The pandemic has forced a change of lifestyle on many Malaysians with thousands of people losing jobs and others having to adjust to new working environments. Offices are forced to close, leaving employees working remotely from home.
While working from home used to be a luxury before the pandemic started, it has unfortunately become as tiring as any normal day in the office, if not more exhausting, as working hours never seem to end. Personal time is no longer personal anymore as some bosses expect you to be on-call almost 24/7.
With many working from home during this lockdown that never seems to end, there is a sense of burnout and lack of morale among Malaysian workers. If you feel like this is you, you are not alone! WORLD OF BUZZ has compiled a few stories of people who share the same struggle and how they are coping with it.
Tara, 28, Content Strategist
“Working from home during another lockdown has been a very frustrating experience for me. I feel a stagnance in my personal and professional life. It’s like my goals have been pushed back to an indefinite date and I have nothing else to do but sit here and wait for things to get better. I’m just on autopilot and my motivation has dropped. Although I regularly keep in touch with my friends and colleagues on social media and video calls, nothing compares to physically being in the same room as them. It doesn’t help that I also feel guilty for feeling frustrated, because so many other Malaysians are having more pressing problems—some are starving while others are out of jobs, so my problems don’t feel as dire as theirs. All I can do at this point is donate to NGOs and hope it helps those in need.
To keep my spirits up, I’m doing what my inner child would enjoy. Things like skipping rope, dancing to a playlist of all my favourite songs, doodling and painting—anything that gives me small moments of joy during my day.
Tara’s word of advice:
I know it’s hard, but don’t read the news first thing in the morning. As tempted as you are to keep up with current events, ‘doomscrolling’ on social media first thing in the morning will set a depressing tone for the rest of your day, and I can personally attest to the fact that it will impact your motivation. As dire as things seem, the news can wait. Space out your time scrolling for news and keep your mornings a social media-free zone.”
Veronica, 28, Writer
“I felt my first burnout after two weeks of fully working from home during the latest MCO. While the first MCO went by not too bad for me, the second one hit particularly bad. I was exhausted and out of motivation. Working hours became longer, and my sleeping schedule worsened. It’s like I can’t even differentiate between work and pleasure anymore. I used to have a policy where I don’t bring work home, now I can’t stop working. It got so bad to the point when I’ve completed all my work, I still felt anxious because I felt as though I’ve not worked enough. It’s like whatever I did wasn’t enough and I was constantly trying to prove myself by over-exhausting. Even if I did well in my work, it still felt like I wasn’t doing enough… and all of this stemmed from the fear of losing my job.
To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve figured out a way to cope with this. I exercise, I eat well and right. I draw, make art, try to come up with ideas for my side-hustle, explore new hobbies and even cook to cope with this. But, to be honest, I don’t think my hobbies are helping because I find myself worrying again. It’s like I’m stuck in a loop of uncertainty and anxiety.”
Lina, 27, Master’s student
“I am currently unemployed, but I have also been working at my parent’s food stall in Brickfields. The business is quite bad as we can only earn about 20% of the profit compared to 2019. Now, with the latest SOP the shops can only operate from 8am to 8pm. This affects our business badly because we only open in the morning and are closed for lunch. Customers who work in the essential services also start work at 8am, so they don’t come to buy food at our shop. Besides that, all the offices around KL Sentral are closed and most of our customers WFH, so this affects our business too.
We are reducing our expenses and reducing buying fresh items to avoid waste. We also don’t have savings in the bank for the past few months because we save up the profit to pay bills to avoid debt. We call our customers sometimes to inform them that we are open for business.”
“I feel so pressured as I need to study in the evening and work in the morning. The preparation for our food business starts as early as 4am. As a masters student, I am expected to do my assignments more independently. So I feel stressed attending the online classes, although the lecturers are ready to help most of the time, it’s not the same as learning on campus. Besides that, I feel pressured to find a job immediately because I need to provide for my family and might have to work for a job that will pay me less for my qualification due to the pandemic. I hope the situation changes soon and the vaccination process gets faster because I just want everything to be over as soon as possible.”
Jake, 25, Senior Marketing Manager
“I work for a Singapore-based company but working remotely from Malaysia. I would say that I’m normally an introverted person and I would much prefer to stay in rather than heading out to parties or whatnot. But being stuck in for so long is killing me mentally. As for day-to-day, I’ve been working remotely since day one. It can be hard to coordinate things when you’re not face-to-face with colleagues.
To help me deal with all this, I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix, more than before. I game quite a bit too and recently, puzzles have been fun!
I think working from home has its own challenges, but it also has its benefits. Maybe a hybrid of WFH is good for future workforces.”
While these stories do not dismiss the fact that there are many who have lost their jobs and others have suffered pay cuts, not forgetting our beloved frontliners who are giving their all to treat Covid-19 patients, burnout during lockdown may very well be just as much as a struggle due to the similar effects on one’s mental health.
This pandemic has not only taken away our freedom, but has separated us from our loved ones, and not a day goes by that we hear of heartbreaking stories from fellow Malaysians who are helpless and in need. Everyone is facing their own struggles every day because of this pandemic, but nevertheless, we will press on and continue fighting this battle until we are able to reunite once again, whenever that may be.
How you can help
As part of the #KempenBenderaPutih, WORLD OF BUZZ is doing our part to help individuals in need. If you are in need of help, or if you know someone who is in need of help, or you want to offer help, click here.
Additionally, if you’re feeling lonely, in distress, in despair, or having suicidal thoughts, Befrienders is providing emotional support 24 hours a day. It’s never too late to reach out and talk to someone. It’s free and confidential.
Befrienders Hotline: 03 – 7627 2929