Have you ever felt the desperation to unwind and the need to relax after a long tiring day at work catering to the needs of others? In this fast-paced, hyper-connected world we live in, unplugging our mind and body from the exterior world seems impossible, yet it is the simplest thing to do.
Self-care is anything we do to nourish ourselves, which is crucial when we are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out from our jam-packed lives. With that being said, that is why creating a self-care space at home is a great idea to shut the rest of the world out and turn inward.
Having a self-care space in the comfort of your own home helps you to have the inner strength to understand yourself better and give yourself what you truly need. Making time and space for self-care means creating time in your day to focus on recharging and prioritizing yourself. On purpose. You read that right. Might sound like a bit of trouble and time-consuming, but trust us! Once you’ve made it as a routine, you’ll have more time in your day and a clearer headspace for you to tackle tasks more efficiently.
A great self-care space also helps you to practice focused attention which allows you to deepen your relationships with others and of course, will help you to be more productive!
In order to create a self-care space at home, you must first figure out what a self-care space looks like for you. Since this space serves you as an escape, it should be done by you, for you. So you’ll know what works best with the space and what will make you feel at ease in the space where you’ll be learning yourself. Whether it’s a cozy corner in your bedroom or balcony full of your plant babies, or even the shower, as long as you feel safe and comfortable, you are good to go!
Onto the next steps, ditch your screens. Yes, of all kinds! Put them on silent and it’s time for you to turn that big brain of yours on auto-pilot mode and let it wander and daydream. Because in our hectic lives, we hardly give ourselves a chance to daydream and ponder. Giving your brain a break can help you rest up for future challenges and relieve any stress that may be lingering.
Another wonderful addition to your self-care space would be words of affirmation, so you could manifest and remind yourself that there is no one else in this entire universe, who deserves your love and affection more than you yourself.
At the end of the day, everyone needs a break. Therefore, disconnecting from the outside world for a while to recharge, is not a bad idea after all.
There is no denying that with all the extra time we had in hand these past two years, we naturally had time to engage in some soul-searching. Living in the age of information, it was not that difficult for many of us to pick which outlet or platform to help us with that journey.
While I was scrolling incessantly through my social media platforms, I began to notice many self-care apps and programmes filling the ad space. The digital universe seems to have started to hint at the importance of maintaining spiritual well-being.
In a traditional sense, people would reach out to astrologers, go on meditation retreats, go on pilgrimages, or reach out to those who practice alternative medicine to enrich their spirit. Thanks to the introduction of mobile apps, streaming platforms, and social media platforms, we can now practice these in the comforts of our own homes. Therefore, it is no surprise to come across such practitioners offering one-on-one sessions of daily meditation guides, sharing daily affirmations, offering tarot readings, and sharing their experiences of their spiritual awakenings.
What is Spiritual Self-Care?
Spiritual self-care goes hand in hand with the practice of soul-searching. Therefore, we can say that the steps we take towards improving our connection to a higher self are in essence, spiritual self-care. It can start with the simplest of actions, such as practising gratitude, spending time in nature, reading a daily affirmation, taking part in group prayers or meditation classes.
Enriching your spiritual well-being
If we were to look at the simple actions we take towards enriching our spiritual well-being, you would notice that these actions could also help us to decompress, relieve stress, find inner peace and achieve some balance in our minds. Studies have revealed that practising living a spiritual/ religious life could assist with battling depression, responding to setbacks in life in a more empathetic manner, and finding a support system that will be there for us during our life’s highs and lows.
Lately, the spiritual self-care topic has amassed millions of users on TikTok to follow accounts such as @MysticTarot and @babyreckless as they rally around the content that is released for their followers. The app’s informal format has allowed such influencers to post bite-sized videos multiple times a day under tags like #Spiritualtok, #spiritualmeaning, #Spiritual and #wellness that reaches millions and billions of views.
Given the ongoing crises around our world, there has not been a better time to look at nurturing our spiritual well-being. Even if it means that some of us are not religiously inclined, there are still practical methods that are in place to practice spiritual well-being.
Here are some apps that would help you in your journey to improve your spiritual well-being:
- Co-star – Founded by Banu Guler, this app provides daily astrology readings and zodiac-sign inspired tips.
- Breathwrk – Founded by Max Gomez, the platform provides its users with breathing exercises backed by science and research that would help them fall asleep, relieve stress and anxiety, improve endurance and energise themselves.
- LOA – Law of Attraction Toolbox brings you the best teachings of Abraham-Hicks, the app provides you tools, exercises and games to help focus, visualise and improve your mood any time of the day.
