4 QUICK WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-LOVE

Hello all!

Here’s attempt #idon’tknowanymore at jump-starting my novel writing. While I managed to make significant progress during the Chinese New Year holidays, I find it hard to make further progress after. To get my engine going, I truly need to block out a fair bit of time in my schedule. That’s hard when you’re juggling several commitments. That being said, one of my colleagues at work has two kids and still managed to get a side-hustle going… that’s inspirational. If he can do it, then so can I.

So here’s a bit more life advice while I work out my writing schedule for the next few weeks and months. With how busy I am, finding quick ways to practice self love is important. Here’s what I’ve been using.

Medito App
I struggled to find a free meditation app, until I found Medito. I’ve been using it for around 1/3 of a year now and I feel like it really does help me to keep anxiety low in the mornings. (I am prone to feeling anxious when I wake up.) My favourite thing about this app is the ‘daily meditation’ section, which accompanies me on my daily 5 min meditation session in the morning. Soon, I am going to look at the other sections to further expand my journey in meditation

Headspace on Netflix
Not sure whether this is available where you are, but it provided me with new meditation techniques that I have found intriguing. The graphics are beautiful and going through the various episodes has been an experience. They also have a new upcoming series, which is supposed to help one sleep better. This is something I am definitely going to check out.

Presently – A Gratitude Journal App
There are a ton of these apps out there…but what made me stick to Presently is its very simple interface. It doesn’t feel like a chore to fill each daily entry up. Also, I keep it to 3 things I am grateful for every day so I take less than a minute to fill it up.


Create / or whatever floats your boat
After much soul-searching a few years ago, I realised what makes me feel happy is creating new things. It can be a piece of design, a blog or even a photo. It is why content marketing suits me as a career. It is the thing that I get ‘into the zone’ with. And that is also why I am here today, writing this blog. It makes me happy. It’ll make me even happier if I know this blog post has helped someone. So my advice here is to find out the thing that makes you tick. If you get to do what you love, then you’re already practicing self-love.

3 WAYS TO MINIMIZE EFFECTS OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME

A new year, a new post.

Long story short, life took over. But honestly? It is no excuse. I had pockets of time where I could have been doing some writing but… #effort. Plus, I do loads of content development at work so when I am home, all I want to do is to relax….but nope, I am going to try and get this blog going again. When my block leave for Chinese New Year comes around, I am going to try and get a few chapters of my novel done – THAT IS A PROMISE I MAKE TO MYSELF.

Until then, I am going to do mini blog posts about whatever inspires me. For this blog, I’ll like to briefly go over the psychological thought pattern ‘imposter syndrome’.

In short, it means a lack of confidence… it means being afraid of being exposed as a ‘fraud’ even when there is external evidence that you aren’t at work.

This is something that I relate to at so many levels. But at the same time, I also have moments where I do feel confident and proud of my work. I can swing between these two modes so quickly that it is almost a miracle that I haven’t gotten some kind of mental whiplash.

I also don’t think this is something I can ever completely overcome… but I do believe there are ways where I can minimise these moments. I’ve been accumulating these mini strategies for some time now and perhaps it is time to put them into words.

  1. BEING IN THE PRESENT

    If you had done some sort of meditation or yoga, you would know what this means. To me, it means simply living in the present moment and not caring about what comes after. After all, you will get there when you get there. To be in the present moment, you can simply train all your focus on something like your breath for a few minutes. Alternatively you can focus on listening to something like the rainfall or the sounds of nature. You don’t HAVE to meditate to be in the present, in my opinion. Take some time out of your busy day to do this and sooner or later, I’m sure you will start to see it as an avenue to relax from your busy mind.

  2. FIND WAYS TO ‘REBOOT’ YOUR BRAIN

Once you start thinking negatively, it is likely that you will spin down and down and…you get the picture. Before you get too emo(tional), you gotta snap yourself out of it. You can do this by distracting yourself with a piece of news or a show. Sometimes, I get into this ‘panic’ mode the moment I wake up and I have realised that if I just sit up and focus on the quiet around me, my mind will eventually follow suit as well. Perhaps I should figure out a way to take the ‘quiet’ of my room into my office…. mentally, I mean. That way, I can reboot my brain no matter where I am.

