10 self-care activities for mental and physical wellbeing

17 April 2023 dot 4-minute read
Feel Well Healthy Mind Live Well Self-care activities How to
Journaling, a self-care activity you can start at any time, helps improve mental clarity. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Self-care activities are a great way to re-energise when you're feeling stressed and exhausted.
Laura Henshaw, an AIA ambassador and the CEO of the health and wellness app Keep It Cleaner, says, "There's always something going on. But it's essential to find time for yourself during the day, whether it's an hour-long yoga session or a quick stroll around the block. I find that if I don't make 'me time', I'm not as productive as I could be."
Practising healthy eating habits, sleeping well and engaging in regular physical activity are essential components of a well-rounded self-care routine. These practices can effectively combat stress, enhance self-esteem and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
However, if your physical and mental wellbeing still needs a lift, you can start with these budget-friendly pursuits at work, in relationships and money management.

Self-care at work

A quiet space and some breath work are all you need to meditate, which has been shown to reduce stress. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Everyone can benefit by adopting effective coping strategies to manage work stress and prevent burnout. "Unfortunately, it often takes pushing ourselves to extremes before we realise how overworked we are," Laura shares.
Practising self-care involves taking actions that support and nourish your mental and emotional wellbeing amidst work demands. Here are several strategies that can assist you in effectively managing stress and pressure.

1. Practise meditation before or during work

Laura found meditation to be a good fit after she tried guided exercises, which she does three times a week.
"It's definitely helped me slow down and stay focused. If I'm not sleeping well, it's a great way to unwind before bed and calm my racing mind!"
She adds that controlled breathing exercises are "a great little break you can do at your desk, on the bus or in bed".

2. Take regular breaks throughout the day

A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that taking breaks at work can help reduce stress and decrease your need for recovery at home. Pausing can also help energise the body and mind. A study in Cell Reports suggests you may even learn new skills during your break.
Engage in the following activities during your break time:
  • Step away from your desk. Take a lunchtime walk around the office, stretch in an empty conference room, or go for a walk with a friend to recharge during your break.
  • Climb stairs. According to The American Psychological Association, regular physical activity can help your brain cope with stress and manage anxiety.
  • Have coffee with a co-worker. Having a supportive network is a key component of self-care. Engaging in conversation with peers can revitalise your energy and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next challenge.

3. Establish clear work-life boundaries

Automatically turn off email notifications and turn on the phone's "do not disturb" mode at home. This can help you become more present when spending time with loved ones. You also have time to focus on the hobbies you enjoy.

Self-care with money

Planning for retirement is financial self-care that provides peace of mind for the future. (Credit : Shutterstock)
Practising financial self-care means taking control of your money and making goals to cultivate a better future and financial freedom.
Money management skills are lifelong and vital to achieving financial wellness. Here are some tips to support a healthy money mindset and boost your finances.

1. Set financial goals

Whether it's for the short or long-term, financial goals motivate you to make sound money habits. Define your targets. This will guide your actions to financial stability. For example, if your goal is financial freedom, does it mean all debts are paid, or that you are retiring by 55?

2. Create a budget that prioritises saving

This is how you pay yourself first. Your number one savings goal is an emergency fund to cope with unexpected money stress.

3. Invest in insurance

Investing is a valuable tool for building financial security. Determine your risk tolerance. If you prefer low-risk investments, consider insurance with a savings component. Specific life insurance policies can now accumulate cash value over time, which you can withdraw at a fixed period. It boosts your savings and provides financial security for your loved ones.

4. Treat yourself

Allocate a set amount within your monthly budget to allow yourself rewards. It doesn't have to be a significant amount but spend it any way you want to without guilt.

Self-care in relationships

Making time for activities with your family or friends positively affects your overall mental health. (Credit : Shutterstock)
A support system has been shown to help combat feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, isolation and loneliness. Nourish and strengthen the bond in your relationships with these pursuits.

1. Explore fun activities with loved ones

Hike, play board games or cook together. Pick out activities that help you relax and forge connections.

2. Talk about your needs with honesty

Setting boundaries encourages healthier relationships. Communicate openly to family and friends how you recharge to meet everyone's needs. Ask your inner circle for support during a challenging time or honour your boundaries when you need time alone to recharge. Be clear about your needs to your support system in a respectful way.

3. Practise active listening

Building trust in a relationship often requires making an effort to understand the perspective of your partner. This act of empathy can help reduce stress in tense situations and strengthen the bond between individuals.
You may explore and try several self-care activities before you find those that suit you. The important thing is to prioritise those that can help you lead a healthy and balanced life.
A "scarcity mindset" may be preventing you from achieving goals. In this episode of AIA Voices, finance experts Anna Haotanto and Lachlan Campbell, with AIA Ambassador Nico Bolzico, explain how this way of thinking prevents financial wellness. Watch as they share tips to put you on the path to financial freedom.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
AIA. 2021. LAURA HENSHAW: HOW TO FACTOR MORE 'ME TIME' INTO YOUR DAY. [online] [Accessed on 13 January 2023]
National Institute of Mental Health. 2021. Caring for Your Mental Health [online] [Accessed on 13 January 2023]
Mental Health First Aid. 2022. How and Why to Practice Self-care [online] [Accessed on 13 January 2023]
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. CREATING A HEALTHIER LIFE: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO WELLNESS. [online] [Accessed on 14 January 2023]
Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2022. Self-care at Work Matters: How Job and Personal Resources mediate between Self-Care and Psychological Well-being. [online] [Accessed on 18 January 2023]
The Wellbeing Thesis. The Importance of Taking Breaks. [online] [Accessed on 18 January 2023]
Cell Reports. 2021. Consolidation of human skill linked to waking hippocampo-neocortical replay. [online] [Accessed on 18 January 2023]
Electronic Physician. 2017. The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. [online] [Accessed on 16 January 2023]
Mental Health First Aid. 2020. The Importance of Having a Support System. [online] [Accessed on 13 January 2023]
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. 2021. 8 tips on setting boundaries for your mental health. [online] [Accessed on 19 January 2023]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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