In recent times, the narrative surrounding stress in Singapore has accentuated, with a recent study revealing that Singaporeans are more stressed than the global average.
About 16% of the participants admitted that their stress levels are unmanageable. Amidst the turbulent waves of a global stress epidemic, finding an anchor is crucial.
One remedy lying within our grasp is running, a simple yet effective way to combat stress.
Let’s explores how running can be an instrumental tool in managing stress among Singaporeans and provides tips to integrate this practice into daily life.
Inside this Article
The Global Stress Epidemic’s Impact on Singapore
The drumbeats of distress are resonating louder in Singapore, with the tempo of tension escalating steadily since 2021.
A recent revelation from the Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study 2023 unveils that a staggering 87% of Singaporeans are shouldering the weight of stress, a figure that towers seven percentage points above the global average.
The study, which engaged the voices of 10,800 respondents across 12 markets, including a spotlight on 1,000 individuals from Singapore, shone a light on the stress spectrum ranging from “manageable” to “unmanageable” stress, with a mere 13% finding themselves in the calm eye of the storm, unscathed by stress.
|Overall Stress Levels||87||7% higher than the global average, increased from 85% (2021) and 86% (2022).|
|Stress Level Categorisation|
|– Stressed but Manageable||71||Consistent figure since 2021.|
|– Stressed but Not Manageable||16||Steadily increased from 14% (2021) to 15% (2022).|
|– Not Stressed at All||13|
|Stress Levels among Gen Z (18-24)||90||Highest stress levels among all age groups.|
|High Levels of Vitality||10||Lower than Asia Pacific average of 14% and global average of 20%.|
|Financial Stress Causes|
|– Cost of Living||60||Attributed to global inflation.|
|– Uncertainty about the Future||41|
|– Personal Finance||40|
|Employer Support Preferences|
|– Flexible Work Arrangements||66|
|– Private Health Insurance Plan||63|
|– More Mental Health Support||34|
|– Subsidised Gym Memberships||26||Traditional form of health support from employers.|
The melody of malaise plays the loudest among Gen Zers, aged 18 to 24, with 90% grappling with the gnaws of stress. This demographic’s distress crescendo harmonises with a broader narrative – the culture of competition and relentless pursuit of productivity has birthed what’s now being termed as an “anxiety culture.”
This culture is deeply entrenched, creating ripples of stress that reverberate through the societal fabric, exacerbated by the omnipresence of social media, the barrage of negative news, and the skyrocketing cost of living.
Diving deeper into the data, the study orchestrates a narrative around vitality – a rhythm of resilience and an intangible zest for life, which seems to be playing on a lower key in Singapore.
A dissonance emerges when comparing the vitality notes of Singapore with the global ensemble; only one in ten Singaporeans reported high levels of vitality, a figure that falls flat against the Asia Pacific average of 14% and hits a low octave against the global average of 20%.
The financial frets are among the leading conductors of the stress symphony, with the cost of living crescendo orchestrated by global inflation tuning up the tension for three in five Singaporeans.
The refrain of financial uncertainty echoes the concerns of two in five individuals, underscoring the apprehensions swirling around future prospects and personal finance stability.
Amid the cacophony of concerns, the call for a more harmonised work-life composition rings clear. Singaporeans are voicing their desire for a more supportive conductor in their employers, with aspirations for flexible work arrangements, private health insurance plans, and a stronger emphasis on mental health support echoing through the corporate corridors.
The traditional tune of subsidised gym memberships seems to play a lesser role, resonating with only a quarter of those surveyed.
The stress narrative in Singapore is a complex composition, with multiple factors contributing to the crescendo of concerns.
As the country navigates through the intricate symphony of stressors, the call for a more harmonised approach to mental health and well-being resonates louder, urging for a collective effort to retune the rhythm of daily life and usher in a melody of mental tranquility.
The Stress-Busting Benefits of Running
Research and expert opinions highlight the beneficial impact of running on stress management and mental health. Below are some expert insights:
1. Mood Enhancement
Running and other forms of higher-intensity exercise are known to be effective in preventing depression. Engaging in at least 15 minutes a day of higher-intensity exercise such as running can significantly boost mood.