The “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” (Menstrual Hygiene is a Woman’s Right) movement launched in November 2021, calls for the support of the Rakyat, to contribute in a small yet powerful way to the campaign which runs until January 2022. The movement is a result of a synergy between KAO Laurier Malaysia, Yayasan Perintis Malaysia (MyPerintis) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) as a step forward in bridging the disparity gap in period poverty among young women in higher education institutions across Malaysia.
“We believe Malaysians view period poverty as a critical area of need and wish to be part of the solution. This campaign is inspired by KAO Laurier’s Kirei lifestyle philosophy and our mission to make life beautiful for all. A Kirei lifestyle is full of compassion, demonstrated by the inclusivity and care we wish to extend to the B40 community in universities. It’s why we do what is right, not what is easy. We put our innovation and imagination to the task of enriching lives by finding ways for people all over the world to live the Kirei lifestyle,” explained Kao Laurier Malaysia Marketing Vice President, Tan Poh Ling.
“Above and beyond contributing to the needs of young women from the B40 community in higher education institutions, we look forward to amplify discussions around period poverty that will further inspire efforts to eradicate the issue in Malaysia. We hope the Rakyat will join us in this nationwide initiative, in which their regular monthly purchase of sanitary napkins can now be extended to help young Malaysians within the B40 community,” Tan added.
The Ministry of Higher Education said, “Addressing period poverty is crucial in meeting the socio- economic needs of marginalised girls and women. This public-private partnership between KAO Laurier Malaysia, MyPerintis and Ministry of Higher Education is an example of all parties coming together, bringing value to the table, in order to address the challenge of period poverty. While the road towards addressing this multidimensional issue will be long, we believe a collective effort will see us progress towards sustainable solutions.”
29-year old Sahirah, a Sales and Marketing Executive from Kuala Lumpur, and 31-year old Ket, a Financial Manager from Damansara, shared insights on the concerning issue of period poverty and their message for women in need.
“I am very concerned about the period poverty issue that is currently all over social media, but I believe that many are still unaware of the unfortunate situation, that girls are unable to access safe and hygienic-sanitary products due to financial constraints,” Sahirah shared. “To all girls who are suffering, please know that it is okay to reach out to other people. In Malaysia, we have a lot of committed parties, NGO(s), for example, who are passionate about spearheading initiatives like this; you can always reach out to them via social media. You have to know that you are not alone.”
“I am actually quite surprised to hear about the period poverty campaign; that there are women out there who are facing serious financial constraints – to the extent that they could not afford to purchase sanitary pads. Some even had to opt for alternatives, such as cloth, to solve the issue. Our responsibility is to find the solution to help them,” said Ket. “Malaysians, including me, are always ready to help. So women in need should not be ashamed to ask for it,” he added.
Laurier Night Safe Brand Ambassador, Sweet Qismina shared, “As a young woman myself, it breaks my heart knowing there are young women in Malaysia who are hindered from carrying out daily routines and living life to the fullest on account of not having access to feminine hygiene care necessities. Nevertheless, I’m encouraged that we, as Malaysians, can play an active role to help address period poverty in a small way. As the saying goes, great oaks from little acorns grow (sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit). Together, our simple contribution can make a difference in the lives of young women in universities across Malaysia.”
As we embark on a new year, our health and wellbeing are at the forefront of our minds, but a wellness journey would not be complete without financial wellness. Maintaining good financial health can be a struggle, especially if we’ve neglected it for too long – the right tools can help us get on track and stay there.
Thanks to technology, there are now a plethora of apps to assist us in the ongoing process of staying on top of our financial lives. Say bye-bye to your calculator, here are 7 financial wellness apps to help you manage your money better:
To have control over your income nowadays is a struggle, let alone managing your budget and tracking your expenses. Monefy is a good option for a budget manager and financial tracker app, especially for beginners as it has a simple user interface that makes navigation easy, quick, and accessible for everyone.
Is developing a healthy spending habit one of your new year’s resolutions this year? Make that happen by using Spendee – an award-winning budgeting app that tracks spending and optimizes budget in one place. By connecting your online banking and eWallet to Spendee, all of your expenses are synced, displayed, and automatically categorized! Also, there’ll be notifications sent to you once your budget is exceeded to help maintain a positive cash flow.
Splitting bills among friends and family during a trip or hangouts are normal. But what makes it not fun is when we start to overlook the bills and forget who owes who. Splitwise is here to help you keep track of your shared expenses, balance with friends and family, and easily add on the go tabs before you forget. It’s simply a lifehack!
If you love to travel but hate carrying around your bank cards everywhere, BigPay app is the answer. It comes with a card that you can use anywhere in the world without having to enable overseas transactions every time you’re travelling, and let you manage your money in different currencies, definitely a traveler’s favorite. BigPay helps you to track your expenses while travelling so you won’t have a budgeting scare during the trip!
For Bill Payment
Being the pioneer of cashless payments, TNG eWallet gets everything sorted out for you. You can now make payments at more than 250,000 merchants and simply pay your utility bills on a hectic day! From shopping at your favorite e-commerce apps to paying your favorite mamak place via QR pay, you no longer have to go through the hassle of cashing out. Reloading your TNG card couldn’t be easier with this app!
Cash? You don’t need that! With Boost app covering over 200,000 merchants including your favorite fast-food chains and favorite brands outlet, worry not if you have no cash because it’s time to just scan and pay! For each transaction made via Boost app, points are earned that later you can enjoy the perks and redeem your Boost star points for rewards from the BoostUP catalogue.
It’s not just e-hailing and food delivery, it’s more than that! GrabPay lets you pay for your everyday services like bills, prepaid reloads and even groceries while earning points and rewards after every transaction you made. Just link your bank cards to your Grab account then you’re good to go!
By Prof Dr Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Taylor’s University
The World Economic Forum (WEF) published ‘The Future of Jobs Report’ in 2020, warning that recession and the robot revolution may displace 85 million jobs by 2025. Machines are set to take over information and data processing, administrative tasks and routine manual jobs of white collar and blue collar workers.
The Covid-19 pandemic, border closures and national lockdowns have accelerated these changes in an unprecedented way, with businesses across the globe hastening their digitalisation of work processes and automation, with millions of low-skilled workers bearing the brunt.
Yet, the silver lining is that an estimated 97 million other jobs would be created, especially in industries requiring soft skills such critical thinking, creativity, reasoning and communication. These industries include artificial intelligence, content creation, engineering, cloud computing, and product development.
The catch is – are you the kind of worker that companies want to keep, or hire, in 2025?
The WEF says that to keep their jobs in the next five years, 50% of workers will need to reskill. In fact, by 2022, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.
Perhaps it is during the pandemic that many have realised that they need a fall back plan, which would enable them to value add to their current set of skills or quickly switch to a different industry. At Taylor’s, we’ve seen an increasing interest in courses such as data analysis, computing and education.
It’s with this realisation that workers have to pivot their careers and align with industry needs, that the Malaysian government allocated RM1billion in Budget 2022 for upskilling and reskilling programmes.
This also accommodates tax reliefs for those looking to level up their skills, with exemptions ranging from RM1,000 to RM2,000 for expenses incurred when attending reskilling and upskilling courses, claimable until 2023. Those looking to attend private upskilling courses would also be given a RM7,000 tax relief for their course fees, as long as they are enrolled in an approved institution or body.
Reskilling and upskilling can take many forms; such as through added responsibilities in a current job role, job rotations, being coached by peers or through a company’s learning and development programme.
However, one can agree that there are obstacles – be it company policies, lack of opportunities, or the structured manner of job roles – when employees want to ‘try out’ other job roles they are not skilled for, or to take up a company-funded programme with regards to a skill that is not at all related to their job.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for flexible short courses that helps you gain the required skills you desire without hurting your pocket, and even gain certification for it, there are microcredential programmes available.
What are microcredentials?
Microcredentials is an industry recognised certification of learning of a smaller set of courses with credit value. It is designed to verify, validate, and attest that you have the knowledge, skills, or competencies in a specific area.
They are shorter, focused on a specific topic or skill, and more flexible than a traditional degree and designed according to the current market trends for various industries and professions.
Alternatively, those who have time on their hands could consider postgraduate courses, with an end-goal in mind. A Master’s or PhD programme would be appropriate for those wanting to deepen their knowledge in a particular area in an industry, or pivot their career into a different industry altogether such as counselling or teaching, or use this as a stepping stone into research and academia.
One may also enroll in a Master’s course if he or she is aiming to stand out from other job candidates, gain management skills and form networks in the industry, such as in the case of pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration.
Additionally, one can also look into postgraduate diplomas, which is a shorter duration compared to a Master’s degree.
No matter the route you take, the signs are clear; we need to start taking note of the changes in the job market and in the industry, and act before we are left behind.
Options for upskilling and reskilling is critical for Malaysians at this juncture, as a report published by McKinsey & Co (McKinsey) titled ‘Automation and adaptability: How Malaysia can navigate the future of work’ confirms the global findings of WEF.
By 2030, we will see 4.5 million people losing their jobs in Malaysia. That is approximately 25% of the workforce in the country.
Fortunately, new jobs that are emerging are those that can co-exist with technology, hence the need for working adults to upskill or reskill not just for career progression or a career switch, but to keep their jobs.
Such options will be increasingly mainstream as people approach education with a lifelong learning mentality, interspersing education with their working life, as various waves of the Industrial Revolution and disruptions to the industry continue to emerge.
