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:
- Breathe – Practice deep breathing exercises to alleviate your anxiety. Inhale and exhale slowly while keeping your shoulders and jaw relaxed.
- Journal – Identify your feelings by writing them down, and then address these anxious thoughts. Create a positive mantra to help counter these negative statements.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- To develop our identity and a sense of agency over our bodies and feelings.
- To be able to practice self-care and improve our self-esteem.
- To communicate our needs in a relationship and have positive interactions.
- To avoid burning out and protect our finances.
How can we set boundaries?
- Identify your limits
What makes you feel uncomfortable? Check in with your body as well – what makes you tense up?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- A planner from Mossery Stationery
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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.
- A candle from Little MoomooCraft
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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.
- Crystals from Shelbijou
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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
- Healthy snacks from Kintry
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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.
- Plant-based protein powder from The Fresh Company
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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.
- Yoga block from Karma Yoga
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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
- Personal care products from BadLab
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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.
- LED Cleansing Brush from skiove
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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!
- Sheet masks from SkynSin
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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.
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:
- Talk to your inner child
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!
- Give yourself some time and attention
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.
- Reframe your thinking
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.|
- Acknowledge your accomplishments
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.
- Treat yourself
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Lying – they tell blatant lies, even when there’s proof, to confuse you and wear you down.
- Projecting – they will accuse you of something they’re guilty of to distract you from their bad behaviour.
- Using things against you – after gaining your trust, they’ll use your insecurities against you and make you feel even worse.
- Love bombing – to keep your trust, they’ll surprise you with expressions of love.
- Turning you against others – they will try to convince you that everyone else, but them, is bad for you and has been lying to you.
- Turning people against you – to isolate you, and gain more control, they will lie to others and make you look bad.
If you’ve experienced any of the above, you may have found yourself:
- Questioning yourself – you begin to doubt everything from your feelings and reality to judgement and perceptions.
- Apologising a lot – you’re afraid of being ‘too sensitive’ and start walking on eggshells around your abuser.
- Feeling insecure – their abuse has affected your self-esteem.
- Isolated – you feel helpless and are convinced that you can’t turn to anyone.
Here’s what you can do if you recognise the signs:
- Seek professional help – please consult a doctor if it has caused you mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.
- Ask a friend or family member – talk to someone outside of the situation to help clarify your doubts.
- Document the abuse – as evidence, write down everything from when it happened to how it made you feel. This will also remind you what really happened instead of depending on their version of reality.
- Distance yourself – if it’s tough to cut them off completely, you can start by setting boundaries such as saying “no” and not engaging with them. Avoiding arguments can prevent you from being put in a vulnerable position.
- Practice self-care – take care of your mental and physical health during this time, and start building yourself up again with positive affirmations.
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:
- Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless when hearing how others are suffering.
- Feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings.
- Having less empathy.
- Reacting sensitively or insensitively to tragedy.
- Constantly thinking about the suffering of others.
- Constantly blaming yourself or wondering how you could have done more.
- Downplaying your own accomplishments or success.
- Having unhealthy or destructive coping mechanisms.
- Not finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.
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:
- Has Social Media Gotten Too Overwhelming?
- Have You Been Feeling Burned Out?
- Dealing With Stress During A Pandemic
- Digital Wellness: Developing A Healthier Relationship With Social Media
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.
Cancer is a complicated disease – according to WebMD, there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that may be able to cure some people. It doesn’t help that there’s still a stigma surrounding it either with cancer being stereotyped as a life-threatening disease.
When someone we love is diagnosed with breast cancer, we may find ourselves cycling through anticipatory grief – the mourning that occurs when expecting a death. You know you have to be strong for them, but this can be difficult when you feel like you’re falling apart at the seams. We asked The Mind Faculty how to deal with these feelings without making it harder for your loved one:
- Reach out to your support network
Talk to your other family members, friends or even a counsellor. This is a scary, challenging and devastating situation, so you’re not being weak for needing extra help.
- Practice self-care
You can only be there for your loved one as much as you are there for yourself. Make sure you’re eating healthy and moving your body – even if it’s stretching for 5 minutes a day, and allow yourself a break by going out with friends or someone who is removed from the situation.
- Honor your feelings
You may be tempted to think, “I can’t be be sad, I have to be strong for my loved one”, but by minimizing the way you feel – you won’t allow yourself to grieve or process it properly. Try venting to a friend, keeping a journal or even screaming into a pillow. Your pain is valid.
It’s important to be patient with yourself as grief follows its own timeline. When it comes to caring for them while managing you own stress and anxiety, The Mind Faculty suggests:
- Create positive memories with your loved one
If it’s not possible, you can still reminisce about your favorite times together – try making them a scrapbook.
- Hold space for them
Listen without trying to ‘solve’ what they are going through. For example, if they tell you that they are scared – don’t say, “There’s nothing to be afraid about! Modern medicine is amazing”. Instead, try saying, “I can only imagine how scary it must be for you”.
- Educate yourself
Do your research on breast cancer and their treatments, but don’t overwhelm them with information. To avoid this from happening, allow them to ask you first.
- Watch how you speak about cancer
We usually use ‘war metaphors’ when speaking about cancer. For example – “we must fight it”, “she is a cancer survivor”. This suggests that people who have died from cancer didn’t fight hard enough and can make those who suffer from it feel guilty or inadequate if their treatment isn’t working.
While you can prioritize your loved one, please make sure to take care of your mental health as well. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Follow The Mind Faculty on Instagram for more professional advice and mental health support.
During a time of social distancing and restricted movement, we find ourselves physically isolated – but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with each other. It’s actually essential that we do so during times like these because now, more than ever, we need each other the most!
The rise in coronavirus cases has evolved into another national crisis that’s called for us to support our own communities. If you’ve been struggling to deal with problems on your own – self-care isn’t enough to get you through this pandemic. With community care, you’ll be provided the support needed during these hard times, making collective care key to getting through this.
But what exactly is community care? It’s the compassion we show others, whether one or many, and the actions we take to do so – regardless of the size. Here are a few ways you can practice community care during the CMCO:
- Support small businesses
During the first lockdown, small businesses took a big hit – seeing the closure of many stores and restaurants across the nation. The other remaining enterprises have been struggling to stay afloat, which is why it would really help to order from home-based food businesses, buy groceries from local farmers, and shop local products from home-grown brands.
2. Check in on your family, friends and colleagues
The uncertainty has made it a stressful and anxiety-inducing time for us all, so if you have the mental capacity to do so – check in on others and let them know you’re there for them. Even if you’re unable to, show that you still care by sending them an emoji or even a song!
3. Help those in need
You don’t always have to donate money to help, you can also volunteer your time and skills. Start a fundraising campaign, help raise funds by sharing an existing campaign, or go through your belongings to find things you can donate.
4. Check for facts and fake news
This is important for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing as the spread of fake news and rumours have caused many to feel anxious and overwhelmed. Stay informed and double check any news you receive before sharing it – make sure it comes from a reputable source!
5. Be more eco-friendly
For hygiene reasons, the use of disposable plastic products has rapidly grown – causing the pandemic to have a negative effect on the environment as well. Make the effort to minimise your single-use plastic waste by switching to reusable bottles, cutlery and containers. Don’t forget to sanitize!
Community care isn’t here to replace self-care, it’s a necessary addition to it. Take care of yourself and others during this time – the only way we can curb COVID-19 again is by working together!