PURE Group’s “How ‘Well’ Are We?” report uncovers our biggest causes of stress and changes to our collective mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Work-related stress eased slightly for Singaporeans during Circuit Breaker, while financial stress was considered more severe
- Most Singaporeans reported an average of 6.5 hours’ sleep per night during Circuit Breaker, with 37% getting less sleep overall
- 1 in 5 reported mental health issues during Circuit Breaker, especially among the 25-34 age group
- Two thirds of Singaporeans still don’t take regular breaks when working from home, while one quarter say their work-life balance has “blurred”
- Half of Singaporeans aren’t satisfied with their nutrition; 95% want to improve their diet
- Circuit Breaker has made people more aware of their mental health, with 65% intending to engage in mindfulness and meditation activities
SINGAPORE – COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken its toll on most Singaporeans, but a new report has delved into the biggest stressors brought about by the pandemic, and how this stress affects our sleep, nutrition, ability to exercise, and our emotional and mental health.
The ‘How ‘Well’ Are We?’ report by PURE Group found most Singaporeans (89%) don’t get enough sleep and point to stress as their biggest barrier (50%) to relaxing and switching off. Things like excessive screen time (35%) and long working hours (21%) have also gotten in the way of our sleep since the onset of COVID-19.
The study, which surveyed over 1,000 Singaporeans between the ages of 18-60 and of varying genders, ethnicities, and income levels, found that overall, fewer people were satisfied with their health and wellness during the Circuit Breaker period early this year (65%, as compared with 71% in 2019). Interestingly, when asked how they assess the components of their health and wellness, 76% of Singaporeans point to both physical and mental health as being most important, followed by emotional health (72%).
While the report uncovers a wealth of insights, it’s clear a lack of sleep is closely linked with various stressors. In fact, only 17% of respondents clocked a full 8-9 hours of rest before COVID-19, with the majority averaging 6.4 hours of sleep per night. While the number of people getting 8-9 hours increased slightly to 21% during Circuit Breaker – no doubt because they were spending more time at home – overall, 37% of Singaporeans achieved less sleep.
While overall stress levels dipped from 90% in 2019 to 84% during Circuit Breaker, the type of stress experienced shifted with the change in lifestyle and personal circumstances brought on by the global pandemic. For example, while work-related stress still affected the most people, 70% of respondents claimed financial stress was most severe. This was also true of relationship stress, which 62% of people labelled as severe during Circuit Breaker.
The research also confirmed a well-known fact that sleep deprivation can impact a person’s psychological state and mental health. Nearly two in 10 Singaporeans suffered from mental health issues during Circuit Breaker, 40% of whom attributed this to sleep related problems. Interestingly, women (18%) and younger Singaporeans aged 18-24 (30%) experienced higher instances of mental health issues than any other demographic.
According to the report, 45% of Singaporeans were dissatisfied with their nutritional intake during Circuit Breaker. Of the reasons given for this, many said they were trying to save money (35%) and felt it is too costly to eat healthily (28%). However, one encouraging finding is that more than 95% of Singaporeans are keen to improve their nutritional intake, although many lack the knowledge to make healthy choices.
When it comes to staying active, Singaporeans do not fare too badly – but long working hours and being stuck at home has impacted overall activity levels. In fact, 95% of Singaporeans feel they are not achieving their health and wellness goals due to lack of time and motivation. However, one positive outcome of Circuit Breaker was that 63% of Singaporeans did more indoor exercises, a significant jump from 2019 (48%). Moreover, since the Circuit Breaker period, 52% of Singaporeans say they have prioritised more regular exercise.
The cost of health and wellness services is also a concern for many (21%). Therefore, support from employers can significantly encourage people to manage burnout and better tackle sedentary lifestyles.
“Anecdotally, we have all had our emotional struggles during this pandemic and the Circuit Breaker period, and our research clearly shows a strong link between the type of stressors we are experiencing and a lack of sleep – which has repercussions across all aspects of our health and mental wellbeing. However, it’s encouraging that Singaporeans have indicated a greater desire to take charge of their overall wellbeing, but many still need the guidance around both exercise and nutrition to help them meet their goals,” said Vikram Natarajan, Managing Director – Mainland China & Singapore, PURE Group.
“While regular physical activities must become a part of our daily lifestyles to de-stress, relaxation and mindfulness techniques have also shown to ease anxiety and stress levels. Given stress is mostly tied to the workplace, employers should be championing mindfulness and providing access to relevant resources to help people take regular breaks and better manage burnout and stress,” he added.
Click here to view the full report, which explores in detail several aspects of public health such as nutrition, wellness and technology.