Wellness weekend…what? When I was first given the challenge to undertake a wellness “homecation”, I had no clue what that even meant — was it a weekend where I’d be dressed in yoga wear 24/7 and slowly pondered about life’s meaning? Or was it a fancy staycation where I could sip on mimosas all day long?
Thankfully, Google came to the rescue and very helpfully pointed me to Gywneth Paltrow’s website rhyming with Loop on how you can DIY your own retreat at home.
No need for taking a flight anywhere (not possible anytime soon, anyway) to the likes of Bali or high in the mountains of Nepal. I realised Zen was within the grasp of a Type-A, forever busy person like me — right at home. Here’s how my weekend of wellness went.
10AM – 11AM | Meditation
I usually wake up in the morning with a thousand buzzing thoughts in my head. On weekdays: “Am I late for work?” On weekends: “What do you need to do today?”
It could be everything from meeting the parents or in-laws, getting my chores done, or simply slotting in some exercise so that I don’t degenerate into a couch potato. However, I realised the intense focus on my to-do list first thing in the morning was causing me a whole lot of anxiety and stress. I needed to calm down.
And so I turned to meditation.
I decided to download the “Calm” app (how apt) – touted as the #1 app for meditation and sleep on the Apple iPhone store. It promised that a Daily Calm Reflection could help me “gain perspective and strengthen your mindfulness”. Sounds promising. I tried out a simple 10-minute meditation.
A soothing voice amidst sounds of waterfalls and birds chirping guided me how to take deep breaths, be mindful about how my body was resting against the sofa, and finally, gave the most powerful tip: “Live in the actual moment, instead of thinking about the past or future.”
I felt truly called out — I was always reflecting on past things I could have done better, or tweaking my supposed 5-year plan. But, in that moment, as I focused on just my breath, I felt relieved of that constant burden.
11AM – 2PM | Whipping up lunch
For folks like me with a busy work schedule, preparing food is often a luxury.
“We don’t have the time!” we protest. But this wellness weekend, I was determined to slow down and whip up my own meal.
From buying groceries leisurely, to chopping up the vegetables, to frying up eggs, I tried to focus on the process and sensations instead of letting my mind get distracted. The smells of the kitchen — ahhh, heavenly.
One and a half hours later, I was proud to present my own brunch specialty — pancakes topped with berries, alongside a broccoli and ham omelette.
Cooking mindfully turned it from a chore to something fun. Sitting down to tuck into my homemade meal, the sense of accomplishment was an amazing feeling.
Make this delicious, creamy Turmeric, Apple Cider Vinegar and Oat Milk Latte to pair with your brunch food and it’s just perfecto.
2PM – 3PM | Yoga
After I had digested my food with a quick read, it was time to get movin’.
My choice of exercise: a yoga session.
For yoga, I decided to follow YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene’s 45-minute class for “Renewal”, which covered everything from planks to lunges to intentional breathing. I did her classes during Circuit Breaker last year and found it very invigorating — not too challenging, but just enough to get the endorphins pumping.
She also has classes as short as 10-minutes if you’re really time-strapped.
It was very invigorating — not too challenging, but just enough to get the endorphins pumping.
Alternatively, if you’re really pressed for time, try out a few chest-opening yoga postures instead. If there’s one thing I learnt in life, it’s always make time to move — even if you think you don’t have the luxury of time. It always results in better productivity. You’d just need to plan ahead.
3PM – 4PM | A leisurely bath
After another pocket of just chillin’ about the house, I decided to upgrade my post-workout bathtime with (**drum roll**) my very own pampering kit.
My “DIY Bath Time Upgrade” kit:
- A bathbomb
- Body lotion
- Aesop hair conditioner
- Brush with pumice stone
Unlike the usual 10-minute shower which consisted of shampooing and conditioning hair, and then a quick body wash, I decided to give myself the full works.
I used the bath bomb for a heavenly vanilla smell, played this soothing music playlist, treated myself to my favourite brand’s conditioner, scrubbed my feet with the pumice stone and finally applied body lotion for a moisture boost – it was definitely a V.I.P experience with the added level of self-care.
To finish off my self-care ritual, I also opted for a homemade hair mask to give my locks some royal TLC.
4PM – 6PM | Write my book
One misconception people have of doing something for “wellness” is that it has to be relaxing only, and something along the lines of peaceful meditation and yoga.
