Image d'introduction
Date de publication
Texte d'introduction

Working hard in Asia: what is the impact on our health?  
Jack Ma famously said that it was a blessing to be part of the “996 work culture”. This practice of working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week, is pretty common in some Asian countries. As an expat in Hong Kong and Singapore, what working lifestyle should you expect? What is the impact of long working hours on your health? Most importantly, how can you protect yourself and prevent burnout? 

Corps de l'article

In this new episode of Abroad With Care, Andrea interviews Dr. Damien Mouellic, Osteopath, Functional Medicine practitioner and Director of Central & Stanley Wellness. 

First, let’s understand what the working culture looks like in Asia. What should expats expect when working in Hong Kong and Singapore? 

Asian people have their own work ethics. Most Asians are very work-conscious. It is very important to be seen at work for long hours. They arrive at the right time and stay as long as possible. There is a sense of following the rules that you can see here in Asia. 

Hong Kong is often referred to as the New York of Asia. People work all the way through until 9pm, 10pm, or even midnight. We also have to remember that high executives that come to Hong Kong and Singapore usually have to work with Europe and North America. They may have a call with Europe in the early evening and then a call with New York late at night. 

We understand that there is no concept of a typical eight-hour work-day in Hong Kong and Singapore. As a consequence, many people don’t sleep enough. What is the impact on our health?

Many people will suffer from digestive issues. In fact, people who are under a high level of stress and who do not get enough sleep tend to produce a high amount of cortisol. Cortisol levels increase and start to damage gut health. You can have digestive issues, cardiovascular issues, or autoimmune-type issues. When this is combined with mental health, this can lead to anxiety and depression. 

Additionally, the number of leave days is also lower than in many other countries. The common practice in Hong Kong and Singapore is 14 days. In spite of these long working hours, what can we do to avoid fatigue and exhaustion? 

Exercise is probably the main key. The other thing is to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your everyday living. Twenty minutes of meditation in your day may become a saver for your exhaustion levels. We need to learn how to have a break and recharge. 

Coping with stress is also a common challenge. Excessive stress can even lead to burnout. What are the signs of burnout? 

It is a tricky question because different people have different levels of resilience. I have found that insomnia, irritability, and short-term memory loss are often the first signs of burnout. It is a self-protective mechanism: people start becoming frantic and work constantly to protect themselves. But by doing that, they deteriorate and may fall down the rabbit hole very quickly. Also, digestive issues may also be a sign because your cortisol levels increase dramatically. It is a chain reaction: you do not eat very well, start feeling more stressed, sleep less and less. It may go to a level where fatigue and exhaustion prevent you from going to work. 

What is the impact of Covid-19 on burnouts?

With the pandemic, we have seen an increase in workload because there is no boundary. Working constantly without a break may lead to burnout.

But I think that the greatest impact of Covid-19 causing burnouts is the lack of social interaction. When people stop interacting with friends and family and stop feeling this sense of community, their mental health deteriorates very quickly. Then, the burnout kicks in with the workload. 

What can we do to prevent burnout? 

I have been told that I was close to burnout several times. You are always told but you usually do not listen. Firstly, when your loved ones say that you need to take a step back, listen to them. If you do that, you can start unplugging. 

Do something for yourself. Do something totally different that gives you pleasure. When you are close to burnout, your body is in an automated mode and you forget pleasure. So, it is important to break the pattern and do something that makes you feel good. 

Spend time with your loved ones and reconnect with your family. 
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, pay attention to your diet. 
Finally, health tracking devices are quite useful to track your activity and your sleep. They give you an idea of where you are and how your health is.
Also, learn how to meditate. Learning how to breathe and be mindful will improve your immune system and prolong your life. 

At APRIL International Care, we are specialist in designing and delivering flexible international health insurance for individuals, families and companies in Asia. For more information, explore our MyHEALTH plans for expats in Asia. 

You can contact our different offices around Asia and request a quote, our experts will be happy to assist you!

Titre articles poussés
Know more about : News & Events