Two weeks ago, the Singapore government announced an extended ‘circuit breaker’ period in Singapore with the hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19 — this “soft lockdown” means that the vast majority of the country is working from home, limiting outdoor activities to ‘essentials only’ and for those with access to technology, using those tools to stay in touch with family and friends.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only shaken the economy, but the prolonged period of isolation and social distancing have certainly taken a toll on mental health, giving rise to higher levels of anxiety and depression. Locally, it was reported that over 6,600 calls have been made to the National Care Hotline in Singapore, after it had been set up for just two weeks.
It has never been more important to prioritise our mental health. At V&VPR, we often talk about the importance of holistic wellness and the effects of each choice we make having an impact on our overall wellbeing. It’s understandably easier to care less, or indulge more, when it comes to our food and drink choices these days. Coupled with news of consumer alcohol sales going up during the Circuit Breaker period, we wanted to understand more about the relation between our food and drink choices and our mental health.
We brought together Asher Low, co-founder of Singapore non-profit organisation Limitless — whom V&VPR supports on a pro-bono basis — as well as nutritionist and host, Charlotte Mei, on Instagram Live to chat about their experiences during the Circuit Breaker; tools for coping, and how eating right and working out always makes us feel better. Asher is a certified social worker who founded Limitless to help youths in the fight against mental illness, poverty and social inequality. Follow Limitless on Instagram for the full conversation available soon on IGTV. In the meantime, read on for highlights of the interview.
Part 1: Fighting Cabin Fever — Stay Connected, Keep Moving, Keep Learning
Four weeks into the Circuit Breaker and with another month to go, many of us have started experiencing cabin fever syndrome, a distressing feeling of restlessness and irritability from extended periods of staying indoors. To combat these unsettling feelings, Asher suggests to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do: keep in touch with friends and loved ones on a regular basis albeit virtually over the multitude of apps and video conferencing platforms available such as Houseparty and Zoom. Our personal favourite is virtual movie night with Netflix Party. Both Asher and Charlotte support a regular fitness routine for improved mental health — in fact, keep it fun and exercise with friends on-screen to provide you with added motivation!
Another common feeling you may experience in lockdown is a loss of control. It is overwhelming to feel like while you may be doing your best to keep safe and healthy, there may still be other factors outside of your power – for example, having a family member or housemate working in essential services that has a higher risk of exposure to Covid-19, having your entire daily routine turned on its head, or feeling like your space is encroached on since the home is perpetually ‘full’ now. Asher and Charlotte recommend taking back control by focusing on productivity. Choose habits and hobbies that you’ve never tried before such as cooking a new dish outside of your repertoire, learning how to play a music instrument or picking up a new language online. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to be high achieving all the time – setting small goals for yourself is an excellent way of providing a sense of focus and purpose. The objective here is to try — don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve all your goals for the day. “If you slip up or are just having a bad day, it’s okay. Stay positive and pick yourself up,” Charlotte advised. “Look back and find out what your triggers are and come up with solutions to cope with those moments.”
And if you have the privilege of space, having just one spot that solely belongs to you can also drastically help with feelings of control. Whether it’s having your own work desk, your own bed to return to, or a corner of the living room that no one else can intrude upon, can make a significant difference in your mood.
Exercise is also an amazing coping mechanism especially right now as it produces endorphins that trigger positive feelings. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going for a long run or doing an hour-long workout – doing something small is better than doing nothing at all. We enjoy Nike Training Club for its free workouts that start from just 5 minutes! If you’re not feeling up for exercise, how about cleaning up your room instead? Decluttering is a great way to physically and mentally detox, and burn some calories while you’re at it!
Anxiety and feelings of depression are common issues faced by many around the world right now – unsurprisingly, the Limitless team has also been receiving a higher number of messages and calls during the Circuit Breaker period. Asher and Charlotte both agree that a good way to try and overcome the feeling of helplessness is to practice gratitude – don’t dwell on the negatives but instead, try and keep track of the good things. This doesn’t mean to be aloof or avoid the situation, but to take a moment and understand that while it is a difficult time, it is only temporary and there are many things we can look forward to in the future. A few easy ways to practice gratitude: keep a journal and write down three highlights of your day every day — these can be things that you’re grateful for, goals you’ve reached; or as Charlotte has been doing this year, simply write down one achievement — whether you deem them big or small — on your calendar daily.
