HOW EMPLOYEES CAN COMBAT STRESS AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS - The Daily Guardian
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HOW EMPLOYEES CAN COMBAT STRESS AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

Purnima Ramakrishnan, Director of Heartfulness and Richa Singh, Co-Founder and CEO of YourDOST spoke to The Daily Guardian about how stress levels in corporate workers lead to suicidal tendencies and more.

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World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. Purnima Ramakrishnan and Richa Singh spoke to The Daily Guardian about increased stress in work-from-home situations, the deteriorating mental health of employees, and the role of counselling to combat suicidal tendencies. Excerpts:

Q. How has the pandemic raised the stress levels of employees?

Purnima: According to a survey in Human Resource Executive, 69% of corporate employees say that the Covid pandemic has been the most stressful time of their entire professional life. This pandemic has been one of the most traumatic events in recent history and is continuing to cause physical, mental, emotional, and psychological harm. When employees are faced with the thought of their own ill-health, and perhaps even death, and also of their families, their attention to work would certainly be impacted. If the work demands are unrealistic or unreasonable, it is natural for them to feel stressed, and in a state of high anxiety. In addition, worries about a global slowdown, economic recession, and a possible layoff from jobs could further impact their performance at work, deliverables, and even productivity. This can be compounded by physical isolation; in case they are away from family. In case the other family members are also working from home, and are also in similar physical isolation, and if they share similar concerns and worries, that will further aggravate the situation if not remediated soon.

Richa: As per a study conducted by YourDOST on the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 55% of Indian corporate employees have experienced a significant rise in stress. There was also a rise in feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and frustration.

Based on the sessions taken on our platform, the top three concerns that emerged to be affecting stress levels are:

• Lack of work-life balance- A study conducted back in 2019 found that 60% of working Indians rate work-life balance from average to terrible. The 2020 pandemic and the consequent prolonged work-from-home situation have only made this worse. The contributing factor to this includes prolonged work-from-home which leaves many individuals feeling like they are in an “always-on” mode. Additionally, the lockdown led to a drastic change in most people’s lifestyles and routines. Many continue to struggle to maintain a proper routine amid these circumstances. Multiple studies have shown that poor work-life balance can directly impact people’s mental health.

• Anxiety- As per the YourDOST study, Indian working professionals including entrepreneurs experienced a net increase of up to 40% in anxiety due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Reasons varied from fear of contracting Covid-19 to fear of job loss, loss of pay, and burnout.

• Interpersonal Relationships- One of the more unforeseen consequences of prolonged work-from-home that is being observed is a rise in cases of marital discord, family tussle or roommate tiffs. This may be due to the incessant negativity of the current situation that requires us to put in a lot more effort to look for positivity. The consequent positivity deficit leads to unsavoury situations wherein things can become tense among the inhabitants of the house.

Q. How do stress levels in corporate workers lead to suicidal tendencies?

Purnima: Clinical symptoms of anxiety lead to loneliness which in turn gives rise to depressive tendencies and eventually to morbid thoughts. CDC reports suggest that 40% of adults struggled with mental health challenges and indulged in substance abuse during this pandemic. This situation is just not restricted to the corporate working population but also to unpaid caregivers at home like a mother or a stay-at-home spouse or domestic partner. When these people feel stressed, this topples the whole support system for a corporate worker, who has to sometimes punch in more than the regular 7 to 9 working hours a day. Increased anxiety levels lead to substance abuse, alcohol addiction, and invariably this is a downward spiral to suicidal tendencies.

Richa: Several risk factors contribute to suicidal tendencies. Studies show that job strain, longer working hours, and interpersonal issues in the workplace contribute to occupational risk factors for suicidal thoughts. Many have pre-existing mental health issues that may probably not have been addressed. During the pandemic, there were layoffs, issues with job security, pay cuts, not getting promoted, which may all trigger pre-existing mental health conditions, leading to impulsive suicidal tendencies.