It’s one of the most human things about us – to constantly focus on the flaws in ourselves and others. It’s in our nature to persistently try to jump into becoming the ideal person we wish ourselves to be. Although this can make us strive to grow and become the best versions of ourselves, other times we can end up holding ourselves to certain standards we have to reach, and standards we sometimes expect others to reach; whether they are close loved ones or even complete strangers we see on the internet.
It’s important to know that constantly striving for perfection can become toxic; and holding certain high expectations towards others too, can become toxic. How about when we find ourselves criticizing strangers we see on social media? When we notice ourselves criticizing strangers we have no clue about, we may want to ask ourselves whether it’s because we have subconsciously detached ourselves from being empathetic or even occasionally, whether it’s because of our own insecurities.
It can be hard to not compare ourselves to past versions or to expected versions of ourselves; as well as reminding ourselves that it isn’t our position to speak of our loved one’s lives as if we are the dictator of how they live theirs. As for strangers that we see on the internet, we could do some self-reflection and ask ourselves why we hold certain opinions towards them. Are they from our own deep rooted insecurities? Or if they live their life nothing like how we wish to live ours, are we critical perhaps because we actually just aren’t happy with ours?
Replacing Criticism With Curiosity
With all this talk of criticism, we may want to self-reflect and try practicing being more mindful so that when we catch these versions of ourselves present, we’ll know what to try doing instead.
When finding yourself being critical towards yourself:
- Replace doubting your own potential with an open-mind of questions such as, “What if it all turns out better than I had hoped for?”. This can open your curiosity of what you are truly capable of if you just gave yourself the chance. You just might apply for that job you were so afraid of.
- Release expectations of where you should be, how you should act, what you should look like, and instead become curious about the kind of person you could become if you just released all that weight from your shoulders.
- Remind yourself that when it comes to mistakes, it can be sensible to self-reflect and / or apologize if the situation calls for it. However, after you’ve taken the time, replace that self-criticism with the curiosity of the person you will now continue growing into after experiencing a possible lesson.
When finding yourself being critical towards someone you don’t know:
- Replace the criticism with empowerment instead. Support how they dress, how they talk, and how they present themselves to the public. Be happy for them instead, that they are expressing themselves the way they wish to!
- Release all comparisons. Whether it’s comparing yourself to them or them to others, remember, everyone’s different and it is perfectly okay to live a life that is different from how others wish to.
- Remind yourself to be empathetic. Everyone’s trying their best.
When finding yourself being critical towards a loved one:
- Replace judgment with interest. Interest to see where they go in life with their own decisions. They may find it incredibly loving knowing you stand with them and their choices.
- Release expectations. Even if your expectations and care comes from a place of love and wanting to see them live their best life. Try releasing yourself from focusing on their flaws, and instead be open to knowing that there is so much more to them than their mistakes and your expectations of them.
- Remind yourself that even if you don’t agree with them, it isn’t up to us to dictate how someone else should live their life.
Whether it’s having an opinion on the way a stranger chooses to present themselves online, or the way a friend decides on how they want to live their life, we can definitely try being more empathetic and accepting by replacing criticism with curiosity instead. And as we find ourselves letting go and supporting how they wish to live, we may find ourselves being a lot kinder not only to them but to ourselves too.
New Year, New Goals, New You. With 2022 on the horizon, many of us are starting to wonder about how we’d like to better ourselves in the New Year. The classic New Year’s resolutions we hear every January range from working out to eating healthier. While these are great goals, there are plenty more ways to improve your well-being.
Your resolutions don’t necessarily have to be flashy – in fact, they can be totally invisible to others. The past two years have been full of adjustments in all our lives. So, why not make 2022 the year of mental health?
Here are 5 ideas to get you started:
Commit to Kinder Self-Talk
We all have a voice in our head, constantly narrating throughout our day. When was the last time you examined that voice? For many of us, our inner voice tends to be our harshest critic. Luckily, with some effort, we can gently shift our self-talk to be kinder and compassionate. Next time, when the voice in your head sounds a little harsh, try thinking about what you would say to a close friend in that situation. With time, “I messed up” can morph into “I’m learning and growing”.
Learn to Say No
Our time and energy are our most precious resources, yet many of us struggle to expend these resources the way we want it. People-pleasing is a surefire way to feel burned out. So, in 2022, evaluate which people, activities and interests are your priorities. When you have this figured out, you will slowly master the art of saying “no” firmly (and kindly) to things you don’t have time for at the moment. Remember, you have the right to politely decline, and you don’t have to qualify your no(s) if you don’t want to.