Part 2: Eat Well, Feel Better
Diet and mental health are very intertwined, and food should be seen as a positive aspect of life. However, in today’s world consuming food is almost always portrayed as a fattening or guilty activity, and this has caused a lot of disordered eating and anxiety in people. Eating right can vastly boost your mental health, and spending some time cooking healthy meals for or with your loved ones can be an excellent bonding activity.
Let’s start by reframing our relationship with food. Charlotte’s key piece of advice is to not have a restrictive diet, instead focus on good ingredients you can add to your meals (rather than reminding yourself of what you shouldn’t eat). Food should be seen as a form of enjoyment, and an activity that brings people together. It is intrinsically good, providing us with the energy and nutrition we need to survive, and we have license to enjoy it to the fullest – but in moderation. “Make peace with your relationship with food, and this will translate to your relationships with people as well,” she says.
The portrayal of healthy eating in the media often calls to mind boring salads, steamed foods and high price points. Charlotte debunks this by noting that healthy food can come in many different forms and cuisines – and can be vibrant and wallet-friendly as well. In Singapore, a common staple for many of us is cai png, which literally translates to rice with dishes, available at almost every hawker centre and neighbourhood coffee shop. This economically friendly meal is not known for being particularly healthy, but Charlotte considers this an acceptable option, if we turn the concept on its head: Based on the plate concept, we swop the ‘base’ of white rice — which usually takes up at least half the plate — for vegetables instead; a quarter plate of rice, and a quarter plate of protein (opt for healthier options like steamed fish, tofu, or stir fried meat). This ensures a nutrient-dense, filling meal.
Right now, making frequent trips to your corner cai png stall may not be the most viable option, so Charlotte also suggests healthy, affordable ingredients to add to your diet at home. As a trained nutritionist, Charlotte candidly states that scientifically, there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’ (Note: We checked, and yes it is purely a marketing term) — so don’t worry about being able to spend on pricier items like chia seeds, kale, and blueberries. We have perfectly nutritious options in our backyard — that is, easily accessible via wet markets and supermarkets. Leafy vegetables like chye sim and watercress, and plenty of fruit like apples and oranges, should form the base of our diets. Canned foods can be healthy as well! It’s not necessary to buy whole fresh fish to get your vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, instead consider shelf-stable canned tuna, mackerel and sardines. Canned beans and canned corn are also an amazing, versatile additions to your pantry.
Want to whip up a quick, deliciously healthy recipe? Charlotte shares her favourite 3-ingredient meal, starring her ultimate go-to ingredient: eggs!
Egg & Cucumber Toast
Time: 10 minutes
- 2 eggs
- Slice of bread — sourdough is ideal, but bread that you have will do
- ½ cucumber
- Using a mandolin or knife, slice cucumber thinly.
- Toast bread (butter optional)
- Prepare eggs to your preference — scrambled, hard boil, poached, etc
- Assemble sliced cucumbers on toast, top with eggs, and add salt and pepper to taste
For more information on Limitless and their services visit their website here.
If you are coping with anxiety and depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to the helplines below.
Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH): 1800 283 7019
Emergency Helpline (IMH): 6389 2222
SOS (Samaritans of Singapore): 1800 221 4444
Check out the rest of our blog here for more tips and inspiration to get you through quarantine.
Take this stay-at-home period as the perfect opportunity to practice more self-care and self-love. To help give your mind and body a boost of TLC, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to transform your home into a glorious, luxury hotel spa for the day!
07:00AM – MEDITATE
Start the day with Singita’s inspiring sunrise meditation.
Lead by Singita’s Wellness Manager, Renée Rosettenstein, this session will ensure viewers relax and commence the day de-stressed and invigorated. Accompanied with a beautiful shot of the rising sun over the expansive African wilderness, this calming meditation is the ultimate way to welcome a new day.
