In a fast-paced society like Singapore, working hard to provide for one’s family seems to be the acceptable, even celebrated, norm. We spend an average of five days a week at work, 9-10 hours a day in our offices, and for some of us, work creeps its way insidiously into our homes after the working hours. We receive night calls or emails that demand our immediate attention, and Whatsapp groups that seem to grow by the day with every new assignment. Being the responsible employee, we feel obliged to respond to every after-work demand, even when our family and loved ones back home beckon our return and personal attention. Stress rears its ugly head, drives a wedge between us and our loved ones, and is an energy-zapper. So, how do we deal with stress at work?
Does work always have to be accompanied with stress? How can one deal with the rising levels of work stress that has plagued many Singaporeans? How does one cope with stress? A recent study by healthcare consultancy firm Asia Care Group found that Singapore spends about US$2.3 billion (S$3.1 billion), or 18 per cent, of its total healthcare expenditure on stress-related illnesses annually. In another related study on well-being, it was found that 92 per cent of working Singaporeans reported feeling stressed, higher than the global average of 84 per cent. These statistics are staggering, but those dealing with stress at work are not without help. Here are three tips one can use or implement to better cope with work-related stress.
For many, stress levels tend to peak when faced with an insurmountable task or impossible deadline. For others, it may be an unreasonable boss or uncooperative colleague. Our default response is to direct all our energies to resolving the task at hand. We start to panic or experience a meltdown, without any clue of how to overcome the massive challenge that is before us. That is also when our stress levels rise to beyond what our body and mind can reasonably handle.
Try scheduling short breaks in between your work demands. This “disrupts” the overworking of your body and mind, and gives one the space to pause, breathe and reflect. Make a cup of coffee. Pull out your favourite snack. Take a short walk where it is convenient outside your office. Listen to relaxing or meditative music for a few minutes. During this Covid-19 period, try catching a short 10-15min power nap where time permits. Not only would you find yourself more recharged after that, you might see an infusion of new ideas and energy to carry on with the work on your plate.
Everyone needs a helping hand – even the strong. Stress does not discriminate between the mentally strong or weak. But for the latter group, its impact can be amplified many times over.
Stress unloads a huge toll on one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Many relationships break down as a result of stress. Instead of allowing stress to drive one to isolation and despair, find a suitable peer support network. If you do not have ready support, try looking for support platforms that aim to connect those who need help. At Resilience Collective, we provide a peer-powered platform for mental wellness and recovery. If you need a listening ear or wish to connect with others who might be going through the same journey of overcoming stress at work, do consider joining our peer support groups.
To discover life more deeply requires one to look beyond just the work we do. Yes, work forms the core of what we do and our contribution to society and its people. It also affirms our strengths and what we can offer of ourselves. But when we view life beyond work, we relieve ourselves of its perceived stress and its effects on us. This perspective also supports us to know how to help a depressed person. We also start to see work in light of the larger scheme of things – things that matter as much to us, or even more. Relationships and connections. Self-care and enjoyment. Health and well-being. Charity and compassion. These form the larger tapestry of what makes life truly worth living. Start looking out for these, and your current battle with work stress might just read like another David vs. Goliath account of victory against the odds.
Authored by: Clement Lim. Clement enjoys the modern buzz, but relishes good-old tradition. He values God, relationships and the written word (Word). He also starts each day with coffee – and a good dose of grace (hesed).