We may not experience the cool breeze of spring in Malaysia, but we could always do with some good old-fashioned spring cleaning! Spring cleaning involves heavy duty cleaning and organising one’s home, but it can also be applied to our personal lives – clearing out the mental and physical blockages that are preventing us from being our best selves.

We tend to hold onto things that we know are bad for us, like grudges and unhealthy habits, because as taxing as they are, the familiarity of these negative emotions and behaviours provide us with an unlikely comfort. To overcome this fear of letting go, we must remind ourselves that it will allow exciting new ideas and opportunities to enter our lives.

Start looking into these areas of your life and remove what no longer serves you:

  1. Your physical space
    Begin by decluttering your surroundings – your bedroom, wardrobe, desk. This clutter is one of the ways we overwhelm ourselves with things that don’t matter. Work is stressful enough, but a messy workplace, with stacks of paper covering our desks, will just add to our anxiety. Try these cleaning tips if you don’t where to start.
  2. Your body
    Have you been filling your body with nutrients? Notice what gives you energy and cut out what makes you feel bad (bloated, uncomfortable). Revise your workout routine if it’s been too hard to follow and set smaller, more achievable fitness goals instead. If lack of rest and sleep has been affecting your wellbeing, here’s how you can improve your bedtime habits.
  3. Your digital devices
    Unfollow, block, do what you need to do to create a safe and comfortable space for yourself online – it is where we spend most of our time. Go through your email accounts and unsubscribe from overwhelming newsletters, reduce the clutter on your desktop by deleting and organising your files – these also count as your workspace, so clear out any unnecessary stress and anxiety.
  4. Your mind
    Release! Write down all your bad habits, negative thoughts you have about yourself and others, unhealthy attachments you have to people and things, and work on letting them go. It’s easier said than done, but by acknowledging your toxic and draining thoughts, it will make it easier for you to recognise and stop them.
  5. Your finances
    Review your finances and see what costs you can reduce or remove, such as memberships and subscriptions, and what debts you can pay off. Get into the habit of tracking your spending daily with these steps. Money can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so make sure you have a financial self-care routine as well.
  6. Your relationships
    It’s easier to distance yourself from people online, but if a family member or colleague is bringing negativity into your life, set boundaries to protect your mental space. You can learn more about implementing boundaries here. It’s normal to outgrow people, like your best friends from high school, but make sure your current relationships encourage you to keep growing into a happier, healthier person.

See spring cleaning as an annual update rather than a chore. We are constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to remind ourselves of what really matters to us now. It may not be the same as last year, and may be different next year, but it’ll provide you with the clarity and direction needed to live a happier, more fulfilling life!

We made it through another month. Woo hoo! From the arrival of the vaccine to the ending of the MCO (movement control order), things are slowly starting to look up. Even our houses are beginning to feel more like home again, with work moving back to the office and workouts moved back to the gym. 

 

Since you loved the self-love gifts we shared last month, we’re going to make it a monthly feature – just in time for payday! Take it as a much-needed reminder to do something nice for yourself because you deserve it. You’ll also be supporting some stellar local brands, so it’s a gift that’ll keep on giving. Spoil yourself with these self-care picks:

 

 

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A post shared by Barn & Jones Candles (@barnandjones)


You can never have too many candles, especially when they’re from Barn & Jones! The natural soy wax candle brand offers an array of soothing scents that allow you to experience the tranquil outdoors in the comfort of your own living room, such as hiking through alpine trails and dancing among wildflowers. What we love about their bestseller, Northern Lights, is that its scent evolves with each burn – the lemon, bergamot, winter berry, flowering succulent, violet and white musk take turns to shine.

 

 

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A tote bag created to be carried through heartbreak, joy, celebrations, speed bumps and high roads, this item from Oh Sebenar is a classic. A wardrobe staple, it goes with everything and can fit more than just your essentials! It can also help reduce decision fatigue – just grab your trusty tote bag and go, instead of wasting time and energy trying to decide which bag to carry.

 

 

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A post shared by Vase Creation (@vase_creation)

As calming as they are, you can’t fall asleep with candles lit, but you can enjoy the same aromatherapy with Vase Creation’s pillow mist. Spritz it on your pillows and linen, get comfy, and slowly start to breathe in and out. The hand-blend of organic pure essential oils (lavender patchouli, sweet orange, roman chamomile, vetiver and cedarwood), will help you journey into a deep, quality sleep. Enjoy the smooth, relaxing ride!