Q. What should a person do if family/friends/colleagues have developed suicidal thoughts?

Purnima: The first step is to become aware of these tendencies that crop up when one is on a downward spiral. Take all signs of depression and suicide seriously. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Give this person a great deal of attention and love. Help your friend relax, do your best to reduce their anxiety levels, and divert their attention towards the present moment or share a happy memory to make them comfortable. To help them relax, you can administer the techniques of heartfulness relaxation and left nostril breathing that is available on the Heartfulness website and App.

A counselor or professional help should always be sought for your friend. Nothing can substitute medical or professional attention but until that kind of help is available, we should not give up and continue to support them through love, attention, relaxation technique, and breathing techniques. If the person is too anxious to try this, engage them in a conversation and try to soothe them with pleasant thoughts and ideas.

Richa: They can take the following steps to help their closed ones deal with suicidal thoughts:

• Ask and listen to them attentively- Take them to a private and comfortable space. Ask them if they’re feeling suicidal. Do not panic when they say yes and it is important you sound non-judgemental. Pay full attention and make them feel they are being taken seriously. Acknowledge the tough situation they are in and assure them that it is okay to feel what they are feeling.

• Motivate them to seek professional help- Make them understand that you respect their privacy and convince them to get professional assistance and speak with someone who can analyse their problem honestly and without bias or prejudice. Arrange for them to see a therapist and offer to accompany them to their first appointment

Q. How effective are counseling sessions for people who have suicidal thoughts?

Purnima: For our friends who have suicidal thoughts and to make them come out of it—it is vital to give them hope, acceptance, and encouragement to build inner strength. We need to reignite and nurture their will to see through this challenging phase. With time, thorough professional help, and dedicated follow-through, there is a good chance of recovery, fresh start, and open outlook to life. Heartfulness Institute in association with the Ripples of Change Foundation runs an initiative “Voice that Cares”—a free-of-charge psychosocial first aid public helpline—with guidance from NDMA, NIMHANS (Centre for Psychosocial Support in Disaster Management) and supported by other organisations in India. Preventive action is the most important one in such a scenario. This initiative, run on the helpline number 8448844845, is open from 9 am to 9 pm.

Richa: Counseling is significantly effective for people with suicidal thoughts as it provides them a safe space with no judgement to express their feelings. A therapist will support and give them a reason to live. It is not just helpful in the short run but in the long run a psychologist will help them identify the root cause that led to the suicidal thought. Research says that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) based interventions demonstrated effectiveness in reducing suicidal behavior. Also, through therapy, we can identify if there is an underlying mental health issue including depression and bipolar disorder oleading to these suicidal thoughts.

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The Power of Seva

Dr Chavi Bhargava Sharma

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The Power of Seva

If I were to ask you as to what differentiates the human species from other species, your response would probably be that humans are bipedal, have the power of language, are self-aware, can think, but what really differentiates us is our capacity to do “seva”, our ability to help others. Only the human species has this capacity for helping all life forms, which we call altruism, prosocial and philanthropic behaviour. But the essence is captured in the word ‘seva.’
Seva is a Sanskrit word meaning selfless service and is perhaps considered the most important part of our existence. It asks us to serve others with no expectation of outcome. A parallel western concept is volunteerism/help/service/community/social service, philanthropy, and the more contemporary and chic Corporate Social Responsibility and Institutional Social Responsibility.
Seva is a motivational state that a person possesses with the goal of increasing the welfare of another living being. While Seva, on the surface, seems to benefit others, it is actually the individuals engaged in Seva who also benefit. Seva is positively correlated with happiness, health, and well-being. People who did Seva showed greater satisfaction in life and exhibited reduced rates of depression and anxiety. So when you feel depressed, lonely, or anxious, go out and do seva. It could be working with animals, humans, the environment, etc. It is therapeutic and all-consuming and leaves no room for negativity.
While many of us feel drawn to helping others, our ego tends to drop in and voice our own thoughts. We use it to promote ourselves, our brands, and flaunt our service, which makes it counterproductive. Ego can also judge how we serve others. It may tell us that some types of service are more noble than others. “Oh, you help your neighbour once a week with her groceries? Well, I run events that serve 500 people.” “Oh, you help animals. Why don’t you help old people or children? “ This is not seva but the ego at work, because the aim of seva is to silence the ego, dissolve the ego, as all mental diseases emanate from the ego and its fears.
When we serve with the essence of seva in mind, we begin to see the myriad ways the ego, the source of all our troubles, is standing in front of the heart. When we transition from the head to the heart, then Seva becomes a practice of purification, a spiritual act. It is also in listening to the heart that we begin to understand that our innermost nature is a giving one. While the ego mind may tell us we need to focus on ourselves and even when we serve, it is when we shift into the spirit of seva that we realise we are naturally kind. In other words, we are naturally moved to serve others. It is when we do seva that we realise that all life is connected and working for others is the only path to mental fitness, wellness, and wellbeing and the royal road to spiritual growth.
The question you need to ask yourself for your happiness is, “Did you do Seva today?”

