As I sat down to write this article, I already made my first mistake – I had my phone in plain sight. Instead of diving right into work, it was like a reflex to reach for my phone and get sucked into social media. I began mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, TikTok for good measure, and the latest digital distraction – Clubhouse. It was only after getting a glimpse of the time (which we don’t seem to see even though it doesn’t leave our screens), and realising that I was officially off-schedule, when I quickly ran to my room and put away my phone. Now here I am writing with no digital distractions.

Like many other Malaysians, having to spend most of my time at home has made me more dependent on my phone. It did not come as a surprise to me that compared to other South East Asian countries, Malaysia had the highest upsurge in Internet usage due to our strict social distancing measures. Our phones placed the entertainment and connections that were separated from us, right at our finger tips. It doesn’t help that some of us have had to work unsupervised from home – turning off auto-relax mode was already hard to begin with.

Here are 6 tips that have helped me tune into what I’m doing without any digital distractions:

  1. Put your phone away!

No, not next to you with the screen faced down (unless you’re that disciplined then #goals), but in another room. Hopefully when it’s out of your sight, the urge to check it will leave your mind too. If your excuse is, “What if I get an important message?” – use a desktop version of the messenger-app, but keep it running in the background.

2. Schedule time to use your devices

It’s time to take back control and let your devices know when they can have your attention. Start with short, frequent breaks, like 5 to 10 minutes after every hour, and work your way up from there. You’ll soon be able to break the habit.

3. Replace your screen time with other tasks

Before reaching for your devices, ask yourself, “Why?”. It could be to do research, reply a message, or simply just take a break. But if you want to use it just for the sake of using it, ask yourself, “What else can I do during this time?”. Turn to your to-do list – you’ll find that you actually do have the time to wash the dishes, fold your laundry, workout and read.

4. Turn off notifications

If it’s something you don’t need to know right now (like who liked your picture), you don’t need to see it right now. We’re constantly distracted by pings and pop-ups, but most of these are unimportant information and interactions.

5. Delete apps you don’t use

Sometimes, when we’re bored, or basically just looking for a distraction, we start opening apps that we don’t use (there’s no need to check in on Snapchat, that ghost is doing fine). Delete, declutter, go Marie Kondo and let go of all the apps that no longer spark joy.

6. Journal when you wake up

Here’s a bonus tip that’ll help with your mental health too! When you wake up, grab your journal instead of your phone. Start scribbling down the first things that come to mind, or if you need prompts – “How do you feel about today?”, “Set an intention for the day”, “What are you grateful for?”. This sets us up for a more positive and productive day rather than losing ourselves, and a lot of time, scrolling through our devices in bed.

Digital distractions will never go away (they may even get worse), but by following these tips – we hope you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more focused on important and meaningful tasks!

Did you know that in Malaysia:

These are the dire consequences of undetailed sexual health education. 

In a society such as ours, sexual health isn’t counted as physical health – it’s a subject that’s actually avoided. Youths are taught the very bare necessities, leaving too much room for misinformation. This has caused many to make harmful decisions, including baby dumping, having teenage pregnancies, and spreading sexually-transmitted infections.

It has become crucial for us to openly start acknowledging sexual health in order to protect our physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as others’. But how do we turn this taboo topic, which continuously sparks criticism, into a positive dialogue? 

We asked Jasmine King (a sex positive advocate, speaker and sexual health educator), for her advice on breaking the stigma and normalising conversations around sex. She currently does this on her Instagram page, Jas Explains, where she promotes sexual empowerment by creating educational content, sparking important conversations and sharing sex positive resources.

What exactly is sexual health?

According to WHO, sexual health is the “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”. In ensuring everyone receives adequate sexual health, it is important for us to have:

Simply put, sexual health encompasses everything that is connected to our sexual wellbeing, whether it be reproduction, relationships, laws and reforms, or diseases and dysfunctions.

 

What are the common misconceptions Malaysians have about sexual health?

A common one would probably be that sexual health is only about sex and the health of our reproductive organs, but it spans beyond that. It’s about health and rights, as well as the social aspect of sex. This encompasses our reproductive health and rights, sexual relationships, knowledge and education, diseases and dysfunctions, sexual violence like harassment or abuse, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation.

