Long-term exposure to work stress can lead to occupational burnout. The Department of Internal Medicine at SGH shares its symptoms, prevention tips and complications.
Continued from previous page.
Warning signs of burnout
Watch out for warning signs that you are experiencing too much stress.
- Are you having trouble sleeping or eating?
- Have you lost interest in activities that you previously enjoyed?
- Do you have persistent headaches and body pain?
- Do you feel exhausted all the time, or fall sick often?
- Do you feel anxious, irritable or restless most of the time?
“When a person’s self-worth is tied to his or her work performance, he or she is more likely to suffer from job-related stress,” says
Dr Fong Yuke Tien, Senior Consultant and Director of Occupational Medicine,
Department of Internal Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
SingHealth group. Indeed, certain personality types are more prone to job stress. That’s the case for type A personalities who tend to be impatient, inflexible, worrying, self-blaming, and excessively goal- or achievement-oriented.
When job stress is compounded by loneliness, financial burdens, marital or relational problems, alcoholism and illness, burnout looms.
Tips to prevent burnout
- Start by identifying the stressors in your life.See if you can eliminate some of them.
- Ask yourself if you are being unrealistic in your commitments or expectations.
- Take a course on proper time management and/or relaxation techniques.
- Get sufficient sleep as well as regular and balanced meals.
- Engage in regular exercise, even if for just a few minutes every day.
- Don’t hesitate to talk it over with family, friends, colleagues or a health care provider.
Managers can be part of the solution
Managers should be alert to warning signs of staff burnout and depression, such as absenteeism, habitual lateness, low morale and lack of motivation.
Managers can also do their part by not overloading their employees, having realistic expectations of staff performance and keeping communication channels open through regular staff dialogue and feedback sessions.
Stress: your health at stake
Over the long term, exposure to excess cortisol and other stress hormones can increase your risk of developing health problems such as:
- Digestive problems (stomach ulcers, diarrhoea)
- Eating disorders (loss of appetite, overeating)
- Heart disease
- Sleep disorders
See previous page to
learn how work stress affects males and females.