Mental stress at workplace and how handle it

People who do not try to ease their stress end up with hypertension, heart diseases and reduced immunity. (Representative image)

Nine out of ten Indians suffer from work-related stress, according to a survey conducted in 2018. Moreover, one in eight persons is unaware of the ways to handle stress. Around 75% of the people suffering from mental stress do not seek treatment. According to statistics, 8% of the people are at high risk of suicide as they do not seek expert help for stress and depression.

People who do not try to ease their stress end up with hypertension, heart diseases and reduced immunity. Unless the institutions implement solutions to the problem, a healthy mental condition cannot be achieved. For improving efficiency at the workplace and systematic activities, good mental health is necessary.

Stress related to work

• Battles at workplace

• Fear of losing job

• Inability to meet deadlines

• Failure to cooperate with superiors and peers

• Communication gaps

• Inability to balance family life and career

• Lack of support from colleagues

• Uncompromising attitudes

• Financial problems

• Lack of recognition for work done well

• Lack of promotion

• Failure to earn suitable income

• Gender discrimination

• Sexual assault

Reasons for workplace disputes

• Inability to communicate properly

• Competition

• Different working styles

• An employee giving importance to self-interest rather than the good of the organization

• Change in behaviour due to personal problem

• Colleagues making public matters you had told them in confidence

• Making a person who is willing to work shoulder all responsibilities

• The reaction to the partiality shown by the superior towards certain personnel

• Pressure to engage in unethical practices

Signs of stress at workplace

• Tiredness

• Headache that does not subside

• Lack of enough sleep

• Lack of hunger

• Depression

• Forgetfulness

• Inability to concentrate

• Lack of skill to take decisions

• Pessimism

• Lack of energy

• Lack of self-worth

• Going on leave often

• Reaching office late

• Poor work performance

• Postponing work

• Display of anger

• Showing aggression

• Use of alcohol and drugs in order to reduce tension

• Becoming sick regularly

Is work-related stress more common now?

It is true that the people now face more stress at the workplace than previous generations. The main reason for the situation is social change. At present, the working hours are longer. Moreover, people are even forced to work longer for lower pay during economic slowdown.

There is a common belief that spending more time at the office is a sign of hard work. However, what is crucial is being able to work without mental stress and performing well with a keen interest in the task.

When stress at workplace affects family life

It is also important to buffer family life from pressures at the workplace. There are people who vent their pent up anger against superiors at home. The wife and children of these people are the victims. This display of anger creates stress in the spouse also which would destroy peace in family life.

Pressures at home can also affect work. Some people may have to keep off family functions owing to work which could affect relationships.

Women also face stress while balancing responsibilities at home and workplace. Burdened with work, many people cannot find happiness or recognize their true talents.

Different personalities

All people face mental stress some time in their life. However, when they are always under stress, it shows that they lack the necessary skills to tackle the situation. Anxiety, tension, fear, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, guilt and lack of courage would be part of their personality. They will approach even minor issues with anxiety. Moreover, they show a tendency to lose hope easily. Such people may lack role models at home or outside on how to overcome crisis situations.

How to improve communication with superiors

Effective communication is a big challenge for many employees, particularly with superiors. Here are some tips to overcome the issue.

• Inform the boss about progress of work every day in person, by phone or email.

• Learn the working style of the superior as well as that of the institution and find out how your opinions can be presented before them.

• Taking action before an issue develops would give you recognition as a person who foresees things.

• Suggest practical solutions to the boss

• Seek suggestions on improving your performance. Also urge the superiors to analyze your work. This would help you improve.

• Check the tendency to spread rumours about the boss

What subordinates expect from the boss

The attitude and approach of the superiors towards the subordinates have a big influence on the latters’ performance. Senior hands can adopt the following steps:

• An inspirational approach

• Develop the ability to recognize the talents and strengths of staff under them and set targets.

• Display virtues that can be emulated

• An approach that encourages communication

• The ability to instill confidence in others

• Ensuring privacy when giving feedback about the performance of employees

• Measures to reduce mental stress at the workplace

• Clear instructions on work

• Willingness to recognize a job done well

How can you strengthen the mind?

A person becomes a success or failure in life depending on his ability to handle stress. However, as we cannot totally avoid stress in life, this ability should be developed.

At many homes, children are given an impression that going to work is a strenuous affair. Such youngsters may not develop a healthy attitude to work when they grow up. They find it difficult to love work.

But by changing such attitudes and realizing the advantages of hard work, stress can be managed to an extent. Building good friendships also helps.

While some adversities may ease after the situation changes, a patient wait may be needed in other cases. When a problem arises, never waver but try to find how it can be turned into an advantage. Consider it as an opportunity to create a change in life, obviously for the better.

Also resort to methods like relaxation training and meditation for at least 10 minutes a day even when there is heavy work pressure. When the mind is at peace, you can concentrate fully on the job and complete it in an excellent manner. Working people have to keep in mind that excessive phone use and alcohol addiction can divert their attention from work and should keep off these habits.

Learn lessons from past experiences and find examples of people who successfully handled stress. Examine what changes need to be carried out to balance life and work. Never take hasty decisions and patiently seek solutions.

All institutions have to provide facilities for employees to relax their mind when the stress becomes excessive and later get back to work. The help of experts too can be sought to get training in reducing stress and controlling anger.

(The author is Clinical Psychologist at ‘Pratheeksha’ in Pushpagiri Medical College. email: