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Juggling between personal life matters, work, and the pandemic can be rather hectic. These factors can cause us to feel downright anxious, stressed and sometimes depressed. But over at SimplyGood, we're a firm believer in prioritizing a holistic lifestyle, and that is why we've rounded up 10 of our favourite sustainable self-care activities aimed at making you feel oh-so-good.
Brewing a Cup of Tea
Believe it or not, the process of brewing and inhaling a cup of tea could bolster your mental health! We think it's a simple and therapeutic way to allow yourself to unwind and calm your mind from everything, even if it's just for a few minutes. One of our top picks would have to be chamomile tea because it can reduce anxiety, aid digestion and help one to get quality sleep. Perhaps, you could even make it a part of your daily self-care ritual. Put on your comfiest set of jammies, sit on your bed or lounge chair, cuddle up with a blanket and a cup of your favourite tea while watching your favourite rom-com on television could be the perfect way to treat yourself after a long day of work.
Get Your Sweat on with Exercise
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Exercise is definitely one of our favorite low-waste self-care activities to engage in! Devoting as little as 30 minutes of exercise keeps us fit and improves our mental health and cognitive function because mood-enhancing chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin are released with exercise.
Fancy a cardio session to get your heart pumping, or want to take it slow and steady with yoga? There is a wealth of workout videos on YouTube, live workouts on Instagram as well as apps (paid and free) that will suit your preference. The best part? Some of the exercises don't even require any equipment to get started!
If you'd prefer to avoid exercising in classes or groups due to the Covid-19 pandemic, planning a virtual workout date with your buddy is a great alternative to consider.
Give Meditation a Try
Constantly hearing about the benefits of mediation but have yet to try it yourself? Then take this as a sign for you to begin! According to a study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have shown that some of the benefits one can reap from meditation are reduced stress levels, lesser headaches and improved blood pressure.
Furthermore, meditation is perfect because it usually requires nothing to get started! You could even dedicate a spot in your house to carry out your meditation session. If you're new to meditation, don't worry and begin with simple guided exercises. There are a multitude of mediation apps to explore. Some of the popular apps in the market are Calm and Headspace, which provides you with countless options of guided meditation, breathing exercises and sleep sounds you can choose from.
Write a Journal
Journaling is a fantastic way to reflect on the things in your life by penning them down. Studies have shown that journaling, or what some may call expressive writing, could improve your mood and well-being. It is a safe place for you to organize your feelings and thoughts, which you may not feel comfortable sharing with others. You could also consider this as a cathartic experience.
According to Shape Magazine, it is ideal to allocate some time daily to write your journal entry to reap its benefits. If you're new to journaling, it's only normal to feel stuck, so try prompts such as "I find calmness in…" or "I feel happiest when…" to get yourself started.
Another alternative to consider is writing a gratitude list. A gratitude list is a fantastic way to reflect and jot down things you feel grateful for. It can be about your family or something that made you happy; the options are endless. Here's a great guide to writing a gratitude list to check out, and all it takes is 15 minutes of your time daily!
To make your journaling practice sustainable, you could opt to go paperless. Digital journaling is made possible with apps furnished with features to help keep your journal logs, goals and key dates organized (without the paper waste). However, if you prefer the old pen and paper method, you could always opt for eco-friendlier notebooks for your journal entries.
Spend Time with Pets
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Didn't think this would be one of the low-waste self-care ideas we had in mind, did you? These fur friends are not just adorable to look at, but they're "purrfect" for cuddling and playing with to keep our minds off things that stresses us. A survey discovered that over 60% of respondents felt that taking care of a pet during the Covid-19 pandemic has helped them stay present and reduced their worries about the future.
Having a pet is a full-time commitment, and it's important to consider the responsibilities that come with it and whether you're ready to take them on (remember to adopt and don't shop!). However, suppose you're not prepared to have a pet of your own. In that case, there are several places in Singapore offering animal-assisted therapy, or you could even volunteer at animal shelters.
Prepare Nourishing Meals
Self-care isn't just about the activities we partake in, but it also encompasses the food we consume. It's like they say, you are what you eat. So, nourish your body with proteins, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains essential in maintaining the well-being of our bodies to reap health benefits such as reduced diabetes and cancer risk, improved memory and mediated mood.
You could even indulge in a little me time by cooking for yourself! Whether the genre may be jazz, pop, rock or hip-hop, putting on your favorite tunes while preparing your meals is a fun and simple way to express your creativity while practising mindfulness and patience.
Take a Stroll Outside and Enjoy What Nature Has to Offer
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Calming yet invigorating and practically low- even zero-waste, what's not to love about taking a stroll outside? You could schedule it right after work or dinner because spending some time away from the screen might do you some good. Got more time to spare over the weekend? You could embark on a nature walk or hike to decompress and enjoy the serenity of nature. MacRitchie Reservoir Park, The Southern Ridges and Rail Corridor are popular picks to consider. What if walking isn't your thing? Cycling is a great option to get your daily dose of fresh air and Vitamin D, but don't forget to stay safe by masking up!
Read a Book
Don't we all crave a little escapism every once in a while? Burying your nose in a book of your choice is an excellent fuss-free activity to help you wind down for the day. You could opt to borrow an e-book or audiobook from your local library. All you need is to apply for a library card to get started, and it's for free.
However, there are days when we can't deny that curling up in a printed book in bed accompanied by a cup of hot drink makes us feel all warm inside. Borrowing a book from the library or purchasing from a store that sells second-hand books are just some of the ways to ensure that a good book doesn't go to waste.
Put on a Face Mask or DIY It
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Some face masks aren't good for our environment. The packaging of these masks is usually made up of aluminium and plastic, which renders them unrecyclable. When shopping for beauty products, you could look out for brands that adopt sustainable practices and markets clean beauty products. Some of our top sustainable brand picks are Farmacy and LUSH.
But, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are a ton of DIY face masks you can make at home. Plus, this is a great way to do without the plastic waste that comes with single-use sheet masks. We did a little digging over the internet and found these super simple DIY mask recipes, including easy-to-find ingredients such as oats, aloe vera and honey you could experiment with!
Catching Up on Sleep
We're leaving the best and the most important self-care activity last - getting sufficient sleep every night. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is one that is often neglected. According to a poll conducted in 2018, Singapore was ranked the second most sleep-deprived country among 12 other countries.
Occasional all-nighters and overworking could wreak havoc on your health, leaving us more susceptible to viruses. Especially with a pandemic going around, prioritizing your health is ever so important.
Making small changes could also enhance your quality of sleep. One of our favorites is selecting luscious bedding to make our beds more inviting. Plus, what's great is that many eco-friendly and sustainable options are available that are free from toxic dyes or materials. Bonus points because home-grown brands also provide sustainable options (support local!).
So, remember to think twice the next time you turn Netflix on because the extra hour you get from sleep will make you feel more rested and ready to tackle the day.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed (it's completely ok to feel that way), and you may feel a tad apprehensive about setting aside time for self-care when faced with a list of never-ending to-dos. But self-care is all about doing things to make you feel nourished and recharged. This encapsulates your mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being. And the best part about self-care is that it does not have to be expensive or even harmful to our environment. While being in the centre of never-ending tasks, don't forget to slow down and devote some time to taking care of yourself each day.