How to beat stress at work

With long hours spent in the office coupled with stress-related insomnia, Singaporeans are prone to work-related burnouts. Here’s how to combat the strain and get your health in check

Many of us are familiar with the symptoms: fatigue, anxiety, getting easily irritated with colleagues. Stress at work is a growing problem around the world, and nowhere is it more prevalent than in Singapore.

A whopping 92 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed said they were stressed from work, higher than the global average of 84 per cent, according to a survey by health service company Cigna released earlier this year. Worryingly, some 13 per cent of this group said that the stress they faced was unmanageable. A lack of sleep seems to be playing a big role in this. The same survey found that Singaporeans’ physical wellness index dipped by 4.4 percentage points from last year, which was attributed to an increase in sleepless nights.

Work-related stress affects not only the health of workers, but also the productivity of companies. It tends to strike when a person has trouble coping with their workload. Not liking one’s job and problems with colleagues are other potential triggers.

Exercise, eating right or learning to relax are some of the more common ways to deal with stress. Beyond these tips, here are a few more things you can do to avoid feeling overwhelmed at work.

Sweat the big stuff

One way to keep up with your workload is to be clear on what your deliverables are and then prioritise them in order of importance. When faced with a daunting to-do-list, focus on clearing one item at a time. To ensure that your tasks don’t become unmanageable, be careful not to take on too many projects on a tight deadline. If that’s unavoidable, try to delegate to subordinates or share the burden with your colleagues if possible.

Find meaning in what you do

Any job becomes easier if it involves something you love doing. If you dread going to work every day, chances are you’re going to be stressed out before too long. Think about what gives you purpose and meaning, and consider pursuing something in that field, whether it’s helping the less fortunate or becoming a chef. This might require you to take a pay cut or go back to school, but it’s better than feeling you’re in a dead-end job.

Make peace in the office

Some of us would rather suffer in silence than air any grievances we may have in the workplace. We might not want to be seen as a troublemaker, or perhaps it’s just not in our nature to seek out conflict. Yet, keeping problems bottled up – whether it’s issues with an overbearing boss or nasty colleague – is a sure path to many sleepless nights.

So do express any problems you may be facing at work to the right parties; just be sure not to become overly aggressive. If things still can’t be resolved after this, you might want to think about requesting for a transfer or changing jobs altogether.

Leave your work at the front door

Singaporeans have the dubious honour of working longer hours than almost anyone else on earth. We have all been guilty of doing up presentations on the weekend or replying emails while on vacation. While it’s unavoidable at times, try to make it a habit to leave your work behind once you clock out. Your home is a space for you to relax, so don’t let your job invade this precious sanctuary.

It might be a good idea to spend some time at the end of each work day, writing down all the things you need to do the next morning —so that you don’t have to worry about it overnight.


When you feel a bit snowed under during the work day, take a minute to step out of the chaos. Conjure up an image of a time when you were relaxed and happy and toss those happy memories around for a minute. Hopefully, this will inject some stress-relieving thoughts in your mind and put everything happening around you in perspective.