Hectic Hong Kong catches up with the best of us. If it’s not the continual stress of work then it’s the constant stream of events happening that leaves us rushed off of our feet. But rather than take your frustration out on a feeble stress ball, here are 10 alternative ways to loosen up those knots and maybe even raise a smile. By James Wong
10 ways to destress and relax
You don’t have to be on vacation to use five-star hotel facilities. Recreate that far away zen right here in Hong Kong with a hotel spa day pass. The Mira in Tsim Sha Tsui has our favourite waters – a beautifully lit 25m infinity edge pool surrounded by oval chill-out daybeds (pictured). A day pass costs $400. Elswhere, over at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental ($1,260 day pass) you can find the ultimate chill out zone featuring vitality pools, amethyst crystal steam rooms, saunas and relaxation rooms.
Clear your mind with a hike
Fresh air and exercise has long been a remedy for noisy brains. Hong Kong has such a huge variety of hiking trails and right now the weather is just right for hitting them up. One of our favourites is Castle Peak. It’s one of the city’s ‘three sharp summits’ renowned for sections of steep slopes. Check out Castle Peak Monastery (pictured) or tough it out all the way to the top. On a clear day the view from on high stretches across Kowloon, the New Territories and Shenzhen.
... and do it without the worry of having to collect dollar bills in your knickers. Instead, use it as a way to relieve a bit of daytime tension. Aerial Arts Academy in Causeway Bay offers a range of pole dancing courses from intermediate to exotic. Sessions improve flexibility, promote blood flow, burn calories and the more intense classes will blow out all that built up nervous adrenaline – causing your body to produce happy endorphins. Plus, these new moves could lead to even more feel-good activities outside of the studio (whatever they may be).
Our feathered friends freely fly around without a care in the world, so it’s no wonder many seek solace in watching them. Thankfully in Hong Kong there’s no need to travel too far – hop on the MTR to Central and walk to nearby Hong Kong Park which has a huge aviary with more than 80 species of bird in a specially contained city rainforest. If you do want to get away from the city, we recommend Mai Po Nature Reserve. The area on Inner Deep Bay is an officially recognised Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, home to a huge variety of migratory and wintering waterbirds, including almost 50 of global conservation concern.
An old remedy. And we all had enough to staying alcohol free back during dry January, right? With so many great bars, where do you start? After a long shift, head over to Duddell’s lush green terrace and unwind with a cocktail or vintage champagne, especially now the outdoor temperature is ideal. Alternatively, New Punjab Club has a nifty gin-trolley that comes to your table, in case walking to the bar is just too exhausting.
Ocean Park may not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to relaxing – what with all those hair-raising rides and the crowds – but did you know they also offer small VIP encounters with the park’s fun and fabulous seals? Deadlines and budgets will be wiped from your mind for a couple of hours as you find out more about, frolic around and feed these happy, clappy creatures. A percentage of proceeds from admission tickets go to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, which supports wildlife conservation projects, so you’ll feel good about giving back, too.
Floatation therapy is about to become a mainstream R&R activity, so if you haven’t tried it, now’s the time. What does it involve? It’s the practice of lying back on warm Epsom salt water inside a sensory deprivation tank, and drifting off into an extreme state of meditation for at least an hour. Experts such as Edward Hawley, the creator of London’s Floatworks, promise that it eliminates stress, boosts fitness and improves overall health. Great news. We have centres in Hong Kong, including FloatonHK.
Is 2018 the year you finally hike the Grand Canyon? Or perhaps you plan on escaping the summer heat by heading to the glaciers of New Zealand? If retail therapy is your happy outlet then hit the shops and start planning, ordering or buying those must-haves. You may not have the funds for your airfare just yet, but buying some cool travel gear from the likes of Hong Kong-based Protrek should, paradoxically, motivate that savings jar.
A chat with God may be the answer for some, but even nondenominational types can find some light in the beautiful St John’s Cathedral in the heart of Central. Skip cafeteria small talk one lunch break and head for a walk through the cathedral gardens to admire this stunning piece of gothic architecture and its stained glass windows.
Meet calm people
Eliminated all the toxic people in your life and replace them with the holistic pals from HK meet up groups. There are regular yoga and meditation meet ups running throughout the year and what’s more, they’re free, so there’s no need to stress over pricy memberships or cancellation fees. Rock up with your own mat, enjoy a session, and mingle with like-minded locals.