Categories
Lifestyle

Small steps to better mental health

Mental health is very much in the news. From regular exercise to making time for friends and loved ones, here are ways you can live your best life.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

Mention the word “health” and most people think of jogging, salads or gym sessions. The term also encompasses mental health, which not only determines your emotional stability and cognitive performance, but can also influence your physical health as well. Here are some simple, achievable steps you can take to manage your mental health.

1. ZZZZZZZ

With so much to catch up on after work, it’s tempting to sacrifice some sleep to binge watch your favourite show or play online games. Many of us do, with Singaporeans ranked among the most sleep-deprived people globally. But a lack of sleep can affect your memory and mental well-being. A decent amount of sleep – a minimum of seven hours daily – can help to relieve stress and refresh you for the next day’s challenges.

2. HEALTHY GUT, HEALTHY MIND

It’s hard to eat healthily, especially when there’s so much available in Singapore. While it’s okay to treat yourself, it’s important to do so in moderation. According to researchers, a diet high in refined sugars is associated with worsened mood disorders and impaired brain function. A balanced, nutritious diet not only helps to protect your body against stress, it can even improve your mood. Aim to include foods like wholegrain cereal, vegetables and fruit in your daily diet.

3. HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND

Regular exercise – at least 150 minutes per week – is crucial to help you stay physically strong and mentally alert. It will also help you better cope with stress. There are many affordable options available, from a value-for-money gym membership at any Fitness Workz gym, to yoga and pilates at HomeTeamNS clubhouses to fitness corners at our local parks and YouTube exercise videos.

4. PICK UP A NEW HOBBY OR LEARN A NEW SKILL

Learning a new hobby? The good news is that there are many affordable options and plenty of online resources. There are YouTube videos on hobbies ranging from crocheting to carpentry, and Reddit has subforums with communities of like-minded enthusiasts.

If you’re planning to sign up for a course, check to see if you can use your SkillsFuture credits. In addition to professional development skills, options include sports, dog grooming, flower arrangement and film criticism. A selection of classes is also available across our HomeTeamNS clubhouses including Tai Chi, Line Dancing, Hatha Yoga and Swimming – which are great rhythmical activities that can help reduce stress and promote balance control.

5. DOING GOOD CAN HELP YOU FEEL GOOD

Volunteering for a cause that’s close to your heart helps you focus on others and feel good about yourself.  Volunteer.gov.sg offers volunteering opportunities that suit your skills and interests. Short on time, or can’t commit to a regular schedule? You could spend time with an elderly relative or pet-sit for your siblings.

6. STAY CONNECTED WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Remember to make time for friends and loved ones. For instance, meeting your primary school classmates – even for a simple meal at the coffee shop – is a great opportunity to reminisce about old times, crack jokes and create new memories for the future. Having a supportive network will keep you going through the most challenging times.

7. ONE SMALL STEP FOR YOU, A GIANT LEAP FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Breaking down your tasks into small achievable steps makes them seem less daunting and stressful. One tip is to do this in a project journal, since writing things down gives you greater mental clarity and allows you to track your progress.

8. RECHARGE AND REJUVENATE WITH A WEEKEND GETAWAY

The same old routine can be boring and dull – so why not take a quick break? According to experts, a weekend getaway – like a staycation, or a day out in JB – boosts happiness levels overall, as you’re more likely to have multiple short holidays to look forward to throughout the year.

And if you’re planning a trip, don’t forget HomeTeamNS Shield360. It’s a one-year Singlife travel or home insurance that comes with a free HomeTeamNS membership. Luxuriate in a clubhouse pool, rent a villa or simply retreat to a ManCave at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir or HomeTeamNS Khatib, so that even the weekends in Singapore feel like you’re on a relaxing vacation.

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In The Force

SGT(V) Valora Wong’s balancing act of commitment

By mastering the art of balance in her commitments, SGT(V) Valora not only excelled in each of her roles but also set an inspiring example. 

