Searches on anxiety and burnout in Singapore shot up last year, Google says, and so did ‘work from home jobs’

Singaporeans are a stressed-out lot, at least based on their Google searches.
  • Internet searches around anxiety and calmness have spiked in Singapore recently, according to a new Google report.

  • Searches for “how to overcome anxiety” quadrupled last year compared with 2018, while searches for “chest pain due to stress” and “mental breakdown” tripled.

  • Singapore had the world’s highest concentration of searches for “work-life balance” and the second highest concentration for “flexible working hours”, Google said.

  • More people were also keen on the Fire (financial independence retire early) movement.

  • Other popular search topics were related to the national pastimes of shopping and eating.

2019 appears to have been a stressful year for Singaporeans, with searches around anxiety, financial freedom and relaxation spiking online, a new report by Google has revealed.

In its Insights for Brands Report 2020 published on Tuesday (Jan 21), the tech giant compared key search terms from Singapore between two periods: October 2017 to September 2018, and October 2018 to September 2019.

It found that searches around mental health, particularly anxiety, spiked between 2018 and 2019, with a fourfold increase in searches for “how to overcome anxiety”.

Read also: A whopping 92% of working Singaporeans are stressed, study finds

Searches for the phrases “chest pain due to stress” and “mental breakdown” nearly tripled during the period, while searches for “burnout symptoms” and “anxiety attack symptoms”  jumped about 70 per cent.

Questions around maintaining calm also spiked, with big jumps in searches for “how to calm down from anxiety” doubling, and searches for “calming music for stress” and “being calm” going up 60 and 40 per cent respectively.

Google Insights for Brands Report 2020

Google noted: “In 2019, the World Health Organization formally recognised ‘burnout’ as a workplace health phenomenon. With this increase in awareness, Singaporeans are seeking to better understand and protect their mental well-being.

“Intriguingly, there has been a parallel decline in searches around stress, indicating that Singaporeans are dealing with this as a medical, rather than an emotional, challenge… (they) are also actively seeking out practical tips and online resources to neutralise everyday stressors.”

Read also: Work-life balance has become the top reason why Singapore employees leave their jobs

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google’s search trend data also revealed that Singapore had the highest concentration of searches in the world for the topic “work-life balance”.

It also boasted the world’s second-highest concentration of searches for “flexible working hours”, and saw a 60 per cent increase in searches for “work-from-home jobs” last year compared with the year before.

In addition, searches for luxury holidays, short trips and local staycations all increased.

Google Insights for Brands Report 2020

Apart from coping with work, more Singaporeans were also looking to leave the corporate life behind as soon as possible, with searches for “fire retirement” and “fire movement” nearly doubling and tripling respectively.

The term Fire is an abbreviation for “Financial Independence Retire Early” – a popular financial movement that involves saving as much as possible and multiplying income streams to retire as young as 30.

Read also: 17 habits of self-made millionaires who retired early

Google’s report attributed the popularity of Fire searches here to Singaporeans’ desire to “mitigate the invasion of the rat race into (their) personal lives”.

Tiger Sugar and Dior sneakers among new and popular searches: Google

Apart from stress, most topics Singaporeans searched for were related to the national pastimes of shopping and eating.

Google noted that the Republic boasted had one of the world’s highest search proportions for luxury apparel and the world’s third-highest search concentration for men’s bags, with these searches dominated by designer names like Gucci and Dior.

Singaporeans also looked for avenues to obtain these items on the cheap, with spikes in searches for “duty-free shop”, “Reebonz” (a luxury online marketplace) and “Style Theory” (a designer outfit rental service).

Google Insights for Brands Report 2020

Apart from branded items, consumers also looked for electronics, with searches for “best budget earbuds” and “best laptop for students” doubling compared with 2018.

As for food, Google said Singapore had the highest concentration of searches in the world for “best food”.

The nation saw a 44 per cent increase in searches for eateries “near me open now”, with people looking for cafes, dessert spots and bubble tea in particular.

Searches for popular boba brand Tiger Sugar multiplied 24 times, while searches for competitors HeyTea and The Alley went up around 20 and five times respectively compared with 2018.

Meanwhile, searches for Impossible Burger – an eco-friendly meat patty made with plant-based protein – shot up almost 14 times.

Google Insights for Brands Report 2020

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