By Ian Chow, Certified Massage Therapist / Infant Massage Instructor / Oncology Massage Trainer
Length: 4.5 mins read (970 words)
In this Covid-19 pandemic era, with a lot of us stuck at home on longer hours (not by choice), it can get more and more difficult as day goes by. Even though currently Malaysia is moving onto the endemic stage and more economy sectors are reopening, the road ahead is still a tough one and for some, they can’t even glimpse the light at the end of tunnel yet. It is an unprecedented time that we are living in. Even for me, at times, I am just taking one step at a time, day by day, trying to gain the right mental capacity to get by another day.
As gloomy as it sounds, these are some of the methods or rituals that I choose to unwind and relax on a daily basis. I feel it helps a lot especially on a rough day. If you are experiencing similar predicament, may you find some solace in what I share. As I mentioned in my previous self-care tips article, our life is a marathon and not a sprint. We have to pace ourselves so that we can last as long as we can especially at this trying time.
No.1 Daily digital detox
After a whole day of looking at our digital devices whether for work, for leisure, for online shopping or due to our children online classes / homeworks, dedicate a moment (even half an hour as a start) of not having and looking at any devices. Go and do some physical activities; a workout, playing an instrument, walking outside your house for fresh air or maybe a badminton session with our children.
I play the tongue drum and with this serene sounding instrument, I can’t really go wrong with the music notes even if I do not have much experience (there are many brand less one that is very affordable nowadays).
No.2 Me time
Dedicate some time in a day for yourself (away from your family member especially if you are cooked up at home day with them day in day out). However, you can only choose to do one or more of these four activities: write, draw, colour and/or read. If you feel you are not artistic enough, perhaps skip drawing and colouring but choose to read or write. You can write a blog, a poem, your diary or even just random words or thoughts. And read anything at all, a novel, a manga, a short story, a blog, a news, an entertainment article etc.
I choose to colour mandala or geometrical pattern cos I find that therapeutic. There is no right or wrong on the colour combination that I choose. Plus, I also write at times (this massage blog for instance). I keep a periodic journal for my children which I will pass to them when they reach 18 years old. It documents their growing up process and the things that we went through together.
No.3 Breathing exercise
How many of us when we wake up, the first thing we reach out for is our phone? 🙂 I will always start my day with simple breathing exercises that I learnt from my Yip Kin Wing Chun training days. It need not be a long routine, it can be as fast as just a few minutes. If I have more time, I will add on with physical stretches and exercise. It does make me feel more alert and ready for the day better. There are many other breathing exercises that you can search on the internet or you can even engage teachers who offer such a service that could couple it with yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice.
No.4 Take a warm / cold shower with scrub
I wish I have a bath tub then I can soak myself in the tub every day. 🙂 But, most of us don’t so I will just settle with a warm shower with my DIY scrub using essential oils. Some may find cold shower works better for them. Whichever your preference, the main idea is just to let the water runs through you which is a very relaxing sensation (beside hygiene reason of washing away accumulated dirt on your skin). The nice smell from the scrub or soap that you use can also be rejuvenating. And do you notice that at times, it is during your shower that you start to have deep thought which lead to your “eureka” moment?
No.5 Your favourite food or drink
Doesn’t matter whether your favourite food is junk food, fast food, alcoholic drink, spicy / oily food or even soft drink that is not good for your health. As long as it is consume not in excessive amount, I would say just go ahead. Go and spoil yourself for a bit.
My favourite is always a chocolate bar with half cup of coffee.
No.6 Listening to music
This is another one of my favourite. Just spend some time listening to your favourite music every day. I always feel refresh and alive especially when I can relate to the music or lyrics in my own way and find inspiration in that. With so many streaming platforms that are available, you never will run out of options (even if you do not want to pay and subscribe).
A side note, don’t forget to check out our local music. Not just for the sake of supporting but the fact that we actually do have a lot of great talents here in Malaysia who writes a lot of good songs in various genres.
No.7 Essential Oils
This may not work for all but it works for me. Depending on how I feel, I will diffuse different essential oils with different purposes. Our sense of smell is closely link to our emotional region of the brain, plus a powerful link to our memory. I do find essentials help to boost my creativity and productivity. It certainly helps to enhance my mood especially when I am not feeling too great.
There are many essential oils brand that one can choose from, local or international brands. Just one advice, always pick a credible brand which uses organic materials (and not synthetic materials) to produce the oil.
PSA: If you need someone to talk and you can’t find anyone, do consider the helpline numbers as below. In the worse case scenario, whatsapp me for a casual chat.
Befrienders: 03-7956 8145, Lifeline Association Malaysia: 03-4265 7995, All Women’s Action Society (AWAM): 03-7877 0224