Stress to the Point of Collapse
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Given my tight schedule, bookstores at the airport are my only source of getting a sneak peek into the hardbound world of books. Recently, wandering down the aisles of one such store, the sheer expanse of the self-help section caught my attention. Most of these books talked about lifestyle management, about stress management. And, of late, with the financial year closing around the corner, the lunch and coffee break conversations everywhere typically revolve around performance stress, financial planning and a difficult to achieve work life balance.
Both these incidents triggered my thoughts towards the burning topic of stress - how much of it is because of the situations around us and how much of it owes to our own attitudes, the amount of stress that can help us perform better as against the amount enough to take a toll on our health.
“Stress” today is one of the most commonly used words, almost as common as work itself. I look at it as a state of mental or emotional tension arising from demanding circumstances. Of late, however, these demanding circumstances seem to have cropped up all around us and not just at the workplace. The modern lives seem like a series of unending to-do lists with high expectations at work and home, both. The constant pressure to achieve targets and even surpassing them, outperforming boss’s and self’s expectations, reverse pressure from peers and subordinates to be fair and yet ahead of them is taking its toll on today’s young workforce. I see so many young professionals ‘burning out’ early, all in a bid to be perfect at what they do; or sometimes just to keep up with the pace of their workspace.
The personal front isn’t a cake walk either with time becoming the most valuable currency of all. Globalization has led to expansion of technology and a desire to acquire materialistic comforts at a higher pace. Individuals grapple with the day to day life, run from pillar to post to be able to spend quality time with their loved ones after work and to make enough time for themselves as well. This endless juggling with the pressure of being perfect and being everywhere puts lives under considerable amount of stress.
The fear of missing out and the urge for validation on social networks have also taken stress levels to a new high, resulting in instinctive actions like checking phones every 5 minutes and frequent revisits to social media feeds to check the number of reactions on shared posts and pictures. We are witnessing a digital savvy younger generation that is well informed, and ‘connected’ but at the same time oblivious to the essentiality of the human connect. It misses on the affection the previous generations showed towards each other.
This often reminds of the good old days, the simpler times, the satisfaction derived out of achieving the smaller goals and the joys of living in a joint family, where everyone looked out for each other. No cell phones and more often no television, just people talking to each other. We should make peace with the new reality though and learn to switch on and switch off when necessary. A fulfilling career undoubtedly leads to a good life, however, there’s a need to define the difference between fulfilling and stressed. The eventual objective should be to lead a fulfilling life - one where we would have contributed to the society, family and self with enough worth sharing experiences for our grandchildren.
But often our shortsightedness blinds us and we subject ourselves to unmanageable levels of stress. We also tend to ignore mental health over physical, whereas both are equally important. A timely assessment of each is a must. The human mind and body follow processes for everything from eating to moving around to joyful resting. If pushed beyond a limit, this equilibrium goes for a toss, initially leading to a lack of interest in work, till stress catches up and reaches up to the point of collapse. Maybe this is why the Generation Z does not want to accumulate assets, rather believes in investing more in experiences and travel – a cue that the millennials need to take from the younger lot.
The solution I believe, lies in the balance, which, however, is easier said than done. Introspecting our own reactions to adverse events are helpful in dealing with the stress that lifestyle or work challenges cause. Deciding, when to be influenced by success and money and when not, definitely helps to strike a balance. We don’t have to choose a good personal life over ambition, they can coexist, provided our priorities shift as per the need of the hour.
Life is a long race, but it is certainly not a sprint, it is a marathon, and we must pace ourselves along the way. All of us want to succeed, all of us want to be at the top of our game and earn a handsome living. But in this war of earning and succeeding, let’s not forget the fundamental principle of living and let’s not deny ourselves of our existential right of being happy!
Image courtesy: khabar.com