Make Sleep a Priority
Once you’ve learned to say no if that’s the right choice for you, this is the part where you bag in the rest you deserve. We’re a sleep-deprived generation. Some people consider lack of sleep a badge of honour, a signifier of success. But remember, growth doesn’t always mean grind. Start turning off your phone an hour before bedtime. Instead, use this hour to relax in your bed without any distractions.
Try Gratitude Journaling
Keeping a gratitude journal can be one of the simplest things you can do for your mental health. Gratitude journals aren’t like the diaries you may have kept as a teenager. Instead of writing random thoughts, write about the things you’re grateful for – big or small. Maybe start by writing once or twice per week. Gratitude is a skill you can cultivate, and in turn, shifts your mindset towards seeing more positivity!
Ask for Help
Finally, recognise that in 2022, you don’t have to do it all alone. Many of us often feel embarrassed to request for help – be it a ride to the airport or a simple talk on a big decision. Sometimes, we may have a lot on our plate, and it can get difficult to cope with it on our own. And if you’re struggling with your mental health, seeking out professional help is one the kindest things you can do for yourself. Consider going for therapy. The empathy, care and support you’ll get can help reduce your stress and live brighter in the New Year.
As we move into 2022, remember that we’re all works in progress and always will be. Our mental wellness isn’t a box to check off, instead it’s a practice we commit to. With some reflection and help from our loved ones, we can tackle 2022 head on with all our beautiful messiness and imperfections.
When the first lockdown was announced and I was told that I could work from home, I thought it was the best thing that could happen to me. I wanted to make full use of the time that I had at hand and workout, cook healthy meals, do other household chores, whilst trying to meet deadlines at work.
Little did I know that soon, all these tasks were going to overwhelm me and affect the quality of my work. I seem to have set up unrealistic expectations by trying to cram in these household tasks during my work hours, and later on realised that my work was trickling into the after-work hours that I would spend with my loved ones at home.
I was struggling to switch off work mode even during my off-days, which I did not realise until my partner pointed it out. What I was experiencing was toxic productivity – I was extremely obsessed with productivity, yet at the end of the day, had not achieved anything qualitative be it at work or in my personal life.
Although toxic productivity is something that has been under discussion for years, the past two years of the pandemic seems to have popularised the term. Toxic productivity goes hand-in-hand with hustle culture and workaholism, and tends to trap a person in a never-ending cycle of work, which leaves you with a feeling that you are not doing enough.
It stems from a culture that praises and rewards productivity, which is a good thing, but does not always tell us where to draw the line. You get obsessed with work – where you are trying to do more, not taking into account the quality of work that you are delivering, leading you to burnout.
Dangers of Toxic Productivity
While toxic productivity can indeed negatively affect your relationships and leave you with feelings of guilt, it can also lead to workplace burnout and fatigue. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of diseases included burn-out as an occupational phenomenon in its 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
According to WHO, “burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased negativity or cynicism in relation to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.
If you feel like you may be suffering from toxic productivity right now, you are not alone. A 2020 study conducted by global staffing firm Robert Half found that nearly 7 in 10 professionals (68%) who transitioned to a remote setup as a result of the pandemic said they work on the weekend. In addition, 45% of remote employees reported regularly putting in more than 8 hours a day. The good news is that you can take simple steps to break the cycle.
Signs of Toxic Productivity
- Working so much that it harms your health and personal relationships – If you are ignoring basic human requirements like eating, sleeping, meeting friends and family and forgetting your other obligations and responsibilities, then you are falling into the trap of toxic productivity.
- Having unrealistic expectations from yourself – You expect the same output every day, irrespective of the external factors and stressful situations that may disrupt your normalcy, which is unreasonable.
- Difficulty staying still or constant restlessness – If you feel guilty taking a break or time off, and feel your self-worth reducing, you may be suffering from toxic productivity.
- Overwhelmed by feelings and unable to work – Many of us attach our self-worth to how productive we are or how many hours in a day we have worked. That is unhealthy. It is important to work hard, but equally as important to not work yourself to the point of burnout.
Avoiding toxic productivity
Mood and stress expert Erika Katherine Ferszt, who is also the founder of Moodally – a purpose built-app that provides access to mood management tools to enhance a person’s mood, says that the key to avoiding toxic productivity is finding balance. Ferszt suggests that it is important to read the signals when one notices that they are spiralling and recommends that we take steps to balance them out. The first step towards finding the balance between work and rest is to remember to take breaks in between our work hours – like walking away from our work desk for a 10-minute break.
She points out that most often people do not relax because they do not know what to do. She suggests making a list of the things we would like to do, if time / money / distance / COVID-related travel restrictions were not an issue, such as going on vacation to an island resort in Asia, or travelling across Europe to improve our culinary skills. Ferszt explains that we can start relaxing by watching YouTube videos relating to the experiences, and gradually plan our trip or discover alternatives, such as finding a recipe to make at home that will turn out to be an enjoyable experience.
