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5 minute read

Having Issues With Work Stress and Want to Quit? Here Are Some Factors to Consider

Quitting a job isn’t the worst thing, but at least consider all the options and solutions before you do.

A report by the Straits Times in late 2023 said that more young workers are taking extended breaks from work, with these time-outs lasting months or even a year, and often due to burnout or the need to find a career change.

One 35-year-old media professional said in the report that he was so stressed he struggled to sleep, lost his appetite and frequently had nightmares about work. He felt his work environment was hostile and had issues getting along with his employers. Despite having worked at the company for over two years, he ended up leaving the role without a new job.

“Just a month before I tendered my resignation, quitting without a new job was never an option. It was just too risky and not the kind of work ethic I was raised to have.

“Of course, I’m worried about how the future will look, but I know I am very privileged to be able to take this option, and right now, I’m feeling optimistic.”

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Of course, there’s certainly nothing wrong with avoiding burnout and taking a career break if you feel the need to. But, if you can prevent your inner frustrations from reaching a point where quitting seems like the only option, that would be optimal for both your mental health and career as well, of course.

As it stands, according to a Ministry of Manpower spokesperson quoted in the report, 20% of younger young professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) have taken breaks between jobs in recent years.

This group of Singapore residents in their early 30s who left the workforce held PMET jobs previously indicated in the ministry’s national survey that they were taking breaks, and not seeking work for a short period of time to pursue personal interests and hobbies.

Here are some tips that could help alleviate work-related stress, deescalate any workplace conflicts that might be bothering you, or even consider if a new career path would be really the best option:

1. You can’t get along with your boss or colleagues

This happens often enough. After all, we’re all different with various personality and psychological preferences. While being best friends with everyone at the workplace is always a long shot, understanding these differences can be a big help. That’s why personality tests such as the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and other similar indicators have become popular in recent decades.

For example, some bosses could be demanding, bold or charismatic, while others might be more relaxed or laid back, and a successful workplace collaboration will depend on how that matches your own personal preferences and personality.

But it’s also crucial to remember that how you perceive someone isn’t always who they really are. Don’t let your own personal preferences or what you’ve heard from other colleagues define everything you think about co-workers.

If your workplace or human resource department has personality tests available, take them and try to understand your colleague’s results to see if they help you understand them better. You can also reference your own results and explain your point of view in personal meetings with them, which will help them understand you better as well!

2. You work in a customer-facing role, and it’s taking a toll

We totally get it – front-facing roles can be tough and stressful. Even if you bring your A-game to work, unexpected situations and unhappy customers or clients can eat away at you. After some time, even if you’re doing well career-wise, quitting can feel like the easiest option.

Ultimately, remember that such confrontations happen because customers or clients are not getting what they want, and this would still be the case even if someone else were handling them instead of you!

While there’s little that can be done about the day-to-day interactions as part of the role, changing the way your body and mind react and defuse such tensions can help, such as:

  • Using guided meditation
  • Maintaining physical exercise and good nutrition
  • Talking and vetting with friends, close colleagues and family

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3. The work is blah, and you feel like it’s time to take a break or move on to another career

Dr Xu Le, a lecturer in the Department of Strategy and Policy at the National University of Singapore Business School, shared in the report that it’s not just younger Singaporeans who want to take a career time-out these days – younger workers in countries such as the United States also feel similarly.

“Young people see the advantages of achieving a more balanced life as including a healthier body, a happier life and a certain level of freedom.”

She believes that a wider variety of career options available is also why some are more willing to take a career break.

“Young professionals have more options now as new industries or new business opportunities emerge fast with the development of technology. For example, the platform economy and streaming broadcasting have developed very quickly in the past several years,” she added.

If you’re feeling the itch to seek greener pastures, try taking this quiz to help your decision-making process!

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