Sipping From A Bitter Cup Of Coffee
Article on Stress Management by Managing Director, Jindal Stainless, Mr Abhyuday Jindal
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Recent facts surfacing in the backdrop of Mr VG Siddhartha’s mysterious death have left me, like most of India Inc, in a state of disbelief. The man behind such a happy brand fell prey to inner turmoil, ultimately leading him to take an unprecedented step. However, this shouldn’t be surprising. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized workplace stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century. The business world today is gaining pace, and in turn challenging the players to add more laps to their daily sprint, in order to be at the top of their game. In such a scenario, any budding entrepreneur can get enticed by the idea of immediate success, leading to a notion of ‘never losing’, rather than winning! This idea can be catastrophic as it models an individual’s psyche to draw happiness from successful work projects alone. Any hiccups in their business goals translate into a phase of self-pity, hollowness and social isolation.
Even at the beginning of their careers, people are worried about the stress they’ll have to face. In July, we welcomed 66 new Graduate Engineer Trainees (GETs) to our stainless family. During one of the interaction sessions with the GETs, there was one common question posed to me, “How do you handle stress?”. My response was that stress in itself is not bad, the reactionary routes we take to deal with it tend to become a hindrance to our day-to-day operations.
Leading psychologists have attempted to differentiate two kinds of stress that affect us, namely, Distress and Eustress. Whilst Distress causes anxiety and unnerving concerns, Eustress is the positive stress that motivates us and helps us focus our energy into a singular direction. While the former decreases performance and mental health, the latter increases retention span and performance.
The first thing I do to deal with distress is to accept the situation and talk about it, which might still be an ordeal for a lot of people. Initially, it seemed like a good idea to live in denial and downplay my stress but the long-term effects of avoidance were cataclysmic. Our cultural nuances had forced me into believing that my struggles weren’t a ‘big deal’ and hence, I was embarrassed to talk about them.
The vulnerability has hitherto been seen as a weakness but I firmly believe that we can elevate our life and cope with stress through vulnerability. It takes a lot of heart to be able to open ourselves up to other people’s possible judgments. It’s happened to me and I know it’s happened to many of us. Getting vulnerable can be even harder at work—an environment where you’re basically expected to be at the top of your game. But taking the first step is important. Speaking up not only helped me but also encouraged others around me to do the same. Was it easy? No. Was it worth the effort? Yes.
My grandfather, Shri OP Jindal, taught me that what’s good for the country is also good for the business. Now that I think about it, the phrase has a deeper meaning than just a philanthropist intention. Associating yourself with communities is an important way to de-stress yourself from the daily monotony of work. When we are compassionate to others, our own problems may seem a little insignificant. It is only because we are so full of our own issues that we feel disconnected with the world, left to win and lose alone. The idea is to learn the capability of attaching and detaching with work, in order to gain some extra peace of mind.
I’ve experienced that creating an ecosystem of people who can help us understand our challenges and guide us to win over them is a better way than bearing the weight of it all alone. When a stressful situation springs up, the mere feeling of connectedness and human empathy makes the situation easier for me and helps me gain insight about myself.
People’s compassion towards me helped me become more compassionate to myself. It starts with simple things, like the language cues we give ourselves every morning. Starting out my day with a Bob the Builder attitude of ‘Yes, We Can!’ has a transforming effect on every decision I take through the day. The simple idea of being compassionate to our inner self can have a long-lasting positive effect on our mindset.
I have also found that self-expression goes a long way in helping me live a stress-free life. An everyday routine which allows us to express ourselves through art, music or writing is a kinder way to treat our mental and physical self. For me, it’s sports; be it playing tennis or football, or simply watching sports on TV. By adopting more fulfilling and nourishing paths to live our life, we can put a backward spin on the burgeoning era of stressful management.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.