New Delhi | PTI: Insomnia, restlessness, backaches, stress and anxiety are among the side effects employees are facing from prolonged work from home as India entered the fifth week of the lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Several companies and firms have shut office operations after the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24. Initially imposed for 21 days, the lockdown was later extended to May 3.

Suresh Sharma is a Delhi-based techie who said he spends most of his time either in front of his laptop screen or on his mobile phone.

"I was initially enjoying working from home. However, with the passage of time, I realised it had taken a toll on my health. While working in my office space, I would be attending meetings and interacting with people. But, now, absolutely everything is online," he told PTI.

Sharma says back problems have cropped up and headaches have become frequent.

For Geeta Malhotra, Bengaluru-bases techie, work from home has not only blurred the line separating her personal and professional life, but has also made her insomniac.

"I am eating whenever I want. Sometimes two meals a day, sometimes four times a day. The little walking I used to do has also stopped. I have put on four kgs of weight since the lockdown and I am having trouble sleeping at night so much that I have been sleeping for less than four hours," was quoted as saying by PTI.

Like Sharma, Geeta too has complained of suffering from headaches frequently.

According to estimates, several large IT companies have 90 to 95 per cent of its employees working from home.

In order to keep the body and mind fit, Health experts have advised people to practice meditation and do physical exercises.
People should also use this opportunity to pursue their hobbies to de-stress, they said.

According to Preeti Singh, a clinical psychologist at the Paras Hospital in Gurgaon, people might be experiencing these issues as they are not getting enough opportunity for physical activity. This is also sometimes due to lack of motivation or anxiety, she added.

"Work load has increased along with responsibilities at home, this has left people exhausted. Insomnia might have become a problem as many are tensed over job security," Singh said.

Shailaja S, who works is an architect in Bengaluru, said she has been having "anxiety attacks and nightmares".

"When at work, I would see my colleagues, go on coffee or lunch breaks, but now I am sitting at home the whole day working," she told PTI.

"I am always restless, I keep checking my phone assuming there is a message from office. There is no respite even after working hours are over, as I keep getting work messages," PTI quoted her saying.

Rahul Kumar, a consultant with a Gurgaon-based multi-national company, said his body posture has worsened and he is suffering from severe back pain, restlessness and anxiety.

"In the first two weeks, I was relaxed but as time passed, I have been restless and anxious. My diet and exercise routine have all been hit. Now all I do is sit in front of the computer and work in my room," Kumar said.

Some health experts also said that distressing news on the novel coronavirus pandemic is also taking a toll on the mental health of people.

Pankaj Gupta, president, Indian Institute of Health Management Research University, in Jaipur, said distressing information related to the coronavirus is making people scared and worried about their and their family's health.

"We know that good mental health promotes good physical health, therefore involve yourself in dancing, yoga, gardening that brings in positive thoughts and happiness," he said.

Shanu Srivastava, a senior psychologist at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre advised people to limit news consumption on COVID-19.

He said frequent updates on the pandemic is creating anxiety and insomnia in many people.

The government has launched a toll-free helpline number - 08046110007 -- for people who may face any mental health issue due to the ongoing countrywide lockdown

In a document, the Union Health Ministry said staying at home can be quite nice for some time, but can also be boring and restricting. It advised people to stay busy and distract themselves from negative emotions by listening to music, reading, watching an entertaining program on television, pursuing hobbies, and doing simple indoor exercises.

According to the latest data by the Union Health Ministry, the deadly coronavirus disease has claimed the lives of 934. There are 21,632 active cases of COVID-19. At least 6868 people have been cured of the infection.

Posted By: James Kuanal