10:00AM – PREP
Create your own sanctuary.
Scent is vital in recreating a spa experience, and our top pick is the Volcanic Stone Diffuser from Curators Collective in Jugiong, NSW that releases the essential oils of amber and spices. Adding a few drops of essential oil to these black volcanic stones permeates the air with soothing, therapeutic fragrance. Get yours through this link.
Next, get comfy with soft, delicate matching pyjamas. Located deep in wine country, Edited and Co, is a boutique in Mudgee that sells sophisticated, soft-to-touch fleece tops and track pants worthy of that opulent at-home spa day you have planned. Available in grey and vintage white for a sophisticated feel, shop for a pair of chic and comfortable pyjamas here.
11:00AM – FACE
Face mists are a wonderful way to rejuvenate and refresh your skin at the start of the day.
Using this simple recipe from Capella Singapore, you can prep your own bottle of Cucumber Mint Face Mist using natural ingredients such as cucumber, mint and lemon. Cucumber has vitamin C which can help soothe skin and keep it revitalized; while lemon promotes an even skin tone, and mint has anti-inflammatory properties – a perfect combination for maintaining a healthy glow with or without makeup.
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 bag of mint tea
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1 spray bottle
- Juice the cucumber and add in the lemon juice.
- Steep the mint tea bag in hot water for 5 minutes. Allow tea to cool.
- Combine the cucumber-lemon juice and cooled tea together in a spray bottle.
- Store in a spray bottle in the refrigerator.
- Use to start and end the day and as many times in-between.
13:00PM – SCRUB
An at-home spa day just isn’t complete without a luxurious body scrub.
Aside from helping you keep your skin soft, smooth and hydrated, body scrubs also aid in stimulating blood circulation and improving the overall tone and health of your skin. Capella Singapore divulges the recipe to their Himalayan Salt Scrub with ingredients such as grapefruit essential oil that will help to stimulate the lymphatic system and eliminate excess water. It also helps to boost circulation and diminish the appearance of cellulite.
- 1 Cup Himalayan Salt
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Container or Jar
- Combine Salt, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil together in a bowl.
- Add in Grapefruit Essential Oil to your preference.
- Put mixture into a container.
- To use take into shower and apply to body in circular motions. Focus on elbows, knees, feet etc. as needed. Rinse with lukewarm water.
*Note of Caution as this has oil it can make surfaces slippery
Lips require care and attention as well, and this quick-and-easy scrub is especially useful for preventing dry and chapped lips, ensuring you always look lovely and fresh for your next Zoom meeting. Capella Singapore’s DIY Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub is great for keeping your lips soft, exfoliated and hydrated.
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 5 drops Essential oil of choice (Citrus is good)
- 1/2 Tbsp Warm Water
- Combine Coconut Oil and Honey together.
- Add in Sugar, Essential oil and Warm Water for correct consistency.
- Put mixture into a container. Store in the refrigerator.
- To use rub on your lips in a circular motion for two minutes, rinse with lukewarm water.
15:00PM – SKIN
While the popular Endota Spa in the Southern Highlands town of Bowral, NSW is closed at the moment, you can now jump online and pick up amazing Endota products that will help you achieve that glorious glow at home. Their Brightening New Age Mini Kit contains cleansing gel, a detox mask, brightening serum, eye cream and firming moisturiser for a mini facial you can do yourself.
Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, NSW has its own luxurious Bouddi spa pack that you can purchase online which uses essential oils inspired by the Bouddi (meaning ‘heart’ in the local Aboriginal language) wilderness. The pack contains a body wash and body lotion hand blended and packaged at Bells Day Spa with ingredients such as Orange, Rose Geramium & Patchouli essence.
17:00PM – EAT
End your spa day right with a nutritious meal, inspired by nature.
Singita’s menus are known for offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes, and new health bowls have been introduced alongside natural infusions and loose-leaf teas. To finish your day of wellness on a good note, re-create the taste of Singita with this recipe for Sweni Lodge Beetroot Tart.
