Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Email anxiety new health hazard for young Indian professionals
The habit of checking e-mails every 10 minutes or so caused her sleeplessness, anxiety and lack of concentration in family affairs
 
Thirty-five-year-old Shikha Girgla, a Delhi-based brand consultant and a happy-go-lucky personality for her peers, never thought that shifting office emails to her smartphone will reach a stage where she will require medical attention.
 
The habit of checking e-mails every 10 minutes or so caused her sleeplessness, anxiety and lack of concentration in family affairs. After much deliberation and counselling, she finally decided to deactivate office emails as soon as she reached home. Today, Girgla feels much better and in control of her life.
 
Like Girgla, if you too can't avoid responding to work or client emails after every few minutes, you may be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder that is debilitating and needs immediate intervention, experts say.
 
With smartphone use on a rise, email stress has become a new health hazard for young Indian professionals.
 
"Besides the immediate impact on physical health, excessive dependence on technology like checking emails every few minutes is likely to lead to poor lifestyle choices, disturbed sleep, a source of distraction and social alienation," Dr Samir Parikh, director of mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.
 
With the blurring of lines dividing work from home, individuals are being more prone to have unclear boundaries which is likely to contribute towards increasing stress levels and intermingling of roles, thereby having an adverse impact professionally, personally as well as in social aspects.
 
Earlier, workplace issues would mostly be encountered when the employee was physically present at the workplace.
 
"Now, because of instant communication, not only can he be sent an email at any time, he is also held accountable by superiors to respond to it as soon as possible," rues Dr Ajit Dandekar, head (department of psychiatry) at Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle, Mumbai.
 
Young professionals are lining up at his clinic with complaints of insomnia, anxiety and insecurity -- at the root of which lies the unhealthy work culture.
 
Constantly hounded by work communication, the stress is clearly visible on their faces.
 
"In recent years, I have counselled several young professionals suffering from an obsessive need to check email every few minutes at the cost of their sleep and general health," Dandekar said. He said this was also true for self-employed professionals.
 
Having emails accessible to us at one click can be used as a major advantage as it saves time, energy and also improves connectivity. At the same time, an excessive dependence could be aggravating.
 
"If an individual develops such a dependency, having the need to constantly check for emails regularly, this tendency could be manifested in the form of an anxiety, which would be hampering the individual's personal, social as well as occupational functioning," explains Dr Parikh.
 
According to a study released by the apex trade association Assocham in April this year, over 42 percent of employees in the Indian private sector suffer from depression or general anxiety disorder due to demanding schedules, high stress levels and performance-related perquisites at work.
 
Delhi had the highest number of such employees, followed by Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Pune.
 
According to Dr Manish Jain, psychiatrist at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, checking e-mails frequently has become a new trigger of anxiety for the working professionals who come to see him quite often nowadays.
 
"A new deadline or task can just be communicated through mail which may become a trigger for anxiety attacks for some," he said.
 
If one's work environment is extremely demanding, there is a greater likelihood of a work-life imbalance. To add to this, an excessive dependence on technology could definitely blur the demarcation between work and home, thereby leading to an overflow of stress into various aspects of the individual's functioning.
 
Such an anxiety is likely to interfere with the person's cognitive as well as social functioning. "People with mild pre-existing anxiety traits are at a higher risk," Dr Jain stresses.
 
Sleep deprivation and long-standing unattended stress are known to disturb endocrine functions and biological rhythm. This leads to various psychological and psychosomatic disorders such as depression and anxiety.
 
Self-discipline is the key when it comes to dealing with work communication.
 
Learn to say a polite but firm no when the demand on your time and body or the expectation is unreasonable.
 
"Beyond office hours, you owe your body proper sleep, relaxation, exercise and a balanced diet," the experts advise.

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Keep political parties out of campus politics: Lyngdoh
Lyngdoh said that no one had approached court for ensuring indirect elections to student bodies since all political parties wanted direct elections
 
Political parties should be kept out of campus politics and not holding indirect elections to the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) itself amounts to contempt of court, former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh has said.
 
"Whatever the size of university - big or small - no political party should be allowed. They should be kept out of campus altogether," Lyngdoh told IANS in an interview, even as various recommendations of a committee he had headed, including a ban on printed poster, are being openly flouted in the ongoing campaign for the DUSU elections.
 
He also said that no one had approached court for ensuring indirect elections to student bodies since all political parties wanted direct elections.
 
The former CEC also said that elections in DU involved big money. 
 
"DU elections are similar to those for MPs. The amount of money spent in DU elections is comparable to the expenses on a parliamentary election," Lyngdoh said.
 
Lyngdoh headed a committee that examined student union elections, following which the Supreme Court had passed orders while accepting the panel report in 2006.
 
