The issue of mental health is finally starting to rear its ugly head in Singapore. All of us are busy juggling work, family and other commitments. Some may be accustomed to exorbitant amounts of workplace stress due to working overtime, office politics or even an unreasonable boss. The stress from all these issues can pile up and may even become a major problem in the future. However, Singaporeans are not the only ones with excessive workplace stress.
In Singapore, high amounts of stress are very common. According to the “Working In Asia” survey by Roffrey Park, 1000 Singaporean workers were surveyed and 52 per cent said that their stress level has gone up the past six months.
However, Singapore is not the only Asian country to have issues with workplace stress. Hong Kong has 43 per cent who have their stress level has gone up the past six months while China has 45 per cent. However, one thing all of these countries have in common is that organisational politics is one of the top reasons for workplace stress.
27 per cent of Singaporean workers said that they worked 51-60 hours a week, and 16 per cent, more than 60 hours. However, Malaysians are estimated to work an average of 55 hours a week. Despite that, their productivity is dropping, shown by AIA Vitality’s surveys of 5,300 Malaysians. 53 per cent of them are facing mental health issues yet 44 per cent of employers are not taking action about it. This has caused 67 days to be wasted due to absenteeism and presenteeism.
While these Asian countries have it bad, there one country that might have it even worse. In Vietnam, Navigos Group had a survey on 1,100 mid-level employees and 59 per cent said that their companies did not have a feasible promotion scheme, while 23 per cent disclosed their companies even had no internal promotion scheme. 59 per cent also had very little interest in work, which can be a cause of workplace stress. While working in Singapore is stressful, there are promotions to incentivise effort.
A different survey done by JobsCentral with 2,281 Singaporean respondents also tells a similar story. 60% of respondents do overtime work 3 days a week while 32% bring their work home to complete and 18% have even worked on vacation.
A study published in the National Institutes of Health indicates done over the course of 20 years concluded that work-related stress has a lasting impact on long-term health. The study also recommended modifications to the work environment such as providing opportunities for self-direction or monitoring the levels of job demand to prevent any health complications, both during work and after retirement.
Another study in the British Medical Journal states that there are several ways to tell if you are under a lot of stress. Some signs of stress to look out for include anxiety, depression, irritability and fatigue. You may also feel withdrawn, aggressive, tearful, or unmotivated or have difficulty concentrating and problem-solving. The most obvious way to tell would be through physical symptoms like nausea or headaches. Continuous amounts of stress can lead to physical ill health complications such as heart disease and diabetes.
But, a study also recommends several ways to control your stress before it can overwhelm you. One of the most important things is to be aware of the stress signs and change it when you feel it building up.
Since stress builds up gradually, dealing with it as quickly as possible will prevent future difficulty. Another way is to learn skills to actively cope and relax, or living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, eating healthily and reducing caffeine and sugar intake. This strengthens your body and allows it to resist stress better.
It is important to take care of your own well-being and reduce your amount of daily stress. Reducing stress in your everyday life is vital for maintaining your overall health, allowing you to be more productive and live longer. While everyone wants to be a good worker, sacrificing your well-being is not the way to do it.
By Muhd Farhan