World Mental Health Day is just around the corner. On October 10, in fact.
And it can’t come sooner. World Mental Health Day is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about mental health.
This year's theme is ‘making mental health and well-being for all a global priority.’ The theme has special relevance to workplace stress. And our workplaces end up being places that harbor quite a bit of stress. Urgent meetings, high-priority projects, back-to-back tight deadlines, multiple emails - work can be stressful and exhausting.
Given how turbulent the past few years have been, stress levels among employees are at an all-time high.
The Health on Demand report 2021 reported that 59% of Indian employees feel ‘somewhat stressed’ every day.
So, how do people manage? At MyndStories, we spoke to some of the employees from the recently re-branded Movate to find out.
Set right boundaries
Kanta Samtani, Sales Director at Movate, believes setting boundaries is the key to managing stress. “Learning to say "no" in both personal and professional life is crucial. I only try to take responsibility for the things that I can handle. Saying yes to things that I will not be able to do is a recipe for stress,” says Kanta. Setting healthy boundaries is essential to developing better coping strategies and maintaining work-life balance.
When encountering stressful situations, Kanta asks herself, “how relevant is this situation, and will it matter in a month or a year?” And whenever the answer to this question is a no, Kanta focuses her energy elsewhere.
Marion Pradeep, AVP of HR at Movate, agrees, adding that managing workplace stress is an art. “We need to understand that managing stress means managing oneself. Managing work, family, and other commitments, especially during work-from-home, can be extremely stressful. But you need to set time to unwind; otherwise, you risk your entire well-being.”
Another tip for managing stress is organizing and prioritizing your tasks. Marion suggests staying organized to manage stress. “Prioritization helps me stay on top of things, feel more in control, and get work done in defined timelines. It not only allows me to do my job well but also keeps me from getting overwhelmed,” says Marion.
To prioritize your work tasks better, list them down and give them a rank as per their importance. Block your calendar or use a scheduling tool to be more efficient. Make adjustments whenever necessary. And remember to make some time for distractions in between work.
Take a break
Taking a break in a stressful situation can do wonders. Monette Paragas, Director of PH Talent Acquisition at Movate, takes a walk whenever she is overwhelmed. “Amidst the many things I have on my plate from daily work, I make it a point to pause and take a break. Short walks or small talks with colleagues help me reset,” says Monette.
Punitha Anthony, Senior Director, HRD at Movate, adds at least one physical activity to her routine to burn stress and calories. “Walking, cycling, swimming, jogging - whatever I feel like doing, I do it.” Moving your body and exercising regularly is a sure-shot way of managing stress.
But being physically fit is not enough. You have to be emotionally fit as well. “I meditate and do yoga to keep myself emotionally fit. I spend quality time with myself and my loved ones. I pamper myself often. These things ensure my mental well-being,” adds Punitha.
Unwind and respect your time off
Managing stress without taking the time to recharge and unwind yourself can be counterproductive. “It is very important to make time to unwind and de-stress before moving ahead. You can choose a stress buster of your choice, which could be as simple as taking a walk, eating your favorite food, or listening to some good music,” notes Pradeep.
Monette unwinds by respecting her day offs and doing the things she loves the most. “I spend my weekends going on a road trip to discover new things or spending time with my favorite people and enjoying light and calm conversations over coffee. This refreshes me and makes me recharge to carry on and be ready to face another challenging work week ahead.”
Prioritize work-life balance
Today’s WFH culture has made it easier to blur the boundaries between work and life. However, achieving work-life balance is still as integral as it was before remote working became mainstream.
Pradeep recommends prioritizing your well-being over everything else. “Your work is important, but if you don’t keep your physical, emotional, and mental health in check, your productivity will suffer, and so will your work-life balance.”
Punitha agrees that balance is key. “In today’s digital world and WFH, work-life balance is not about entirely staying away from personal life while at work and away from professional life while at home. It is about striking the right balance of how much and how long, quality time versus quantity time, prioritization versus multitasking,” she adds.
Achieving a work-life balance can seem difficult in the beginning. But creating rules and setting the right priorities can be a solid beginning. Monette recommends compartmentalizing and focusing on one task at a time. “I strive hard to compartmentalize and be present in each moment. It allows me to divide my tasks, responsibilities, and thoughts into different areas and ensure they don’t overlap. When I want to focus on a specific work, I turn off all distractions, turn on my favorite music or podcast and focus on my task.”
Remember, balance isn’t achieved in a day. It will come over time. Set realistic goals and expectations. If managing your stress gets harder, do not hesitate to talk to your manager and discuss possible solutions. Also, consider reaching out to mental health professionals for help.