Dr Chavi Sharma Bhargava is the founder and CEO of Indic Center for Psychological Wellness and Holistic Health and Conversationists-Talking Cures. 

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Dr. Vishali Gupta becomes the first Indian in Asia to become President of the global Uveitis body

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Dr Vishali Gupta becomes first female Asian President of global Uveitis body

In a rare feat, an ophthalmologist from India, the First in Asia outside US and Europe, has become President of the International Uveitis Society Group and has been able to mark PGIMER at the global level. Uveitis is a field of medical science in which rare specialists are found and trained. The Daily Guardian had a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Vishali Gupta on this and talked about her responsibilities as president of this prestigious society.

Dr. Vishali Gupta

 What is this society all about? What is Uveitis?
The International Uveitis Study Group was formed in 1978 by a small number of clinicians who shared a common interest in Uveitis. Over the next almost 40 years, the group has increased in size to over 180 Uveitis specialists from all over the world.

What is uveitis?
Uveitis is the name given to inflammation inside the eye that, in some patients, can lead to blindness. It can affect one or both eyes, and the inflammation involves the uveal tract (iris, ciliary body, and choroid), although inflammation of adjacent tissues, such as vitreous humour, retina, and optic nerve also occurs. It could be due to autoimmune disease and seeing no age.

How long has the PGIMER been treating Uveitis, and how many experts does the department have?
PGIMER, under the stewardship of Dr. Amod Gupta, has been working in the field of Uveitis since the 1990s. Then a team of five experts inducted Tuberculosis in Uveitis for the first time in the world. PGIMER has a special clinic for Uveitis patients, and these patients’ treatments are long, sometimes lifelong. Since PGIMER has Rheumatology, Microbiology, Research Scientists, and Pediatricians all under one roof, it is easy for the patients to get the best treatment. In the other sectors, it is not that easy.

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Foods that can help you REDUCE headaches, migraine

Dr Anish Desai

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Foods that can help you REDUCE headaches, migraine

Following a healthy diet can increase longevity, protect against disease, and improve your overall quality of life. Several nutrients in food promote health and protect your body from disease. The “Food as Medicine” concept generally refers to managing food and diet in an individual’s routine, with the aim of preventing, reducing symptoms of, or reversing a disease process. Research has shown that dietary habits can influence risk factors for disease. While certain foods can trigger and aggravate health conditions, others may offer significant medicinal and therapeutic advantages.
Headaches are a common occurrence that is encountered routinely by individuals. A study conducted by Biman K Ray in 2017 revealed that the one-year prevalence of migraine in an Indian population was found to be 14.12%. Headaches can be triggered by several small incidents that might not be considered significant. Sleepless nights, skipping breakfast, work pressure or stress, and excessive blue-screen exposure are all examples of irregular routines that can cause headaches. Migraine is a disabling primary headache disorder experienced predominantly by women and triggered by hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental, and medicinal factors.
In individuals, migraine triggers can include specific foods or types of foods. Eating a healthy diet can help prevent migraines and headaches. Alternatively, certain foods can decrease the frequency of migraine headaches or lessen the intensity of their symptoms. Though no definitive ‘migraine diet’ has been described,’ individuals may be able to reduce their migraines by monitoring the food that they eat.

