Stress affects many Singaporeans, leading them to use substances such as alcohol and drugs to cope. Try these healthy habits to relieve stress today.

Stress in Singapore

When it comes to work every job brings with it different types of stress, yet some people are better than others at managing it and some even thrive in high-stress situations. Stress can affect people at different ages and at different times during their careers but those most commonly affected by stress in Singapore tend to be in managerial positions, or professionals higher up on the career ladder. Increasing stress levels seems to be a global trend, for example in the UK calls by lawyers to a support charity increased in 2015 with 30% citing workplace stress. In Singapore doctors are said to increasingly be seeing mental health issues and burnout from stress and the Center for Psychology says that many of its clients “have resorted to alcohol abuse, obsessive compulsive behaviours, over-working, reckless sexual behaviours and infidelity, in attempts to ‘escape’ from their anxiety in the ‘play hard, work hard’ culture of Singapore.”

For Singaporeans especially, admitting to be stressed is a no-no in their culture. In 2013 Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cautioned citizens not to become preoccupied with the work-life balance as Singapore may lose its competing edge to other countries. With stress almost becoming a taboo in this society it is no wonder that drugs used to relax are increasing among the younger population.  So if stress is a reality in today’s work life then here are some tips on the best and worst ways to deal with stress.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Stress

Do exercise regularly

One of the best ways to de-stress is through exercise. Try going for a jog after work or taking a yoga class. Regardless of the exercise, moving your body on a regular basis can improve your mood, gives you feel good endorphins and releases any worries or stress you are holding onto. Not only is exercise a stress reliever, it also improves your health making you feel better overall.

Do take up a hobby

If you are not keen on exercise then try taking up a hobby instead. Painting, chess, photography, learning to play an instrument – it can be anything that allows you to take your mind off work and add something enjoyable to your life. Learning something new, practicing something regularly or even meeting new people through your hobby are all mood and energy boosters and can help relax you from everyday stress.

Don’t unwind with alcohol

While a glass of wine or a few beers at the end of a long work day may seem like a good way to relax, scientifically it does not help and can even make you more stressed in the long run by disrupting your sleep, and making you less productive and groggy the following day. Alcohol is one of the most common ways people deal with stress at work and sometimes it can turn into an addiction as it is the only way people believe they can relax and let their hair down on the weekends. If you do drink on weekdays then keep track of how many drinks you have and how often. If you think you are tallying up too many then consider talking to a professional.

Do reward yourself

If you feel stressed out then take the time to treat yourself as a reward for your hard work. Get a massage, buy a new item of clothing or treat yourself and your partner to a nice dinner. Looking forward to something nice can be a good way of balancing stress, especially if the treat happens weekly.

But don’t do it daily

Daily treats can quickly turn into habits or addictions and will no longer fell like treats. Be especially careful of smaller treats like dessert, buying something small or a glass of wine as all of these can quickly turn into process addictions, where you rely on them to trigger a feeling of pleasure.

Do leave work at work

Singaporeans work more than the global average number of hours and even admit to working while on holiday which means the lines between work and leisure time are increasingly blurred. Unknowingly, this is incredibly stressful as you are bringing work into your home, which should be a separate, relaxing space. Take time at the end of each work day to tie up loose ends and write a to-do list for the next day so you do not end up thinking all night about that email you have to send in the morning.

Don’t try to distract yourself

If you are feeling stressed take the time to actually feel it and address where it is coming from. Ignoring early signs of stress can lead to severe stress-related mental health problems later in life. If you can identify the causes of your stress and strategies to reduce it then not only will you be able to tackle the stress but you will also feel the benefit from being able to handle your feelings. Two of the biggest ways Singaporeans distract themselves from the stresses of work is through gambling and shopping, but both of these can lead to negative consequences, financial worries and even serious addictions.

Do talk about it

Talking about work stress can sometimes reduce it, after all ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Tell a friend or a colleague you are close to and trust, it may be the case that they are also stressed at work and have some tips for you. Alternatively speak to a professional therapist who can help you with coping strategies.  This is especially true if you are newly sober and trying to navigate your recovery in the workplace.

The first step to dealing with stress is admitting it to yourself. Since stress is sometimes seen as a taboo in Singapore’s extreme work culture many professionals are increasingly trying to cope by using alcohol and drugs, and some eventually become addicts. Stress relief is an important habit to develop and tackling stress the right way can bring a better work life balance and increased satisfaction with life overall.