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Photograph: John T/Unsplash

17 self-care tips to find happiness in Singapore

Feed your mind and the rest will follow. Here are some self-care ideas to treat yourself to a relaxing and inspiring time in the Lion City

By Nicole-Marie Ng, Delfina Utomo and Cam Khalid

Mindfulness. Self-improvement. Finding inner peace. All noble goals that are easier said than done. But in a city like Singapore where all we seem to do is wake up, drink kopi, work, and maybe if we’re lucky, meet friends for dinner before going back home to sleep – we could all look into taking better care of our physical and mental health.

You don’t even have to do anything big and grand. Self-care is about setting aside pockets of time to do something small for yourself – even if it’s every couple of months – to contribute to our overall well-being. From the absolutely free of charge to the ultra-luxe experiences for those that demand the best in life, here are ways to work towards happiness.

All aspects of our lives are affected by our mental health – it has an impact on how we think, feel and act. Our mental health affects how we handle stress, relate to one another and make decisions. And mental health influences the way individuals look at themselves, their lives and others in their lives. If you know someone who is in crisis, needs emotional support or has thoughts of suicide, you can reach the 24-hour Samaritans of Singapore hotline at 1800-221 4444.

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Photograph: Carl Barcelo/Unsplash

Find your zen

Don't just namastay in bed – pull out the yoga mat for a good stretch. Whether you're vinyasa virgin or a kundalini king, there are plenty of yoga studios in Singapore that cater to various styles and levels sans the fast-paced grind of HIIT classes. With their basic foundational moves, challenging inversions and choreographed yoga flows, the highly-skilled trainers at these boutique yoga studios can help you find your zen in this busy, busy world. Alternatively, you can do so at the comfort of your own sanctuary with these virtual classes.

Photograph: Bannon Morrissy/Unsplash

Light a scented candle

There’s just something about candles, and even essential oils, that soothe the nerves. Not only do they make your rooms smell good – and look good – but they also lift your spirit, mind and soul. Research has shown that aromatherapy helps relieve stress, uplift moods and improve sleep – and it's not hard to start incorporating it into your daily routine. While you do so, why not unwind with a mini home spa sesh complete with some relaxing music or a good book by a local author?

healthy food, salmon, quinoa
Photograph: Ella Olsson/Unsplash

Eating healthy

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a boring and bland affair. For those who dread vegetables and healthy food, you'll be pleased to know that there’s more to it than just chicken breast and a mountain of mesclun. Food such as salmon, dark chocolate, bananas, fermented food like kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, and even coffee are known to raise your spirits – especially if you’re in a bad mood – and also improve overall brain health. If you’re out and about, refuel at the city’s best healthy restaurants that will help meet your #eatclean goals – without boring you.

Photograph: Kris Atomic/Unsplash

Treat yourself

While exercising and eating healthy can make us feel on top of the world, some of us need a little extra incentive. Add a haircut, manicure and pedicuremassage, or fancy meal out into your schedule to reward yourself for all the positive switches you’ve made that week. Even a little retail therapy wouldn’t hurt.

Photograph: Sarah Gualtieri/Unsplash

Detox from social media

With many social media accounts, you’d probably know this by now – as much as there are positive effects like learning a new trend or a new workout through social media, there are also negative effects that could disrupt your mood. While it’s good to stay connected, there are benefits of disconnecting from time to time. Taking a break from social media, even for brief periods, can help lessen your anxieties.

Photograph: Aiko Tun

Redecorate your room

Change your sheets, rearrange the room, declutter your desk and bring in some indoor plants into the home. Make your safe space at home truly your own. If you need ideas, we've got plenty of suggestions on where to get some lush ferns, sustainable sheets, furniture and more. Have fun with your new project. 

Photograph: Lush

Have a bath

One of the most relaxing ways to unwind after a long day is to take a soak in a tub. But if you, like many Singaporeans, don’t have the luxury of a bathtub, the shower will have to do. Make shower time an indulgent one and pamper yourself with some luxe bath soap from Aesop, Le Labo or Lush. Everything always feels better when you're clean and feeling fresh. 

Lithe House

Pick up an instrument

It’s never too late to pick up the piano, violin, flute or even the harp. Start easy with a ukulele before you rock up the ranks to becoming a guitar god. There are many places in Singapore that provide classes as well as instruments. Feeling confident? Book a studio for a jamming session with friends. 