 

 

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A post shared by Sugar And I (@sugarandi)

Known for their ‘boxes of happiness’, Sugar And I are on a mission to make people smile with their delicious desserts. Their combo box includes fan-favorites, Bombolonis and Japanese Cream Puffs, which are comfortingly soft, bursting rich and fabulous flavours in your mouth – a celebration (of happiness) indeed!

 

 

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A post shared by Millefleur™ (@millefleurskin)

If your self-care rituals include following a therapeutic skincare routine before bed, add this hydration booster from Millefleur to your nightly roster. The organic serum is rich in vitamins and antioxidants that aid in the repairing of cells for healthier, radiant skin. Its gel-based vegan formula is gentle enough for those with sensitive skin to also be able to achieve a fresh feeling and glowing complexion!

I wish I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and a warm embrace from the sun’s morning rays, but instead I get greeted by anxiety – the complete opposite of that fairytale feeling. Even before seeing my schedule, I already feel overwhelmed by the day ahead, and it makes me want to hit the snooze button for the next few hours (or days). Do you wake up with a head full of racing thoughts too?

Morning anxiety is a common occurrence, even for those who don’t have an anxiety disorder. It refers to the anticipatory anxiety that occurs at the beginning of the day. Stress and worry about work, and other pressures such as socialising, start flooding in and you may even sleep in to avoid the day’s responsibilities as much as you can. If you were already anxious the night before, cortisol (the stress hormone) is usually at its highest in the first hour of waking up – which is why you feel even more stressed than you previously were.

Try minimising your morning anxiety with these self-care methods:

  1. Breathe – Practice deep breathing exercises to alleviate your anxiety. Inhale and exhale slowly while keeping your shoulders and jaw relaxed.
  2. Journal – Identify your feelings by writing them down, and then address these anxious thoughts. Create a positive mantra to help counter these negative statements.
  3. Move! – Exercise reduces your stress hormone levels, and since cortisol is as at its highest upon waking up, moving your body within the first hour of the day can provide stress relief.
  4. Avoid caffeine – Caffeine can make your anxiety worse, but if you just can’t give up your morning cup of coffee, reduce your intake, especially when you’re not feeling well.
  5. Plan out your day – If you’re anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, planning out your day can help you start on a productive note. Seeing and organising your tasks on paper can also make it feel less overwhelming.

Please consult a mental health professional if your morning anxiety gets worse and starts affecting your daily life. Don’t be afraid to – they will be able to treat your anxiety disorder and help you feel better.

When I think of self-care, I think of a garden that’s under my care. In my mind, it has the potential to become this magical place, but it’s not always rainbows or butterflies to begin with. To grow a lush green garden, we must be willing to get our hands dirty and put in the work. Planting seeds and pulling out weeds won’t be pretty, but real self-care involves paying attention to what’s stunting your growth and developing healthier habits.

There’ll be a lot of blood, sweat and tears when it comes to self-discipline, painful healing and behaviour correcting. But your garden requires regular maintenance and constant growth in order to thrive. If you neglect it, or forget about it for too long, it will wither. Start with these 5 steps to grow real self-care:

  1. Plant your purpose
    We all have our own reasons for wanting to practice self-care. Imagine the best version of yourself and write down what you need to do to become that.
  2. Prioritise your mental health and happiness
    These should be the pride and joy of your garden. Set healthy boundaries to protect your emotional space when it comes to work and personal relationships.
  3. Focus on growth
    Give yourself permission to grow. Commit to practicing real self-care on the daily, and make a conscious effort to maintain your mental health and happiness.
  4. Address root issues
    Dig deep into the root of your problems. When we ignore our issues, we allow ourselves to get stuck in bad habits and negative thought patterns instead of finding a solution.
  5. Go at your own pace
    Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Give yourself all the time and patience needed to grow and blossom.

In order to flourish, you must nurture and support yourself. Start small, take responsibility and reflect honestly. You’ve got this!

Growing up, most of us were taught to work hard and respect others. ‘Tiger’ parenting and ‘kiasu’ culture pushed some of us into the direction of high-ranking universities and reputable companies, with no regard for our mental health. As millennials, the relentless pressure to succeed continued in adulthood with the rise of hustle culture on social media (being busy is now considered ‘glamorous’).

We’ve spent almost our entire lives listening to others, and comparing ourselves to others, when we should actually be prioritising ourselves. Boundaries can help us do this – they protect our health and wellbeing, and provide us with a sense of self. It’s not going to be easy, and you will feel guilty at first, but here’s why we must allocate time and space for ourselves: 

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are the rules we create to protect our needs. They can be applied within our relationships, career, and even online to communicate our limits and ensure our safety.

Why do we need boundaries?