But I believe that wellness can also mean doing something challenging that you enjoy. For instance, fiction writing gives me joy and so I slotted in an hour or two during the weekend to get those creative juices flowing.
6PM – 8PM | Go out to dinner with good friends
Socialising with good friends is another way to recharge, even if you’re an introvert. A nice, long leisurely dinner and drinks with the girls whom I’ve been friends with for over 10 years (!!) was also a good break from all that time spent at home.
If dine-in is still unavailable (like it is right now), bring the dinner party indoors over at a friend’s place! Try pot luck if you’ve got masterchefs amongst you, or order in your girl gang’s favorite foods.
8PM-10PM | Winding down, no phone time
As I ended the day, I decided to do something different from my usual habit of scrolling through my phone endlessly till I was exhausted. The challenge? Stop using my phone way before bedtime.
Some research has shown that using our phones incessantly without taking a break from it can cause the brain drain effect. In short, it refers to our cognitive capacity being affected when we use our phones while working.
I’ll be honest. It gave me the shudders to even think about it.
Even as I told myself strictly no phone from 8pm onwards, there was this little voice that quipped, “that’s just not possible.”
No phones meant no thoughtless browsing on Instagram or Facebook, no texting of friends OR colleagues and no random Google searches that tend to lead me down a pointless — and sometimes dodgy — internet rabbit hole.
It was like I was an addict giving up a drug — that’s how hard it was for me. But I was determined to commit to my well-being and try it out for myself, if the lack of exposure of blue light before bedtime would truly help with my tendency of insomnia.
Though it was tough at first (I had to put my phone out of sight or succumb to the temptation of picking it up), I realised not using my phone did heaps to quieten my mind, since my brain wasn’t stimulated by the constant noise I consume on the device. Happy to say that it expedited my journey to Lalaland, too.
9AM – 10AM | Meditation
With an earlier bedtime, it felt easy to naturally wake up at 9am even on a weekend. Disclaimer: usually, I sleep in till 11am.
This time, my daily meditation was themed around “Non-Reactivity” and how it leads to the acceptance of the ups and downs of life. With breathing exercises and a guided awareness of my body, I slipped into a state of calmness fairly easily. I realised it was already easier to quieten my mind compared to the day before, since I practised mindfulness just the day before.
10AM – 11AM | DIY facial and reading a book
I had originally pencilled in a relaxing spa facial during my wellness weekend. It got cancelled last minute, but I wasn’t about to give up.
Instead, I opted for a hydrating mask to give my parched skin a much needed dose of moisture and just lounged on the sofa as I read a book — Lori Gottlieb’s “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone” — which was apt enough (it was a book that focuses on mental health).
11AM – 12PM | Pole dance work out
As someone who likes to have variety in her workout regime, I decided to switch things up from yesterday’s chill yoga session to something slightly more demanding. That meant carving out time to practise some aerial tricks on my pole at home (yes, I installed it since last year’s Circuit Breaker) and to end my self-imposed retreat with a bang.
Reflections on my wellness weekend
And there you have it — almost the entire weekend dedicated to the pursuit of wellness. Even though it wasn’t a full two days, it was a gentle retreat that left me feeling rejuvenated and grounded.
Usually, I would rush through things with my mind hazed over with worries and anxiety. The retreat gave me permission to slow down and feel present, even without spending tons of money, further proof that wellness is not just for the rich.
The structure of my planned homecation schedule also helped free my mind about what to do next — all I had to do was focus on the “now” — whether that was soaking in a book, cooking a meal or doing a workout.
I asked myself: why didn’t I do this sooner when I had all the tools I needed? Be it a good book, helpful phone apps or a supermarket just downstairs to buy my groceries.
And then, I realised the blocks were internal. It was that pressure to keep going, to achieve more, to work more, to rush from one thing to another that was often causing the stress and burnout I usually experience.
And so to folks who are thinking of trying out your own wellness homecation, I highly recommend it! Just tailor make your own wellness weekend with activities you love or things that soothe your soul. It might just help you clarify your priorities in life, put you on the right track — and most definitely help spark joy in your everyday.
Jessica is one half of twins, and is a Gryffinpuff according to Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat. She will never say no to an adventure. While waiting for the next one, she takes MBTI quizzes (INFP), sings Disney songs and pole-dances.