Burnout is real — so real, in fact, that the World Health Organization included it in its International Classification of Diseases. And it happens to be a major problem here in Singapore, says Dr. Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre.
“Personally, I do believe that burnout is a big problem in Singapore as we hold ourselves to high standards and are very mindful of productivity,” explains Dr. Leng. “Also, Singapore is an extremely competitive and materialistic society. As such we hold our jobs and job titles in high esteem and are afraid of losing our jobs.” So, yes, burnout is real. Fortunately there are ways to avoid it, and we’ve listed it here:
1. Resolve To Set Clear, Realistic Expectations
Burnout can be caused by internal and external pressure, whether it’s you having too high standards for yourself, or others at work placing too much expectations on you. It is, thus, critical to avoid this scenario. To do so, ManPowerGroup Singapore country manager Linda Teo recommends setting expectations from the get-go. This is basically a sit-down between you and your manager, where you and your manager can set realistic performance targets and manage expectations.
2. Practice Breathing Exercises
An Asia One article on avoiding workplace burnout suggests beginning work with meditation or visualisation sessions, as each can let you form deep connections with feelings of productivity and accomplishment. But it might be difficult to do either once your workday is in full swing. In this case, practicing breathing exercises is an excellent alternative. Writer Sheena Dizon of Pain Free Working details the benefits of breathing exercises, which include releasing body tension, improving mood, and alleviating headache. One exercise you can easily do in the office is 4-7-8 breathing, where you inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold it in for 7, then releasing forcefully on count 8. It will get you feeling better in no time.
3. Own Your Break Time
Lunch break and every other break are yours. They’re not just time for you to eat. They’re your me-time during work hours too, so treat them as such. Don’t do working breaks. Instead, just relax and enjoy your food. Use extra time to do me-time things, like reading a book, or even meditating. In short, take full advantage of your breaks to do things that will help you relax.
Don’t make being busy an excuse not to exercise, as it is good for you. Forbes contributor Ashley Stahl enumerates the benefits of exercise to one’s physical and mental health. Of note, regular workouts improve self-confidence and memory, and enhance productivity. They also prevent cognitive decline, as well as reduce levels of stress — in essence, they do wonders. A structured exercise program isn’t even a requirement; just find time to move about a lot. You can walk (or run) to work, you can take the stairs, or you can stretch once in a while. You can even do exercises at your desk, or deskercises, like triceps dips and bodyweight squats.
5. Participate In Social Activities
As Harper Reid explains in his article ‘5 Keys to Building a Great Company Culture’, social activities improve any work environment, and are a great way for employees to nurture collaboration at work and cultivate friendships outside of work. Both, incidentally, can help you avoid burnout. Better collaboration makes work easier, while having friends at work means having a support system in place in case stress begins to creep in.