If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the last year, apart from copious sanitisation, is that nothing is more vital than self-care. Perhaps it has become all too natural to be swept up with to-do-lists at work and making sure social obligations are fulfilled, that we’ve overlooked our bodies and our minds and have in the process, jeopardised some part of our health. The danger is that most of us won’t even realise the consequences when they aren’t always physically present.
All it takes is a moment, no matter how brief, to recenter your priorities on what your self needs. lululemon’s latest campaign “Be You, Be Well” embraces the authentic inner self, going beyond the physical needs, and also looking towards our mental and social well-being. It’s all about being intentional for ourselves sans any rules or boundaries. After all, everyone is on their own course.
To encourage this cardinal mantra that is self-care, five lululemon ambassadors of varying journeys share their tips, music picks, and life’s secrets to taking care of yourself.
“This playlist is perfect for self or studio practice. Let your breath and music guide you as you flow on the mat.”
1. Acknowledge my emotions and express them, be it through journaling, talking to someone or articulating it in any other way
I find that bottling up emotions will inevitably snowball and somewhere along the line, an event might just trigger a meltdown.
2. Dissect the problem(s) and understand what is within my agency to effect change
For this, I return to my trusty excel sheet to look at the situation in a logical manner. If the stressor is something abstract (for eg job security), I break it down to manageable portion and better understand how I can change it.
3. Daily gratitude meditation
When I focus on being grateful of what I have thus far, the problems and stressors that I face tend to be diminished. This meditation usually comes in the form of sitting quietly and breathe. With every exhalation, I contemplate on something to be grateful for, for the day. And as such, I find this particularly useful as an end-of-day activity.
Protein before 10am
Whether it’s protein powder mixed into your morning drink of choice or eaten in the form of eggs, sliced turkey or yogurt, protein in the morning will keep your hunger levels balanced throughout the day and encourage optimal functioning of brain and body. Make sure to consume protein 1-3 more times throughout the day, especially within 2 hours of a strenuous workout.
Opt for Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local food as much as possible. For example: organic fruits and vegetables, high-quality meats and poultry, seeds and nuts. Avoid diet products which are loaded with chemicals and sugar abundant to make up for the reduced fat. Focus on the quality of ingredients. It has been proven that organic products are way more nutritionally abundant than non-organic. It may hurt your wallet but remember that the bigger price to pay at the end of the day are hospital bills.
5 ingredients or less
Read labels to avoid artificial ingredients, colourings, and added sugars. Foods created in a lab are chemically engineered to be addictive, which neurologically manipulates your taste buds to be dissatisfied with natural tastes of real foods. If a food product has more than five ingredients, especially words you can’t read, you definitely shouldn’t be eating it often.
Skip that diet
Instead, go for a more sustainable, long-term health goal instead of short-lived fads you see on Instagram! Carbs and fat are not the devil. They are completely necessary in a healthy diet. Eat a piece of chocolate everyday if you like, just not the whole bar! Never restrict yourself to things or you’ll end up obsessing over it, which isn’t healthy either.
Basic food goals
Fruits and Veg: 5 colours per day
Fats, Seeds & Nuts: 4 tablespoons per day
Protein: 4 servings per day
Spices and herbs: 2 tablespoons per day
Flax, Fish, Seaweed: Once a day
Organic foods: Mostly
Whole grains: 1-2 handfuls per day
Refined pastry and pasta: once or less per week
Added sugars: twice or less per week
Fast food: twice or less per month
1. Move the body
Take an hour daily to move the body consciously and with awareness. Unroll your yoga mat, cycle, swim, dance, run, lift, flow or stretch – get blood circulating, and shake up any stagnation that may be hindering the body’s natural physiological processes. By moving the body, we increase our level of endorphins, a natural pain-killer, and one of the happy chemicals in our brain.
2. Still the mind
Take pockets of time during the day to connect within, finding stillness for yourself. When we focus on our breath or a mantra/affirmation, we slow down the influx of external stimulus and mental chatter, which reduces anxiety and increases our quality of well-being. Meditation and breathwork also increases our level of dopamine, the pleasure and motivation hormone.
Here’s a simple breathwork practice to immediately bring calm and focus to the mind.
On the scale of 1-5, note your quality of well-being and ease.
Breathe in the flowers: Inhale for 4 counts. Hold at the top for 2 counts.
Blow out the candles: Exhale for 6 counts. Hold at the bottom for 2 counts.
Repeat 5 times.
On the scale of 1-5, notice your quality of well-being and ease now.
3. Daily dose of sunshine
Have fun in the sun! When we spend time under the sun, we increase our levels of serotonin, our natural mood stabilizer and anti-depressant. Don’t forget sunblock!
4. Nourish meaningful connections
Journal, make art, sing… take time to connect with your inner life. This can be done by noticing what are your most recurring thoughts during the day, what feels present to you, what you want most out of life. Grab a couple of crayons, paint brushes, or colour pencils and express yourself in a non-verbal medium, too, so that your truth does not have to be solely captured by words, and instead to be interpreted through art forms. The work does not have to be pretty, just truthful. Connect with people who fill your cup! These are people who support you, inspire you, share laughter and tears with, and you can be completely yourself around them. Hold these connections close and nourish them often. When we connect deeply and feel love, we increase our oxytocin levels, the love hormone, for better psychological well-being and relaxation.
Readers of Buro. Singapore may email [email protected] for a complimentary virtual Restorative Breathwork class.
A strength workout that slows everything down to focus on the fundamental movements, with tempo (speed of movement), creating tension, being in control and building muscle!
Goblet Squat x 10 reps
Squat 3 seconds down, creating tension in your glutes & quads
Negative Push Ups x 5-10 reps
Focus on 3-5 seconds on the downward phase. Keep your hips tucked under, with tension in your glutes and core.
Reverse Lunges x 10 each side
To work your glutes & hamstrings. Keep your core tensed to stay balanced.
Bent Over Row x 10
Hollow Hold x 20-40 seconds
Make sure your lower back isn’t arching off the ground.
The Work: 3-5 Rounds of the 5 exercises listed above. Have 1 minute rest in between each round and then repeat!
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