Ferszt further notes that; “Toxically productive people are so focused on what they have to do that they’ve completely forgotten what they like to do. Investing energy in that discovery will start to awaken an internal voice that reminds us ‘Hey, you remember me?’”.
Ending toxic productivity
Set realistic goals – The pandemic had a drastic impact on many of us as we had to adjust to working from home. This might have blurred the timelines between your work and attending to your household work. It is better to understand these obstacles and work around them by reducing the goals that you set to accomplish within the day.
Take breaks – Taking breaks is necessary and can help you avoid falling into the toxic productivity trap. Studies have revealed that people who take breaks are more productive than people who do not. Schedule breaks throughout your day at regular intervals, rather than taking a break when you are on the verge of collapse. The Pomodoro Method is a great strategy to stay on task while also taking frequent breaks – where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break.
Get some accountability – Have a circle of friends or family members who will remind you of your harmful behaviours (setting unrealistic goals, attempting to take on too many work-related tasks, forgetting to eat and take breaks). Listen to them when they remind you that you are falling out of line.
Define clearer work-life boundaries – Do not take on too much work that it trickles into your personal life, and takes up your relaxation time or the time you dedicate to spending with your family, loved ones or friends. You can always say ‘no’ if your work is taking up your free time. Make sure you communicate your boundaries to everyone in your life. Set a schedule to turn off your work phone / email or set aside your phone when spending time with your loved ones.
Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is a way to help us connect to the present moment and ourselves. Mindfulness invites us to observe and accept what is happening around us and within us without judgement. We learn to be more aware of our bodies and needs. Mindfulness helps us disconnect from our “fight or flight” survival instincts, allowing us to connect with more mature, healthy ways of relating to the world.
Seek mental health help – Finally, if you continue to feel the signs of toxic productivity even after introducing these tactics to your work and home life, seek help from a mental health professional to ensure you do not find yourself burned out in the future.
With the year coming close to an end and the new year approaching, most of us are undoubtedly already planning for the new year ahead.
Naturally, with all the drastic changes in our daily lives – due to the pandemic and the lockdowns – we may have picked up certain habits we haven’t noticed and could still be carrying, even after things have started returning back to normal. If not habits stemmed from the lockdowns, we can all still make a list of unhealthy behaviours to finally leave behind in 2021, and replace them with healthier ones for our own personal journeys of growth in the new year ahead.
Make a hot cup of tea and start reflecting! Reflect on your own possible unhealthy habits, and list them down.
Here are some of ours:
- Not setting boundaries with work
- Becoming overly-dependent on food delivery
- Neglecting our health (physical & mental)
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Not getting enough sleep
What to do instead:
Actively set those work boundaries.
Whether it’s a boundary of saying “no” to your boss after working hours or creating barriers for the areas in your home where work is welcome, setting these kinds of boundaries can be a breath of fresh air. Become more aware of your own limitations and practice saying “no” to work tasks from your boss and /or colleagues; especially if your hands are already full. If you’re still WFH (working-from-home), try separating areas within your home where you don’t bring work into, for example: refraining from bringing your laptop into bed and leaving your bedroom as a space where only rest is allowed. Doing this can help you create a barrier for when and where you should be focusing on work, or focusing on your peace of mind.
Get to know your kitchen.
The convenience whilst being in the comforts of your own home, we know, ordering in can be addicting. But let’s try to get rid of this habit and start cooking for ourselves more often. If you’re someone who already doesn’t enjoy cooking, look for simpler and easier recipes you can easily take fifteen minutes to prepare. You’d not only be tackling a new skill but would also be doing much more good for the environment.
Put your health first.
Don’t only take one or two days off your week to focus on your physical and mental health. Try incorporating little acts of self-care and kindness every single day – drinking more water, eating more whole foods, practicing your nighttime self-care routine, or taking daily supplements. We can often end up neglecting our own health due to forgetting, so actively list these and other self-care acts into your daily to-do lists or calendars. Our future selves will thank us.
Focus on yourself.
It can be hard to not compare yourself to other people and their achievements. Especially during the pandemic, we can often find ourselves feeling guilty seeing other people being more productive or in places and positions we wish ourselves were in. It’s perfectly normal, however, try not to hang around there for too long. Make a list of your own achievements and accomplishments, celebrate them, and try incorporating positive affirmations into your daily life to remind yourself of how wonderful you are.
Especially if you’re someone who runs off a good night of rest. Try maintaining a daily night routine of unwinding and relaxing – making a hot cup of chamomile tea, Brain-Dump journal, or watch your current favourite TV show; and give yourself extra time before bed to slowly doze off. Getting enough rest and good quality sleep will have you feeling more energized, healthier, and happier.
