Updated June 12, 2023
Introduction to Stress Depression
“I cannot make it to the office for a week due to my illness…..what about completing my pending tasks…? “If I am unable to achieve my monthly targets this time as well .….. the organization may ask me to move out.”
Statements and thoughts like these cross every individual’s mind in the corporate world today and ultimately lead to the emergence of ‘stress depression’. People today in the urban setup work in a fast-paced environment, especially in the big cities.
In these cities, we hear about ‘stress depression’ almost every day from people from different walks of life, be it a professional, ordinary employees, a student, or a teacher, so much so that an employer or an organization, for that matter, is also not immune to stress. Stress has, therefore, become an inevitable part of our lives.
- While stress depression at the workplace is inevitable, one must identify ways and means of managing it effectively.
- Effective stress depression management could be the key to the success of people and the organization.
- While organizations are striving hard to mend ways to make their employees stress depression-free by taking several initiatives, employees must sincerely try ‘stress depression management’ through a proper work-life balance.
Understanding Stress Depression
“Stress depression” is a physical or mental state resulting from physical activities or interactions.
In an organization, stress depression results from the interaction of people and their jobs. It is characterized by changes (physical or behavioral) within people that force them to deviate from their normal functioning.
Similarly, the phenomenon of stress depression is individualistic. Every individual can withstand the stress of depression. Some can sustain the stress depression for longer, while others yield to undue pressure quickly. Stress depression manifests in various forms, like high blood pressure, nervous breakdown, tension, insomnia, ulcers, irritability, frustration, or emotional instability. The result of all the above is depression or burnout or resorting to the excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
Sources of Stress Depression
Having understood the repercussions of excessive stress depression, let us also try to identify and explore the various sources which cause stress depression or the so-called ‘stressors’.
These can be of two categories – environmental and organizational.
1. Environmental Stressor
Poor lighting and ventilation, excessive noise near the workplace, and safety hazards are common examples of environmental stressors.
2. Organizational Stressor
However, on the other hand, organizational stressors manifest in various forms. One common example could be a lack of privacy or constant supervision, which may lead to mental fatigue at the end of the day resulting in stress depression.
Yet another common organizational stressor is the lack of role clarity. Most organizations do not have well-carved-out roles for various positions in the organization. As a result, most individuals in organizations have no clue what they are expected to do, their powers, etc.
Often, a lack of role clarity also leads to duplication of efforts leading to chaos or conflicts within a department. The inability of the supervisor or the manager to properly communicate the targets or the expected results to their team can also pose to be an organizational stressor.
Excessive stress depression can result in one or more of the following ailments:
|Depression||Alcoholism||Insomnia||Irritable bowel syndrome|
|Hypertension||Asthma||Diminished immunity||Decreased sex drive|
Stress Depression Management
Having understood the various organizational stressors, it now becomes imperative to identify ways of managing them.
We will now focus our discussion on stress depression management and explore various ways of combating stress depression.
The psychological experts, through extensive research, have found ten major ways of stress management activities, especially in the Indian corporate context. We shall look at them one by one.
1. Learn to Say ‘No.’
The employees, out of fear of losing their jobs, hitherto deny doing any jobs asked by their superiors.
The result is that the employee does not realize that his plate is already full for the day, and they are in no position to deliver anything beyond that day.
Where the employee’s work progress is assessed weekly, especially in the IT industry, employees do not say ‘NO’ to their superiors and take up huge tasks, thus overburdening themselves. The result is obvious.
They cannot deliver the work on time by the end of the week. Many of them somehow manage to complete their tasks just to finish them to meet the deadline.
The result is substandard work with umpteen errors.
We also see this commonly in state government setups in our country where the laborers somehow manage to complete their task by the timelines set, lest their contractor may penalize them for the delay.
It is, therefore, imperative to learn the art of saying ‘NO’. Mastering this art may take time, but it will immensely help the employee in stress management activities in the long run.
2. Learn to Delegate
Many managers of today are very particular about their completion of tasks. As a result, they spend a lot of time and energy doing the tasks themselves.