TEXT AND PHOTOS: HOME TEAM VOLUNTEER NETWORK

In a world where time is a limited and precious resource, making the decision to give back to the community is no small feat. Today, we focus on Sergeant (Volunteer) or SGT(V) Valora Wong Zhen Wen, a shining example of unwavering commitment, as she navigates a unique balancing act of being a new mom, a final-year university student, and a recent graduate of the 111th-intake of the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC).

THE JUGGLING ACT OF A NEW RECRUIT

SGT(V) Valora was posted to Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) and began her VSC journey while juggling multiple responsibilities, in the face of a rigorous training schedule that required mastering various skills such as knowledge on police procedures, firearms handling, and first aid.

Imagine juggling twice-weekly evenings and selected Saturday training sessions, final-year university exams, and the delicate, around-the-clock duties of taking care a 4-month-old. For many, it would seem like an impossible feat. But for SGT(V) Valora, it was a mission she willingly accepted.  SGT(V) Valora was a former regular in the Singapore Armed Forces. This period of her life was marked by numerous experiences, but what she truly cherished was the profound sense of camaraderie that permeated every aspect of military life. She discovered a deep-seated passion for marksmanship.

Joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as a VSC officer offers a similar sense of camaraderie, akin to the military, while introducing a new dimension of service to the community. Being a VSC officer gives her the opportunity to witness, experience, and actively participate in the real-life activities of law enforcement.

Overcoming a Challenging Moment

During SGT(V) Valora’s Police Contact Tactics assessment, she had to take down an instructor instead of a fellow trainee, which she was usually assigned to. It was a scenario that required her physical strength and quick judgement.

To her surprise, the instructor commented that she did well, despite encountering such a scenario for the first time. Not only was it a compliment to SGT(V) Valora; but it also validated the hard work and mental preparation she put into her training routines.

The Lessons That Echo in Everyday Life

Among the numerous skills and insights SGT(V) Valora acquired, teamwork and vigilance were the most invaluable. “We constantly look out for each other and be ready to act accordingly and effectively,” said SGT(V) Valora as she embarked on her duties. “I reminded myself to treat every situation seriously, then assess and react accordingly.”

A Calling to Serve: Your Turn to Join

By mastering the art of balance in her commitments, SGT(V) Valora not only excelled in each of her roles but also set an inspiring example. “You can do your part for the community by joining the Force, to prevent, detect, and deter crime,” said SGT(V) Valora.

“There will be challenges, but the sense of fulfillment is unmatched.”

Do you want to join as an SPF volunteer? Discover the Home Team Volunteer Network today! You can also check out our Instagram and Facebook Page, @htvolunteers, to learn about our 11 schemes. Learn more on how you can make a difference in your community now!

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Lifestyle

How to snag a good travel deal

Travel hacks to help you save, so you can spend more on the things you want – like shopping, dining and adventure – while on vacation.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

In the blink of an eye, the year-end holidays are almost upon us once again. Savvy Singaporeans know that the earlier you prepare for your year-end trip, the more you’ll save.

Whether you’re opting for a short getaway to Indonesia, or planning that long-awaited sojourn into Europe, there are always travel hacks to keep that budget manageable.

From the right time to book flights to accommodation alternatives, here are some smart ways to enjoy great savings and stretch that buck on your next holiday.

BOOK FLIGHT TICKETS EARLY

When it comes to booking your flights, the earlier the better. As airlines fill up their seats and hit their minimum capacity, they are less likely to offer attractive rates, especially to popular destinations. Most travel experts recommend securing those seats as early as four months ahead, and at the very latest, three weeks before.

To get the best deals, opt for weekday flights from Monday to Thursday. Budget airlines  understand their price-conscious target audience and often indicate the cheapest period to fly on booking previews. Otherwise, platforms like SkyScanner are great for comparing prices and timings. You may even opt in for alerts to price drops as time goes by.

IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT FOR HOTELS

The competition for hotels is stronger and a lot more factors – such as season, location and handler of the bookings can affect pricing.

For instance, Booking.com and Agoda are from the same parent company but have different operating models. Booking.com uses an agency model and takes a cut from your bookings.

