Turning 20 in 2018 was a big thing for me. Not for the parties or celebrations, but because I felt that I had to have my life together. If I summarised my 2018 into one sentence, it would be the following.
Always worrying about my next step, and not enjoying the moment I was in.
I’ve decided to leave the stress and negativity in 2018. I’m going to seize each new day with these simple and practical tips! So keep reading to find out how to make 2019 your best year yet!
Live a healthy and active lifestyle
Like a broken record I too will say, work out. Hit the gym at the community centre or finally take the plunge and commit to a gym membership. If you’re looking for a place to get started, Amore Fitness has a great fitness plan that gives you access to women-only gyms, as well as a myriad of classes to attend. At the same time, you can opt for flexible alternatives which would cater to our busy lifestyles (like who has the time right?).
Anytime Fitness offers a flexible gym membership — that allows you to put your membership on hold for a period of time — which gives you 24/7 access to its gyms all over the world too.
A good app that we recommend investing in is Fitbit Coach. The app adapts exercise routines to match your physical capability and daily activity, which is tracked by your Fitbit watch. If you get bored by repetitive routines, Sworkit will offer you a different routine each time you exercise, to keep you on your toes!
Be conscious about what’s going into your body
As part of living a healthier lifestyle, you’ve to be aware of what’s going into your body. I’m not the healthiest of eaters — my friends know how much I love my Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) — so this will be at the top of my list. If you’re living the 9-5 life and finding healthy alternatives isn’t that easy, make the effort to find quick and easy recipes online or from books.
Yazio is a great app that helps you create meal plans and track your calories. With an upgrade (which we think is totally worth it) you gain access to healthy recipes, fat tracking, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Besides tracking your fitness, the Fitbit app also allows you to log your food and track your intake.
Find out what’s good for you
Learn to target specific foods which are beneficial for you. Two general examples which will benefit everyone are foods that protect you from air pollution (foods rich in Vitamin C & E) or sun damage (beta-carotene foods, leafy greens, Vitamin C fruits & Omega 3 foods).
In the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of beauty products (like Clinique’s Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly) that protect us from free radicals and sun damage. However, with temperatures rising and air quality being compromised on the daily, it’s especially important that we take more direct steps to keep our body healthy.
Focus on your mental health
According to a nationwide study released last year, 1 in 7 people in Singapore has struggled with their mental health in their lifetime. It’s a troubling percentage which needs to be lowered. So make it a point to focus on the state of your mental health and see how it can be improved.
The competitive culture in Singapore can often add on to how harshly we criticise ourselves, which can affect our self-esteem. In an article about the correlation between self-esteem and mental health, psychotherapist Mel Schwartz mentioned that “A confident and secure relationship with your own self makes it less likely that you’ll suffer from these conditions [depression and anxiety] but, of course, doesn’t guarantee it”. While it may not be an absolute solution, building your self-esteem makes you more capable to deal with mental health issues.
One of my key takeaways of 2018 was also to be aware of the negative influences in my life. Be aware of people or practices that bring you down or affect your mental health for the worse. Improve your mental health proactively and do a mental cleanse when needed. Do that by sitting down and reviewing what negative influences need to be taken out from your life — think of it as a mental Marie Kondo cleanse, if it doesn’t spark joy, then it’s time to let it go. If you can’t remove these factors, learn there are ways to build your psychological resilience, whether it’s through books or seeing a psychiatrist!
In an Asian society where it’s the norm to keep your dirty laundry hidden, it may be difficult to let yourself be vulnerable. So instead, turn to apps which offer anonymity and instant 24/7 help. It won’t be the same as seeing someone but works as well. Try using Build Confidence, which focuses on building your self-esteem through podcasts. Headspace is another great app that teaches you meditation and mindfulness techniques that help to manage stress and anxiety, improve your well-being and increase your overall happiness!
Get the sleep you deserve (and need)
I can’t emphasize how important this is! In a study published in 2016, Singapore was named the most sleep-deprived nation with its citizens getting just over seven hours of sleep at least. Our country has the 2nd latest bedtime too, thanks to the culture of working late, even from our beds.
Digital pollution (yes it exists) is one big factor in why it can be hard to fall asleep. Using our phones before bed messes up our melatonin production because the artificial light tells our brain that it’s time to get up and our body clock gets messed up.
If you desperately need to use your phone before bed, activate the yellow-tinted on your screen and lower its brightness. Getting eight hours of sleep can at times, feel totally impossible, so ignore the “work ‘till late” culture and sleep as early as you can.