3. UPDATE YOUR RESUME/LINKEDIN PROFILE

This is a bit of a weird one but I’ve realised that people quickly forget how much they have accomplished if they do not have an opportunity to reflect on it. And what better way to do so than to update your resume or linkedin profile? As a bonus, it makes applying for your next job several times easier. Speaking of, I should probably do that soon as well.

And that’s all for now – see you next time!

RANDOM STUFF#1

I wish I could say I have been working on my novel but alas, that is far from the case. I have been caught up in some real life obligations in the past few weeks and as they are very important ones, I shall forgive myself for lapsing in this blog XD. So here is my attempt at jump-starting the whole writing thing again. Today, I shall get a quick post out so as to ease myself back into working on my novel.

So here are some random things that kept my life interesting in the last few weeks.

#1 Chef Hua
(Follow the youtube link to the channel with all the episodes)

Cooking and medieval China? Sign me up! The romance is very very VERY cliche but man the food always looks awesome. One other thing that I like about this drama is that the main characters aren’t royalty. They’re just simple commoners! Also, it features a very supportive mother-in-law. That’s rare – even in real life!

#2 Alien
This is, of course, a very very old series. I basically went back and devoured all the material I could easily get my hands on (yay for Netflix!) and read up on all the lore. Ripley is an amazing female character and I hope to bring my main character to life in a similar way. Of course, the story will be completely different. I do not often delve into sci-fi/horror often but every now and then, I have this…morbid curiosity that needed feeding. Another series I kept jumping back to is the “Thing”.


#3 TED TALK – On Raising Kids To Overcome Anxiety

And just to show that I haven’t just been lazing my day away in front of the screen, here’s one of the TED talks that struck a nerve with me. Anxiety, I believe, is one of the main issues plaguing young adults in Asian cultures. This is because we have been bred to want to succeed while remaining dependent on others at the same time. For example, teachers give us oddles of content to memorise but rarely manage to cultivate a desire of indepedent learning in their students. We just take what we are given and do nothing more. By the time these students get to university, they have trouble with discipline, taking risks and feeling confident about their own decisions.

But now that I am aware of it, I can hopefully slowly undo that negative mindset. And if I ever have children, this is a video I will probably keep coming back to.



BOUNDARIES IN THE WORKPLACE

Yes yes – it has been a while since my last blog. I know that very well. I don’t have any excuse as I know very well that you should make time for the things that matter to you. And given all that I have written in my blogs about forming habits, the last thing I want to be is to be a hypocrite. So let’s get straight into the topic on my mind today – boundaries.

I think boundaries are extremely important in keeping relationships healthy. You might think it is immature or even cruel to completely ‘burn bridges’ but from my experience, it can only be beneficial to yourself. While I don’t have much problem in maintaining boundaries in my personal life, I oddly struggle with this in my professional life.

As an INTJ, I am incredibly task-oriented. When I am focused on a task, I will tend towards wanting to do everything to get the task done, no matter what. But this means I run the risk of over-stepping into someone else’s territory. In addition, it also puts me at risk of giving others the impression that I can do all the little things for them. It took me a while to realize that being helpful can actually be…a bad thing. And saying ‘no’ in a non-offensive way is a ‘must have’ skill in the workplace.

So how do I fix this? I actually like that ‘task-oriented’ part of myself and it is not something I want to change. I also like being helpful and curious as it is how I picked up all the skills I now possess.

However, I think I would have to readjust my concept of a ‘task’. It should now include considering the perception of others (aka being ‘people-oriented’) before making an action. I should also consider the function of the various departments in the workplace before deciding on a course of action. It’ll be a challenging thing to do, yes, but once I make it a habit at the workplace, everything else should fall into place.