Agoda buys rooms in bulk first. Customers can make a booking with no cancellation fees, and when closer to the date, check Agoda for last-minute sales on unsold units. And HomeTeamNS members get an extra 6 per cent off on Agoda reservations as well. Other localised platforms (e.g. Rakuten Travel for Japan) may have better options and offers.

Memberships with big hotel chains such as Accor, IHG, Ascott, Marriott and Hilton are often free and include EDM subscriptions that notify you of exclusive deals. Many of these hotels have begun to match the prices offered by aggregators and sometimes offer more perks for the same price.

You can move up their membership tiers if you stay with them frequently. This can qualify you for free room upgrades and breakfasts. Pan Pacific’s GHA Discovery programme offers a Platinum membership even if you stay just two nights in one year at different hotel brands.

CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS

Travellers in large groups often opt for AirBnB. But the platform’s additional fees have been rising significantly, and with more countries cracking down on them, they can be unreliable.

Ascott properties once catered to serviced residences but their new hotel-in-residence model has emerged as a viable alternative for short-stay travellers. This offers multi-bedroom options with shared common places, and quite a few include kitchenettes and washers. Some, like the newly-opened Ascott Dadonghai Bay Sanya, even boast a resort theme with mermaiding workshops and a dedicated children’s playroom.

Solo travellers will enjoy their lyf brand – a co-living arrangement with lively common spaces. This is an upgrade from hostels offering room privacy but with communal facilities where guests can cook, wash, exercise, work and even share travel tips with others.

NO SURPRISES

We’ve all heard about the luggage situation in Europe and cases of rerouted flights due to weather conditions. Travel insurance can help you save on hefty expenses caused by flight delays, missing luggage or illnesses.

HomeTeamNS members who register their interest will enjoy a complimentary year of travel or home insurance with Singlife. The free plan encompasses the most common travel scenarios, and includes payments of up to S$400 for journey diversions, missed or delayed departures and luggages, with even an additional S$100 for each subsequent 6-hour delay. The best news? You also get a Free 1 year HomeTeamNS membership when you opt-in for this promotion.

If you’ve enjoyed the experience, you can always upgrade to their other plans to enjoy other Singlife travel insurance benefits, including trip cancellations for any reason and even rainfall protection.

STAYING CONNECTED

Travel has been made so much easier with digital applications. From directions to translation, the connected visitor can easily navigate the world.

HomeTeamNS members enjoy a whopping 61 per cent off rental rates at ChangiWiFi. This is convenient for travellers with multiple devices, or large groups so they can save on buying multiple sim cards. With unlimited 4G data running on five separate devices, you can always stay connected online to stay updated on ongoing deals as well.

TOURIST PRIVILEGES

Tourism is an important economic aspect to many countries, so check if your destination offers tourist passes. Benefits can include discounts and perks for transportation, attractions, shopping and dining. Some even double up as payment or transportation cards. Go City is particularly handy when it comes to finding them across the globe.

And don’t forget about your own HomeTeamNS membership perks. Check into Changi Recommends and reserve hotels with a S$40 discount. There are also direct promotions with several merchants such as The Boathouse in Phuket or Hard Rock Hotel in Bali too, so remember to check the benefits when making those bookings.

BOOKMARK THOSE SALE DATES

While it started with just 11:11, all savvy shoppers know that sale dates are now commonplace. So before you make a booking see if that repetitive date (8/8, 9/9, 12/12) is just around the corner.

Most major travel platforms such as Trip.com or Klook have frequent sales. They don’t just happen on the day itself, but can have lead-up activities with equally good offers. Some of these can be timed or limited in quantity, so once you have a destination in mind, it is a good idea to research earlier and bookmark your favourites. With some of the most popular attractions up for sale, some of these can go in minutes, so being prepared goes a long way.

