EXCLUSIVE: Glorification of long working hours has to stop; Stress, anxiety are killing machines: Expert
How many of us have taken leaves for our mental health? Not many, for sure. The reason you ask? There is still a lot of stigma and taboo attached to it. What if our boss thinks we are not fit for the job? What if my colleagues laugh it out? Will I get a job after this? These questions must have crossed our minds, at least once, whenever we have thought of taking a day, or two off just for ourselves.
The sudden and shocking demise of Sidharth Shukla, reportedly due to a heart attack, has posed several questions on how fit is too much fit? Does regular exercise, a well-planned and dedicated work out routine and that extra shot of protein is sufficient to call oneself healthy? Or is there much more to it?
Dr Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant, Mental Health & Psychiatry, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, says that stress, anxiety and depression are all killing machines. While all the industries have pros and cons, acting as a profession has a lot of stressors. And stress in any way will lead to a heart attack sooner than later.
“One has to be extremely hard working to survive in this industry. You have to follow erratic sleep schedules, there’s this constant pressure to perform and you are as good as your last project,” says Vohra.
Not that, the film industry is at complete fault, it is out of the demand of the audience. However, apart from the pressure to perform and achieve, it is also the pressure to look a certain way, unlike other professions that adds on to the stress.
“If you are from some other industry, you can look however you want and continue to do your work, nobody is watching you. But, in the showbiz industry, hundreds of thousands of eyes are following you everywhere,” adds Vohra.
Then there is, of course, competition and jealousy. “Not that there is no competition in other industries, but here one can go to any extremes to achieve the desired result. With one being so high on emotions, what else can one expect apart from stress?,” asks Vohra.
He recalls one of his patients from the industry who had laughed when asked to sleep for eight hours. “Her working shifts are nothing but inhuman. There are times when she has to shoot till 4 am. I told her that there is no way one can have good mental health without having a proper sleep. If not eight, one has to sleep at least for six hours. Anything below that will give you enough stress. To which she replied, I know people from the industry who sleep for only 2-3 hours a day. They will laugh at me if I’ll sleep more,” recalls Vohra.
This glorification of sleeping less and working for long hectic hours, Vohra says, has to stop. These trigger heart attack. One can’t take his/her mental health so lightly. “Some people spend 4-6 hours a day at the gym. This is nothing, but stress. There's a limit to everything. Also, if one believes that a good night's sleep can be replaced by sleeping during the day, that's not possible. Your brain can only rejuvenate when you sleep at night because that's when your body secretes melatonin,” opines Vohra. This, he says, calls for sensitisation.
Not to mention, when one reaches a particular stage in life, people tend to start expecting more from him. “This pressure of expectations from both others and yourself, again, gives you a lot of stress. You have to give your 100 percent, and sometimes even that falls short. In such a case, every individual has his or her way of responding to the situation. However, introverts are the silent sufferers here. They may look happy from the outside, but inside they must not get over the fact that they are not able to achieve something again,” asserts Vohra.
The hunger to be the Number 1 causes even more stress. But, Vohra says, one has to remember that only one can be in that position. “You have to find happiness in the fact that you have beaten at least thousands others to reach where you are. Everyone can’t be a super achiever, but everyone is an achiever in their unique way,” adds Vohra.