We wish you luck on the lists and hope 2022 will be another successful year of self-growth and improvement for you!
How do you respond to stress and adversity – are you able to carry yourself well and interact with others or do you get overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions?
According popular Instagram Holistic Life Coach and Certified Trauma Support Specialist, Amy Fielder, how a person copes, soothes and regulates their emotions during times of adversity can determine one’s emotional health.
Amy explains that; “Someone who is emotionally healthy would witness their thoughts, feel their feelings but then regulate and soothe them and find clarity in an effort to determine if they need to take any action or speak up about something or not. They hold themselves accountable for how they feel”.
What Is Emotional Health?
Emotional health is a person’s ability to identify, process, and act upon feelings in specific circumstances over a course of time. It includes both emotional intelligence and emotional resilience. When the subjective experience of emotions is appropriate over a sustained period, emotional health is thought to be present.
How To Improve Your Emotional Health
Emotional health is built upon five pillars: your psychology, relationships, nutrition, sleep and exercise.
Your psychology – Which is made up of your established patterns and beliefs in how you talk to yourself, your history of trauma, the stories about the fact of life you grow up around that contributes towards your personal development; and your willingness to step out of your comfort zone and discover what patterns have been running your life. This is your ability to create and live the vision of the person you wish to be.
Your relationships – As you’ve heard, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Because it is so monumentally important, if our relationships with those people turn sour, our emotional health will suffer significantly. Working on your relationships means addressing the pain points with your significant other and those close to you. It means having conversations with your boss and co-workers to create an environment that is most conducive to your emotional intelligence and emotional resilience. It also includes releasing who you should be and embracing who you are, so you can attract the right people into your life.
Your nutrition – If our brain and nerve functions are not operating at a proper capacity, we are not going to feel well. When we do not feel well, our emotional resilience will suffer. What we may not be aware of is that 90% of our neurotransmitters are located in our gut. An estimated 100 trillion bacteria in our gut are responsible for neurotransmitter production and other functions. Diets high in refined sugar, fried fats, processed food, and animal products tend to produce a sub-optimal gut microbiome, but diets that are high in whole plant foods and insoluble fibre are essential for a gut microbiome and can, in return, give us optimum emotional health.
Your sleep – We’ve all sacrificed sleep to get more work done (or watch more Netflix). However, these missed sleep hours can catch up with you later on, causing adrenal fatigue – which can take a toll on your emotional resilience. Sleep is important as the brain uses that time to process our day’s events. We place the day’s events into long-term memory and form connections in our brain, detoxify our bodies and shed waste. Therefore, if you want to improve your emotional health, you need to prioritise getting adequate hours of sleep.
Your exercise – Good emotional health requires good physical health. We should all workout to train our bodies to operate at their highest level. If you want to feel good and perform at your best, move your body. Adapt a healthy workout routine to suit your daily activities.
By working on improving the above five pillars, you will be able to improve your emotional health significantly.
Self-Reflection Questions For Your Emotional Health
You can ask yourself the following questions to help self-reflect and keep your emotional health in check:
- Am I taking responsibility for my words and actions?
- Am I speaking up for myself after I’ve regulated my emotions – to assure that I’m not attacking, projecting or deflecting onto anybody?
- Am I holding myself accountable for soothing my own thoughts and feelings, and once I’ve done so, do I still need more support?
- Am I allowing myself to ask for help from those I trust and confide in?
- Am I matching my words to my actions?
- Am I being honest about how I feel with myself and others in my life?
- Am I engaging in behaviours or thoughts that are unproductive, harmful, or infringing on my peace?
- Am I turning to the coping tools I have learned and know what works for me?
Have you ever looked at someone and wished you had their confidence? They could be killing it during a work presentation, wearing the bold outfit that ends up in the back of your closet or filming multiple takes of a TikTok dance in public – we all just want to be comfortable with ourselves. But did you know that there’s a difference between self-confidence and self-esteem?
The Differences Between Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem
Confidence and self-esteem are often used interchangeably, but they represent different perceptions you have about yourself. Self-confidence is how you view your abilities to accomplish certain things and tasks, while self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself and your value. You can have high self-confidence and low self-esteem or low self-confidence and high self-esteem, but in order to live a fulfilling life, you need a healthy amount of both.