- 250g cooked whole beetroot, boiled and peeled
- 50ml red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons treacle sugar
- The juice of 1 orange
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 egg, whisked
- Place the vinegar, orange juice, sugar and rosemary into a small pan and simmer over a very low heat for roughly 5 minutes or until you have a syrupy consistency. Allow to cool.
- Scoop out 8 “balls” of cooked beetroot using a melon baller and place them into the vinegar and orange juice mixture. Coat the beetroot evenly with the syrup.
- Place your puff pastry on a floured work surface. Using a round template (e.g. a tea cup, saucer or side plate) cut out a round piece of puff pastry. Remember the size of your template will determine the size of your tart!
- Next brush the round of puff pastry with the egg wash and place on a greased baking tray.
- Place your beetroot balls on top of the puff pastry, arranging them in a symmetrical pattern. Keep any left over vinegar and orange mix for plating.
- Place the tray in a preheated oven at 180°C for ± 10 – 12 min or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our blogpost on how to create your own at-home spa day. For more wellness inspiration, check out the rest of our blog here.
Located on 45,000-acres of untouched wilderness in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Reserve, Singita Castleton Lodge, the former home of Singita’s Founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather is steeped in history. The lodge, accommodating a maximum of 12 guests, has re-opened to showcase a recent design refresh to ensure guests enjoy the utmost exclusivity and comfort in the African bush.
With new wellness experiences on offer, the private villa boasts a brand-new yoga pavilion alongside its state-of-the-art and fully equipped fitness centre – which is accessed via a covered walkway through Castleton’s tranquil gardens. Guests can now also choose between double and single massage treatment rooms. As one of 2020’s wellness trends, Castleton Lodge ensures guests to reconnect with the great outdoors as well as each other, and the expansive deck provides uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. It also offers magical fireside dinners under a canopy of stars –the perfect backdrop for a taste of traditional local dishes, cooked by the on-site private chef.
The property’s impressive wine cellar has been expanded and is now conveniently located adjacent to the dining room and lounge. As a highly curated collection of South African finest vintages, it’s the ideal setting for pre-dinner tastings under the guidance of Singita’s knowledgeable sommeliers.
Many antiques and furnishings of the original homestead have been refashioned, adding authenticity to the living areas that extend outdoors onto deep, covered verandas overlooking a busy waterhole nearby, where game regularly gather to drink.
As part of Singita’s Private Villa Collection, guests staying at Castleton Lodge will enjoy the comforts of a private game-viewing vehicle as well as a full staff complement, which includes a Field Guide, private chef and host. Game drives, mealtimes and activities are organised daily according to the preference of each guests – allowing them to have complete freedom to choose the rhythm of their days. The perfect location for a bush escape for families and groups of friends, Castleton offers numerous opportunities for shared activities – from boules to tennis, cricket and a private pool, combining the best elements of an authentic safari with the rustic charm of a farmhouse.
Wellness has become such an integral part of travel and living in recent years. From immersive ecotherapy initiatives to retreats designed by wellness experts, the world’s top hospitality brands have all jumped on the bandwagon to meet the undeniable growing interest for wellness programmes.
Rise in slow wellness travel
2020 sees more travellers making a move towards sustainable travel. This includes making more conscious efforts to reduce ones carbon footprint by choosing travel routes that require less air travel, or participating in undertourism by taking trips to lesser-visited destinations. The Sanchaya at Bintan makes the perfect getaway for conscious Singaporean travellers, being just a 50-minute ferry ride away.
Quick and easy wellness sessions
An increasing number of wellness clubs seek to provide effective sessions for busy working professionals, through quick sessions that can easily fit into packed schedules. For example, the hour-long restorative infrared sauna session at Pure Wellness Studio located along Duxton road, aids in boosting sleep, skin health and muscle recovery.
Spiritual healing for the soul
New-age wellness practices have begun to find footing as well. Individuals have started seeking out the best places to experience crystal healing, sound baths, and aura readings. These sessions use positive healing energy to restore balance in mind, body and spirit.
