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Stifling Stress in Singapore

Stress in Singapore is the top risk with regards to employee health. That was the finding of the recently released Willis Towers Watson’s 2015/2016 Global Staying Work survey. Furthermore, this fact is a continuation of Willis Towers Watson’s 2013/2014 edition of the survey. That means that stress has been a major issue for workers in Singapore for some time now, as you likely can attest.

What you may not know, however, is exactly what the impact of stress on our day-to-day and long-term health can be. With this in mind, Pacific Prime Singapore presents this article highlighting the areas where Singapore can improve with regard to workplace stress. Also included is information regarding the effects of stress on health that you should know about.

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Statistics

44% of Singaporean employers offer any type of health, wellness and physical fitness program, which provide both nutrition and exercise related benefits, as well as on-site health clinics and screenings. The biggest reasons that companies cite for implementing these types of programs range from boosting program engagement, improving productivity, increasing workplace safety, and raising health and risk awareness.

The previously mentioned Willis Towers Watson’s survey had many interesting results concerning benefit programs implemented by Singapore employers. One of the trends pointed to within it is that these programs commonly lack personalization and measurement of results.

One of the most common questions that one might assume employers would ask about their benefit programs is, “Are they working?” Well, it can be hard to know, because measurement of the results of these types of programs is far from adequate. In fact, only 6% of Singapore employers utilizing health and wellness schemes measure effectiveness on a regular basis. This pales in comparison to the global average of 22%, or the U.S. average of 39%.

Of course, the onus of Singapore worker stress does not simply fall upon the programs that companies offer. There are many other factors involved as well, including those related to poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and sleep, though some of these can be exacerbated by being overworked and lack of work-life balance.

Sources of stress

A 2014 poll by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board found that a quarter of workers in the city consider themselves to have ‘high’ levels of stress, which was up from 20% the previous year. Meanwhile, a Jobstreet.com survey revealed that 55 percent of respondents in Singapore believe that stress is a major reason for their mental fatigue on the job.

Additionally, a 2015 survey by Regus reported that 55% of business owners and senior managers are under more pressure now than they were 5 years ago. It went on to elaborate some of the common occurrences that respondents found most stressful, including last minute meeting changes, working beyond normal office hours, and the commute to work. On a global scale this survey found that the biggest factors owing to workplace stress were being understaffed, inconsistent IT support, and a lack of exercise. It’s easy to see that our careers can be a great source of stress.

Outside of work, we all know that stress comes from just about every direction in our lives: Relationships, life changes, money, social interactions, our environment, fears of all kinds, traumatic accidents and events (both personally and on a global scale). Even our health can be a source of stress, which is ironic given that stress can also have a profound negative impact on our health.

Effects of stress

Stress can have both long and short-term effects on health. Some of the short-term effects include:

  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of mental acuity

To many of us, these short-term symptoms of being overly stressed don’t seem that bad. When you look at the long-term symptoms, however, they become more serious. These include:

  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Arthritis flare-ups
  • High Blood pressure
  • Asthma attacks
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Fertility issues
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart attack
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers or heartburn
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or cramps

Managing stress

As you can see above, ensuring that we are properly handling the stress in our lives is necessary not only to preserve our sanity but prevent a whole host of health problems. So how is this best done? Firstly, taking advantage of any programs available to us should be a priority. If our employers or other organizations we’re affiliated with have resources available that are meant to improve our health, we would be doing ourselves a disservice to ignore them, not to mention a waste of company money. Most of these resources will focus on a balance of diet and exercise,  as well as getting enough sleep, and so should you.

Beyond this, it’s important to identify the biggest sources of stress in your life so that you can focus on eliminating them. Whether this is by altering how you approach stressful situations, or simply avoiding sources of stress altogether, the first step to fixing any problem is admitting that it exists.

Other types of stress reduction include relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques. Find some time to work these into your schedule to see if they are effective for you.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we simply will not be able to eliminate stress from our lives, which can lead to health problems. And for expats in Singapore, it is often the best (if not the only) option to seek treatment at private medical facilities in the city-state, which can be quite pricey. That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive health insurance plan that can allow for treatment of the ailments listed above. For this reason, you should get in touch with insurance professionals, like those at Pacific Prime Singapore, for advice on obtaining the best plan for your needs. Contact us today and our agents can provide you with free plan comparisons and price quotations on plans from Singapore’s leading insurers.

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