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25 July 2022
SOURCE: CPF Board
If ‘tired’ is the first word that comes to your mind every day when you wake up to go to work, then chances are your work (or workplace) is becoming detrimental to your personal mental health.
Our ‘hustle’ culture can be unforgiving. This may result in us having to sacrifice our personal well-being, be it intentionally or unintentionally. But that shouldn’t be the case. For those of us who spend more time in the office than at home, it is vital to build wellness at the workplace as well.
The Government has also recognised this and have started launching initiatives to promote mental and physical well-being in the workplace. One of the focus areas of the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being is to improve workplace well-being measures and employment support.
While wholesale changes do not happen overnight, you can start helping yourself by taking steps to care for your own mental health at work too.
Is achieving work-life balance real?
While it sounds ideal, it is not realistic to work towards having a perfect schedule. Aim for something more achievable instead. There will be days when you’ll have to log more work hours because of peak periods or impending deadlines but be intentional about having more personal time in the days after. Instead of chasing after work-life balance, start with using your downtime to find your purpose or figuring out what you really want to pursue in life. Even if what you do at work isn’t your passion, having that balance helps you feel recharged and ready to go to work.
Learn to also take breaks in-between work as well. Enjoy your lunch without worrying about your tasks. Even though this is prevalent in Singapore’s work culture, try to avoid talking about work-related stuff with your colleagues unless you absolutely have to.
You can take frequent breathers without compromising on quality and efficiency at work.
A simple way to do this is via the Pomodoro Technique, where you break your working hours into 25-minute chunks separated by 5-minute breaks in between. After working for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break to recharge, work another 25 minutes, and take another break and repeat it until the end of the day. You can tweak the chunks of time as needed. This allows for increased efficiency, while having more personal time.
Remember, balance is achieved over time, not just in a day or week.
It is human nature to want to be an environment that you feel comfortable in. This often means being surrounded by people you like.
Establishing strong working relationships with your colleagues is important. Nobody wants to be fighting solo battles and/or avoiding office politics every day. You don’t necessarily have to be friends but try to build rapport and eventually trust with the people you work with.
The right environment applies to your physical space as well.
Working from home gives you the flexibility of customising your workspace to your own needs. Try to make your workspace feel different when you’re at work and when you’re off the clock. Visual cues through the switching of lights could do the trick. Have bright lighting during work hours, and switch to mood lighting while off work to help you relax. Engage your sense of smell by lighting up scented candles or turn on aroma diffusers in the evening or during the weekends. This gives your brain the signal that it’s time to wind down, allowing you to relax subconsciously.
However, working from home can sometimes blur the lines between work and non-work hours, so you must be disciplined and set boundaries. And of course, working from home if you have kids brings along a different set of considerations.
Discover how to make the best out of being a work from home parent.
It is important that you communicate honestly and openly with the people you work with. Don’t bottle everything within and allow your unhappiness to build. Often times, small misunderstandings between colleagues can fester and lead to conflicts. So, nip any potential problems in the bud by talking things out with the people you work with. This will lead to mutual understanding and build trust. Work can be stressful enough, so it helps to have the support of your colleagues.
And it’s ok to tell your boss that you’re unhappy. Initiate open conversations, and always remain calm and professional instead of taking things personally. Try to work together through any issues you might have, whether it’s about job performance/expectations or financial concerns. For example, if you want to ask for pay raise, come prepared to show why you deserve it. Don’t show up with just your thoughts and feelings and nothing tangible. This would be akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight.
If you’ve tried the above tips and still find yourself dissatisfied, then perhaps it’s time to consider a change of scenery. By dragging out this decision, you might become distracted and disengaged, and there is no benefit to your mental health when you feel unhappy about going to work every day. This is a lose-lose scenario for both you and your company.
Remember to evaluate your priorities and list down your non-negotiables before you start looking for your next job. This process can help you understand the reasons behind your unhappiness and shift the focus back to your career development.
Some of you might be making a different transition, which is moving towards a brand-new stage of life called retirement. It is uncharted territory, not having to work for the first time in years – what are you going to do now?
For those who are in the pre-retirement stage of your career, you might be feeling anxious about having to make such a massive life change. While retirement is an exciting new chapter of your life, to truly live your best life in your golden years, take the Vitamin Cs of ageing healthily:
Remember that retiring from work does not mean retiring from life. You should not go to the sudden extreme of all play and no work. Instead, seek the right balance between pursuing your purpose and relaxing. If you love your work, continue doing it but on your terms. Work for life, not for a living.
Again, without proper financial health, even the best plans can fall apart. Your CPF LIFE monthly payouts can give you the financial peace of mind to do what you want to do without worry. From the day you started working, your retirement savings have been steadily growing. You can continue to make use of CPF’s interest rates and the effects of compound interest to boost your retirement income steadily.
Start building positive habits and cultivate your mental wellness at work – this will lead to a positive impact on your overall happiness and wellbeing.
Check out other articles in our wellness series to stay well and healthy!