As for being ‘too helpful’, I think I need to consistently remind myself that there are various departments in a company for a reason. I can’t do ‘everything’ like when I was in a smaller company. It is not to my benefit if I try to cover all grounds for a task. It may be a benefit to the company in the short term but it most definitely won’t be in the long run. This is because of the uneven workflow process.

I am writing this blog as a reminder to myself that this is something I must and should work on in the workplace.  

4 PILLARS OF MEANING IN LIFE

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but yay, I am back! Life has taken quite a few interesting turns lately, hence my absence from the front page on this site. I am happy to report that I am slowly developing my main character, who already feels far ‘deeper’ compared to the character I developed for the previous version of my story. But more on that another time. Today, I would like to show you all a very interesting TED talk and book I encountered on Linkedin. (BTW, I’ve been getting loads of good advice from LinkedIn lately and I highly recommend casually browsing every now and then for young adults looking to improve their careers and life.)

This is the TED talk in question:

Belonging, Purpose, Transcendence and Story-telling. Here’s her book if you would like a deeper look into these four pillars. I am about 5 chapters in and it has already been incredibly enlightening.

As an atheist, I have struggled to understand the concept of religion for the longest time. While my new understanding of these four pillars did not compel me further towards god, it did help me understand why religion has been so compelling for others.

It taught me how perspective can be a double-edged sword. Typically, looking at the good side of things helps to keep you motivated. However, what if the situation is a bad one, such as being trapped in a relationship with an abusive partner? By looking on the bright side of things, it traps that person in a vicious cycle. Some part of them knows they should leave but because they engage in the act of ‘looking on the bright side of things’, it somehow gives them meaning and a reason to stay.

The book also helped me draw connections between the many revelations I had in my adult life, such as the importance of working on my relationships, hobbies and reflecting upon the events and decisions I have made in my life. All this time, it seems I have been unknowingly working on adding meaning to my life. For example, my novel and this blog support the pillars of story-telling, purpose and transcendence. It is no wonder I have never felt more fulfilled than right now.

But of course, life is ever-changing. In the years to come, if all goes to plan, my life will change drastically yet again. The components of my life that feed into these four pillars will no doubt change too. I shall endeavor to keep this book and its lessons in mind as I waddle through the many transitions that my life will take.

ADULTING 101 (IN SINGAPORE)

If you are anything like me (born in the 90s, sheltered, well-to-do background), the most significant life challenge you might face in your early 20s is adulting. I knew I struggled for two reasons:

 1) I was used to Singapore’s spoon-feeding education system that it took me some time to find the initiative required to find my own way. I remember feeling a sense of dread during resume-writing class and realizing I had nearly nothing to write in it. That was one of the things that kicked me into gear.

2) There was quite a bit of difference in the Singapore of my parents’ generation and my generation. Whatever methods they deployed in the past wouldn’t have worked for my generation. Hence, they didn’t know how to guide me. Thankfully, I had friends and google.

In all honesty, I probably still have ways to go, especially in the managing-your-own-household department. (In Singapore, you typically stay with your parents until marriage.) However, I think I have come a long way since the start of my adulting journey and thought it would be nice to summarise the process in getting to where I am today.

 Finding the Initiative

As the youngest in the family, it was actually hard to do this because you are so used to having everything done for you. And sometimes, when you TRY to be independent, you are given a free pass not to. You also never/rarely had the opportunity to take care of something so you have 0 experience in taking care of yourself.

Aside from slowly finding a way to develop new habits, I found my initiative by looking into my future. In fact, this is probably the part of my personality that saved me from a TON of things. I constantly ask myself if X is what I want to suffer through potentially and took the steps needed to avoid that type of future.

Handling Failure

My biggest episode with failure happened in my mid 20s. Up till then, I would say my life was pretty smooth sailing. Granted, I expended a ton of effort to make sure I wouldn’t fail my A levels.