How can we set boundaries?

  1. Identify your limits

What makes you feel uncomfortable? Check in with your body as well – what makes you tense up?

  1. Be assertive

When it comes to communicating your limits, be direct, but avoid being aggressive. Use ‘I’ statements, such as, “I feel overwhelmed when the house is a mess because I already spend so much time cleaning it. What I need is help to keep it clean”. This allows you to express your feelings without blaming anyone.

  1. Give yourself permission to say no

It can be hard to say “no”, especially in Malaysia where there is a face-saving culture. Let go of the fear of looking selfish or coming off as rude – you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

  1. Develop a support system

Boundaries take determination. If you’re having a hard time with them, turn to your family and friends for support – you can practice asserting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.

When we’re able to define our boundaries, we’re able to have more respect for ourselves. Boundaries can protect us from physical and emotional intrusion, and empower us to make healthy choices and take responsibility for ourselves. Setting boundaries is a process, but don’t let fear and guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself!

Finally, self-love and self-care have started to be normalised as everyone becomes more aware of their significance during these difficult times. They helps us healthily manoeuvre through life – taking care of our mind, body, and soul. But what exactly is self-love? It’s loving ourselves by genuinely appreciating our strengths; accepting our weaknesses; and showing ourselves kindness and compassion, unconditionally.

Human beings are complex social animals – there is no average human, we are all different in our own ways. However, due to sociocultural pressures and expectations of the ‘ideal’ individual, we often succumb to the anxieties of idealism instead of acceptance.

Self-love is accepting all parts of yourself – especially the darkest parts, which is your shadow side. It is knowing when to walk away, setting boundaries, honouring your worth, allowing room for mistakes and working your way towards being the best version of yourself (not someone else). It is remembering that you are, indeed, human – not a robot.

But fully accepting who you are does not equate to enabling your problematic behaviours.

You may have had a tough week and want to take some time to relax – which is fine, go ahead and do it! However, it does not mean that you should stray away from reality for too long and ignore all your responsibilities. Abandoning your workstation to binge watch movies for days on end (while being well aware that you have deadlines to meet) because you feel stressed is not what self-love is – it’s actually the opposite!

Protecting ourselves from the stressors of harsh realities may seem like the easiest way to deal with things because it makes us feel safe and comfortable. In turn, we get used to this and call it self-love – when it is actually a form of ego-love.

Choosing the path of achieving instant satisfaction and indulging in denial may seem like the next best thing we know for ourselves. Yet, this path does not help us grow into the person we want for ourselves. In hindsight, you’ll start to realise that this just might be the cause of your own suffering and lead to self-deprecating thoughts; feelings of inadequacy; expectations of perfection; and the root of your lack of self-love.

Taking accountability for our actions may seem difficult, but it is essential for taking the first step in fully accepting ourselves for who we are. Understanding the difference between self-love and ego love is vital to build the life we want to live in. When we love ourselves, we want what’s best for ourselves, and we do things that make us happy (even if it’s not immediate).

We know self-love isn’t as simple as it seems – we all struggle to give ourselves the love, compassion, and kindness we give others on the daily due to a myriad of factors and past experiences. But despite the complexities of it, self-awareness is key to shifting our mindsets in accepting the self as it is – whilst working towards being a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday <3

Since we started in September, you’ve probably seen one of our carefully curated self-care kits that focus on pampering the mind, body and skin, while supporting local brands. We put these packages together with love to share the gift of self-love, including essentials such as calming crystals, plant-based protein powder and soothing sheet masks. It’s the best way to show a loved one that you care! Create your own personalised pick-me-ups with some of these wellness items – they’re bound to put a smile on your special someone’s face:

For the mind

 

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A post shared by Mossery (@mosseryco)

These planners may look too pretty to write in, but their functional layouts and fun features will have your best friend using it all the time! We love the habit tracker, inspiration board, as well as the values and beliefs page.

 

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A post shared by Little MooMooCraft (@littlemoomoocraft)

Available in cute shapes and different sizes, a deliciously scented candle can create a warm and cosy environment for your goal-getting friend to unwind in. Their nostalgic Christmas Special soy candles have a comforting scent for those who are missing home.

 

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A post shared by @shelbijou

After everything that’s happened this year, we’re all in need of some good vibes and pleasant energy! Grab a few of these shiny crystals and gift them to someone who’s been meaning to manifest their dreams and desires.

For the body

 

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A post shared by Artisan Snacks Malaysia (@kintryco)

You can’t go wrong with yummy snacks! Customise their gift collection with flavours that are natural, hand-crafted and sourced from premium ingredients – we know the vegan in your life will appreciate their Pandan Gula Melaka Granola.