SHAPE UP THOSE MILES

Reward cards which accrue flight mileage have long been used to redeem airline tickets or business class upgrades. Such cards – like the American Express Krisflyer or Citi PremierMiles – lets you earn a mile or more per dollar on common spends. Some, like the HSBC Revolution card, offer the same but don’t have an annual fee, while others like the American Express Ascend Krisflyer even boast a free stay at Hilton plus four lounge passes a year to use. 

If you love our national carrier as much as we do, then think about loading up on Krisflyer miles – even without a credit card. The Kris+ app lets you collect miles as you shop and dine, and if you’re thinking of big ticket items or beauty, KrisShop lets you do the same.

VISIT A LESS POPULAR CITY

Visiting smaller, less talked-about cities can offer a more original experience and costs for flights, hotels and food can be considerably lower as well.

Want long, pristine beaches? Choose Danang in Vietnam over the crowded ones in Bali, Indonesia. Love your Japanese food and culture but want a spot of nature? Then head to Nagoya instead of Tokyo. 

If you’re not sure where to start, look at the listings under budget airlines such as Scoot, AirAsia, and Jetstar. They often include under-served cities as an option and can be your inspiration to discovering that next great travel gem.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Categories
Close Up

SGT 1(NS) Ong Jung Yi sacrificed his spot at the Asian Games for a bigger goal. Here’s why.

SEA Games gold medallist Ong Jung Yi is going all out in his pursuit of his dream – to represent Singapore in the Olympics.

TEXT: HOMETEAMNS

PHOTOS: ONG JUNG YI

Ong Jung Yi brought home the gold in the men’s 200m fly at the 2023 SEA Games and earned a spot at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. However, he made the difficult decision to forego the Asian Games in pursuit of a bigger goal – Olympic glory in Paris next year.

“I’m still more than a second off the qualifying time (for the Olympics) which, in elite swimming, is still quite a significant gap. To bridge this, my coach and I have reshaped our training approach.”

His training programme emphasises swimming at high intensity with short rests, focusing on maintaining both speed and form even when he’s tired. Sacrificing a guaranteed Asian Games spot in pursuit of a possible spot in the Olympics is a calculated risk that he feels is worth taking.

“Together with my coach, we’re fully committed and focused on shaving off those crucial seconds to meet the Olympic qualifying mark.”

“To represent Singapore at the Olympics would be the pinnacle of my journey. It symbolises the culmination of years of hard work, competing against the world’s best athletes, on the most prestigious stage in sports. It’s a dream I imagine every athlete carries deep within, and I share that aspiration.”

Despite the scale of the challenge, Jung Yi remains unfazed.

“Competitive swimming has taught me to face challenges head-on. This lesson isn’t just for the pool; it’s for life. Whether it’s in my studies, future job, or any personal goals, the same idea applies.”

SWIMMING MEETS NS TRAINING

Jung Yi completed his National Service (NS) stint, during which he served as a Staff Assistant at Police National Service Department (PNSD). His responsibilities included collating NSmen’s IPPT and marksmanship test data for the department.

He credits his unit for helping him balance his NS and swimming training commitments. “Intensive” could be best used to describe his training programme – eight intensive sessions per week beginning with a two-hour swim at 5.30am every day.

“After a quick refuel with breakfast, I’d head to my unit by 8am. I’m grateful to my unit and superiors whom understood my dual commitment. They allowed me to leave around 5pm, so I didn’t miss my evening sessions at the pool that started at 5.30pm.”

Whether it's adjusting to varying pool conditions or navigating unexpected events like a shift in race timings, my NS foundation ensured I was always ready to adapt.

Balancing multiple commitments made him a stronger competitor. Serving in PNSD meant he was constantly presented with changing scenarios, priorities and demands. This taught him the importance of being flexible and responsive.

This ability to think on his feet proved invaluable during the SEA Games. Competing against top swimmers from Southeast Asia, he had to strategise in real-time, adjusting his pacing and technique to maintain a competitive edge.

“Whether it’s adjusting to varying pool conditions or navigating unexpected events like a shift in race timings, my NS foundation ensured I was always ready to adapt.”