Solo female travel for strong women
As travellers seek more control over their travel experiences, more solo-travel itineraries have been made available in the last year. Solo female travel in particular has started picking up, and more travel companies have met this demand by offering bespoke experiences for women who seek such experiences.
Benefits of eco-therapy
The benefits of embarking on off-the-beaten path hikes, forest bathing or even keeping indoor plants can have numerous proven health benefits. If you’re considering taking a digital detox and heading outside, you’ll be happy to know that indulging in eco-therapy not only keeps you positive, but relieves stress and boosts immunity.
Infrared therapy has taken off in the US, UK, and Australia in recent years as a health and wellness trend. This new style of therapy uses infrared lamps which emit waves that heat the body, penetrating deeply into joints, muscles and tissues. Singapore finally has our first dedicated infrared sauna studio with Pure Wellness Studio.
Tucked away in a conservation shophouse in the buzzy Duxton neighbourhood, the quiet sanctuary is home to the boutique space that boasts three sauna cabins, featuring the latest full spectrum infrared technology that heats the core of the body and can penetrate the skin up to 7cm, providing a deeper cleanse as compared to traditional saunas. With skin as the body’s largest detox organ, designed to eliminate toxins safely, this makes sweating, a powerful tool for detoxing — leading to increased health and wellness benefits.
Originally founded in Melbourne, Australia, Pure Wellness Studio Singapore was launched locally by founders Maxie Chan and Rachel Lim, after they experienced the benefits of infrared therapy first-hand.
As a holistic wellness space, Pure Wellness Studio also curates a series of workshops and classes with two sessions every month that are meant to revitalize. Starting the series in November is a multi-level Vinyasa Flow class (6 November) that will challenge the body and awaken the spirit, and a Crystal Reiki Healing session (20 November) that introduces guests to positive energy interaction that is said to promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Sound healing and meditation classes will also soon be introduced.
This week, the Global Wellness Summit took place in V&VPR’s home base of Singapore. Having led campaigns for the likes of The Sanchaya, Guavapass, and Capella — brands that see wellness as a core business pillar — we were particularly excited to learn more about the integration of nature and wellness into luxury travel. Read on for our summary:
With more proof than ever of the strong link between nature and wellness, people have started seeking ways to incorporate ecotherapy into their everyday lives. This has led to the boom of the nature economy and these days, wellness has become an integral aspect of luxury travel — promoting health, spirituality and a deep connection to surrounding nature.
The Wellness Benefits Of Nature
Outdoor activities have proven to be staggeringly good for the brain. A study by the European Society of Cardiology, found that brisk walking for at least 25 minutes daily could add at least three years onto an individual’s life. This simple activity helps repair DNA and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and breast or colon cancer. Those who participate in ‘green exercise’, a term that describes working out in the outdoors, will also find that it lowers blood pressure, increases creativity, decreases depression, and increases blood flow.
In a 2009 study by a team of Dutch researchers, it was also found that those who lived within about half a mile of green space had a lower incidence of getting ill with diseases such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and migraines. Taking these insights, hospitality operators can and should incorporate a variety of outdoor activities for different health and fitness levels, into their programmes.
Applying Nature Into The Hospitality Industry
Some of the most intuitive hotels and spas take advantage of their beautiful locations to offer more outdoor programming, including highly customised packages tailored to individuals for a completely unique wellness experience. As the benefits of immersing in nature become more well-known, hotels and spas are tapping into what makes their destination unique, focusing on guest excursions to appreciate picturesque landscapes and expansive views of the destination scenery.
Biophilic design, a design concept within buildings to increase guest connectivity to the natural environment has become increasingly popular – properties far from any natural beauty have brought the outdoors inside, showcasing local flora and fauna within their establishment to reap the same health and wellness benefits.
These seemingly little steps will almost certainly have a positive effect on customers’ and employee’s wellbeing, and we look forward to seeing hospitality companies put their own creative spin on the subject. Visit the Global Wellness Summit page for the full in-depth report.