 

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A post shared by The Fresh Company (@thefreshcompany.co)

Treat your workout buddy to this vegan-friendly pea protein powder. Choose from two delicious guilt-free flavours – Himalyan Salted Chocolate, and Cookies and Cream, or get them both with a protein shaker when you purchase the starter kit.

 

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A post shared by karma yoga (@karmayoga.my)

Got a yogi friend? Help them enhance their poses and elevate their experience with this recycled cork wood yoga block. We are living for the positive reminder to “do good everyday” engraved on the environmentally friendly block.

For the skin

 

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A post shared by BAD LAB Malaysia (@badlabco)

Designed exclusively for men, this all-inclusive self-care package includes some of their best-sellers: a 3-in-1 Hair, Face, and Body Shampoo, Facial Cleanser, and Pomade / Hair Clay. Users will feel more energised and revitalised after doing this routine.

 

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A post shared by s k i o v e (@skiove.skinlove)

Combining LED light treatment with a silicone facial brush, any skincare fanatic would be excited to deep cleanse their skin while rejuvenating it. Give them the gift of cleaner, clearer and glowing skin!

 

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A post shared by SkynSin (@skyn.sin)

For the friend who’s always on the go, a hydrating face mask is a fast and easy way to practice self-care. These Korean sheet mask sets are curated for each skin type, but their Christmas sets also include extra goodies from earrings and scrunchies to coffee and granola.

Hello, holiday season! One of our favourite times of the year, filled with treating our loved ones and indulging in festivities. December is also the best time to create healthy habits and refine our routines – it’s our chance to rest, refocus and recharge for the new year.

Community service project group, Heart To Heart MY, would like to help you with your self-care routine, especially during these trying times. They’ve organised a virtual self-care charity talk to provide participants with tips and advice from content creator, Bay Doucet, Velvet Vanity Cosmetics founder, Adlina Nadirah, and their very own self-care booklet.

For only RM30, which will be fully donated to the Selangor’s People Voice, you’ll be able to have a personalised experience by sharing your interests and hobbies. You’ll learn how to create or redesign a self-care routine that you’ll look forward to doing every single day! If you’re an early bird, you’ll also receive a printed self-care guide, planner and sticker set to kickstart the new year.

Register now!

Heart To Heart MY

Heart To Heart MY is a community service project consisting of a group of students who aim to help those in need. By raising funds through different fundraising activities, all proceeds are donated to the Selangor People’s Voice – helping B40 and M40 families.

Do you beat yourself up when things don’t go according to plan? You may find yourself turning internally and judging yourself for not reaching your own expectations. If this sounds all too familiar, read on to see how you can start treating yourself with the kindness and compassion you deserve! 

According to counseling experts, Dr. Kim & Dr. Hill, by showing ourselves kindness, the brain starts creating new “mentalities” and habit patterns that will transform our thoughts from seeing black and red to seeing joy and opportunities instead. Try these out:

You would only talk to a child with understanding and love, right? What if we told you there’s an inner child inside all of us and by extending the same love and forgiveness to that child, it would help you greatly. Never underestimate the power of positive self-talk! 

 

Dedicate “me time” to yourself every day. It can be as short as 15 minutes, but in those 15 minutes, fill it with activities that bring you joy such as meditation, journaling, drawing, playing your favourite instrument, or just dancing and vibing to your favourite music. By doing this, you are proving to yourself that your needs are important too. 

 

Rephrasing your thoughts and removing judgment from your actions will help cultivate self-compassion. We’re all human, it’s normal to make mistakes. Here are a couple of examples you can try the next time this happens:

Negative Thought Pattern

 

New Thought Pattern

 

I feel like I didn’t do anything today. Why am I so lazy?

 

I’ve been feeling unmotivated recently. Let’s try to figure out why I’ve been feeling this way.

 

I made a mistake, why am I always messing up? I made a mistake. It’s okay. I’ll keep going and be better next time.

 

After doing something you’re proud of or achieving something, give yourself a moment to celebrate and praise yourself! It could be that you finally submitted an assignment or a proposal, finally went to the gym or even just making your bed in the morning. Compliment yourself and give yourself a high-ten! Thank yourself for completing the chore. Shifting your focus on the good won’t leave any room for the bad. 

 

Forming and maintaining good habits can be draining, so treating yourself is actually necessary. When we reward ourself, we are more likely to feel cared for, contented, and empowered. This boosts our self-command, which helps us continue our healthy habits. According to the author, Gretchen Rubin, who studies happiness and good habits, giving yourself treats is a Secret of Adulthood: If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish”.

And you don’t even have to spend much to feel like a million bucks – here’s how you can treat yourself without breaking the bank!

 

Apply these tools into your daily routine to develop your self-compassion muscle. Remember, we are all humans who are prone to make mistakes, but our mistakes don’t define who we are. You deserve all your kindness, love, and affection.

 

In China, 11.11 is recognised as ‘Singles’ Day’ – an unofficial holiday that honours being single with empowering events and celebrations. What started out as a university tradition, has now grown into the biggest shopping day in the world with exclusive discounts and offers for you to spoil yourself like it’s Valentine’s Day. All of these deals can act as a reminder that you can show yourself love – you don’t need anyone else to. But alas, we know how tough breakups can be, especially during a time where you’re either stuck together or left completely alone to recover – quarantine breakups have been harder to cope with.

If you’re recently single, here are three tips for reinvesting in yourself after a breakup:

  1. Choose yourself
    It’s time to start prioritising yourself – move on to a healthier relationship with…yourself. If you find yourself wanting closure, it’s totally normal, but if you’re still hurting – those conversations won’t be that helpful, and may even make things harder. Focus on yourself instead and take this time to connect with your wants and needs. You would be there for a friend during a breakup, right? So show up for yourself! You have more energy now to give to yourself, as well as attention.
  2. Remember who you were
    We are constantly changing, and being changed by everything and everyone around us. When getting into a relationship, your priorities will naturally shift along with your interests – less nights out at the club, more day trips to the grocery store. Remember who you were before your relationship – what were your goals, what did you enjoy doing. Rediscover what you liked to do and try out the things you’ve always wanted to.
  3. Focus on growth
    Unlearn any bad habits you developed during the relationship. Did you find it difficult to set boundaries? Or maybe it affected your self-esteem. This is your chance to focus on yourself and your future. Start setting goals, they can be as small as repeating positive affirmations in front of the mirror everyday to securing a set amount of clients by the end of the month. Use your free time to join an online course, read, journal, workout, or listen to podcasts. Be hopeful for what the future holds, and start hyping yourself up!

Don’t be discouraged if you still find yourself having bad days – we all experience them. Healing is not linear. You’ll have good days, but it’s important to not ignore what you’ve lost and give yourself permission to grieve. When you’re properly healing, you don’t forget the pain but instead work with it to truly overcome it.

You’ve probably come across the word ‘gaslighting’ recently – it’s been commonly used to describe a certain president (who now can’t admit defeat) and has been popping up all over social media with the rise in mental health discussions. But what does it mean and why is it named after a lamp?

The term ‘gaslight’ was coined by psychotherapists after the play, Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton – it tells the story of a manipulative husband attempting to control his wife by convincing her that she is going insane. One of the ways he does this is by adjusting the flame on a gas lamp and insisting that she’s imagining the light change.

According to Psychology Today, this manipulation tactic is prevalent among abusers, dictators, narcissists and cult leaders who slowly make their victims question their reality so they don’t notice they’re getting brainwashed. How do they do this?

Gaslighting techniques include:

If you’ve experienced any of the above, you may have found yourself:

Here’s what you can do if you recognise the signs:

Remember, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and the abuser is responsible for their own toxic actions. You are not to blame for what you have experienced.

Remember when fighting for change was an activist’s job? As humans, caring about social issues is only the right thing to do, but if you find yourself constantly refreshing social media and checking the news for emerging threats worldwide – you might be addicted to bad news, and like all addictions, it can be harmful.

No, we’re not saying ignorance is bliss. When tragedies keep us glued to our screens, it can cause compassion fatigue – a form of burnout that’s commonly found among caretakers and healthcare professionals. But the rise of social media activism has manifested an unfair expectation for everyone to stay on top of every single issue, leaving us feeling either guilty or exhausted.

So is compassion fatigue caring ‘too much’? According to GoodTherapy, the concept also known as second-hand shock or secondary stress reaction is “a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatised or under significant emotional duress”. Below are a few symptoms of compassion fatigue:

If you experience any of these signs, it’s time to take a break – your mind needs to rest, just like your body does. Here’s how you can cope with compassion fatigue and prevent burning out:

As the activist and writer, Audre Lorde, once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare”. Don’t feel bad about taking a step back because there’s an increasing number of people ready to carry on where you left off. You can’t stand up for social justice when you’re barely hanging on, so do what you need to do to stay positive, strong and healthy.

If you still feel overwhelmed, please seek help from a mental health professional.