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Unexplained headaches? Manage your work better!
Ruby Nanda
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January 17, 2008

Have you been to your doctor lately complaining about that unexplained bout of headaches or body pain? Only to be told that there's nothing wrong. Well, it could be work-related stress that is causing aches, depression and other health problems say health experts.


A survey conducted by India's industry body Assocham has revealed that "the menace of stress and mental fatigue has intensified in recent times at the top and middle positions of sectors comprising construction, shipping, banks, government hospitals, trading houses, electronic and print media, courier companies, small-scale industries, retail and card franchise companies".


As more of the Indian workforce rushes to catch up with the deadlines, the boundary between home and work is becoming blurred. As the work hours stretch and more and more jobs entail odd work hours, the stress levels among the Indian workers is increasing in an alarming way causing many health problems.


Dr Roma Kumar senior clinical psychologist, says that stress can cause depression, but it can also manifest itself simply as an unexplained headache, pain in arms and legs, sleepiness or insomnia, loss of appetite and in women sometimes over eating.


"I will have to leave my job and go back home as I am constantly suffering from severe pain in my legs," says Sharmila, who works as an PR executive in Delhi. She adds, "Even after many tests the doctors have not been able to diagnose the problem."


Stress levels can be found increasing across all age sections of the work force but the reasons might differ, says Dr Kumar. The young age group of 20-30 year-olds are overworked because of the competition and a desire to get ahead fast. While those in older age groups, most of them with families and having reached mid-management levels, are bogged down by the demands of both a young family and work pressure, she adds.


"I am at a mid-management level in my office, managing people and enforcing targets, convincing and motivating those under you is pretty stressful," says Puneet Das, 36, working in a top MNC in Gurgaon. He adds, "To meet deadlines I have to work extra hours, and  since I have small children, late nights become a cause for quarrels with my wife and this does cause



But if you thought people who tend to overwork themselves were the only ones suffering, then think again. Mental heath experts say that even boredom can be as problematic.


Software professional Madhumita, working in a top software company says, "It is boring working in a project for a long time since the work becomes very monotonous."


"Sometimes when we are relieved of one project and yet to get into another, the ennui is terrible. I regularly get severe headaches," she adds.


Dr Samir Parikh, consultant psychiatrist says, "Boredom affects workers in many ways. If you are not interested in your work, your sense of engagement, work satisfaction, and ultimately the quality of work suffers."


He adds that about 70 per cent of the working population suffers from work-related stress ranging from normal to severe conditions.


A recent study by psychologist Sandi Mann in the UK says that boredom is not related to the people doing factory line assembly work. The ever-increasing demands of meetings, paperwork, routinisation, information overload and bureaucracy are what is creating a boom in workplace boredom.

Agrees Das,"Sometimes you are forced to attend meetings, which are just routine work, just for the sake of it. You feel you could be better utilising your time. Wasting precious hours in official meetings can be very irritating and stressful."

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