Signs of Low Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem
Confidence is situation-specific because it is built on achievements. When you’re successful at something or have completed a specific task, you’ll be more sure or confident that you can do it again. But when you don’t trust yourself, low self-confidence can look like:
- Being afraid to speak up
- Second-guessing yourself
- Overworking to “prove yourself”
- Apologizing for no reason
Self-esteem is built on personal worth, so it covers the general impression you have of yourself. This normally begins in childhood, but can also be caused by stress and difficult life events. Signs of low self-esteem include:
- Always comparing yourself to others
- Not being able to accept compliments or take criticism
- Making poor health choices
How To Improve Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem
Low self-confidence and self-esteem can be restricting and, for some, debilitating – please seek professional help if your negative thoughts affect your day-to-day life. Confidence is easier to build than self-esteem, but to begin working yourself, you need to fully accept yourself for who you are. When we separate ourselves from our actions and abilities, we’re able to understand that our mistakes and flaws don’t define us.
- Compliment yourself – As cheesy as it sounds, positive self-talk and daily affirmations can work. Reprogram your thinking by changing the way you talk to and about yourself.
- Set boundaries – Practice boundaries and learn how to communicate your needs to others. This includes setting boundaries with yourself to conserve your time and energy.
- Treat yourself – Celebrate your accomplishments by treating yourself to something nice. You can also reward yourself with some me-time and participate in activities that bring you joy.
- Learn something new – Explore a passion and allow yourself to learn from the challenges. Set manageable goals and celebrate your achievements no matter how small they are.
With healthy self-confidence and self-esteem, you’ll be able to handle life’s challenges better, have more enjoyable experiences, and build positive relationships.
Many of us have started preparing for the festive season, marking our calendars for the upcoming dinners filled with holiday foods and drinks. It’s the season of overindulgence, so we’re raising awareness about a commonly occurring reflux disease known as GERD, which tends to present symptoms when under stress.
In 1999 the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) added the GERD Awareness week to the US national health observances calendar. Since then, every year during Thanksgiving week, the IFFGD raises awareness about chronic gastrointestinal disorders like GERD to help educate the public and support those who are suffering from such conditions.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a common disorder. The IFFGD notes that 1 in 5 people suffer from GERD in the United States, with each year closer to 5 million Americans admitted to the hospital due to chest pains caused by GERD.
Commonly referred to as acid reflux disease, GERD occurs when acidic or non-acidic stomach contents back-flows into the oesophagus accompanied by heartburn and regurgitation of acid symptoms. At times one might only find out that they are suffering from GERD when complications become evident.
Symptoms result from constant exposure of the oesophagus lining to acidic or non-acidic contents from the stomach, which leads to GERD with tissue damage known as oesophagitis or erosive GERD, and GERD without tissue damage causes non-erosive GERD.
There is no known single cause of the disease. However, medical professionals know that the reflux aspect happens when the muscle barrier between the oesophagus and the stomach malfunctions or is otherwise overwhelmed. Although chronic heartburn is the most common symptom, there are several other less common symptoms associated with GERD:
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Sudden excess of saliva
- A sensation of food sticking in the oesophagus
- Chronic sore throat
- Inflammation of the gums
- Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
- Chronic irritation in the throat
- Hoarseness in the morning
- A sour taste
- Bad breath
The link between GERD and anxiety
A study conducted in 2015 revealed that anxiety and depression might play a role in the occurrence of GERD and especially that of non-erosive GERD. Having severe GERD symptoms can be a stressful experience and may thereby increase anxiety.
If someone has GERD and anxiety, they will have to look at a treatment plan to treat symptoms for both of these conditions. Common medications used to treat anxiety could worsen GERD symptoms.
How stress makes GERD worse
Researchers have proposed that psychological conditions, including anxiety, might have physiological effects that lead to GERD, suggesting that there are several possible physical reasons for this:
- Anxiety may reduce pressure in the lower oesophageal sphincter, which is the band of muscle that keeps the stomach closed and prevents acid from leaking into the oesophagus.
- Stress responses and anxiety may cause long-lasting muscle tension around the stomach, causing an increase in pressure and pushing the acid up.
- High anxiety levels may increase stomach acid production.
Despite all these studies, there is still no proof that people that undergo stress produce more stomach acid or experience GERD symptoms. However, many who responded to the studies reported that they noticed an increase in GERD symptoms when they were under a lot of stress.
Knowing why stress aggravates acid reflux is less important than knowing how to reduce stress and manage your symptoms. Other treatment options and lifestyle changes appropriate for both anxiety and GERD include:
- Psychotherapy or counselling
- Eating a well-balanced meal
- Avoiding trigger foods such as heavily spiced cuisine, greasy or fatty fried foods, citrus fruits, peppermint or spearmint, chocolate, carbonated beverages, alcohol, caffeinated beverages
- Reducing stress
- Progressive relaxation
- Sleep hygiene
If you are experiencing GERD due to stress, seek medical attention to get advice and guidance on lifestyle changes to reduce stress and get the necessary medication and treatment to ease symptoms of GERD