Lifestyle

Exclusive: Three millennial voices share their unique approaches to self-care and why it’s not as unobtainable as you might think

Me, myself & mine

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Self-care. Two of the most overheard words in the context of all things wellness for the modern millennial. But where some envision hours of endless spa sessions with clay masks and mud baths, for others it’s embodied through their nutritional and fitness routines or regimes. So, what actually is ‘self-care’, and how does it really impact how we feel about ourselves and the journey to the other modern nirvana state: self-acceptance?

Buro. Singapore asked three unique voices in Singapore from diverse backgrounds, careers and lifestyles eight questions to define what self-care means to them and their individual pathways to embracing wellness – be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

Amanda Olivia Lim, 29 – Social Media Lead, lululemon Asia

Tell us a little about what your relationship has been like with yourself through the key periods of your life. E.g. pre-teens, teens, twenties to today?

With COVID shifting the way I get a chance to interact with people, I find myself reflecting a lot more about defining who I am and also determining my strengths and weaknesses.

What do you think has been the greatest challenge for you in accepting yourself?

For me, my challenge is about accepting that I am an idealist who wants to accomplish a lot of things, all while doing them perfectly! More often than not, this can cause me to burn out.

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care for me is the time that I need to get myself back up. Sometimes that might look like a long run to clear my head. At other times, it could just be me and myself, spending time in my room, relaxing and listening to music. That’s the thing about self-care, it can take different forms, but the ultimate goal is to come out feeling well.

What role has others’ opinions played in your self-acceptance journey?

I do sometimes feel the need to match up to expectations or standards of others but I strongly believe that opinions are interpretations of observations. So whilst I always value them, because they’re someone’s fresh perspective on me – whether I act on the pressure to conform to them is based on whether or not it makes sense for me and if I find it rational to do so.

What role does fitness or movement play a role for you when it comes to self-care?

At one time, fitness used to just be a way for me to keep in shape. But over time, it has since evolved into becoming an escape for my mind to actually unwind. Now, when I’ve had a long day, I book a yoga class or a game of netball with my friends to give myself space to relax and recuperate.

What’s one self-care ritual you follow that you think is unusual or unique but works for you?

I’m a really visual person. I love blasting music over my AirPods and imagining colours dancing to the beat in my mind. It really helps me re-center and re-focus when I feel scattered!

How does your choice of career affect your ability to accept yourself?

I work in a fast-paced, creative environment and whilst it doesn’t directly affect my ability to accept myself, it certainly helps to push me into regularly checking in with myself and taking a step back to understand what’s essential vs. not currently essential to action on. That helps me to balance my priorities, including time for myself.

What is one thing you think people get wrong about self-acceptance and self-care?

I think people often think self-acceptance and self-care are very abstract concepts and at times, they can feel overwhelming and unrelatable. On the contrary, for me, these two concepts are becoming more and more applicable to our overall state of wellness and mental health today, especially as we journey through the epidemic.

Mary Victor, 24, Make-up Artist

Can you tell us a little about what your relationship has been like with yourself through the key periods of your life e.g. pre-teens, teens, twenties to today?

The way I’d describe my relationship with myself in a word would be: a rollercoaster. There have been many periods where I’ve had a lot of self-hate, especially in my pre-teens and teens when I didn’t know better and have the life experience I have now. I’ve gone through fluxes such as under-eating to lose weight to over-exercising. But in my early teens, I felt a shift when I found my passion: make-up.

Since I’ve embarked on this journey of turning something I love into a career, I’ve started healing and finding my self-worth. Making others feel beautiful also makes me feel so much better and really helps to realign the focus away from overthinking about my past. And whilst I’m still on a journey with my healing, today, I’m much better at seeing my true worth and being confident enough to know I can handle anything that comes my way.

What do you think has been the greatest challenge for you in accepting yourself?

Definitely dealing with my own fat-phobia. Like many others, I grew up thinking that fat must be equivalent to ugly and unhealthy. The word itself is also so loaded with offense by society, and it’s taken me a lot of growing up to realize that it’s just that – a word – and it doesn’t automatically insinuate some kind of label about who you are or your worth. It’s one of the most difficult challenges I’ve had to face in my own journey but a necessary one.

What does self-care mean to you?

To me, self-care is about listening to yourself – not others. Just you. Listening to how you feel today and what you need to do in that moment to be your best. I practice body neutrality and I’m learning to be more balanced towards myself. I now try to listen to both my positive and negative feelings and let neither affect me one way or the other. Giving yourself that priority to be the best version of yourself, that for me is self-care.

What role has others’ opinions played in your self-acceptance journey?

The ones closest to me know that I have those days where I don’t feel so good and they know exactly what to say to get me back up and better!

What role does fitness or movement play a role for you when it comes to self-care?

Hiking or going for long walks always help to make me feel so much better. Also doing laps in my pool makes me calm and happy. I’m currently healing from an injury, but it hasn’t stopped me from going for my walks with my dog. I love those moments and I find movement plays an important role in my keeping me happy in my life.

What’s one self-care ritual you follow that you think is unusual or unique but works for you?

