Stress and quality of life in Mumbai


In the past, not only in the western part of the world, but also in the east, the once rarely discussed subject on stress and anxiety, is now often discussed in daily conversations. The word “stress” has become a household word. Indian culture, which is known for its values of tolerance, resilience, peacefulness, and dharma are losing some of their cultural capacity to absorb stress. Work stress has found its milieu in Indian business organizations and many other MNCs working from India and spreading like cancer across various levels and hierarchies of employees.

Mumbai’s 24×7 rhythm has earned it many names, but there is a growing realization that the Maximum City’s never at-sleep tag comes at a costly price — namely, stress. High stress levels result from the fast paced lifestyle people from Mumbai are forced to adopt. There is the lure of bigger salaries, better work culture, better infrastructure and opportunities. But if one looks at aspects such as travelling like packed sardines in trains, extra-long working hours and near-zero recreation facilities, Mumbaikars don’t have it easy.

Not surprisingly then, respondents in The Times Of India-IMRB Quality of Life Survey perceived Mumbaikars as being most stressed among residents of eight mega-cities. Mumbai scored a bleak 2 for the parameter Lifestyle (Relaxed) in the category Peace of Mind. The reasons cited for causing stress vary from work related issues like lack of support from the management, poor inter-personal relations, demands of the role and task, challenging physical environment to individual-related factors like personal health, low ability, low self esteem, poor coping skills, low resilience, workaholism and many more such factors. Some researchers have also linked personality type with stress prone-ness.

According to various Mumbai based psychiatrists, the city’s social fabric has undergone a severe change. Its major ability was to absorb each and every section of society and create its strengthening heterogeneity. But the same factor has now resulted in ghettos based on communities or eating habits, etc.

Mumbaikars find it hard to nullify the harmful effects of stress as rest and recreation is practically an alien concept here. One can blame it on transport or the need for extra competitiveness that forces people to work more, but there is practically no time to rejuvenate or relax. The margin between healthy and unhealthy is becoming narrower. The strong middle-class quality of the city too is being eroded. Worse, the extended family support system is no longer around. For youngsters, celebrations mean heading to a bar.

While many Mumbaikars cope with stress by taking up yoga, gym or hobbies, some fail to do so. Daily stress can become distress. When this distress becomes chronic, there is a high chance of depression. A 2010 survey conducted by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations found that India’s rapid economic expansion had boosted corporate profits and employee incomes, but had sparked a surge of workplace stress and lifestyle diseases. 57 % workers in the corporate sector in India (including Mumbai) reported an increase in stress over two years. The focus on profitability stressed 45 % of Indian workers.

Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so normal that unfortunately it’s become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help one perform under pressure and motivate to do one’s best. But continually running in an emergency mode, the mind and body pay the price. A heavy one, that, too.

Ways to manage work stress
– Take more breaks from work. Even a five minute break will help. Get away from the desk. Go for a walk outside if possible. Getting more exercise in general will help to reduce overall stress levels.

– Lighten up! Laughter is known to reduce stress.

-Fix one’s immediate environment. Make whatever adjustments needed to the lighting, temperature, noise level, and other controllable factors in the work space, either at home or outside.

– Get more sleep. In addition to reducing stress, it increases energy levels and ability to concentrate.

– Spend more time with optimistic people. Negative people will pull one down to their level. Choose to work with people who have a positive attitude towards life.

Photo Credit: Mumbai Local train during rush hour-, Stress at work-


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