As a near-perfectionist, it isn’t easy to experience failure. However, I must say I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without it. It is a failure that taught me how to manage negative emotions, how to find my way back up the ladder and how life never goes as planned. Failure shouldn’t be shunned. It should be embraced.    

 Getting (Job) Experience

I took up some small part-time jobs / volunteered while making sure they wouldn’t interfere with my studies. This gave me 1-2 years of part-time experience. I managed to do this while still studying in university because I crammed many class units in my early years. (Protip: Go for summer studies to eat up your credits.) Even though I didn’t end up in the fields I was part-timing in, I still believe it was an excellent way to explore my interests.

But I do think I should mention that if you like your part-time job, it doesn’t mean you will like the full-time version because the demands of the full-time version is much higher mentally.  

At the end of the day, I ended up jumping into a career I wasn’t even sure that I would even like. However, my intuition must have been onto something because 3 years later, I am pretty much thriving.

 Small Tips to Finding a Job

 – Resume Writing: If you are in a line that requires a bit of design sparkle, then I highly recommend using Canva to develop your resume. They have templates! I think it really made a difference between looking for my 1st job and 2nd job.

 – Apply in Bulk: I remember applying to 20 jobs in every ‘phase’ to avoid burnout. I try not to scrutinize too much and apply for jobs that vaguely matched my skills. Then, when the calls come in, I would take a closer look at the companies’ background and office culture.

 – Interview: Honestly, I think I am still lacking in this area. I am also not even sure which of what I said got me hired. However, I basically strive to always be honest because I do not want to project a false impression of my attitude and nature. What they see is what they get. 

 What I need to work on next:

 (…because knowing where you need to go next is also key in adulting!)

Career & Skill advancement: I may have gotten promoted from sheer hard work, but it wasn’t out of design or planned. I think there needs to be some actual planning on the backend to add some ‘oomph’ to your advancement.

One soft skill I need much more work on is relationship management in the office. I have improved vastly since the beginning with my interpersonal relationships, but the next level is managing inter-departmental relationships. This is probably integral if I ever want to become a manager. Thankfully, I have good examples to observe how this can be managed. 

Finance Management: Thankfully, I have savings. But how does one progress from there? I want to deal with the actual calculation and numbers instead of just having the nebulous awareness that I have enough to live on.

Reflection & Building a Life: Your job is important…but it isn’t everything. I am juggling several commitments and constantly tweaking my ways to manage them. But sometimes, I think it is important to take a break (especially when you have dengue – gods) and take a step back. Re-access yourself. Do you have time to manage all you have right now? Do you enjoy what you do? Do your current methods help you go somewhere or are they ineffective?

 In any case, I wish my readers all the best in getting to where they want to in life. 

3 FANTASY WORLDS & WHY THEY INTRIGUE

Thanks to the pesky insect called the Aedes mosquito, it has been a while since my last update. Honestly? I am not in a writing mood and would prefer to waste my holiday away with Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. However, I think I owe it to myself to get a bit of writing done so that I could get back into the swing of things sooner rather than later. Today, I am doing some quick reviews/reflections of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi stories/shows and pick out the elements that I think are worth taking inspiration from. I am going to avoid the big favourites, such as Harry Potter and Avatar because they’ve been overdone.

 Warning: There may or may not be spoilers for the mentioned series!

1) The Promised Neverland – Anime/Manga – Available Gogoanime

 The Promised Neverland tells the story of a trio of friends (and more) in a world led by man-eating monsters. I think it is intriguing because, while there is a clear power imbalance, the humans manage to use their smarts to gain a couple of wins. I think there is always some joy in watching the underdogs win. Also, another aspect I like is how thought-provoking it is, particularly on the topic of when it comes to farming animals for their meat. If an author can bring in some real-life concerns into their work of fiction, it adds a certain layer of realism that a typical story wouldn’t have.