He said the panel led by him had recommended indirect elections since Delhi University was too big. "Delhi University is too big. It encompasses semi-rural areas that people don't even know about."
 
Lyngdoh said that the intention of the Supreme Court was to control student body elections and make them disciplined. "Elections don't mean chaos; but most of these (student body) elections are chaos," he said in an obvious reference to the blatant misuse of money and muscle power.
 
Lyngdoh alleged that the then vice chancellor of Delhi University in 2006 was also obviously not sincere on the issue.
 
The DUSU elections are scheduled for September 11. Student outfits of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are battling for supremacy on the campus.
 
The human resource development ministry in December 2005 constituted the Lyngdoh committee to examine and recommend on certain aspects of the student body and student union elections in Indian universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning.
 
The committee, which submitted its report on May 26, 2006, recommended indirect elections for big universities like in Delhi.
 
"Initially, it was proposed to be indirect elections. Gradually, the whole thing should be promoted to open elections depending on the behaviour of students and conduct of elections," Lyngdoh said.
 
He pointed out that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where open elections are not allowed, also produced many politicians. "Of course, JNU is much smaller university and the student strength is small compared to the DU." 
 
Lyngdoh said while DU was at one extreme, there were universities like the Mumbai University where student elections were banned.
 
He said he believed that elections on campuses of educational institutions were essential, otherwise managements of such institutions would resort to arbitrary action against students' interests.
 
Lyngodh recalled that the panel looked into the situation in other universities as well. He said that the Lucknow University was one of the worst they came across.
 
"Evidence which came before us was astonishing. Before the student body elections, certain unions in Lucknow University go to town and ask people to contribute for elections. After winning the elections, they insist on new cars for the elected representatives of students. They compel works department of the university to shell out money and demand percentage of all contracts, both in the university and outside," he said.

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Highlights of gold deposit and bond schemes
Highlights of the two gold schemes approved at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
 

Key points of gold deposit scheme

 
- Minimum amount of gold set at 30 grams
 
- The 331 designated centres to test and collect gold from customers
 
- Gold can be in any form, bullion or jewellery
 
- A Gold savings account to be opened by customers
 
- Account to be denominated in grams of gold
 
- Centres to transfer gold to refiners
 
- Refiners to keep the gold in ware-houses unless banks want to hold themselves
 
- Refiners to be paid a mutually-decided fee by banks
 
- Customer will not be charged.
 
- Scheme available for short-, medium-, long-term periods
 
- Lock-in period can be broken with penalty
 
- Interest rate for short-term deposits to be decided by banks
 
- For medium- and long-term deposits, interest rate to be decided by government
 
- Interest rate to be denominated and payable in rupees, based on gold value
 
- Redumption of short-term deposits in cash or in gold
 
- But fractional quantity to be paid in cash
 
- Redumption of medium and long-term deposits only in cash
 
- Deposited gold can be utilised for auctioning, Central bank's gold reserves, coins, lending
 
- Tax exemptions will also be extended as applicable
 
- Gold reserve fund to be created based on borrowing cost interest rate paid 
 
- For jewellers, a gold metal loan account can be opened, denominated in grams of gold
 
- Gold mobilized under short-term option to be provided to jewellers on loan
 
- Delivery of physical gold for jewellers once sanctioned.
 

Key points of sovereign gold bond scheme 

 
- Bonds to be issued on payment of rupees and denominated in grams of gold 
 
- They will will have a sovereign guarantee
 
- Issuing agency to pay distribution costs and commission to intermediaries
 
- These will be reimbursed by the government
 
- Scheme restricted to resident Indian entities
 
- The cap on bonds per annum no more than 500 grams per person
 
- Rate of interest to be decided by government, based on market conditions 
 
- Bonds in dematerialised and paper form
 
- Denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100 grams of gold 
 
- Price may be drawn from reference rate of the central bank towards the scheme
 
- Notified agencies, like banks, post offices, and non-banking firms may collect/reem money
 
- The tenor of the bonds for five-seven years
 
- Bonds can also be used as collateral for loans
 
- Bonds to be easily sold and traded on exchanges 
 
- Capital gains tax same as that for physical gold for individuals
 
- Capital gains tax to adjust for inflation
 
- Amount received can be used by government like borrowings
 
- On maturity, redemption in rupee amounts alone
 
- Interest rate to be calculated on value of gold at investment
 
- Principal amount to be redeemed at the then price of gold
 
- If price has since fallen, depositor can roll-over the bond for three or more years 
 
- Deposit will not be hedged and all risks will be borne by government
 
- But position may be reviewed in case "Gold Reserve Fund" becomes unsustainable 
 
- Bonds to b sold by post offices, banks, non-banking firms, upon commission. 

 

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