Thirty-four-year-old Valarie Dias took up an advertising copywriter role in her dream company in Mumbai 10 years ago. Dias had a good run in her career and has been responsible for several brand campaigns for FMCG and retail clients. But 2020 was a slightly different year. Dias was still as passionate about her career but something had changed in her workplace.
Unlike the past years when Dias would look forward to work, this year was a time when she felt extremely lethargic even thinking about going to office. This was ever since January 2020 and had nothing to do with the Coronavirus outbreak. Four months later she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
“It felt odd. I would make up excuses to not turn up to work. It all started after my entire team quit and someone from a rival company took over as the head and everything went haywire. There was suddenly a culture of abusing and putting each other which I wasn’t used to. Probably that is what triggered my mental health to deteriorate,” she said.
While working from home seems to have overwhelmed a lot of Indian professionals, there are also individuals like Dias who have found this time to be useful to sit back and figure out if their job is causing mental stress.
Dias is now on medication for her panic attacks and has taken a sabbatical from work till June 2021. She hasn’t decided whether she will continue in this job post that or take a break.
As the year 2020 draws to a close, there is a harsh reality of mental health of corporate employees worsening in the past 12 months. While a partial reason could be disconnected remote working from different locations and extended working hours, psychologists also point out that there are clear signs when the employer is the sole reason for this health condition.
Speaking to mental health experts, Moneycontrol lists out five warning signs that show your employer is causing your mental health to deteriorate:
You make excuses to take sick leave
This is the first trigger that things are not right at the workplace. You may otherwise like going out and meeting friends or clients. But if you are bogged down by going to the office and often find yourself making excuses to take sick leaves, there is a warning sign. Your mind is getting triggered thinking about the workplace environment forcing you to take leave. It is time that you make a move.
Calls from office colleagues gives you panic attacks
What if a phone call from a team member, subordinate or reporting manager gave you sudden chills, faster heartbeats, nausea, chest pain and stomach ache? These are symptoms of a panic attack. If regular work calls make you anxious, do not ignore these symptoms. See a professional therapist immediately and clarify what steps need to be taken to deal with the situation. Try digital detox but keep your team and manager in confidence and explain to them the situation. Your colleagues may not understand your mental health situation and/or could even be insensitive but it is good to act professional and be truthful.
You avoid social events with team mates
Do you find yourself in a situation where you avoid all team-lunches or parties or festival celebrations like Diwali, Eid or Christmas with work colleagues? Do you lie about prior commitments to get out of the quarterly team off-site or bonding activities like picnics, Friday parties because it gives you anxiety? This could be a sign that you don’t gel well with your team. Even if everyone else turns up, don’t force yourself to attend non-work events if this gives you anxiety or extreme mood swings. Faking a smile at a weekend party can only work a few times. It is a sign that this organisation isn’t meant for you.
Your feel low even on regular working days
Say you have cracked the biggest deal of the year, beat the yearly targets or onboarded a global client. But if you still feel low and depressed at the workplace after these achievements then this clearly means that the organisation is impacting your mental health. Feeling demotivated despite meeting all the KRAs is a sign that your job is affecting your mind. Get out on time.
You want to WFH all the time
All of us have days when we would prefer working from home. It cuts down on the travel time and you end up being more productive. But if you want WFH on a daily basis just to avoid meeting your colleagues, then this is a reflection of your mind correlating going to office as an unpleasant activity. Ask yourself what is making you feel this way. Is it something that a colleague said, an argument you had with a team-mate or just the office environment that feels toxic? One-off arguments and misunderstandings between colleagues is common but a toxic workplace where you feel threatened and anxious enough to completely stay away from the office is not acceptable.
It is crucial to keep note of the moment you start getting these negative feelings. It could be one event or a series of triggers to go from happy to depressed in a few minutes. Feeling blue once or twice a year is fine; low mood every other day is a signal from your brain seeking immediate changes.
Just remember, even if you work for the best company in your field, it is not worth it if the job costs your mental health.If you or someone you know needs help for mental health issues, call any of these helplines: NIMHANS toll-free number 0804611000, Mpower and BMC joint helpline 1800-120-820050, Vandrevala Foundation 1860-2662-345 or Aasra 9820466726