Foods to avoid
Nuts and certain seeds: Tyramine, present in nuts and certain seeds, can induce headaches and migraines.
Cheese: Aged cheese consists of high levels of tyramine, which aggravates migraines and headaches.
Caffeine: According to clinical studies, drinking more than one to two cups of coffee per day can cause migraines in 14% of patients. 
Chocolate: Chocolate is the most common migraine food trigger, and it has been epidemiologically linked to migraine attacks, so doctors typically advise migraine patients to avoid it.
Tomato-based products: They contain a high amount of histamine or tyramine that can aggravate migraines.
Avoid processed (packaged) foods: Nitrates and nitrites present in processed foods cause swelling of the blood vessels and can trigger migraines.

Foods to consume
Dark green leafy vegetables: Study published in BMJ Case report revealed that inclusion of leafy vegetables in meals can play pivotal role in relieving migraine or chronic headache .
Turmeric: Curcumin present in turmeric helps in relieving migraine frequency and duration.
Coriander: Consumption of coriander leads to a greater reduction in the duration, severity, and frequency of migraines.
Citron: It has reported several benefits in clinical trials however it also helps in reducing migraine intensity and duration.
Clinical trials of several herbal medicines indicate that various foods, through their multifactorial physiological influences, present potential options to improve migraine treatment.
The author is MD, Clinical Pharmacologist and Nutraceutical Physician, Founder and CEO IntelliMed Healthcare Suctions.

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Active Covid cases have decreased, with 3,947 cases reported in the last 24 hours

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COVID-19

According to Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday, India’s COVID-19 case tally increased by 3,947 in a day to 4,45,87,307, while active cases decreased to 39,583.

The death toll has risen to 5,28,629, with 18 more deaths, including nine fatalities reconciled by Kerala, according to data updated at 8 a.m.

According to the health ministry, active cases account for 0.09 per cent of total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.73 per cent.

The daily positivity rate was 1.23 per cent, with a weekly positivity rate of 1.44 per cent.

The number of active Covid cases fell by 1,167 in a single day, while the number of people who recovered from the disease rose to 4,40,19,095. The case fatality rate was calculated to be 1.19 per cent.

According to the ministry, the Nationwide Vaccination Drive has resulted in the administration of 218.52 crore total vaccine doses (94.84 crores second dose and 21.19 crore precaution dose).

Two deaths were reported in Maharashtra and West Bengal, and one each in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh. Kerala has made amends for nine deaths.

On August 7, 2020, India’s COVID-19 case tally surpassed 20 lakh, followed by 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, and 50 lakh on September 16. It surpassed 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20, and one crore on December 19.

Last year, the country passed the two crore mark on May 4 and the three crore mark on June 23. On January 25, this year, it surpassed the four-crore mark.

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PREVENTION: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY AT AGE 40

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PREVENTION: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY AT AGE 40

An individual becomes more concerned about their health as they reach a certain age. As the most vital organ of the body, the heart requires extreme care as its chances of developing cardiac diseases increase with age.
Among older people, heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity. To reduce the risk of CVD in middle age, it is recommended to maintain or increase physical activity. Dr AnbuPandian, Medical Advisor, Agatsa, shared some tips to keep the heart healthy at 40 with us.

Stay Active
The most effective way to prevent heart disease at 40 is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. If you work nine hours in an office job, take short breaks every two hours. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking short distances instead of using a vehicle or public transportation. Exercise, meditate, swim, play basketball, dance, and do yoga—whatever you love.

Exercise Regularly
Physical exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health in comparison to sedentary lifestyles in various studies. A great quality of life is dependent on a healthy heart. Maintaining a regular exercise routine will keep the heart healthy for years to come.

