Are you stressed and feel guilty at the thought of “doing nothing”? You’re not alone. A recent survey of 600 Singaporeans by Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) found that 57 per cent of us want to take a break from the daily grind, but feel guilty when we actually do as we feel that the time could be spent on something more “productive”.
And we’re not just talking about going on holiday or taking an extended period of leave. According to the survey (which was conducted as part of Sentosa’s Make Time campaign), half of us feel trapped in a routine we can’t escape but are at the same time stressed by the thought of “doing nothing”, while 74 per cent of survey respondents wished more time could be spent with loved ones.
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But why do Singaporeans feel this way?
Dr Tan Ern Ser, an associate professor at the NUS Department of Sociology, believes that this unhealthy obsession with being constantly “productive” can be due to us internalising the “high expectations that bosses, parents, teachers (and even significant others) place on us, and allowing these expectations to control us.”
“We often feel that if we take our foot off the pedal, we would be evaluated negatively, which would affect our standing in the competitive workplace,” he continues. “Taking breaks may be seen as a sign of weakness, unreliability and malingering.”
We tend to agree with him. How many of us tend to check our emails even on holiday?
The Importance Of Detaching From Your Desk
But if we want to have better work-life balance, then we need to start by consciously detaching our minds from work once we’re out of the office. For deskbound workers like you and me, it can be hard at first, of course.
“Being able to let go and detach oneself psychologically from stressful work routines can be rather difficult,” Dr Tan says. “However, it is important to learn to counsel yourself that letting go can prevent burnout. More positively, it can enable you to recharge and eventually tackle the difficult situation from a position of rest and strength.”
Ultimately, we need to recognise that mental wellbeing can make you a better employee, a better parent, a better friend and a better coworker.
To start, here are eight tips to help you detach from the daily grind and achieve better work-life balance: