It’s easy to get caught up in the craze of the city, especially in the uncertain post-pandemic environment. In fact, reports of the declining mental health of Singaporeans have been commonplace in the news since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With back-to-back meetings and barely any personal free time left, how can you best cope with stress? The key to managing stress is by being kinder to yourself, or otherwise, engaging in self-care.
As obvious as this may seem, many tend to put self-care on the back-burner in favour of other life pursuits whether consciously or not. They fail to realise that some stressors in life are within their control.
If you’re keen on starting your self-care journey towards a better life, read on as we’ve compiled some cost-effective options to help you care for yourself.
Why you shouldn’t skip the self-care
As we get more affluent and are bombarded with an ever-expanding range of entertainment options, the term “self-care” has amassed some bad rep.
A common misconception is that self-care entails hefty spendings on leisure affairs like niche spas and overseas getaways. But there is a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence.
Self-care refers to caring for and managing your mental, emotional and physical health. In other words, being in tune with your body, mind, and soul’s demands for stimulation, rest, and recharge.
As mentioned, self-care activities help you effectively manage stress.
When you consciously include self-care in your daily routines, you ensure that you’re in the best possible shape to effectively take on your daily tasks, care for your loved ones, and work towards your life goals.
So, the next time you’re thinking of skipping a meal to finish a presentation, remember how it could have snowballing effects on your ability to achieve success in the future.
Incorporating self-care into your day
How can you get started with a self-care regime? To break it down simply, all you’ve got to do is pay attention to your physical, emotional, and mental needs. This can require little to no financial input from you! Here are some ways you can put yourself first:
Maintain your body
1. Exercise and get moving
While not all of us have regular access to gyms, who’s to say that you can’t warm up your body and tone some muscle at home?
Going for a morning jog in your neighbourhood or a nearby park will cost you nearly nothing.
Additionally, creating a personalised home workout costs under $50 – all you’ll require is a yoga mat, water bottle and some portable equipment like dumbbells (if you’re feeling fancy).
If you’re the type who prefers following a trainer, there are countless fitness tutorials on platforms like YouTube to fulfill this, free-of-charge. From heart-pumping HIIT workouts and zumba routines to relaxing yoga sessions, there’s bound to be a fitness channel for you.
2. Eat clean and well
In terms of meals, swap out processed ingredients and fast foods for your vegetables and fruits. Not only does preparing your own dishes help you cut costs, it also guarantees a richer, more nutritious diet.
Neglecting your physical well-being can have detrimental effects on your finances too. When you don’t consistently maintain your body, you become more vulnerable to sickness and ailments. You’ll then have to face the consequent cost of curbing them. When it comes to your physical fitness, remember that prevention is better than searching for acure!
Stimulate your mind
The next pillar of self-care involves keeping your mind active. Your thoughts and psychological state greatly impact your sense of self and your worldview. Being mindful of what fills your head daily is vital to your overall health.
Image Source: Libby App via App Store
Tasks that stimulate the mind vary from person to person. Some prefer to snuggle up with a good read, experiencing fictional tales with every flip of the page.
For thrifty readers, you can visit a public library to borrow a new book. Alternatively, you can get the ebook version online at sites like Libby, a useful library app that offers free ebooks and audiobooks.
If you’re one for instant gratification, you can also check out Singapore’s many second-hand bookstores (like Ana Book Store at Far East Plaza or Book Point in Bras Basah Complex) to get a bang for your buck.
4. Learn something new
Image source: Duolingo via App Store
There are also those who find learning about new subjects or cultivating new interests appealing. If you’re one of these people, you can consider downloading some educational mobile applications which offer free to reasonably-priced subscriptions to help you pick up a new skill.
For example, Duolingo is a handy app to master a new language without incurring any cost. The platform teaches over thirty global languages through game-based settings where users can move from basic to advanced levels at their own pace.
Those who prefer more hands-on activities can explore a new hobby like crocheting or knitting. Interestingly, the repetitive act of crocheting is calming but, at the same time, highly stimulating for the brain.
Beginners can pick up a crochet kit and yarn for under $15 at physical shops like Daiso or online retailers like Shopee.
Aside from these undertakings, the rest of us may enjoy challenging our intellect by solving puzzles or playing thinking games like Scrabble or Suduko. Or you may even be someone who is mentally energized by crime shows or thrilling movies. In that case, YouTube, Netflix or cable television may already be your best friends.
Whatever the case is, your aim is to find something that regularly keeps your mind alert and focused.
5. Reflect and be self-aware
Another consideration for maintaining a healthy mind is to be sensitive to your inner dialogue. Are your thoughts healthy and productive?
When in a stressful or undesirable situation, stay calm and try practising self-compassion and acceptance instead of being overly critical with yourself. Remember that you are human and that it’s normal to make mistakes once in a while.
Journaling is a great way to start fostering mindfulness – all you’ll need is a pen and a trusty notebook. Other benefits of journaling include improving your memory, sharpening your communication skills, evoking creativity and accelerating you towards your goals.
Care for your emotions
The final step in self-care is to heed your emotional needs. This encompasses understanding your own emotions as well as socialising with others.
6. Try meditation or aromatherapy
If you find yourself struggling with your emotions or feeling emotionally restless, you can pick up meditation. Sit yourself in a quiet room, take a deep breath and clear your head.
Those who are more spiritual may also choose to meditate with meditation kits that include healing crystals or white sage.
Alternatively, taking hot baths can do wonders in stabilizing your emotions.
Aromatherapy is the practice of soothing your brain by inhaling the scent of essential oils.You can even spice up your baths with inexpensive DIY scrubs and essential oil diffusers by consulting free aromatherapy recipes online.
(READ MORE: If you’re prone to impulsive retail therapy to “fill the void”, you’re probably an emotional spender. Fret not as we’ve got an article about the most helpful mental health apps to download to manage this.)
7. Spend time with those who matter
Finally, if there’s one thing that the pandemic has highlighted to us, it’s that humans are inherently social beings. So, nurturing your emotional desires also necessitates spending time with other humans.
We can all agree that aside from winding down in solitude after a long, gruelling day, having someone around to talk to, rant to, or even laugh with can easily lift your spirits. While it may not seem like it, finding time to interact with your loved ones is part and parcel of effective self-care.
With those that matter, enjoying a simple home-cooked meal or watching a movie at home together can already be emotionally fulfilling.
Though for the adventurous who seek fresh ideas, art-jamming, picnicking and hiking are some of the more trendy activities you can do with your loved ones this season.
But do note that art-jamming in an official art studio can cost up to $70 per person. Hence, we suggest DIY-ing your own creative sessions with canvases, acrylic paint and brush sets which can be easily purchased at your local Popular bookshop or online for under $50. You can even ramp up the fun and simulate a real session by playing your favourite tunes in the background!
Above all, it’s good to note that there isn’t a fixed number of hours you ought to spend interacting face-to-face with others. An introvert’s social capacity differs greatly from an extrovert’s. Knowing yourself and the limits of your social battery is also essential.
Proper self-care can form the foundations of a better life. When you’re physically active and have a positive mental outlook, you can inherently overcome challenges and be in a suitable headspace for prudent financial planning.
Self-care doesn’t denote expensive outdoor activities or services – you can easily treat yourself in the comforts of your home and without making a huge dent in your finances. With that being said, it’s time to take charge of your life by putting yourself first. The rest of your dreams will naturally fall into place.