Regular Heart Health Check-ups
A heart health check-up is essential at every stage of life, but becomes especially crucial after age 40. There are several factors that determine how often a person should get a check-up, including smoking, alcohol consumption, heart disease in the family, being overweight, and diabetes. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should also be monitored closely. Heart diseases can be better treated if they are detected early. Once a person crosses the age of 40, a yearly checkup is mandatory. The physician may recommend more frequent check-ups if heart disease is detected.
As age increases, metabolism tends to decrease by 5 % every decade after 40. Hormonal imbalance and bone density are two other significant changes that the body registers while getting old. Increase the intake of fruits rich in Vitamin C. All citrus fruits, for that matter, have a bonus heart-healthy benefit. The best diet for preventing cardiac disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. Individuals who follow their dietary pattern have a 31% lower risk of heart disease than those who consume junk food.

Remote Monitoring Machines
Remote monitoring machines have been around for years but have gained significant prominence recently, thus resulting in high demand. Such devices are used on a daily basis to monitor diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension, and diabetes. These devices are very portable, user-friendly and capture patients’ health parameters via cables and sensors. These devices are cost-effective for patients because they reduce medical care costs and provide more timely intervention for chronic conditions. No one can slow down the ageing process. However, with proper care, one can be more fit, look younger, and lead a more energetic and active life. Life doesn’t end, but begins afresh again at 40!
The author is a Medical Advisor at Agatsa.

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Why heart attacks are on the rise among women

Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.

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Why heart attacks are on the rise among women

Heart diseases are no longer a “men’s problem” and women too are equally prone to them. According to a recent report published by the National Family Health Survey, it was found that the overall prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension in women of the age group 15–49 years is 18.69% in India, which busts the myths that heat conditions are most prevalent among men.
Several other international studies have also indicated that heart ailments are now a leading cause of death among women, resulting in ten times more fatalities than breast cancer. Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.
Why are heart diseases going undetected in women? While ensuring the well-being of their loved ones, women in India tend to ignore their own needs and often neglect their health. For instance, if a woman has mild chest pain, she would rather ignore the symptoms and focus on managing the work/household chores rather than visiting a doctor. The patriarchal setup of our society also expects women to keep the well-being of others at the forefront rather than taking care of themselves, which results in late diagnosis and is one of the primary causes of increasing heart ailments among women in the country.
As the symptoms of a heart attack are different in both men and women, many women often don’t know if they have already suffered one or two heart attacks in the past until eventually, they visit a doctor. While in men, a heart attack usually results in extreme and sudden chest pain and breaking out in cold sweats, whereas in women, the symptoms are usually mild and heart attacks can be frequent and smaller. The symptoms in women can range from jaw pain to fatigue to pain in the neck and back to sweating or just heartburn, indicating the need for them to undergo regular health check-ups and take proactive measures to ensure overall well-being.
Which age group is most susceptible to heart attacks and what are the major concerns?
Women of the age group 45–55 years are at a high risk of experiencing a heart attack due to low levels of estrogen post menopause, work and family-related stress, loneliness, and lack of physical activity. More women in this age group may go undiagnosed and have atypical symptoms compared to men.
The second most affected age group is 60 years of age, where the biological deterioration makes both men and women more susceptible to heart attacks. High cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes are also some of the main concerns that make women more prone to cardiovascular diseases.
How can women take care of themselves and keep heart attacks at bay?
There are several steps that women can take to prevent heart ailments, such as:

  1. Educate yourself and increase awareness about the risk factors that can lead to blockages.
  2. Avoid smoking or the use of tobacco.
  3. Engage in physical activities like yoga, dancing, running, and walking for 30–45 minutes every day to maintain heart health and overcome obesity.
  4. Avoid junk food, aerated drinks and adopt a balanced diet. Healthy heart diets that include complex carbohydrates, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and less sugar, salt, and fat can have a positive impact on heart health.
    Lastly, it is important to note that gender has nothing to do with heart attacks, and the condition affects both men and women equally. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular health checkups can help you get the gift of good health.

The author is a Senior Consultant at Interventional
Cardiology, Aster CMI
Hospital, Bangalore.

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