It’s Proven: Working Adults Are The Most Stressed

It has been over two years since the pandemic and stress is a topic that is close and dear to all of our hearts. We’ve heard and read about how the pandemic itself had increased stress levels across all age groups and in the latest OSIM Wellness Survey 2022, it took stock of Singaporeans’ stress levels as well as coping mechanisms.

This year, a total of 432 respondents aged 16 to 70 were surveyed to examine stress levels and coping mechanisms amongst Singaporeans amidst sustained pandemic measures and concerns over the past two years. To achieve an in-depth understanding of unique stressors, the survey¹ also zeroed in on how individuals of different ages experienced, assessed and managed stress.

Ms Lynn Tan, Deputy CEO of OSIM International said, “With the effects of the pandemic and sustained uncertainty over the last two years, our intention for this year’s survey was to examine stress levels and management, and dive deeper into an assessment based on different age groups and their unique coping mechanisms. We recognise that individuals at different stages of life have very distinct priorities, circumstances, and perspectives on wellness, and as such, it is important to understand the unique stressors faced by different individuals, in order to effectively address and mitigate chronic stress. This year’s results have demonstrated that Singaporeans of all ages experience worrying levels of stress, which reinforces our commitment to developing leading innovations in wellness technology to address this pressing issue.”

Working adults most stressed

The survey found that a large proportion of Singaporeans experience moderate to high stress levels², with two in three respondents indicating so. Of the different age groups surveyed, working adults between the ages of 24 and 55 were found to have the highest concentration of respondents reporting moderate to high stress levels – 60% indicating moderate levels of stress and 12% indicating high, for a total of 72%.

Although working adults logged the highest concentration of stress amongst the three age groups surveyed, a large proportion of youths (16 to 25 years old) and seniors (56 to 70 years old) also reported moderate to high stress levels – 65% and 49% respectively.

Looking more closely at the reasons for the stress levels of Singaporeans, the survey also identified financial-related issues as the biggest source of stress across all age groups. Work, financial matters and a lack of money were cited as part of the top five stressors for all age groups. Specifically, financial matters were the biggest source of stress for Millennials (51%), Gen X (57%) and Baby Boomers (38%).

Government measures restricting social interactions most stressful

Over the last two years, there have also been a significant number of Covid-19 safe management measures introduced that impacted the routines and habits of Singaporeans. While the renewed measures announced on 24 March 2022 relaxed a range of restrictions, many will still remain in some form. Thus, the survey sought to assess which enforced changes impacted the respondents most severely in the past year. Almost two-thirds (58%) of respondents indicated that such measures caused them stress.

Specifically, respondents were most affected by limitations to social and leisure activities such as dining out, house visitation limits, and overseas travel. The largest proportion of respondents felt that vaccine-related guidelines, such as entry restrictions to malls and community facilities, impacted them the most. 26% of respondents ranked it as their top stress-causing Covid-19 measure, followed by restrictions on dining out (22%) and home visitation limits (18%). Hopefully, this would decline now that the restrictions have lessened and things are almost back to pre-pandemic situations.

By demographic segments, Gen Z considered being unable to dine out a top stressor, while Baby Boomers were the most stressed by the restrictions and limitations on visitors to households. Vaccine-related measures were the top stressor for Millennials and Gen X.

Across the board, quarantine and recovery measures, and the reporting on infection and death rates ranked the lowest.

Digital devices a double-edged sword

With increased digitalisation, digital devices have become an integral part of our lives. As a means of stress relief and well-being management, entertainment platforms such as video streaming services and social media are a common outlet for individuals.

The survey also found that the use of devices as stress relief has increased since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago, and how digital devices have had an impact on participants’ mental health and stress levels, as they live and work in a digital age.

The survey found that the use of digital devices for stress relief increased by 11% over the past two years, from 58%³ to 69%. This year’s survey found that “watching TV or videos” was the preferred mode of stress relief across all age groups. More than 60% of all respondents watched TV or videos, with those aged between 56-70 years old reporting the highest figure at 88%. In younger age groups, almost half of both Gen Z and Millennials coped with stress by using social media. However, interestingly, 21% of Millennials also cited social media as a key source of stress.

While excessive screen time and the use of digital devices may be associated with a range of negative mental health outcomes, mindful and regulated use of digital devices has also been linked with improved well-being.

People do not track or manage their stress levels

Interestingly, in spite of the increased usage of digital devices for stress relieving activities such as watching TV and videos, or social media, few stated that they used digital devices to track or manage their stress levels. This demonstrates that even though there is a high level of digital penetration, not many people fully utilise their devices as tools for stress management. Only about a quarter of respondents reported utilising dedicated tools such as health trackers, wearables, or other smart devices.

Ultimately, the survey indicates that developing better stress management habits are still imperative, as stress levels remain high while the majority of Singaporeans still report not actively tracking or managing stress, with only one in three doing so. Out of the 68% of respondents who do not track their stress levels, 64% stated that this was due a lack of knowledge that there are such devices on the market, designed to help with measuring of one’s stress levels.

So how does one measure, monitor and manage stress?

With advancements in technology, there are several devices that can measure and monitor stress – be it wearables such as FitBit or smartwatches, and even massage chairs such as OSIM’s uLove3 that uses Biosensors with ECG technology. Besides measuring and monitoring, then of course it is up to individuals to manage their stress! Remember to enjoy your hobbies (or pick up a new one), get regular massages to ease those tensions and have social interactions with loved ones. Enjoy your life and don’t get bogged down by stress!

¹The OSIM Wellness Survey 2022 was carried out by Singapore-based market research firm, Black Dot Research.

²Between 6 and 10 on a Likert scale

³Data gathered from the OSIM Wellness Survey 2020


Images: OSIM International

Leave a Comment