Your phone buzzes with a thousand notifications, begging for your attention. Noisy traffic and voices raised in debate fill your ears at every hour of the day as you rush from meeting to meeting. Living hectic lives – especially in a fast-paced society like Singapore – can be harmful to your mental health. Yet, we often overlook how important it is to unwind after a long day. Research demonstrates that relaxing reduces muscle tension and improves memory.
What is life, after all, without a little bit of fun to escape from the grind? Working non-stop can sometimes make you lose sight of the things you love. We all need some time to reconnect with our inner selves before jumping back into a schedule. Here are some therapeutic ways to care for your mind, body and soul.
Burn Scented Candles to Relax
A warm, flickering flame and pleasant aroma in the air set a soothing atmosphere perfect for easing any frazzled nerves. So pick a scent you adore – whether it be floral fragrances like lavender or more sweet ones like caramel – and light it up once you’re done with responsibilities for the day.
I usually buy my candles from Bath and Body Works, where they sell a wide range of unique scents such as Champagne Toast and Bergamot Waters. They also release seasonal candles with limited-edition scents, so check out the stores at different times of the year for special aromas.
Other than big brands like Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle, you can support local artisanal shops that sell their products online or at pop-ups. These include @27candlesco and @ByTee&Co. Candles sold by these small business owners are decorated with pretty ornaments like flower petals and gemstones.
Get Out of Monotony
Tedium is the antithesis of a fruitful life. While routines do increase efficiency and make us feel secure, changing up the pace can add some spice to a dull schedule. Introduce something new to your lifestyle – small things like decorating your room or taking a different jogging track, or more significant changes like planning overseas vacations after completing major projects.
Personally, I used to sit for long hours trying to complete 25-page reports, but I realised my concentration waned after a while. I lose focus and become unproductive. So instead of stubbornly trying to write when my brain is not concentrating, I would take a walk or watch a Netflix show to break up the monotony.
Kickstart a Journaling Habit
Penning down your thoughts and feelings helps you to better reflect on your experiences. Famous figures like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Leonardo Da Vinci all did it. You can write about your goals, what you thought about your interactions with friends and family or even things you are grateful for. Journaling is a great self-care practice that allows you to track your growth over time and find inspiration in everyday observations.
Your words do not have to be polished. It can be stream-of-consciousness writing or notes on your dreams. Plus, if you are too busy to make this a daily habit, you can journal weekly or whenever you have more free time. It does not have to be on paper as well – type on digital notepads or post your entries on Instagram stories to share your thoughts with friends.
If you prefer to stick to the traditional, you can look to brands like Moleskine to provide a high-quality and aesthetic-looking base to pen down your thoughts.
Learn New Hobbies and Skills
Keep your brain active by constantly adding new activities to your life. It is never too late to start! For example, take some online classes on photography, attend craft workshops like tufting and embroidery or even embark on a board-game-making project with your friends. It is always great to open up your worldview instead of sticking to what you are already familiar with. Stimulating your brain and nerve cells in this way will also prevent mental health illnesses like dementia in the long run.
Along the way, joining communities that share these interests allows you to mingle with more new people outside of your immediate circles. Hearing their opinions at informal meetups and events will sharpen your skills while simultaneously prompting you to build friendships you never would have expected.
Devote Yourself to a Cause
Working towards something greater than yourself can be a transformative experience. Think of a cause you are passionate about – climate change, social inequality or sexual abuse – and volunteer in organisations that campaign for change in these areas. You can even start your own project to raise awareness for these causes.
Selena Gomez recently said in a Rolling Stone interview that philanthropy helped her to manage her mental health problems by grounding her and letting her escape from her downward spiral of loneliness, enabling the singer to “sacrifice [herself] for a greater purpose.” Hence, devoting your time to service can lift your spirits and make life more meaningful.
Try Meditation and Yoga
Your local community centres should have plenty of yoga and meditation classes that you can sign up for. These activities reduce anxiety by encouraging you to slow down and regulate your breathing, allowing you to focus on your internal self. In addition, while doing yoga, your heart rate slows down, and the body produces beneficial hormones like endorphins and dopamine, generating positive effects on your well-being.
For instance, my own mother used to experience immense stress from her job. However, after turning meditation into a habit by watching YouTube tutorials, she became less affected by troubles from work and could approach conflicts more rationally.
Mental Health Matters
Taking charge of your mental health is a process. Be patient with yourself and celebrate any small gains achieved along the way. It is indeed difficult to make big changes, but actively moving towards a lifestyle that you find purposeful will be worth it in the end. Mental clarity will allow you to be creative, enjoy what you do and better manage challenges that crop up in your personal and professional lives.
Visuals courtesy of @clemono2, @lilartsy and @dylandgillis via Unsplash.