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE POOL

Jung Yi is currently studying for a Computer Science and Design Degree at the Singapore University of Technology and Design where the foundations laid during NS has made it easier for transition to academic work.

“Having wrapped up my first year, I reckon the discipline and time management I honed during National Service that has set the stage for this new challenge. The foundation I built during NS has taught me to prioritise and allocate time effectively to ensure I can stay on top of both my academic and swimming pursuits.”

While training for competitions has long been de regeur for Jung Yi, his training programme differs for local and international meets.

He typically trains for three major local and up to three international competitions annually. The objectives for each type of competition vary.

“Local meets are often seen as platforms for swimmers to refine their techniques and to secure spots for the upcoming international competitions. On the other hand, international competitions are all about delivering peak performance and contending for the top spots.

“Before every competition, we ensure that our prep aligns with these objectives, optimising our readiness and approach.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Club Buzz

The smart parent’s guide to celebrating Halloween with your family

This Halloween, HomeTeamNS has some great ideas to enjoy some spooky, spine-tingling fun with your loved ones

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS, SHUTTERSTOCK

Halloween used to be a relatively quiet affair in Singapore though this has changed in recent years. Families can get in on the fun in myriad ways – and no, it needn’t be all gory and horrific. Halloween is surprisingly inclusive, with as many cute ghosts as there are scary ones, so feel free to adjust the fear factor to you and your children’s sensibilities. 

From visiting the newest horror houses, to making spooky DIY decorations and binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “Halloween Heist” episodes, here are some fun ways to celebrate Halloween with your loved ones.

ESCAPE THE NIGHTMARE ON YISHUN WALK AT KHATIB CLUBHOUSE

If you visit HomeTeamNS Khatib this Halloween weekend, level one will be home to the Spooktober “Fun” House, where members can try fun Halloween-themed activities. Try ghost-karting or visit the spooky CarnEVIL bouncy castle and craft and game stations.

The real fun begins on level four’s House of Nightmares – the event’s official scare zone. The 10-minute trail puts you face-to-face with terrifying dreamscapes, as you try to find the exit. But with other spooky characters wandering the clubhouse, will you ever escape their grasp?

If you have a group of six, why not take on The Curse of Adam escape room? Located at level three’s TactSim, combine cunning and courage to clear the treacherous route.

When: Oct 27 to 29, Fri to Sun

Where: HomeTeamNS Khatib, 2 Yishun Walk Singapore 767944

How much:  From S$25 per pax.  Click here for more deets!

SAVE HUMANITY AT BUKIT BATOK WITH THE RETURN OF HALLOWEEN TOWN

Up for more escape-themed fun? Visit Halloween Town at the Bukit Batok Clubhouse on Oct 28 and 29, from 2pm to 7pm. There’s been an outbreak of a mysterious disease – known as BB003 – and you’re one of humankind’s last hopes. The Apocalypse Antidote: Find the Cure escape room resembles an abandoned hospital where the cure can be found. Will you be able to retrieve the antidote before you are hunted down by the infected?

Young ones can head to Too Cute To Spook at the lobby. Make masks at Boo-tiful Crafts or create ghoulish little crafts to decorate your home. A face artist can transform your child into their favourite monster. Once the young ones are fully disguised, it’s time to dance and collect as many treats before the music stops at the Trick, Treats & Neon Beats.

When: Oct 28 to 29, 2023, Sat & Sun

Where: HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok, 2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7 Singapore 659003

How much:  From $$10 per pax.  Click here for more deets!

AN ALL-OUT SCARE FEST AT BEDOK RESERVOIR WITH FRIGHT NIGHT

The HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse is pulling out all the stops to make this October unforgettable with Fright Night.

As evening approaches on Oct 28, the level two atrium will be home to Brain Juice Popcorn and Bone-chilling Snow Cones. Try shooting down aliens, escaping from zombies or grabbing treats at the Fright Fun game stalls. HomeTeamNS members can enjoy an exclusive activity with the Slipper Bean Bag Trick or Treats station. For kids, there’ll be balloon sculpting, colouring and drawing stations and a Dragonage Bouncy Castle on site.