Palm Ave Float Club
Photo: Palm Ave Float Club

Float on by

Health and beauty Kallang

At Palm Avenue Float Club, you float in the private tank filled with a warm temperature-adjusted saline solution (of a salt density that’s said to mimic that of the Dead Sea), which allows one to literally and figuratively float their cares away in hour-long stints. With only a multi-coloured light for illumination, the deliberately featureless tank imparts a feeling of weightlessness, alleviating bodily weariness, and encourages a mind on overdrive to disconnect and find its peace, or get reacquainted with its inner creative voice seeking an audience with one’s consciousness. You’re meant to get an enhanced awareness of your surroundings, plus a new spring in your step from the method’s benefits. Prices for a float start from $90 for a one-hour session. 

Asian Civilisations Museum
Photograph: Asian Civilisations Museum

Get lost in a museum

Things to do City Hall

Following its $25 million revamp, the Asian Civilisations Museum is awash with new artefacts to uncover. Its galleries showcase the interconnectedness of Asian cultures, encouraging visitors to find out something new about their own heritage. Meander aimlessly through the different galleries, or download the ACM app to gain a better understanding of the treasures in front of you – just be sure not to miss the new Tang Shipwreck Collection, a virtual time capsule from 9th-century China.


Climb a hill

Things to do Bukit Panjang

Challenge yourself and get out into the great outdoors. It really isn’t so bad when you immerse yourself in the lush surroundings of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. There may not be mountains here but Bukit Timah – the highest point in Singapore – is the closest you can get. It might be a steep climb for the first 15 minutes or so but it gradually gets easier. Plus, the views from the summit definitely make the climb worthwhile. There also many other great trails in Singapore as well which showcases the greener and lush side of Singapore.

Improv your life dramatically

Theatre Performing arts space Raffles Place

When life throws you lemons, make some damn good lemonade, or just roll with the punches and learn the art of improv. Founded by a group of friends that are always up for a laugh, The Improv Company is Singapore’s biggest improvised theatre company and training centre. There are many types of classes (starting from $300 for a five-week course) that cater to everyone from first-timers to veterans looking to sharpen their skills. Discover the joy of spontaneous play over the sessions – you’ll be overflowing with creativity and humour in no time.

Kamal Arts
Photo: Kamal Arts

Learn the art of Batik

Things to do Marine Parade

A dying art, Batik refers to the traditional wax technique. which originates from Java, for decorating cloth. Get into the nitty-gritty of the process at Kamal Arts Batik workshops (from $150) at Goodman Arts Centre. Attendees are introduced to the traditional methods of the craft and are guided on the proper use of tools and processes like waxing with the ‘tjanting’ and dyeing. Progress through the weekly sessions at your own pace and your masterpiece slowly takes shape.

Nirvana Mind
Photo: Nirvana Mind

Keep calm and carry Om

Don’t forget about your mental health. Soothe your weary mind and soul at a meditation class. Meditation has helped focus our thoughts and calms the brain in the midst of chaos and stress. Find your balance at Nirvana Mind. Located on Keong Saik Road, the studio sees itself as a meditation community and support system for people to come together in a safe space to explore their inner selves. For our beginner's guide to meditation, read here.

Weekend Worker
Photo: Weekend Worker

Pick up a pottery class

The art of pottery is so much more than the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore moment in Ghost. Turns out, it is also quite a rewarding skill to have. Get creative and start making your own cups, saucers, bowls and unique pieces to flex to guests.  Ceramic collective Weekend Worker runs basic ceramic classes throughout the year. Sessions are also kept small and the hands-on course guides you through the fundamentals of pottery-making using the electric wheel. You’ll be bringing home your own handmade goods in no time.

Still Boxing
Photograph: Still Boxing

Punch above your weight

Sport and fitness Boxing and kickboxing Raffles Place

Sometimes the best way to release any pent-up anger or repressed rage is to punch it out, literally. While boxing is picking up its pace in Singapore, Still Boxing is one of the best studios for group boxing workouts that pack in strike sequences, boxing moves as well as strength circuits so you’ll be fighting fit.


Use your green thumb

Things to do Tanglin

Reconnecting with nature doesn’t always mean going on a tough, sweaty hike. Urban farming community Edible Garden City champions the sustainable living movement and encourages everyone else to do so. Besides converting unused places and rooftops to urban gardens growing herbs and vegetables, it also offers classes and weekend workshops on how to grow your own micro garden at home – including how to cultivate your first mushroom!

Treat yo'self


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