Eat melatonin-rich foods during your dinners, such as fish, broccoli and grapes. Invest in apps such as Sleep Cycle. It tracks your sleep cycle and gently wakes you up at the best time — when you’re in the lightest stage of sleep. Blackout curtains, sound machines and comfy sheets are some other sleep-inducing products you could invest in too!
Beauty products with sleep-inducing scents such as the Lotus Dream Cream from Fresh Beauty are great additions to your nightly skincare routine since they help to set the mood. That way, you’ll wake up feeling invigorated and looking gorgeous.
Do what you love
A reality some working adults might face is that they aren’t working a job they love. At the same time, sometimes those who love working might find the routine gets a little stale. It makes doing what hobbies or little things you love, seem like a chore sometimes. But here’s the thing, that can lead to a burnout, which leads to a rather big plump of unhappiness.
To keep your fire burning, (re)discover an old or new hobby that develops a skill. Find out what gets you going and sets your mind at ease, whether it’s painting, dancing, taking photographs or cooking a nice meal. Commit to at least a day a week to doing a hobby. Try new things every now, and then to inject some fun into your routine. It really is a mood booster!
You can also look into Skillsfuture, a government scheme which quite literally allows you to learn anything you want, without having to worry too much about finances. A common misconception is that it’s only for working adults or retirees. But there’s actually something for everyone, no matter how old you are.
Find something to be grateful for every day
A word commonly associated with Singapore is “complacent”. True, it may run in our blood, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be grateful right? It puts yourself in a spot to look at the bright side and fosters a deeper sense of appreciation over time.
I recently came across a book from kikki.K which encourages you to pen down three things you’re grateful for each day. It may seem like you’re being forced to see the good, even in the bad and that’s exactly it! Over time, you’ll naturally start to see the silver linings and optimism will be your new neighbour. If you’re less of a bookworm and techier, try using the app Gratitude Journal which works almost the same way!
Even if you’re a naturally positive person, it’ll be a memorable way for you to remember the year’s daily highlights.
Don’t just set a yearly resolution – go monthly
Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions. Most of them go down the drain as quickly as they come up. To help you keep to your resolutions, break them down into tasks that you can track weekly or monthly. Also, make a habit of writing these targets down in your journal so you can keep track of your progress!
I know many of us don’t take resolutions seriously, but setting goals helps increase self-belief, fuels your ambition, inspires you, increases productivity and helps you live the life you want to the fullest. There was even a long-term study that found that those who set goals, earned an income ten times higher than those who didn’t.
Way of Life is a great habit tracker that in a nutshell, reminds you to complete the task and allows you to track your progress as time passes. A guide to goal-setting and dreaming (which I’ve been obviously loving) is Kristina Karlsson’s Your Dream Life Starts Here book. It doesn’t just show you what to do but encourages you to be proactive, with an accompanying journal.
Do a tech (or phone) detox
We’re always connecting to technology in one way or another, whether it’s to complete school or work. It’s just the age that we live in. But even when we don’t need to, we still choose to devote our attention to our screens.
It’s like a drug which gives some people literal withdrawal symptoms, as a study done by Swansea University found. In two more studies, it was found that by spending more time on social media, you actually sabotage yourself and set yourself up to feel more sad and isolated.
I personally feel (and have observed how) it also makes us forget to appreciate what we have. We tend to compare other people’s online lives to our offline ones and it leaves us wishing for more, rather than being grateful for what we already have.
So take a cue from celebrities such as Ed Sheeran and Lorde, and take a break from online life. Allow yourself to reconnect with nature and the people around you. If jumping into this is a challenge, try putting your phone aside just once a week or on your next holiday where you have less online obligations to tend to! For a more head-on approach, try out retreats catering to a digital detox. Be Kind offers you the chance to do just that whilst working on a happier, healthier you. It may be quite the investment, but to us, it’s worth it for a better you!
Give back to society
It’s always nice to give back and help those who are in need. There’s a special sense of fulfilment knowing you’ve helped someone or made their day. So whenever you can, donate to an organisation, or make time to volunteer your time there. There are many of them out there, it just depends on what causes you’re passionate to support. Some local ones you could consider are Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme, Food From The Heart and Operation Hope Foundation, whom the DC team recently worked with!
I’ve also recently discovered ShareTheMeal, an app that lets you donate any amount from as little as 50 cents a day. The proceeds go towards feeding children who are in need. What I love about the initiative is that you get to see who and how exactly your contribution helps!
There are definitely many ways in which you could live a happier life. These are the few methods that I believe will be helpful to most. If you have your own tips, share them below! Of course, the key to really making sure your efforts leave ripple effects is to make sure that you remain active in actually making the effort.
With that, we’d like to wish everyone a very happy new year ahead!
Lots of love,