Busting stress

Workplace stress levels are rising and spreading in India, posing a danger to the physical and mental health and even lives of more and more people.

It had not received adequate attention till recently but many recent studies and surveys have tried to assess the problem and find out the reasons. All societies which are in transition to a stage where more and more people join the workforce and work and time get more organised than before have to deal with the problem. The US and some modern industrialised countries report the highest levels of stress. There was a big increase in work stress in China in recent years with up to 80 per cent of workers complaining of increased stress. In India one survey showed a lower, but a significant, increase of 57 per cent.

An Assocham study had some time back reported that 78 per cent of corporate employees slept less than six hours  a day due to stress. About 21 per cent suffered from depression. Another survey had found that more than 50 per cent of software engineers were professionally stressed and over 43 per cent were susceptible to depression. The pressure of job expectations and deadlines, long travel hours and resulting tension, difficulties in coping with the demands of family including the spouse, children and parents and in many cases job insecurity have been found to be the main reasons for increased stress. While many people were stressed because of the problems associated with work, others were in the same situation waiting for it. The last few years of slow economic growth have aggravated the situation. Both white collar and blue collar employees are susceptible to stress and those in the 30-45 age group are more so than others.

Workplace stress causes a number of ailments and can have major social and economic repercussions. It can also lead to alcoholism and substance abuse.  The country may have to spend thousands of crores of rupees in the coming years to treat such problems. Stress also leads to reduced efficiency and loss of productivity. Neither the government nor corporate managements have taken the problem seriously and thought of ways to minimise stress levels among employees. At the individual level, many try to deal with the problems through yoga or spiritual practices. But there should be a better recognition of the problem and more effective attempts and strategies to deal with it.

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