Singapore is often labelled as a stressful and difficult place to work. As one of the most overworked city in the world, behind only Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur1, workers in Singapore need to find their own ways to unwind.
Burnt out employees may not only find less fulfilment in their work, but could also turn out to be less productive workers, taking less initiative at the workplace and delivering poorer quality work. This will likely lead to a vicious cycle that will be difficult to get out of.
Here are 18 ways you can prevent yourself from burning out. Some of these are quite logical, others seemingly understandable and yet others so quirky, they may actually just work.
Things you can do at your workplace
Here are some things that may help you stay focused and happy at work.
# 1 Take Breaks From Your Work Station
Walk away from your desk as periodically during the course of the work day. Use this time to stretch, grab a drink or rest your eyes. The logic behind this is simple – complete little tasks at a time and take a breather when you find yourself losing focus. This way, you'll enjoy several breaks each day, especially when you're becoming unproductive, and come back refreshed and perhaps even with new ideas. Just avoid disturbing your colleagues during these minibreaks, unless they too are taking a breather.
# 2 Prioritise Problems
Every day, we're bombarded with numerous things we need to get done at work. The truth is that not all of them need to be done right away – bump less crucial tasks to the back and look into the more important and urgent tasks first. You need to know how to prioritise work because you can't possibly finish everything in a single day, everyday.
# 3 Have a work-husband or wife
No, we're not telling you to cheat on your significant other. While this may be filed in the "quirky" cabinet, having a work-spouse can be beneficial in alleviating work stress. Find someone you can trust to have your back, will split your workload with you and even update you with the latest office gossip.
# 4 Lunch away from your work station/ place
Cooping yourself up in the office may just give you more stress without solving any problems. Go out for lunches and interact with colleagues or meet friends who work nearby. You'll come back to your desk much more refreshed.
# 5 Get involved in any extra-curricular activities at the workplace
Take up extra-curricular activities, such as inter-department projects, the run club or even the committee organising the annual D&D. This allows you to interact with different people in the organisation who you usually wouldn't work with. This also adds a different dimension to your work life, with activities you are involved in also doubling up as a form of stress-relief.
# 6 Designate time for "mini rewards" at work
Allocate time each day where your break time includes having a cup of green tea, a healthy snack or catching up with the news. You'll look forward to these break times each day as a form of "mini reward" for having completed your work.
Things you can do outside of your workplace
What you do away from your office is just as important as what you do in the office. While you may think that once you're out of the office, you won't be so stressed about work, it can still play on your mind. Here are some ways to avoid this.
# 7 Surround yourself with positivity
Surrounding yourself with "complainers" or people who are negative can fuel your pessimism or stress. Rather than worry about your work, you may just end up worrying about a whole bunch of other things that may not even be directly relevant to your career. These may include the recognition that you're receiving in the office, what people are saying about you, the promotion you should have gotten or the lower than "market rate" bonus that you received.
# 8 Plan outings with friends and family
This gives you something to look forward to each weekend or even during weekday nights. No matter how busy or stressed you may be, you'll have a focal point to look towards. Plus, being with friends and family is usually fun and entertaining, unless of course they are people who tend to "complain". In that case, go back to point 7.
# 9 Pamper yourself
We're not telling you to go blow your money on a $5,000 luxury bag or watch. We're just saying that amid all the sound financial advice to be frugal and thrifty for your future, you should still be able to afford the time and money to feel good about yourself. Pampering yourself with gifts to look and feel better can actually boost your confidence.
# 10 Try scream therapy
Remember seeing that movie where the lead actress tells the lead actor that he needs to let off steam by yelling really loudly at a secluded spot. If you've a lot of pent up frustrations, vocalising it (at the top of your voice) could be cathartic. Singapore's first rage room – the Fragment Room – has made a business of letting people smash stuff up while yelling. Or you could find your own secluded spot (may be tough in Singapore) to scream as loudly as you want.
# 11 Disconnect from the digital world
Constantly being plugged in on emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and various other social media platforms can be stressful. Take time to disconnect from the digital world and make real life connections with people. It helps.
# 12 Get a massage
A massage is still a great way to relax and relieve the tension in your body. It's not just about the massage really. It is the atmosphere you are in – the soothing music, soft lights, aroma – that makes it easy to unwind and forget what you were stressing over.
Things you can incorporate in your lifestyle
Lifestyle changes are also impactful if we want to tackle stress. It doesn't help if we lose our cool or binge eat or run away from stressful situations. Here are some ways you can change your lifestyle to fight stress better.
# 13 Start going to yoga or aerobics classes
The first thing that comes to your mind is "oh, keep fit". True, but not quite. Specifically, yoga and aerobics teach you to be in control of your movements. Yoga incorporates some form of meditation and spirituality while aerobics encourages you to be really pumped up, releasing endorphins and increasing energy levels. At the end of the day, if your body feels better, so does your mind.
# 14 Develop a creative hobby
Many workplaces are structured around deliverables and deadlines. Embarking on a creative hobby such as sculpting, photography, cooking or dancing allows you to exercise your left brain and gets you to see the world differently. Being creative may also end up helping you view challenges at work from a different perspective or could allow you to explore your true passions. Whichever way you look at it, being creative helps build you as a person.
# 15 Eating Healthy
You knew this was coming didn't you. The benefits of eating healthy cannot be played up and literally everyone knows it, so it's a wonder more people aren't doing it.
Eat your greens, and some fruits. Nuff said.
# 16 Volunteering your time
There's hardly enough time in a day to finish your work, spend time with the people you care about, and get enough sleep. However, when you volunteer your time to a cause you believe in, you expose yourself to so much more. Knowing that you've made a difference in someone's life can be a powerful feeling. Many times, you end up realising that the stress in your life is easy compared to what others are going through.
# 17 Kissing
Yes, you heard that right. When you kiss someone, you're being intimate and you're letting your guard down. At the same time, kissing releases hormones including dopamine and oxytocin that can stimulate feelings of love and calmness respectively.
# 18 Soak in sunshine
Literally, and not just for its Vitamin D. Many people in Singapore are cooped up in offices, at home or in shopping malls. By going outdoors, you soak in the sunshine, and you're more likely to be active in general – walking or participating in a physical activity.
Do what gives you the greatest satisfaction
This list isn't meant to be prescriptive. Rather, you need to find #WhatsYourWhy to excel at work and embark on activities that hold meaning for you.
You can choose which on the list you think will work best for you or even kickstart participation in other activities that you've always wanted to try. Either way, if you find yourself being bogged down at work, some change is better than continuing down the rabbit hole.