In the pursuit of doing a perfect job, the leaders of the so-called managers of today themselves engage in the day-to-day activities that the employees below can easily manage if left alone.
The managers should, therefore, learn to supervise and effectively delegate their tasks.
They should also know their team members well to delegate tasks to the right persons.
3. Call it a Day Off at the Appropriate Time of the Day
The workload in the office is perpetual. Even if you do overtime and complete your work, be prepared so that more tasks will come the next day. As a result, you tend to spend extended working hours in the office, which is undesirable.
Extended working hours in some organizations are a sign of ‘inefficiency’, as you cannot complete the given or scheduled task within the stipulated time frame.
It also speaks about your poor time management skills. Hence, one must draw a clear distinction or a line beyond which one would not overstay at the workplace. So you must call it a day off at the timeline you have set for yourself and strive to maintain a work-life balance.
4. Set Realistic Targets
While scheduling the work for each day, it is imperative to set up achievable deadlines. Employees, generally in the wake of casting an impression on their bosses, tend to take up mammoth targets for the day or the week without paying heed as too much would they be able to deliver.
No considerations are given to difficulties that may arise during the week. This results in incomplete work and often leads to demotivation. One must, therefore, ensure to be practical in setting up daily/weekly targets lest it leads to demotivation.
5. Plan & Prioritize
Most of the employees do not plan out their activities for the week. The work needs effective planning. More important than that is to identify and segregate which actions are urgent and important and which are just routine tasks.
The successful completion of the job depends on how meticulously the project is followed. The activities then need to be planned and prioritized properly. For example, if it is a task to be completed in the week, it needs to be fragmented into smaller tasks, and a clear-cut plan must be implemented.
It is also advisable to park your routine jobs that may not involve too much thinking for the last 30 to 60 minutes of the day. This certainly helps to reduce stress and depression levels immensely.
6. Physical Exercise and Meditation
Each individual should take some sports (outdoor) or other in their daily routine, as this significantly helps burn out the accumulated stress and depression. Most employers today, especially in the IT and the IT-enabled sector, have already taken cognizance of this fact.
As a result, many of them are already equipped with gyms which helps employees to distress depression. For example, in a voice-based BPO setup, the employee keeps calling customers or handling queries over the phone for about 6 hours a day. Imagine an employee doing this continuously for 26 days in a month. Burnout, therefore, is obvious.
Physical exercise, especially brisk walking, yoga, and meditation, comes to the rescue. These act as major stress depression busters, rejuvenating the individual at work for improved work performance.
7. Stay Away from Negative Influence
Once you move around in the organization, you will interact with several people. Meeting people who exude positive vibrations (or vibes, as it is popular) is very important, as these petty things can make or break your day.
It is, therefore, essential to be in the company of people with positive thinking and cast positive influences on others.
Going by the adage …” One is judged by the company he keeps”, you must try to avoid the company of people who exude negative vibrations. These people talk ill about the organization and are major contributors to the grapevine. Walking along and talking to people near your workplace will make you aware of those who emit negative energies.
One must be quick enough to identify and avoid such negative influences. This self-initiative would help in de-stressing the employees.
8. Managing the Office-to-Home Transitions
“How can I reach home on time ….”, “What time should I leave from office….”, “Gosh! I missed the bus again….”, “Wonder…if I will be able to make it for dinner tonight with family”.
Thoughts like these cross each employee’s mind, especially in metro cities where the office is far from the residence. Stress depression, as already explained, is unavoidable at the workplace, and thoughts, as mentioned above, would only tend to increase the stress depression.
Hence, such office-to-home transitions need to be effective. Taking this a step ahead, one must strive to psychologically shift gears from stressful work situations to relaxed evenings with family. This certainly plays a major role in stress management activities.
9. Plan out a Short Vacation
In most corporates today, the compensation structure is embedded in components like LTA. However, the amount or intensity of this component varies from organization to organization. While most organizations use this component merely to pass on tax-free benefits to their executives, other organizations, especially multinationals, have religiously adopted this component.
