Your phone buzzes with a thousand notifications and begs for your attention. Loud traffic and voices during debates fill your ears at all hours of the day as you rush from meeting to meeting. Leading hectic lives – especially in a fast-paced society like Singapore – can be detrimental to your mental health. Yet we often overlook the importance of relaxing after a long day. Research shows that relaxing reduces muscle tension and improves memory.
After all, what is life without a little fun to escape the grind? Working non-stop sometimes makes you lose track of the things you love. We all need some time to reconnect with our inner selves before jumping into a schedule again. Here are some therapeutic ways to take care of your mind, body and soul.
Burn scented candles to relax
A warm, flickering flame and pleasant aroma in the air create a soothing atmosphere, perfect for calming any nerves. So choose a scent you love – whether it’s floral scents like lavender or more sweet ones like caramel – and light it up when you’re done with responsibilities for the day.
I usually buy my candles from Bath and Body Works where they sell a wide variety of unique scents such as Champagne Toast and Bergamot Waters. They also release seasonal candles with limited edition scents, so visit the stores at different times of the year for special aromas.
Besides major brands like Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle, you can support local craft stores that sell their products online or in pop-ups. These include @27candlesco and @ByTee&Co. Candles sold by these small business owners are decorated with pretty ornaments such as flower petals and gemstones.
Get rid of monotony
Tedium is the antithesis of a fruitful life. While routines increase efficiency and make us feel safe, changing the pace can add some spice to a boring schedule. Introduce something new to your lifestyle – small things like decorating your room or changing your running career, or bigger changes like planning overseas vacations after completing big projects.
Personally, I sat for long hours to complete 25-page reports, but I noticed that my concentration waned after a while. I lose focus and become unproductive. So instead of stubbornly trying to write when my brain isn’t focusing, I’d take a walk or watch a Netflix show to break the monotony.
Start a diary habit
Writing down your thoughts and feelings will help you reflect on your experiences. Famous figures like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Leonardo Da Vinci have all done it. You can write about your goals, how you felt about your interactions with friends and family, or even things you are grateful for. Journaling is a great self-care exercise that allows you to track your growth over time and gain inspiration from daily observations.
Your words don’t have to be polished. It can be a stream of consciousness or notes about your dreams. And if you’re too busy to make it a daily habit, journal weekly or whenever you have more free time. It doesn’t have to be on paper either – type on digital notebooks or post your entries to Instagram stories to share your thoughts with friends.
If you prefer to stick with the traditional, you can look to brands like Moleskine to provide a high quality and aesthetically pleasing base to record your thoughts.
Learn new hobbies and skills
Keep your brain active by constantly adding new activities to your life. It’s never too late to start! For example, take some online photography classes, attend craft workshops such as tufting and embroidery, or start a board game project with your friends. It’s always great to open up your world view instead of sticking to what you already know. By stimulating your brain and nerve cells in this way, you also prevent mental illnesses such as dementia in the long term.
Joining communities that share these interests can help you meet more new people outside of your immediate circles along the way. Hearing their point of view during casual meetings and events will sharpen your skills and build friendships you never expected.
Dedicate yourself to a goal
Working on something bigger than yourself can be a transformative experience. Think of a cause you’re passionate about – climate change, social inequality, or sexual abuse – and volunteer in organizations that campaign for change in these areas. You can even start your own project to raise awareness of these causes.
Selena Gomez recently said in a Rolling Stone interview that philanthropy helped her manage her mental health issues by grounding her and letting her escape from her downward spiral of loneliness, which left the singer [herself] for a greater purpose.” Therefore, spending your time in service can lift your spirits and make life more meaningful.
Try meditation and yoga
Your local community centers should have plenty of yoga and meditation classes you can sign up for. These activities reduce anxiety by encouraging you to slow down and regulate your breathing so you can focus on your inner self. In addition, while doing yoga, your heart rate slows down and the body produces beneficial hormones such as endorphins and dopamine, which have a positive effect on your well-being.
For example, my own mother always experienced enormous stress from her job. However, after making meditation a habit by watching YouTube tutorials, she experienced fewer problems at work and was able to approach conflicts more rationally.
Mental health is important
Taking charge of your mental health is a process. Be patient with yourself and celebrate any small wins you’ve made along the way. It is indeed difficult to make big changes, but actively moving towards a lifestyle that you find purposeful will pay off in the end. Mental clarity allows you to be creative, enjoy what you do, and better cope with challenges that arise in your personal and professional life.
Images courtesy of @clemono2, @lilartsy and @dylandgillis via Unsplash.