2) The Dragon Prince – Animated Series – Available on Netflix (Singapore)

 Avatar fans would have heard of this series as the same directors made it. I am not sure why but I tend to like the later seasons in each of their works. Perhaps it is because they spend quite a bit of time building up the world first? In any case, similar to the Avatar series, there is a strong use of ‘elements’ in the Dragon Prince. This is also seen in their races, such as night elves and sun elves. Personally, I am not a big fan of alternative races such as giants, dwarfs, etc. However, I am keen on weaving elements into my story in a different way. I think it is useful to have classification systems in fantasy stories as it helps the reader to understand how the world works.

3) Shinsekai Yori / From the New World – Japanese Novel / Anime – Available on GogoAnime

 I’ve watched the anime and read the manga. I do NOT recommend the manga as it is basically spoiled with hentai. Anyways, what I find intriguing about this world is how KIDS are seen as the biggest threat to the human species. In addition, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where human society seems to have taken several steps back in terms of modernization. It tells a story of children growing up and learning how the world isn’t as beautiful as it appeared to be on the surface. It is also a story of loss, which is heart-wrenching to a degree.

In conclusion, there appear to be many ways to hook a reader onto a story. This is despite the fact that there appears to be a general formula to how a hero’s story progresses. These are most definitely aspects to story-writing that I will revisit as I craft my own. 🙂

HOW DO YOU CREATE A RELATABLE CHARACTER

There are arguably many ways to create a good character. In this blog, I will focus on the aspects that would make a character in my story a great one. But first, I want to look back on a character that I did not relate to. In other words, what NOT to do when creating a character.

Arren from Earthsea


Like most others, I generally like Studio Ghibli’s movies. However, this is one that I simply did not grow to like. It bothered me quite a bit until I read this review:

Problem Protagonists: Tales from Earthsea


In summary, there are a couple of elements that a character needs to have for them to not only be likeable, but also make the story work. This then brings me to the next question – how does one make a hero? And how does that hero complement the storyline? Watch this, and you will know.

Someone shared this video with me, which I thought is quite eye-opening. Given that my story takes place in a world that doesn’t exist, it is especially important to find ways to make my main character relatable. In this case, a ‘hero’ doesn’t refer to someone who saves the day… it refers to someone who overcame a huge challenge in some way. And isn’t this something we do every day?

On a separate note, these materials led me to think that the characters and plots should be developed at the same time. This way, I would not be doing ‘excess’ work, which I hear is often the danger when planning stories.

But back to character development. There are many ways to do this, and once again, I found a helpful template about character development in reedsy.

The blog goes into great detail about how one can create a character from scratch. It is especially helpful to someone like me, who is the type to focus on the big picture. Part 3, which refers to the psychology of the character, resonates with me the most as it likely has the greatest impact on how the story progresses. In contrast, the character’s physical appearance and background have less of an effect. However, they are the main aspects that give a character their shape, which helps readers to imagine the story in greater detail.

Finally, we should consider the different types of characters and how they relate to the main character. For them to be believable, these characters need their backstory too. reedsy has yet another good blog on this. Honestly, I am starting to wonder what they do NOT have for aspiring writers.

12 Types of Characters Featured in Almost All Stories

The one that intrigued me the most is the foil, whose job is to make the main character’s traits shine out more. I have never thought deeply into this character type before, but now that I look back on one of my favourite animes (Cardcaptor Sakura) from when I was a kid, I can see why the existence of such a character will be useful. In this anime, Syaoran is probably Sakura’s foil. He even went on to become her canon love interest!

Anyways, this seems like a good spot to end the blog for now. If I were to look even deeper, I will probably never get started on the actual writing. So until next time, bye!   

5 ACTIONABLE STRATEGIES FOR GRIEF & ANXIETY MANAGEMENT (INTJ-STYLE)

There will always be times in our lives where we will hit rough spots. They are never pretty, and most of the time, you will feel that you don’t even recognize yourself. However, I also believe that these are the times where you learn the most about how to lead a better life because you have the most motivation to improve your current lifestyle and routines.

For me, mental and emotional peace is incredibly important. I cannot tolerate delaying issues and letting them fester inside of me. Part of me figures it is because I am an INTJ type, which means I am not used to holding onto loads of emotions within me.

