A: One of the various repercussions of the pandemic is how work has suffered at large. How do you think this impacts the mental well-being of employees?
AS: I think hypervigilance and anxiety have increased among all of us. A perfect example of this are people panicking that they may be COVID positive the moment they have minor symptoms like a sore throat or chest congestion. This anxiety has a cascading effect on their work as well.
We are also seeing the rise of high levels of depression, anxiety and stress among women. What’s contributing to it is that a major part of the household chores rests on their shoulders, leading to severe burnout and irritability.
A: Mental health is a topic that’s often been shoved under the carpet, especially in a country like India. With not much awareness about mental well-being, what are the signs that an individual can watch out for?
AS: One of the most common forms of any mental condition is an elevated level of anxiety, which mostly manifests in the form of severe breathlessness. Now, this is also a symptom of COVID-19 thus making us hyper-focused about our body, which somewhere gets intricately connected with our psyche. Herein lies the connection between physical well-being and mental well-being.
To give an example here, if a person has a family member who is affected with the COVID-19 virus, they are so traumatized and grief-stricken that they fail to deliver their basic responsibilities, leading themselves into a spiral. They experience heightened anxiety, which is primarily catapulted by the situation at hand. This further leads to physiological effects like reduced sleep, reduced appetite, irritable bowel, etc.
A: What are some tips for working professionals to cope with pandemic-induced stress levels and focus better at work?
AS: I would say negotiate at work by drawing definite boundaries for work and home. Take breaks between your schedules. Bifurcate work hours and home hours to ensure no conflict arises. Volunteer for community work. Make time for it. Some see physical activity, exercise or meditation as a great option to unwind while some resort to games and online shows. I would say choose what works best for you. But add intent to the activities and make them sustainable.