One-week self-care challenge
When I was first given the option to take up a self-care challenge, I thought that I would never be able to find the time to do it due to work piling up and frequent OT-ing. I was ready to give this challenge a pass when the irony hit me: I’d been so busy that I’d been neglecting my basic needs.
Exercise, healthy meals, and pampering sessions seemed like things I used to do in a previous life, but not any longer. So I decided that a week of self-care might just do the trick and armed myself with some essentials to help ease the process. Here’s how my challenge went:
Monday: Did 15 minutes of yoga before work
As much as I enjoy what I do for a living, there’s no escaping the Monday blues. Once I’m awake, my mind is usually in a chaotic state trying to organise my thoughts. Impending deadlines and meetings flood my head, causing some anxiety before the day has even started.
My first self-care challenge was to do a short yoga session to clear my mind. I tuned into SarahBethYoga’s Morning Yoga for Beginners to warm my body up.
In preparation for my morning yoga sessions, I made sure to stock up on essentials such as a yoga mat beforehand. I also got myself some Grip Socks ($15) from local barre studio Upside Motion as they’re meant to prevent slipping during poses that require balance like the downward-facing dog.
Just 15 minutes of yoga was enough for me to feel more centred. Taking the time to breathe slowly and focus my energy helped to alleviate some stress. I was then ready to take on the week and its challenges.
Tuesday: Levelled up my showers with aromatherapy tablets
As someone who’s hustling to be financially independent, downtime is a luxury I haven’t experienced in the last few years. And right now, I’m in desperate need of a break to recharge. One of my favourite ways to quickly destress has always been to soak in a tub. But I don’t have one at home, and I don’t have the time to book a hotel that comes with one either.
The next best option I found was essential oil shower steamers ($19.99). They were listed under “gifts for women” on Amazon, and I decided to get this as a treat for myself. As a bonus, I got free delivery although it was shipped from Hong Kong – it’s an ongoing perk from now till 31st December 2021.
The tablets are easy to use: Pop one on the floor while you’re showering and let the warm water activate the essential oils within.
A cloud of ocean scented vapours filled the bathroom to create an instant aromatherapy session. It’s no vacation replacement, but for those 20 minutes in the shower, it felt like I was at a beach resort in Bali for a moment.
Wednesday: Made cute bento sets for my WFH lunch
As a burnt out office worker, I often prioritise convenience over nutrients, often choosing to pack in calories in the form of fast food. But the carb and fat-heavy meals do take a toll on my body, making me sluggish and unable to concentrate post lunch.
So I decided to take charge of my caloric intake and make something fresher and healthier. To make things a little more fun, I tried my hand at making those cute Japanese bento rice balls I’d been seeing on TikTok.
I found a Lovely Cat Rice Ball Mold ($26.75) set I needed to make cat-shaped rice balls. I was also out of rice but managed to find it on Amazon Fresh. I made an order on Wednesday morning and received my delivery in 2 hours – just in time for lunch!
Not the best looking bento but this mid-day break of shaping rice balls was somewhat therapeutic
Making a cute lunch wasn’t as easy as I expected. The seaweed was hard to cut through and the rice balls kept falling apart. But there was a sense of accomplishment that came with putting this all together. It helped that this light lunch didn’t lull me into a food coma too.
Thursday: Tried sleeping better with an eye mask & sleep music
Like many others, late nights are a norm for me. Although I’m usually exhausted by nightfall, bad habits like scrolling through social media keep me up till the wee hours of the morning. Then my mind stays running as I try to get a good night’s sleep.
To counter this, I tried out a pair of Sleep Headphones Eye Mask ($41.62). They wrapped snugly around my head, blocking out 100% of light. This also impeded my ability to look at my phone, and forced me to get some proper shut eye.
The eye mask is thickly padded all around so it’s super comfy to wear all night
Another nifty feature of the eye mask is its Bluetooth speaker function. I paired it with my phone and played some soothing sounds of nature, which helped me drift off to sleep easily. I set a timer on Spotify to switch the playlist off after an hour, and by that time, I was deep in dreamland for the first time in a couple of months.
Friday: Watched sitcoms and comedies for a good laugh
Once I made it to the end of the work week, I closed all my work tabs on my browser at 6PM sharp to get ready to nua. More often than not, checking out of work on time made me feel guilty if the rest of my colleagues were still working. But since this was my week of self-care, I put that shame aside to allow myself to fully enjoy my weekend.
My brain can always take a break from thinking, and for me, that means zoning out watching comedies.
Armed with my Prime membership subscription, I tuned into one of my go-to reruns on Amazon Prime Video: The Office. The familiar dialogue and relatable work experiences immediately put me in a good mood.
After a couple of episodes, I checked out a couple of shows by Amazon Originals for a night of binge-watching. I recommend watching Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – both dramedies that bring out laughs and tears.
Saturday: Brewed my own coffee for breakfast
Cafe-hopping is quite the Singaporean must-do on weekends, but because of the bad weather, I chose to stay in. I also wanted to make my own coffee for a change instead of spending unnecessary money.
Forgoing my regular cup of joe, I reached for my stash of Hook Coffee’s Variety Packs ($20). It’s a local company I found under Amazon’s Small Businesses that supports Singapore outfits. The variety pack comes with different flavoured coffees and I picked Singablend, which is inspired by a childhood favourite snack – iced gem biscuits.
To make this drip-style coffee, rip the top off the origami bag then place onto a mug. Then pour a steady stream of hot water over the coffee grounds.
My standard order is an iced latte, so I topped mine off with fresh milk. To my surprise, the taste was quite comparable to those I’ve had at cafes. The lack of a cafe ambience was noticeable but I was grateful to be able to stay home for a change.
With my freshly-brewed coffee in hand, I caught up on where I left off on Fleabag last night. It wasn’t the Saturday I imagined but it was a much needed mellow one for a worn out me.
Sunday: Practice mindfulness to declutter my mind
On the last day of my challenge, I realised that practicing small forms of self-care throughout the week was something I wanted to be a permanent part of my life. I decided to tune into “mindfulness” to benefit my mental wellness in the long run.
Turning to recommendations on Amazon’s book storefront, I picked up The Little Book Of Mindfulness ($13.28) to see how I can get started.
There are exercises within that don’t take more than 10 minutes each, such as writing out statements of affirmation to yourself. Every exercise aims to help let go of stress in order to be in the moment. I tried one on self-compassion and confidence, and by the end of it I was inspired not to be so hard on myself.
I still find it difficult to not criticise my flaws but there’s at least been a mindset shift. It’s progress towards retaining self-care in my life.
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Here’s more inspiration on how to practice self-care
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Photography by Tasha Sun.