Another thing most INTJs are not used to is managing these bad emotions, which then led me to create this blog. Of course, these strategies are potentially applicable to anyone. But I would also like to acknowledge that strategies that work for some may not necessarily work for others. Also, there is probably a chance that these strategies work better for people who are more like me, such as introverts.

Before I go into the actionable strategies, I would also like to point out that all of these are also acts of self-love, which is the best medicine for grief.


1) Listen to music without lyrics

While I can appreciate music like most people, but I have a tendency to get distracted by lyrics, especially if I can understand them. Therefore, when I am trying to set a calming mood, I tend to go for songs that do not have lyrics and have a slow beat. If you are an RPG gamer like me, you will probably appreciate songs like these:

Zelda: Breath of the Wild OSTs: 1, 2, 3

The Kalimba is also excellent for getting yourself into a calming mood:

April Yang’s Kalimba Playlist

And last but not least, Studio Ghlibi Music (always live radio)

2) Drink something hot (while under covers)

Heat is comforting. A warm sensation in your tummy is especially so. As for what to drink exactly, I’ll recommend chamomile tea…or something without caffeine. Chamomile is known to have a long list of benefits, including putting you to sleep. While doing this, I like to get under some covers. I learnt from an occupational therapist once that by adding pressure to your body, it gives you a sense of comfort. It is also why people find hugs so incredibly relaxing. Now, if you are a book lover and/or an introvert, wouldn’t you agree this is the best way to enjoy a good book?

3) Exercise

Since this is a universal suggestion, I won’t bother going into details. But here are some youtube links you can take a look at if you need further recommendations:

Sarah Beth’s Yoga Channel

Wim Hof’s Youtube Channel for Breathing Exercises

4) Talk to friends or close loved ones and/or CRY

Now, this is a tricky one for INTJs. We instinctively avoid talking about emotions because of several reasons. When I was young, I felt that emotions make me come off as weak. And this is despite the fact that I am a girl, who are expected to be emotional. (I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for guys.) For the longest time, I didn’t even bother understanding my emotions and simply let them pass through me when they get ‘too much’. It worked, up until it didn’t. Following that, I started talking to anyone and everyone willing to lend a listening ear. It was then I realised it is an immensely useful way to get your anxious or grief-stricken thoughts back into order. When you are an emotional mess, what you need is a good dose of objectivity and evidence that you are not alone. How can you expect to feel like you are NOT alone when you are the one who chose to close themselves off? Yes, being vulnerable to someone is always a risk. However, it is one of those risks that I believe is worth taking.

Once I started to talk about my thoughts and emotions, it also triggered an immense amount of growth in me, which then provided a sense of achievement. So, to those who think being stoic and what-not is ‘cool’, I would advise you to consider just what made you think that way. Is it because of what society or your friends say? If so, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Crying is also similar. Again, I used to think crying is an act of weakness. But I have since learnt that it is actually an act of strength. You are BRAVE to cry because it means you are trying to get what you need (emotional peace) regardless of what (Asian) society thinks. If you are a male and deploy this tactic to manage your emotions, please know that you are amazing for that. It is, in my opinion, the healthiest way to get any kind of emotion out.

5) Write out your plan for the day or week

I am a future-oriented person…and it seems most INTJs are the same. Knowing what lies ahead of us gives us a great sense of comfort.

I know I get the most anxious about work when I have no idea what my next step is. Hence, I invest a bit of time every day into thinking about what I want to do and when I want to do them. A small list, which takes about five minutes to think up, is generally good enough.

Not only does it keep you on track for your goals, it also ensures that you have all the reminders you need for the things you need to do, reducing chances of you panicking when you realise you have forgotten them. And then, if you are dealing with grief, checking off items on your list gives you that constant reminder that time is passing and one day, you WILL be okay.

And that’s all for now! Now it is your turn – what stress-relieving tactics do YOU have? Don’t hesitate to let me know!