2. Stress Reduction
Running helps in reducing stress by triggering the release of endocannabinoids in the body post-run. These biochemical substances, similar to cannabis, play a role in reducing stress and easing anxiety and depression.
3. Improved Mental Health
A study suggested that even 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running can enhance mood and benefit executive function. It’s posited that running may offer more mental health benefits compared to other forms of exercise.
4. Relief of Tension and Improved Self-Image
Individuals who took up running to ameliorate their health noted mental and emotional benefits including tension relief, enhanced self-image, and better mood.
5. Mitigation of Stress Impact on Learning and Memory
Running has been found to mitigate the negative effects of chronic stress on the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for learning and memory, thus acting as a potent countermeasure against the detriments of stress on cognitive function.
These findings accentuate the holistic benefits of running, transcending the physical to include substantial mental and emotional advantages. By reducing stress and augmenting mental well-being, running emerges as a potent ally in the fight against the global stress epidemic.
The simplicity and cost-effectiveness of running make it an accessible option for many, promising a pathway towards better mental health and stress resilience.
Tips for Incorporating Running
- Start Slow: Begin with a pace that feels comfortable, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your runs. It’s crucial not to rush the process as starting too fast may lead to burnout or injury.
- Consistency is Key: Make running a part of your daily or weekly routine to reap the maximum benefits in stress reduction. Consistent running schedules can help in forming a habit which in turn makes it easier to stick to your running routine.
- Join a Running Community: Engage with running communities like those on RunSociety and Spacebib Runners Group to stay motivated and enjoy the social benefits of running. Being part of a community can provide the needed encouragement and a sense of belonging.
- Set Achievable Goals: Setting small, achievable running goals can keep you motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment which is beneficial in combating stress. Start with short distances and gradually increase as you build stamina and confidence.
- Find a Running Buddy: Running with a buddy can make the experience more enjoyable and motivate you to stick to your schedule. Choose a running partner who has similar running goals and who can encourage you to keep going, even on tough days.
- Mix Up Your Routine: Incorporate different running routes, paces, and even cross-training to keep things exciting and challenging. A varied routine can help in preventing boredom and maintaining a high level of motivation.
- Track Your Progress: Use fitness apps or a running journal to track your progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, to stay motivated and see how far you’ve come.
- Listen to Your Body: It’s crucial to listen to your body and rest when needed. Adequate recovery is as essential as the running routine itself for achieving long-term success.
- Educate Yourself: Learn about running techniques, nutrition, and recovery to enhance your running experience and to prevent injuries. Knowledge is empowering and can significantly contribute to achieving your running and stress reduction goals.
- Seek Professional Guidance if Necessary: If you’re new to running or have pre-existing health conditions, consider consulting with a healthcare professional or a running coach to ensure you’re approaching your new running routine safely and effectively.
With these tips, you are well on your way to making running a meaningful and sustainable practice for managing stress and enhancing your overall well-being.
Fighting the Global Stress Epidemic Together
The increasing levels of stress among Singaporeans is a pressing concern, but solutions like running offer a beacon of hope.
By incorporating running into our routines, we can not only combat the stress epidemic but also stride towards a healthier Singapore.
This natural stress reliever is a stride towards fostering a culture of wellness and tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
So, lace up your running shoes, hit the tracks, and let every stride take you a step away from stress and a step closer to tranquility.
What is the stress epidemic?
The stress epidemic refers to a global increase in stress levels experienced by individuals, often attributed to modern lifestyle factors, economic pressures, or global events.
What impact does the stress epidemic have on mental health?
The stress epidemic can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and burnout, affecting individuals’ overall well-being and productivity.
What are the causes of the stress epidemic in Singapore?
Factors like high cost of living, competitive work environment, and societal pressures contribute to the stress epidemic in Singapore.
How can one cope with the stress epidemic?
Coping strategies include regular exercise like running, mindfulness practices, joining supportive communities, and seeking professional mental health support.