From The Straits Times    |

Photo: Unsplash / @henrihere

You’ve been busy putting out fires at work all week. You’ve been spending the tiny pockets of free time you get thumbing through social media with eyes glazed. For meals, you’ve been eating what is convenient, but not what your body needs. And when you get home, you’ve zoned out and you just want to crash in bed.

If this sounds like you, it probably means you could use some self-care. Self-care is giving yourself the time and energy to nourish yourself in areas you’re lacking.

It doesn’t mean you get to grab a pint of ice cream and Netflix the night away because work was hard this week – that’s just indulging yourself.

True self-care won’t numb your emotions, it will invigorate them. It’s a sort of deep cleaning process that will make you feel recharged and ready to fight, so that you feel like you’re at a better place to handle whatever comes your way. And self-care can be as short as five minutes or a whole day. It doesn’t matter how long, as long as you intentionally and regularly carve out that time for yourself, not letting distractions get in the way.

So we picked 6 great self-care activities you could try. They’re all catered to different kinds of people with different interests, so have a look and try the ones that vibe with you! Click on the arrow to start viewing the gallery.

1) Prepare a dessert

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This is what we’d like to think of as a wholesome indulgence. Because ordering a dessert you’re craving is always nice, but it can be a whole lot more gratifying if you make it yourself.

And no, you don’t have to go all out and bake a cake. Why not try making banana sorbet (you just need fruit, a fridge and a fork to make this) or brownies (you could use a box mix)? If you’re not sure you’re cut out for the kitchen, maybe at least try it once, so you’ll know for sure.

As for us, we feel there’s something pretty sweet about being able to make a dessert with your own hands and satisfy a craving too.

Other self-care practices related to food: 

Grocery shopping: It can be quite therapeutic to stroll down the aisles and browse the ingredients for inspiration of your next meal!

Meal-prep: It is wholesome (as long as you pick healthy ingredients) and productive (since you can prepare a whole batch of meals in one go.)

2) Set the mood to unwind better

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Sometimes you need to ease into the mood of unwinding before you can get into your self-care routine. There are a couple of things you could try.

For starters, you could play music in the background. Some genres to try are:

Lo-fi – Chill beats with an endearingly fuzzy quality to them.

Deep focus – Music that makes you feel like you’re in another world.

New age – Healing vibes in tune with wellness and spirituality.

You could also try using essential oils, if you’re the kind of person who loves perfume and takes comfort in scents.

They are made by distilling herbs, flowers, spices, or fruits. Some of the popular essential oils you could try first include lavender, bergamot and tea tree.These oils are really potent, and it takes only a few drops to make an entire room fragrant, as long as you use the right apparatus like burners and diffusers.

One more thing you could do to unwind is to adjust the lighting in your apartment. It could be switching from white fluorescent lights to yellow, if you have that option, or it could be lighting up candles to make the place feel cosier.

Another self-care practice related to setting the mood:

Napping: Sometimes we’re so concerned with preparing for self-care that it becomes an additional type of stress. If napping works for you and it’s what you need, go ahead and take one, no guilt! You’ll wake up feeling readier to do more self-care activities.

3) Take care of your beauty and skincare needs


Working in an office environment can take a toll on your skin.  Not everyone has the time to stick to a holistic skincare routine every single day, but we could definitely take time during self-care to prep, plump up, and pamper our skin.

Two simple things you can do, are to use a face mask to rejuvenate your skin, and a body scrub to exfoliate and renew the rest of your body.

Face masks are especially great if you have dry or dull skin from working in working in an air-conditioned environment all day. (Tip: Check out our articles on hydrating masks and masks for dull skin.)

If you’re not sure which kind is the best fit for you, a good place to start is this beauty editor’s recommendations of face masks based on your skin type. And as for body scrubs, there are many good ones you could buy that could have your skin exfoliated, dewy, or looking polished.

If you simply want something exfoliating, you could make a scrub yourself, because it just takes three ingredients: (i) a base oil (like coconut or olive oil), (ii) your choice of essential oils, and (iii) salt or sugar.

Other self-care practices related to beauty: 

Organise your makeup drawer: If you love your makeup and beauty products, why not have a productive self-care time and declutter your drawer. This could make life a little easier and put your mind at ease.

Get a hair wash at the salon: It is a really cleansing and calming process, especially with the head massage.

4) Write in a journal before bed

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It’s easy to write off the idea of journaling. To think it’s just for people to get in touch with their emotions. And yes that’s true, but it goes deeper.

What is the thing you do before you sleep? We’re guessing it’s to use your phone, probably scrolling through social media. And this study by Harvard researchers shows that using your phone right before bed will mess up your body clock, make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, and leave you feeling less alert when you wake up.

Now journaling is the opposite of social media. Social media feeds you with a lot of information. But a journal gives you a blank slate. A journal is for you to empty your thoughts, get in touch with yourself, and engage your mind healthily before a good night’s sleep.

So if you can, try to swap your phone for a journal. That being said, if journalling still doesn’t seem like your thing, no worries. The essence is to nourish your brain in a healthy way, and there are other ways to do this, as mentioned below.

Other self-care practices related to journaling: 

Watching shows that boost intellectual wellness: We usually pick the shows that comfort us, make us laugh or cry with the characters as we follow their captivating story. However, picking a show that encourages us to think (usually documentaries and non-fiction films) is a great way to feed our brains.

Reading books.: We love books. Because unlike shows, you have the freedom to stop at different points of the story without ruining the flow, giving you space to mull over what you’re gaining from this book, invigorating your intellectual wellness.

5) Try meditation 

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This is for anyone who needs time to do absolutely nothing at all. You could try many different types of meditation, like spiritual meditation, mindfulness meditation, or loving-kindness meditation, to list a few.

They all have different purposes, and the one that we like most is the body scan meditation. It involves sitting or lying down, then noticing which parts of your body have tension, like your neck, back, calves, etc. And once you’ve identified those areas, you’re meant to try to release tension in that area as you breathe (though we prefer stretching or massaging the muscles.)

You’d be surprised how many aches, tense muscles and knots there are in your body at any given time. We think this is a great way to reduce stress and physical discomfort while doing self-care.

You could also try other forms of meditation if this doesn’t relax you, or simply do deep breathing exercises. 

Other self-care practices related to meditation: 

Yoga: If sitting still gets you sleepy or restless, you could try yoga instead.

Simple chores: If these chores are low-effort, not very time consuming, and you feel calm doing small repetitive tasks like folding clothes or sweeping, then it would be effective self-care!

6) Text and call your family and friends 

Photo: Unsplash / @mr_fresh

We know what you’re thinking. Weren’t we supposed to stay off our phones if we really want self-care?

Well, humans are social creatures. And if you’re drifting from your family members and friends (maybe due to your busy work hours), it’s pretty important to reach out to them and nourish your social life as well.

So set aside a block of time just to text or call your loved ones. No multi-talking or scrolling through social media allowed while you talk, just pure bonding. And when your mind is not flitting about from one task to another, you’ll realise how much more pleasant it can be you’ll see how it fills your heart.

Other self-care practices related to social life: 

Writing letters: If you enjoy writing, why not write a heartfelt letter to a loved one when doing self-care? It can be therapeutic and it gives you time to sort through your thoughts and emotions in a way that doesn’t come as easily when texting.