in a team, time management, anger management, confidence, peace of mind and emotional intelligence are very important. With good emotional intelligence, one can manage stress. Soft skills come from the mind. Hence, more should be known about the mind.

The mind has got four properties. The first property can be understood by closing the eyes for a few seconds and thinking about anything. Whatever is resisted is persisted more. Deleting the memory of criticism is very difficult. The second property is, that the mind goes back into the future and the past. While thinking about past negative emotions like regret, guilt and anger evolve.

Anxiety, stress, and worry are the emotions of the future. Whenever a mind is about the past and future lots of negative emotions generates. Life should be in the present moment. Third property of the mind is that it sticks to the negativity. Negative remarks always stay back in mind. Fourth property is that the mind doubts positives.

How to manage your mind and control stress? 

Breath is one faculty of the body which can be used to manage the mind and stress. Breathing changes during anger becoming higher and more rapid high. During sadness, there is more exhalation and during happiness, it’s more subtle. In every emotion breathing pattern changes. Breath can be used to manage the mind.

Stress is ok but prolonged stress increases cortisol and adrenalin levels in the body. This causes psychosomatic problems. It also causes migraine, insomnia, hypertension, coronary artery disease, irritable bowel syndrome, skin disorders, depressed immunity, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, allergic disorders and cancer all of which have been on the rise in the last 10-15 years. When stress affects the mental level, it causes anxiety, depression, alcoholism and suicide.

What are the techniques to manage stress?

Breathing techniques 

Pranayama

The left hand should be kept on the abdomen and the right hand on the knee. Close the eyes should be closed and take deep breaths. During breathing in, the abdomen should be bloated out and during exhale, the abdomen should go back to its normal position. Breathing and abdominal fluctuations should be observed with each breath. Slowly eyes should be opened. This simple pranayama can be done daily for 8-10 breaths.

Anulom vilom pranayam

The left thumb should be taken up and joined with the index finger. The remaining 3 fingers should be kept straight. This hand should be kept on the left knee facing up. Right hands and right thumb should be put gently on the right nostril. The index and middle finger should be kept in between the eyebrows. The remaining 2 fingers should be kept on the left nostril. Shoulders should be relaxed and eyes should be kept closed.

The right nostril should be closed and the left nostril should be used for breathing in. The left nostril should be closed and the right nostril should be used to breathe out. Alternate nostril breathing should be done continuously. The breath should be observed. The right hand should be relaxed and kept on the right knee. With regular pranayama, breathing capacity can be increased and oxygen can be breathed in better and ROS can be removed. Ultimately, this technique helps feel more energetic.

Meditation

The hand should be kept on the knees, palms should be facing the ceiling. Eyes should be closed and shoulders should be relaxed. Effortless sitting posture should be encouraged. Deep breath in and exhale should be done. This should be repeated. More awareness should be created toward the surrounding sound. All types of sounds should be accepted. Harmony should be created with the surrounding.

Attention should be taken to different body parts like the right foot, right ankle, right knee, and right hip, followed by the left foot, left ankle, left knee, and left hip. Then attention should be taken to the abdomen, stomach, chest, and right shoulder, right elbow, right palm. The right hand should be relaxed first, followed by the left shoulder, left elbow, and left palm and then the complete left hand. Finally, attention should be taken to the face, eyes, nose, lips, ears, top of the head, and back of the head. Relaxation should be encouraged.

It should be self reminded that the body is a beautiful gift from nature. It should be honoured and respected. Individuals should be aware of their thoughts, irrespective they are good or bad thoughts. Attention should be taken to all sorts of feelings, good or not so good feelings. Become more aware of your thoughts.

With daily meditation, soft skills can be developed. Studies support, that 10 mins of daily meditation practice can change brain structure. Fear, anxiety and stress can be reduced. Communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills can be improved. Memory, focus and concentration also can be increased. Work absenteeism and loss of productivity can be lowered. More productive happy human beings can be created. These techniques should be more learned, practised and implemented in different workplace sectors.

Conclusion

May is the mental health awareness month and the first week of may is anxiety and depression awareness week. In the workplace, above mentioned powerful stress management tools should be used and offered to the employees. While going back to work, ancient Indian culture, and doing yoga, pranayama, and meditation should be remembered. Freshly prepared homemade food should be eaten and sound sleep should be acquired.

Author

Aparna Das Parmar

Aparna Parmar has over 8.5 years of rich experience in the field of nutrition and healthcare and is currently a corporate nutritionist.

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