In MNCs, most employees have this component embedded in their pay structure, and hence invariably, all its employees are entitled to LTA. Under this LTA policy, employees in such organizations are compelled to take at least four days to leave in the year (with prior approval) during their work.
Looking closely into the corporate, especially those with a lot of dynamism, employees (of all profiles – sales, marketing, operations, finance, accounts, etc. are stressful and depressing. This initiative pushes the employees to plan vacations that can include their families. Such getaways help the employees extensively in stress management activities.
Lower-level employees are constantly supervised for their error-free and timely performance. There are stringent timelines to meet, and senior-level employees are exposed to tremendous pressure in the race to beat the deadlines set. These people are mainly in decision-making activities, carving out new strategies, and often have to lead in ambiguities. This builds in huge amounts of stress and depression, so much so that some may even yield to undue pressure.
This invariably calls for short getaways and planned vacations that detoxify their mind from stress and depression. In most companies, the executives on holiday cannot pick up calls or even respond to emails. Their thinking is since you are on vacation, you need to completely cut off from the office to enjoy it to the fullest. Strict instructions are out that there should not be any kind of call to those on vacation.
Most companies even block their emails for those many days of the vacations, which may stay connected with the office and respond to emails.
10. Redo your Work Station
The easiest and the least possible thing an employee can do to remove stress and depression is to face-lift their workstation. There can be innovative ways of doing this. Think of ways that motivate you or inspire you. One way could be to put some inspirational quotes on your desk. If you are leading a team of people, then quotes like “Leaders do not do different things…they do things differently” or “When the going gets tough…. The tough get going”.
Stress depression quotes like these can motivate you and often prove to be contagious and inspire your colleagues in the adjoining workstations. You can then find yourself filled with positive energies and will invariably be able to overcome stress and depression to a larger extent.
How are Organizations Coping with Stress and Depression?
At this juncture, it would be prudent to talk about a few initiatives the organizations are taking to cope with stress and depression.
Organizations are working hard and assisting employees in stress management activities.
Training is an important initiative in this respect, which an organization resorts to wholeheartedly. It can contribute a lot to their employees in stress depression management. If the employees train on various skill sets, they can do their jobs effectively and efficiently, which will help them to manage stress and depression. Multi-skilling an employee benefits their professional growth and supports the organization’s graduates to the next level.
For example, if a welder or a foreman in a factory is properly trained to do his task, he would be able to do his job well on time and effectively.
2. Flexible Policies
Flexible policies also contribute in a major way to stress management activities. Employees may not be too stressed if the organization’s policies are flexible enough (of course, how much flexibility will always be business-dependent).
As an illustration, think of an employee who has almost completed one year and ten months in an organization. The employee has shaped up well and is a consistent performer. Due to difficulties on his domestic front, he needs a loan from the company. However, per the company policy, he is not entitled to one, as he has not yet completed two years of service in that organization.
This has added to his stress and depression, resulting in a dip in his recent performances. A drop in his performance would, therefore, imply a dip in the growth of the business. However, if the policies can be relaxed (they are flexible enough) on a case-to-case basis, then it can genuinely help the employee tide over the crisis and help them considerably in stress depression management. Consider another instance when the organization is big and has a multi-location setup.
Some employees would be keen on relocating and moving closer to their families. If this doesn’t materialize, such employees will stress and, therefore, unable to perform well. In such a scenario, if the organization can relocate the employee (of course, on a meritorious basis) and facilitate the movement, then such an initiative can contribute majorly towards stress depression management.
It is also commonly seen that employees start non-performing when they do not find any challenge left in the job or the task that they do. In such a case, an employee gets turned off and performs poorly. It is highly imperative for an organization to constantly improvise the role, lest there is no visible challenge left in the job.
Hence, creating inherent challenges in the job is what organizations should strive for. Such initiatives would help considerably in stress management activities. Organizations today are looking at a host of initiatives like these, popularly called ’employee engagement.’
This is a guide to Stress Depression. Here we discuss the sources, management, and how organizations cope with stress and depression. You may look at the following articles to learn more –