For a full-on scary experience, head to level three’s Fright Mansion. It has been decorated to resemble a decaying mansion at the edge of a murky reservoir. The clubhouse will also screen the Disney classic, Cruella. A roving magician will also captivate visitors with supernatural sleights of hand.

When: Oct 28, 5.30 to 10pm, Sat

Where: HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, 900 Bedok North Rd Singapore 479994

How much:  From S$4 per pax.  Click here for more deets!

It's a full house at Fright Night! Registration is now closed.

Walk-ins are still welcomed for Fright Fun & Fright Show at the Atrium, Level 2.

FIGHT FOR THE GOOD GUYS

With every spooky villain, there needs to be a hero. Halloween may have frightful origins, but it has evolved into a celebration of light-hearted fun with costumes, so why not dress up as one of the good guys instead?

Costume shops around Singapore offer many options. Become a legit ghostbuster with Custom-made Costumes and Merchandise, or fight the dark side as a Jedi warrior. Costumes ‘N’ Parties has an extensive array of adults and children costumes alike, and Ministry of Costumes is great for helping you coordinate for the whole family by transforming everyone into Marvel or DC characters.

MAKE HANDICRAFTS

Decorating the house always injects a fresh festive vibe, and spending some time making decorations together is a great way to enjoy Halloween. For instance, 5-minute Crafts has an array of wild ideas in this compilation video, from creating nightmarish creatures by combining dolls to ethereal figures created from duct tape.

The scare factor is pretty legit so these are great with older children. For the younger ones, consider simpler crafts like those in this video by Awesomely Crafty. The spiders, pumpkins and bats shown are adorable to look at, and can be cheeky companions to place all around the house to welcome the day.

AN EVENING SCREAMING … WITH LAUGHTER

Ready for some Halloween laughs instead? Sit down for a marathon with the crew of police-comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Ever since the first of its eight-season run began in 2013, the comedy has dedicated one episode for the Halloween Heist. The crew competes for the title of the Ultimate Genius/Detective/Human every Halloween, giving rise to hilarious pranks. If you want a shorter marathon, start with season three episode five, which is widely regarded as one of the series’ best ‘Halloween Heist’ episodes.

FINDING SCARES AROUND THE HOUSE

Instead of going to a haunted house experience, why not turn your home into one? And make it a memorable experience with a scavenger hunt.

Start off with a storytelling session for the kids and let them become the main characters by having them hunt down items to save the day. This could be old keys to unlock the shackles of a trapped parent caught by an evil warlord. Or they could collect symbols to break the curse of a witch. Let your imagination run wild!

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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In The Force

Embracing NS: 2LT Nihaal Manaf’s personal odyssey from recruit to leader

2LT Nihaal Manaf’s NS journey is about overcoming challenges, adapting to new environments, and emerging stronger from the process.

TEXT & PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

Imagine returning home for your National Service (NS) stint after studying abroad for years. 2LT Nihaal Manaf thought that he could adapt well to NS. After all, he had lived in a bustling hostel during his overseas studies and was no stranger to living with others and following structured routines.

Little did he expect that NS would bring about an extra dimension – batchmates from diverse backgrounds who came from different walks of life. As Nihaal got more comfortable with his new “family” in SCDF, he gradually adapted to NS.

This is his inspiring story.

THE WAITING GAME

Anticipation and various unknowns filled Nihaal’s mind, in the months he waited for his NS enlistment letter. As he waited for enlistment day, Nihaal felt physically and mentally unprepared for the journey ahead.

GRADUAL REINTEGRATION

Before enlistment, Nihaal’s interactions were mainly limited to his close family members and friends. Compared to this period of relative isolation, the communal nature of NS took him a while to get used to. Conversations buzzed around him in languages that he could not understand well. As Nihaal thought about the friends that he had left behind, loneliness crept in. It was a reminder that adjustments take time.

