When I entered the hospital cubicle, I saw a frenzied, harried and almost an apparition-like version of Sayoni, a girl who used to be cheerful all the time was lying sedated, with a drip running through her as she muttered in a half-conscious state, “Please let me go to work or else I will lose my …”
Her husband rang me up, his voice sounded thoroughly hassled as he informed me about Sayoni’s condition. Stress seemed to hang heavy in the air that was already weighed down with pollutants. That morning he received a call from her office that Sayoni had crashed into at least four or five cars in the parking lot of the office building, she somehow managed to reach her office desk, switch on her laptop and then collapsed on the keyboard. In a feverish tone, she slurred, as she kept repeating, “They will ‘punish’ me if I don’t follow up on the outstanding payments.”
The scene inside the hospital room instantly transported me to scenes from the movie The exorcism of Emily Rose except that Sayoni was having a nervous breakdown and it wasn’t an evil spirit that needed to be exorcised. It was worse. The work-related stress had gnawed into her mental health. It was only last week when she mentioned to me how she was rebuked in front of all, for being a couple of minutes late for the video conference with the CEO based in Shanghai — “How can you be so casual when others control even their bladders when the boss is online.” It all sounded uncanny to me as I listened to her, she often vented out her worries and the happenings at her office. I would just tell her to remain strong after all her spirit is sturdy, not “Made in China”, and she would laugh the anxiety away.
Striking a work-life balance is a choice; about setting one’s boundaries and moving away from a scenario that induces bored resentment.
I sat near the bed and held her hand, as she drifted into a deep slumber. Sayoni had stopped eating properly, the sleep-deprived girl worked with relentless fervour. Two of her colleagues looked ‘possessed’ too … as stress and fatigue spread their lethal roots within them. The unreasonable targets are set and how we achieve them is left to us … to our creative minds … the minds that lose all creativity under irrational demands. How to fulfil such unreasonable goals is a topic that no business school can ever teach, because greed appeasement is an “other-worldly” subject.
Not worth the trauma
I tried to nudge Sayoni into resigning from this horrific job, she needed to clear her mind from the demons that haunted her daily. Was it even worth it? However, she muttered on about the various EMI’s that needed to be paid, it was a vicious circle and she has gotten trapped in it. Sayoni cannot seem to even fathom the thought of starting a family. She tells me that there are more and more couples who have resigned to their lot of existing in a childless domain. She prefers to stick to this job till she finds another or else her market-worth would degenerate. In the meantime, she reads articles on ‘how to cope with stress at work’, does her yoga and rejuvenates once in a while as she ‘hangs’ at Cyber Hub of the Millennium City called Gurugram, with her friends.
Stress is basically a disconnection from all things earthy, a detachment from the soul; a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. But nothing is that important. Just lie down. Or walk on the grass, barefooted and feel the dew drops merge into you. The milky, ginger flavoured, sugary tea in earthen cups, sold by the roadside can give immense pleasure … laughing over silly things with “friends with no agenda” can be amazingly refreshing … a digital detoxification of the being, for a while, can be utterly uplifting …
Striking a work-life balance is a choice; about setting one’s boundaries and moving away from a scenario that induces bored resentment. Thus, loving our work, getting our deserved share of respect at the workplace and spending quality time with the family without being made to feel guilty is a sure shot way of exorcising the monster called ‘stress’.
— Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @VpNavanita