Working Class is a series by CLEO where we ask experts and real women for job, career and salary tips. Have relevant advice to share? Contact us at

Burnout is a big problem here: according to a survey released by health service company Cigna last year, Singaporeans are among the most stressed at work globally, with almost one in eight considering their stress unmanageable. And even millennials, the energetic and ambitious hustlers we are, aren’t spared from its clutches.

Not that it’s hard to understand why—we hold ourselves to high standards and are very mindful of productivity. But we’re certainly not doing enough to help ourselves.

“Many people are afraid of actively of disclosing, or seeking help for, their mental health challenges for fear of being perceived as ‘broken’, says Ho Lee Yen, the Chief Customer and Marketing Officer of AIA Singapore. The insurer is the first in the country to provide mental health coverage.

“Or, due to lack of awareness, we may not even be aware that what we’re experiencing is a recognised mental health issue. For instance, stress can adversely affect our mental health, but many of us are so used to living a stressful life that we rarely do anything about it. And if you just joined the workforce, you’re also faced with the stressful challenge of having to assimilate quickly and climbing the corporate ladder.”

Want to minimise your odds of suffering from burnout? Lee Yen shares five tips.

1. Learn to say “no”

“It’s hard to say “no” to your boss or colleague, but you will actually be sabotaging the quality of your work or long-term happiness if you bite off more than you can chew and overwhelm yourself with tasks. Know your limits and don’t overcommit. Saying no is not a sign of weakness and giving yourself a fair amount of time to work on your tasks will set you up for greater success because you are better positioned to deliver your best.”

2. Get one more hour of sleep

“AIA’s 2019 sleep study revealed that more than half of the adults in Singapore get just six or fewer hours of sleep each night, which is one to three hours below the optimal number. Getting at least one more hour of sleep will boost your mood and energy levels significantly, and going to bed around the same time every night will have a positive effect on your health and quality of life in the long run.”

3. Make time for yourself

“‘I’ll start exercising next month instead.’ Sounds familiar? Make it a point to schedule ‘me time’. If you’re time-strapped, schedule breaks in between your work duties—this will make it a lot easier to commit to some downtime. It’s important to carve out this time even when you’re working from home in order to break up the lengthy spells of sitting.”

4. Eat well

‘The food we eat plays a huge part in promoting good health and preventing illnesses, and some would even argue that nutrition is the most important element in any healthy living regime. You don’t have to sacrifice all the food that you love; it’s all about moderation. So the next time you cook your favourite dish, try swapping the ingredients with healthier alternatives.”