FACING CHALLENGES HEAD ON

Two challenges loomed ahead for Nihaal: Physical fitness and regimentation. Thanks to the support of his family and a small circle of friends, Nihaal found the strength to meet these challenges head on. As the days became weeks, Nihaal grew more confident and comfortable around his batchmates.

THE ESSENCE OF NS

Nihaal has come a long way and learnt many valuable lessons. “The key to doing well in NS lies in consistent mental preparation and progressive physical training,” he said.

“Thriving amid discomfort and stretching  personal limits gradually fosters resilience. Throughout the process, it is also crucial to remain positive, to quash any self-doubt and focus on the greater purpose of National Service.”

Today, Nihaal is a 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) who leads his own platoon. He has served as a frontliner, leader, and now, a guide to newcomers – Nihaal’s journey is one of many inspiring stories of how NS can transform lives.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Club Buzz Shape Up

What to do at your first REAL® Run

You’ve signed up for your first REAL® Run, congratulations! Here are some tips to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable experience.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

Whether you’re a seasoned competitive runner or someone looking to get in shape with the family, the 27th edition of the REAL® Run promises to offer a fun day out with friends, family and fellow enthusiasts. Here are some easy ways to ensure you enjoy your run.

EAT A PRE-RACE MEAL

You’ll need energy for your run, so don’t start on an empty stomach. You don’t want to stuff yourself, but a snack or a light meal at least one hour before your race helps.

Stick to easy-to-digest, nutritious options, such as a salad with grilled chicken, clear noodle soup or brown rice with stir-fried meat and vegetables. (Need more tips on eating healthy? We got you.)

DON’T USE A BRAND-NEW PAIR OF SHOES

A brand-new pair of shoes may sound like a good idea, but it could cause blisters. If you’ve already treated yourself to a fresh set of kicks, be sure to break them in at least two weeks prior to the REAL® Run.

HEAD TO THE RACE VENUE EARLY

If you plan to reach the race venue just in time for flag-off, you run the risk of being late, or having to rush to make the start on time. This means you won’t start the REAL® Run in the right frame of mind.

You want to factor in time for baggage check-ins, so you can reach the start line early enough to prepare yourself mentally for the race.

STRETCH AND WARM-UP BEFORE THE RACE

It’s important to stretch and warm up your muscles properly before the race. The idea is to slowly raise your heart rate in anticipation of the run.

If it’s been a while since you focused on your fitness, here are some simple exercises for getting back into the swing of things.

DON’T LINE UP AT THE FRONT

Not unless you’re serious about setting a new personal best or competing for a win in your category, anyway. If your aim (like most participants) is to enjoy yourself, start near the middle or back of the pack so the serious runners don’t have to weave around you at the start.

WATCH YOUR RUNNING FORM

Don’t start the race too fast – build your pace gradually to reduce the risk of stitches. Keep your running form smooth and relaxed. That means leaning forward a little while maintaining an upright torso, and avoiding landing on your heels. Instead, try to land on your mid-foot, which minimises impact.

RUN WITH OTHERS

Encourage your friends and loved ones to join you for the race. Running in a group beats running solo anytime, and everyone can trade stories after the race over a refreshing drink. And whether you end up running with friends or by yourself, it’s usually a good idea to…

CURATE A KILLER PLAYLIST

It doesn’t matter if you’re into rock, hip-hop, dance or pop: Curating a running playlist with your chosen feel-good tunes can help to lift your spirits should you hit that proverbial brick wall.

In addition, a research study found that runners who listened to music ran four to eight per cent faster than those who didn’t.

HYDRATE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER

Bring along a small drink bottle with water or an isotonic drink so you can stay hydrated during the run. Take advantage of water points along your route as well, so you don’t risk succumbing to heatstroke. This is always a concern, especially given our unpredictably hot weather.

COOL DOWN

You’ve completed your distance, congratulations! Remember to stretch those muscles so you don’t feel too sore the next morning. Stretching is an important aspect of post-race recovery and shouldn’t be overlooked.

TRY THE NEW FUN WALK CATEGORY

Participants can choose from four adorable Otah and Friends plushies.