 

Why is it so important?

It’s important because sexual health is an aspect of our health, and despite the taboo and stigma that’s attached to it, it’s still very much important for us to educate ourselves on it – despite being married or not, young or old. Usually sexual health is only prioritized when couples want to start a family or when something traumatic happens like abuse/harassment.

 

How can we overcome sexual shame as a society?

A first big step to overcoming sexual shame is to first of all educate ourselves. We need to unlearn years of education and beliefs, which are masked by layers of taboo, stigma and shame, and relearn everything again from the start. By relearning and normalizing the conversation, we are then able to provide a safe space to educate others and receive without judgement.

 

As individuals, what are the benefits of overcoming sexual shame?

It releases us from some of the shame, judgement and fear that we carry. Sex and our bodies are a normal and healthy part of our lives and should be treated with respect, instead of disgust and shame. By allowing ourselves to overcome shame, we would be able to fully embrace our sexual and sensual side instead of fearing them.

 

What does it mean to be sex positive?

Someone who is sex positive values consent, communication, education that allows people to make informed choices about their bodies, and pleasure. They respect and do not judge those who consensually practise diverse sexuality and gender expressions.

 

As sex is a religious stigma here, how can we promote a more sex positive culture?

We can do this by not focusing so much on the term ‘sex’ and changing the language to make it more accessible and neutral for everyone. Hence why, sex education is also known as ‘comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)’ and sex positivity is also referred to as ‘positive sexuality’. Changing the language as well as acknowledging that it’s more than just about sex can promote a more sex positive culture. CSE covers an array of topics which includes:

Etc.

For more information on sexual health, tune into Jasmine’s podcast, I Wish Someone Told Me, to hear stories by Asians, or those living in Asia, on gender, sexuality, dating, intimacy and sexual empowerment. You can also follow @iwishthepod and @jasexplains on Instagram for more sex positive content and resources!

The hardest part of working out is showing up, but that changed when we began working out at home – the hardest part became starting. It was easy to get motivated at spin classes and running clubs, but at home, the lack of energy and readily-available equipment makes for an excuse to not workout.

You can still enjoy a (safe) group workout or get the help of a trainer through Zoom, but with the right equipment – you can do your own sweat-inducing exercises at any time. From living room essentials to easy-to-do moves, we asked Coach Kyrie, a strength and conditioning coach at District 13, for his recommendations and advice when it comes to working out at home:

 

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What equipment do we need to set up our own home gyms?

I believe we only need 3 to 4 pieces of equipment to really maximize our home workout sessions:

  1. A yoga mat – this helps create the surface area you need with the right grip, support and cushioning with the right thickness, so invest in a good yoga mat!
  2. If strength training is your thing, then adjustable dumbbells are definitely an essential to have at home with you. They don’t take up a lot of space and are sufficient enough to get that strength in.
  3. A good jump rope is one of the best investments you can make, especially when you’re unable to move regularly and get your steps in on a daily basis. Personally, it’s a good alternative to get your steps in and also improve your cardiovascular exercise. The best part about it is that it doesn’t require much space! 
  4. Lastly, a pull up bar – they fit in most door frames without taking away too much space in your lovely home, and it’s easy to put away when not in use. It’s definitely a game changer if you’re looking to get your first ‘pull up’ at home!

If we can’t get the equipment, are there any household items we can use instead?

For sure! Need a kettlebell? Fill up a backpack with some books / magazines, and you’ve got yourself a homemade kettlebell. Looking for something heavier? Try using a gas cylinder! What about a dumbbell? Pick up large laundry detergent bottles. If those are too heavy for you, you can use soup cans as small weights.

When there’s a will, there’s always a way! One of our most experienced members at the gym took it to the next level by filling up two pails of water and using a broomstick to simulate an olympic weightlifting movement. That’s dedication! There are plenty of ways to get creative when using household items for your workout, but the most important factor to consider when using them as equipment would be safety.

 

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As a fitness coach, what are your favorite home workouts to do? 

I love my Olympic weightlifting setup at home! I am lucky to be living in a house with a decent amount of space on the porch to store my equipment – such as my barbell, plates, squat rack, and rubber floor mats. 

You were previously an indoor-cycling coach at Cycology. For those who are used to spin classes, but don’t have their own bike, what similar exercises can they do?

I just had this conversation with my coach a couple of days ago – on how to simulate the same stimulus of being on the bike if you don’t have a bike at home. You definitely can’t simulate the feeling of riding on a spin bike, off the spin bike. It’s like asking someone to practice their pedalling skills on the bike without having a bike. It would be best to work on exercises that could improve your riding performance on the bike, such as glute and core strengthening exercises!

 

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Personally, how do you find the motivation to workout at home?

I used to believe that you need motivation to do anything, but then I realised, how am I supposed to look for motivation every single day for 365 days? My advice to everyone out there is to start with understanding what your goal is when it comes to working out at home. The next step would be to have a plan of how you’re going to execute it. Thirdly, action. With action, motivation will automatically kick in and more motivation will flow once you slowly achieve those goals.

What’s your go-to pre-workout snack and post-workout drink?

I consume dates as a pre-workout snack. Post workout drink would be coconut water – nature’s best electrolyte!

 

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As a former competitive athlete (Kyrie was a state volleyball player representing Selangor, an amateur competitive cyclist representing Reclaim Sports, and an amateur CrossFit athlete under Reebok Malaysia), what empowered you to become an instructor?

Helping others in need work towards self development on an individual and global scale. 

If you need assistance in setting up a home gym, an online home program or nutrition, you can email Kyrie or drop him a message on Instagram!

 

 

For the first episode of Wild Ginger Connects, we had model, Alicia Amin, talk to the MP for Muar (and fellow millennial), YB Syed Saddiq, about struggles such as mental health, bullying, brain drain and cancel culture. These are issues that we all face, but how does the youngest Malaysian to take office overcome them?

That’s a question he wishes he would get asked in interviews – how he deals with the stress, but his answer isn’t his cats or exercise. It’s the inspiration he gets from his mother. Awww! The newly-retired teacher raised four (then) troublesome children while being the main bread winner of the family. She’s also been acknowledged as the best teacher in both her school and the state of Johor!

Syed Saddiq on Mental Health

“We have to break that taboo, and for us to do so, there must be that transparent, open national conversation and discourse on mental health. A lot more people must start sharing it – that’s why I truly value when a lot of youth icons start speaking up about it, like Tengku Iman. When that’s shared in public, it gives a sense of familiarity that even people in these particular positions also suffer from it, how they overcome it, and hopefully, will start that conversation among others.”

Syed Saddiq on Bullying

“The last thing which I want is for others to see and then get even more demotivated because of what happens in parliament. For example, if other young people see, ‘If this is how they treat young parliamentarians, then I don’t think there’s a future for me in politics’. I don’t want for them to see that! So, that’s where I think, dealing with it with compassion, speaking up on these issues, getting other members of parliament (even from that particular party) to speak up against these tactics.”

Syed Saddiq on Brain Drain

“Young people have that very passionate and diverse energy – instead of suppressing it, why don’t you address it? Deal with it and try to harness it in a positive way. I think if we do that, we would be able to partially also deal with brain drain – there are obviously many other reasons why, but I think we can at least start by listening to them and taking them seriously instead of, every time they come up with a funky idea, ‘You’re wrong, that’s criminal, goodbye’. That’s wrong.”

Syed Saddiq on Cancel Culture

“If you lock them up with a particular stereotype or because of one mistake, or a few mistakes, then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The person is more likely to commit mistakes over and over again because you don’t guide them to the right path. It’s about really showing compassion, and genuine care, and empathy to bring the person out of that hole.”

Watch the full interview below:

 

 

 

As health officials continue to urge us to stay at home to stop the spread, we must remember that staying at home is a privilege. Yes, the pandemic is hard for us all, but it is important to acknowledge the different realities others face with underprivileged families being affected the most.

Some members of these disadvantaged groups depend on a daily income to take care of their families and themselves, so the negative economic impact has left them even more vulnerable. Staying at home also poses a threat to women and children who have to live with their abusers.

We must stand together and support these severely affected communities, as well as frontline workers who might be heroes but are also still human – they are struggling to work around the clock with the limited resources available.

NGOs have proven to necessity these past few months, so here’s how you can help:

  1. Donate to emergency food aid boxes

 

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When CMCO was announced in Klang Valley area, our beneficiaries are at risk of losing their daily income once again. They are afraid if they had to endure another hunger experience like during the first MCO. This is because these families heavily depend on their daily wage to buy food. If there’s no income on that day, there is no food on the table and they will sleep with a growling stomach. With CMCO in place, it’s very challenging to earn money and food security becomes their biggest problem. Thus, we receive a lot of food aid requests and we’re doing our best to cater all the needs, to make sure that nobody will sleep with a hungry stomach. Unfortunately, we could not do this alone and we need your help. Help us to support these 700 families and with every ringgit donated to our CMCO Emergency Food Aid Boxes, you are saving these families from hunger. You can donate to our CMCO Emergency Food Aid Boxes at: CIMB Islamic Bank Mercy Mission Malaysia (Charity Right) 8600669196 DM us if you have any questions! #covid19 #kitajagakita #rakyatjagarakyat

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Charity Right Malaysia reduces the burden of families by providing them with a steady supply of meals every month. They aim to keep children in school instead of having to quit and support their family.

2. Buy a meal for someone in need

 

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Sponsor hearty meals for charity homes through Ari’s Offering. Their social giving programme allows you to make recurring donations with every RM10 contributing to a meal.

3. Help Sabah’s healthcare system

 

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MERCY Malaysia is initiating an Islamic Social Financing (ISF) Fund Raising Program to support Sabah. Your contribution will be used to procure medical equipment which will be endowed (waqaf) to the Ministry of Health. Together, we can help reduce our country’s burdens and save lives. Channel your donation to: MERCY MALAYSIA Maybank Islamic 5642 5858 7606 Reference code: Wakaf COVID19 All your contribution in cash is tax deductible and will be fully used to purchase medical equipment. For more details, please visit www.mercy.org.my/donation, or Contact : Amrul Hazarin (+60 19 399 5854)/ Asyraf Fitri (+60 19 314 0039) Email : zakat@mercy.org.my #kitajagakita #mercywaqaf #islamicsocialfinancing #covid19

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The lack of medical resources, including hospital beds, has Sabah struggling with their overwhelming amount of cases. Mercy Malaysia is raising funds for medical equipment and you can find more ways to help, even with their mental health, here.

4. Support domestic abusive survivors

 

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We are preparing for another spike in domestic violence with the increase of COVID-19 cases. Help us support survivors and continue our life-saving work. ACCOUNT NAME : WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION BANK ACCOUNT : CIMB BANK BERHAD ACCOUNT NO. : 80-0238299-7 All donations of RM50 and above will receive a tax exempt receipt. (https://forms.gle/qAAM9FDDkR53hhVbA) Your donation will help WAO to operate : – WAO’s 24 hour hotline and TINA WhatsApp / SMS service – Counselling services – The Women’s Refuge – The Child Care Centre – Social Work

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The Women’s Aid Organisation provides mental health and crisis support to women and children who have experienced abuse. Lockdowns, around the world, have caused a rise in domestic violence.

5. Supply frontlines with personal protective equipment

Semporna Heroes helps assist hospital workers, collecting funds to purchase food and medical supplies for frontliners. They also donate carepacks to struggling communities in Semporna.

This is why we need to work together and do our best to help each other out. It may seem like a small act to some, but your donation can make a huge difference!

 

Every year since 2012, the United Nations has observed October 11 as International Day of The Girl Child. The international organisation declared a Day of The Girl to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face worldwide. They reported that nearly 1 in 4 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are neither employed nor in education compared to 1 in 10 boys of the same age. The International Day of the Girl demands for the commitment to tackle these challenges, boost empowerment and uphold human rights.

This year, following the theme, My Voice, Our Equal Future, the focus is placed on protecting adolescent girls from gender-based violence, harmful practices and HIV and AIDs, as well as providing them with the skills needed to succeed in the future of their choice, and supporting their activism to advance social change. Here are 5 Malaysian women who are breaking the barriers set by stereotypes and exclusion to create a more accessible and inclusive space for future generations:

1. Dr Chan Yoke Fun

The first Malaysian to win the Asean-US Science Prize for Women, Dr. Chan was recognised for her research on developing a single vaccine for both hand, foot and mouth disease, and brain diseases in children. She is the head of the Medical Microbiology Department in Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine and was picked among 10 national finalists who played promising roles in preventive healthcare.

2. Nor “Phoenix” Diana

Not only was Nor Diana the first hijab-wearing pro-wrestler, she was also the first female winner of the Malaysia Pro Wrestling Wrestlecon championship, beating out five men. The former clinical assistant was featured on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list and has been training with the British independent women’s professional wrestling promotion – Pro Wrestling: EVE.

3. Arinna Erin

Remember when Nike launched their first modest swimwear collection? One of the models who appeared in the global campaign was Malaysian, Arinna Erin. The hijabi-model is signed to BAME Models in the UK, where she received her Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Social Media from Brunel University, London.

4. Yangsze Choo

We were all excited for Netflix’s The Ghost Bride – a Taiwanese/Malaysian drama set in 19th century Malacca. The cast and crew were mainly made up of Malaysians, but the story itself was also written by a Malaysian whose book was ranked on the New York Times’ bestseller list and Oprah.com’s Book of the Week. Yangsze Choo’s second novel, The Night Tiger, was also a success – securing her a spot on New York Times and Publishers Weekly’s bestseller lists, as well as Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.

5. Steffi Sarge Kaur

Steffi Kaur was a national football player and futsal player known for representing Malaysia in the Southeast Asian Games and South Asian Games. Now she is a FootGolf player, recently representing Malaysia at the FootGolf Asia Cup in Australia. Kaur grew up wanting to be a scientist until she was captivated by the athletes at the opening ceremony of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Everyone has the right to a safe, educated and healthy life, but unfortunately, many adolescent girls are denied these guarantees and freedoms. Girls have the power to change the world because they make up almost half of the population – imagine how much more effective problem-solving would be if we all worked together to solve climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention and global sustainability? In the words of Michelle Obama, “Women and girls can do whatever they want. There is no limit to what we as women can accomplish”. Let’s get it, girls!

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Happy Malaysia Day 🇲🇾 We sat down with a few East Malaysians (@elenalaurel, @_llyshae, @aniqdurar & @sam.tzes) to understand them better and how we can create a more inclusive environment for our fellow Malaysians. Don’t miss the good food recommendations at the end! #BreakingByWildGingerMY

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For the first episode of Breaking! – a series that aims to break stigmas, stereotypes, boundaries and barriers through simple conversations, we invited four East Malaysians to share the disconnect they’ve been facing in West Malaysia.

Although Sarawak and Sabah are the biggest states in Malaysia, their physical separation from the peninsular has them often overlooked and othered by their own country.

“There’s definitely a disparity to me,” says Ellysha, a student from Sarawak, “especially with the culture”. She noticed that people are more segregated in West Malaysia compared to the multicultural and multi-religious Borneo.  “I got really shocked when people were really interested in my religion or race.”

Samuel, a fresh graduate from Sabah, was also startled by the ignorance that still exists. He shares that “do you live in trees?” continues to be a common stereotype. “Yeah, we even have WiFi on the tree”, is his comeback to the off-colour joke.

Stereotypes are used to oppress minorities. Elena, a freelancer from Sabah, asks West Malaysians to recognise their privilege and use it to help East Malaysians. She worries that because of their lack of access to good education and reliable information, ” When some Sabahans don’t know better – I really hope West Malaysians won’t take advantage of that”.

How can we improve this cultural incompetence? Aniq, an actor from Sarawak, simplifies the solution to “stop talking and listen to us”. He sees media as a powerful tool and calls for more representation both in front of and behind the camera to help amplify their voices. “Redefine what Malaysia looks like to you … There’s more than just this one narrative – it’s diverse.”