To be your best self in 2022, make it a point to refresh, recharge and embark on new challenges
TEXT: MELODY TAN
Multi-tasking is a skill that many of us have honed to a fine art – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when working from home became a norm. Singaporeans are used to wearing several hats, often all at the same time: Hardworking employee, caring spouse, loving parent, filial son or daughter. On weekends or after working hours, we often turn into houseproud cleaners, private-hire drivers, accomplished chefs or food da pao maestros for our families. There’s no denying that despite our best intentions, we sometimes take on too much and are exhausted instead of being rejuvenated by our personal commitments.
As such, it is important to set aside quality time for yourself to prevent burnout – after all, work is a known source of stress in Singapore. The pandemic has also changed our perceptions of work-life balance. In a 2021 survey by Oracle, more than half of the respondents reported feeling a loss of control over their futures and personal lives. Over 90 per cent of respondents also said that the meaning of success had changed for them.
Taking time off to focus on your own needs can not only reduce stress, but restore your inner equilibrium and even improve creativity – making you not just a better professional, but also a better partner, parent and person. Here are some tips on how to incorporate ‘me-time’ into your daily routine this new year.
Yoga sessions don’t have to involve signing up for classes or heading out to a studio. You can buy a mat and do short yoga exercises from YouTube in the comfort of your own bedroom or living room, during your lunch break or before you head out to the office.
Yoga’s benefits are not just physical. Learning to breathe, which is one of yoga’s most important aspects, can help you to relax mentally and even sleep better. Some practitioners have reported feeling more energetic and alert, as well as having improved moods. Just holding a pose for five to 15 minutes can help to clear your mind and give you a much-needed time-out during a busy day.
For something that can be done anywhere and doesn’t require a mat, turn to meditation. When you’re waiting for the train, standing in line to buy dinner or getting ready for work, you can try taking deep, slow, intentional breaths to clear your mind.
In addition to reducing stress, meditation can help to control anxiety, enhance self-awareness and increase one’s attention span. You can use apps like Headspace to learn how to meditate or get tips on exercises aimed at improving sleep, creativity or focus.
WRITE IT OUT
With so much going on in our lives, just getting through the day can be a challenge. Journalling can help sort out your thoughts, feelings and priorities, helping you to understand yourself and others better while at the same time, organising the never-ending flow of ideas, people and events in your head.
Whether you choose to write in a fancy leather-bound notebook, on scrap paper or on the Notes app of your phone, studies have found that journalling can lead to a host of benefits, including improved sleep, better self-esteem, greater intelligence, a stronger immune system — and even faster wound healing! While you are unlikely to turn into Wolverine from the X-Men, taking a few minutes at bedtime to write about your day is a great way to unwind, relax and over time, create a record of your own self-development.
LET IT GO – LITERALLY
Living in an untidy environment is known to be stressful for people. It’s hard to find the things you need, and you don’t have enough space for all the things you have. In comparison, decluttering your home can resolve tension, reduce anxiety and even boost your confidence.
With Chinese New Year coming up, many households in Singapore are going through an annual spring cleaning. But you don’t need a special occasion to declutter.
If the task seems intimidating, home organisation guru Marie Kondo recommends going by category, not location, to make it easier. Instead of tackling one room at a time, choose a category of item – for example, clothes – and spending a few hours during the weekend discarding items that no longer spark joy.
If you can’t bear the thought of throwing them into the garbage, you can consider selling good-quality items on online marketplaces like Carousell, or donate them to good causes such as Books Beyond Borders, Junk To Clear and the other organisations listed here. You might make your item’s recipient very happy while also creating a more comfortable, spacious home for yourself.
CONNECT WITH YOUR CIRCLE
The benefits of friendship are manifold. Besides preventing loneliness and reducing stress, friends give us a sense of belonging, make us feel more confident and resilient, and even improve our physical health – studies have shown that older adults with fulfilling social lives are likely to live longer.
Still, keeping up with friends or extended family members can be tough when everyone is so busy. Some may also live overseas or have work schedules that make meeting up difficult.
Even if it’s just a breezy text message or a quick phone call, reaching out to them can help to reaffirm your closeness and strengthen your bond. If you want to meet in real life but have conflicting schedules, try suggesting an early morning run or a weekend late-night supper. You could also combine family time with friends, by meeting at a HomeTeamNS clubhouse for a quick coffee catch-up while the kids get to know one another over board and console games at PlayPen or play time at T-Play, the Transportation and Peranakan-themed indoor playgrounds.
After all, catching up with an old friend gives you the opportunity to connect with someone who accepts your flaws and quirks without question, knows how to make you laugh, is comfortable enough to be completely honest with you, and has seen you grow into the person that you are today.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
From rock-climbing to cross-stitching to public speaking, there are plenty of things you haven’t tried yet. Why not make 2022 the year you take up a new challenge?
Doing something new and different can open exciting doors, such as discovering a lifelong hobby or embarking on a career transformation. It’s also been known to sharpen your thinking skills, keep you from getting stale and boring (or being bored) and help you grow as a person.
To conquer your fear of the unknown, start small. For example, if you want to learn how to cook, choose a simple recipe to follow that doesn’t require a lot of kitchen equipment or complicated techniques. If you prefer to be guided, check out the huge variety of courses and activities on offer at your nearest HomeTeamNS clubhouse – there’s something for everyone, and you can sign up with friends or family as well.
From time to time, it’s good to hang up your multiple hats and concentrate on your own fulfilment and growth – for the benefit of your loved ones, as well as yourself. As we enter 2022, make this the year that you choose to focus on you.