This new 2.4km category is ideal for multi-generational families or anyone looking to bond with their friends and loved through an easy, stress-free walk. Bonus: You can collect an Otah and Friends plushie as a REAL® Run souvenir. (There are four adorable plushies to choose from, each inspired by a furry or feathery native animal.)

For a visual reminder of the event, make your way down to the Otah mascot photo-taking session – just one of the fun post-race activities that you can check out on the REAL® Run 2023 microsite.

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Categories
Lifestyle

Simple ways to have fun with your kids

Family fun: From visiting nature parks to the Science Centre, here are some easy ways to bond with the kids that won’t break the bank.

TEXT: HOMETEAMNS

IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK, SCIENCE CENTRE SINGAPORE

If you’re planning activities that the entire family (including young-at-heart members) can enjoy now that the school holidays are approaching, we’ve got you covered! Here are some affordable ideas for fun family activities that will entertain and educate the little ones.

DISCOVER STEM

If you want to encourage Junior’s love for STEM subjects, the Science Centre is a good starting point. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 10-per-cent off Science Centre and KidsSTOP Annual Passes. Learn more about aviation science, discover the endless possibilities of 3D printing and visit the living laboratory that is Ecogarden. Valid till Dec 31, 2024, members just need to download the HomeTeamNS app for the promo code.

GET CRAFTY

It’s all too easy to distract little ones with a mobile game or cartoon on their favourite streaming platform. If you’re concerned your kids are getting too much screen time, engage them with fun art and craft or origami projects. This helps to exercise their creative thinking skills and build something with their own hands. Besides being a great avenue for family fun, it could even spark an interest in DIY projects when they get older.

Another option? Help your kids immerse themselves in decoden art at H&H Studio. The term is short for “decorate phone” or “deco-den”, a crafting technique that involves dressing up items with decorative elements like beads and small figurines.

Valid till April 23, 2024, members enjoy 10 per cent off all workshops – the promo code can be downloaded via the HomeTeamNS app.

ENCOURAGE BUDDING BAKERS

Is there a budding Jamie Oliver in the family? Say hello to Genius R Us, a hands-on baking school that teachers kids to bake delicious desserts. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 15 per cent off regular fees at the HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier outlet. To enjoy this great deal, just download and present your digital membership card from the HomeTeamNS Mobile App during payment.

MAKE YOUR WAY TO MANDAI

Have your kids been inspired by Sir David Attenborough? Encourage their love for nature at the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, which is home to world-renowned attractions like the Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari. If you’re a HomeTeamNS member (or are besties with one), you’ll enjoy discounts of up to 40 per cent by downloading the promo code through the HomeTeamNS app. This deal is valid till March 31, 2024.

EXPLORE ART

The Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery is a great opportunity to explore artwork with your kids and even features toddler-friendly artworks. This year’s event features 11 interactive and immersive artworks based on the theme: Let’s Make A Better Place. It encourages visitors to think of ways to create a world built on the exhibition’s core values of care, respect, imagination and collaboration.

SOAK UP THE SUN

Want to escape the urban jungle and enjoy some family fun in the sun? Explore Mount Faber and Sentosa with the family. Till March 31, 2024, members enjoy up to 30 per cent discounts at Mount Faber Leisure Attractions – Wings of Time, SkyHelix Sentosa, Cable Car and Sentosa Island Bus Tour. Download and present your digital membership card from the HomeTeamNS Mobile App when buying tickets.

Another great option is to visit a nature park like HortPark, one of several such parks in Singapore. It brings together gardening-related, educational and retail activities at one location and also serves as a knowledge centre on plants and gardening.

PLAN A PICNIC

A picnic isn’t just a great chance for the family to enjoy some time in the sun, it can also be an opportunity to impart some life skills to your little ones. Put your kids in charge of planning the picnic. Give them a budget and let them plan a picnic menu. This will help them learn fiscal responsibility in a fun way. And best of all, if the weather doesn’t work out, you can still have your picnic at home.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.