July 16, 2019

Negative stress is the number one cause of physical and mental ill health, especially at work

Among the many causes of poor health and disease, the workplace is one of the significantly underreported ones, according to several studies. An adverse work environment can cause everything from respiratory infections, vector and parasitic diseases, to heart ailments, stroke, and mental, behavioral and neurological disorders. Apart from this, it can also lead to several medical emergencies.

The WHO indicates that when accounting for death and disability, the fraction of the global disease burden in the general population due to pursuing an occupation amounts to 2.7%. A large part of the population is directly affected by occupational risks, with about 62% of the population above 15 years being economically active. Low- and middle-income countries are disproportionally affected by occupational death and disease.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Job stress raises the risk of heart disease by disrupting the body’s internal systems. Stressed workers also eat unhealthy food, smoke, drink and skip exercise – all behaviours linked to heart disease. They have lowered heart rate variability – a sign of a poorly–functioning weak heart – and higher–than–normal levels of cortisol, a ‘stress’ hormone that provides a burst of energy for a fight–or–flight response. Too much cortisol circulating in the bloodstream can damage blood vessels and the heart. Conflicting priorities between work and home have a negative effect on mental health and have been linked to some substance-abuse issues.”

Fair employment and decent work conditions are powerful determinants of health and can prevent at least 1.2 million deaths every year. Another report adds that there is an urgent need to look at certain fundamental change in the way we work.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “While lifestyle changes and balancing are important, another aspect to this is learning from Lord Ganesha, who can be termed as the stress management guru. If Lord Krishna was the first counsellor who taught the principles of counselling, Lord Ganesha taught us the principles of stress management. We should worship Lord Ganesha and become like him whenever we face any difficulty or are stressed out.”

Some tips to manage stress in the workplace

· Form positive relationships and take your colleagues into confidence when you feel a task is getting out of hand.

· Start your day by eating a healthy and filling breakfast. This will not only help you concentrate but also ensure that you stay away from stress.

· Get enough sleep and do not let work seep into your sleep time. Make sure you go to sleep around the same time every day.

· Get about 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This will release endorphins, feel-good hormones that can help uplift your mood.

· Prioritize and organize your work. This will ensure that you avoid any backlogs that can spill on to your leisure time.

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