Mental well-being to stay positive and happy

Accenture: Tell us about your journey and what made you choose this field?

Dr Anupama: I have been in the field of applied psychology for a decade now. I come from a medical family background and was always intrigued by psychology and the power of mind since my teenage years. I always knew that I wanted to explore this area of science. This sentiment coupled with my keen desire to aid people, led me to pursue psychology. Over the last 10 years, I have successfully been spreading awareness around the understanding of and the importance of mental and emotional well-being across different age groups. I have been able to teach people to openly speak about their mental issues and have helped thousands learn the correct way to take care of their mental well-being and lead a positive, happy life.

A: Mental health issues in India are becoming more visible today. A survey indicates that 30 percent of working professionals suffer from some form of mental or emotional stress. In some cases, this leads to depression as well. What according to you is causing this?

Dr A: The most common cause for any person is the constant worry around finances, health and family. When a person is uncertain about the future and feels like losing control, the emotions of fear and apprehension rise leading to anxiety. It has especially been tough in the last few months with COVID-19 accelerating these conditions. At the moment, we do not have tools to combat this crisis and we are yet figuring out ways to adapt to this new way of life. This uncertainty is causing a lot of worry leading to negative fearful overthinking.

A: When we specifically talk about stress at work, what are the most common areas that you come across?

Dr A: The most common stress areas at work are—immense work pressure, stretched long hours creating work-life imbalance, job insecurities, poor interpersonal relationships, sudden organizational changes, work politics, harassment at work and lack of appreciation. We may feel that these are very common issues, but the fact is that the smallest issues have the biggest impact on the mental psyche of human beings in general.

A: When we speak about men and women at work, do you see different concern areas emerging? How difficult is it for women as compared to men to cope with these conditions?

Dr A: Yes, definitely. Women are more prone to suffer with issues like work-life imbalance, stress around meeting deadlines and job insecurity owing to the added pressure of family responsibilities. The most common pattern is that women seldom find the time in their busy lives to forge new friendships, pick up a new hobby, enroll in a skill development course and so on. This in turn impacts their overall well-being (physical and mental) and the feeling of self-worth at work as well.

A: Tell us as a working professional, what are the few things one can do to navigate stress?

Dr A: The first thing I would want to convey to all the women professionals out there is that they need to start focusing on themselves. Most of us suffer from the "Superwoman Syndrome". We want to be very good mothers, caring wives, respectful daughters-in-law and successful professionals. However, in this run to be good enough, we often forget ourselves. We seldom have time for ourselves. It is easier said than done, but we have to make a start. Here is what you should do:

  • Prioritize yourself.
  • Take out some time for yourself every day, away from your phone and other distractions.
  • Do something that you really like to do, something that will bring a smile to your face.
  • Start appreciating yourself. Don't wait for someone else to do it. The moment you feel you did something good (can be as small as making good tea), appreciate it. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Speak good words for yourself.
  • Stop using demeaning self-sabotaging words and phrases like, "I can't do it" or "I am not good enough". Respect yourself, only then people will respect you.
  • Start saying NO when you want to. But yes, politely.

Learn to maintain healthy boundaries. Self-work is what we women need to learn and do and if we can do everything else, I am sure, we can work on ourselves too.

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