Meditation but to focus on being neutral towards yourself and your body. I also find spending a lot of time on self-reflection is so crucial when it comes to keeping myself in check, especially when I’m feeling anxious or down.

How does your choice of career affect your ability to accept yourself?

Initially working as a Make-up Artist focused on commercial models definitely shed light on the fact that for women like me, there are very limited opportunities to be seen in the mainstream. But overtime, I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to the models I work on when I do make-up and instead focus on my own journey and accept myself as I am.

What is one thing you think people get wrong about self-acceptance and self-care?

That in order to start this journey, you have to commit a lot of time to it. It’s really as easy as starting to take 5 minutes off your day just to self-reflect on how you feel and check-in with yourself.

Edward Russell, 31 – Fox Sports Presenter & Media Personality

Can you tell us a little about what your relationship has been like with yourself through the key periods of your life e.g. pre-teens, teens, twenties to today?

Honestly my memory’s not that flash so I couldn’t begin to tell you how I felt as a pre-teen, but I can quite easily say that it’s only in the past few years that I’ve truly felt comfortable in my own skin. In my early twenties, I went from being a post-grad student, spending hours sitting on my butt writing my thesis, eating cup noodles because it was all I could afford to becoming a full-time model whose weight was measured and judged on a daily basis. We’d only receive our $100 weekly pocket money back then if we stayed within the ‘ideal weight’. Suffice to say that was one of the reasons why I left the modelling industry.

Obviously today, being on TV and in the public eye, still requires me to keep and look fit, but now the focus is on being healthy and not just being thin. Back then, working out was a chore or a burden whereas today it’s something I actually really enjoy doing.

What do you think has been the greatest challenge for you in accepting yourself?

When I first started out in the industry, and particularly when I was modelling, I used to listen too much to what others said to me and I’d feel compelled to adhere to a certain look and body image. Inevitably, that leads to a whole lot of self-doubt and insecurity when you feel like you can’t then live up that image. Thankfully as the years have gone by, I’ve become much more comfortable in my own skin and become secure enough to tell myself that as long as I feel confident about the way I look, that’s all that matters.

What does self-care mean to you?

For me, self-care is about taking time for yourself. I take time to switch off from the noise and the demands of others to focus purely on the demands of your mind and body. I’m sure we’ve all felt at some point that our bodies and our time belongs more to others than they do to ourselves, so self-care for me is about reclaiming what’s rightfully ours and giving it time and appreciation.

What role has others’ opinions played in your self-acceptance journey?

Having made the move into TV presenting though, I feel like at least now I’m judged on my hosting abilities as well and it’s not all down to how I look. Even after close to a decade in this job, presenting skills are something that can constantly be improved and tweaked. My face? Not really a whole lot I can do about that!

What role does fitness or movement play a role for you when it comes to self-care?

It’s huge. Because working out – whether it’s in the gym or going for a run, is one of the only times when I can truly switch off and focus purely on my body and what it’s saying. I also find it helps to bring me so much clarity. If I’m having a really hectic day or if a lot of different things are swirling around in my mind, the first thing I try to do is get out and go for a run or a walk, even if it’s just for half an hour or so. Following that, I always find that I return to work with a newfound perspective or solution to a problem that was plaguing me before.

What’s one self-care ritual you follow that you think is unusual or unique but works for you?

I’m not sure how unusual it is, but I do have the time I try and walk everywhere. If I have errands to run, even if it’s on the other side of the country, I’ll walk there. If I don’t have too much stuff to carry home from work, I’ll walk (my studio is kind of in the middle of nowhere). But walking outdoors with my Airpods in and some good tunes playing really is the best escape for me.

How does your choice of career affect your ability to accept yourself?

I have to admit, sometimes it’s really hard to accept yourself when your career involves being watched live by a regional audience of over 60 million people, all of whom you worry will be judging you! At the end of the day though, I just try and put it out of my mind. Thankfully, the benefit of working out of a studio and being alone in a room with cameras can help you quite easily forget that anyone is watching you at all!

I’ve been mentoring some communications students recently about working in TV presenting and the first thing I say it to just focus on yourself and not to be concerned with who’s watching. If you do keep worrying, it’s very easy to become anxious and start self-doubting so just focus on your own ability and the rest will follow suit.

What is one thing you think people get wrong about self-acceptance and self-care?

I feel like sometimes we wait until things get pretty bad before then trying to make wholesale changes like drastic diets or going on whole-week long self-care retreats or into the Himalayas – that kind of thing. Instead of letting it get to that point, if we address our own self-care needs regularly and listen to our bodies on a daily basis, it’s much easier to make smaller adjustments if necessary. This could be in the form of shifts in thinking or setting aside pockets of time to switch off or doing breathing exercises, for example. And if need be, don’t be afraid to seek help from family or friends and even professionals.

All clothing items pictured have been kindly supplied courtesy of lululemon Asia. To shop the looks above, click here.

Photographer: Shawn Paul Tan
Creative Producer: Vanessa Caitlin
Style Director: Asri Jasman
Make-up and Hair: Christian Maranion
Photographer’s assistant: Melvin Leong

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