You are reading the “New Normal” series, for which I’ve invited a few beautiful souls to open the doors, figuratively of course, to their homes and lives, and share the stories of their new reality — how does that look and feel? How are they adapting? How has it shifted their mindset and approach to life? But I’m most excited to share their #stayhome and #WFH tips and recommendations in the self-care guide at the end. In this chapter, I speak with Alli Sim, the founder of artisanal aromatherapy label, Mmerci Encore, whose heartfully made elixirs are never not in my self-care bag — they’re the air I breathe whenever I need to go within, find calm and sooth nerves. Her words, I find, are similarly good for the soul.
Karman: Hello Alli. So, 2020 is looking very different than anyone could have imagined. As we continue to find a new rhythm, and create our “new normal”, can you tell me in what ways big and small has your life changed? What is your “new normal”?
Alli: Mentally, I feel like I had a head start in this “new normal” when I started addressing my anxiety and depression last year. When you’re in a dark place, it’s important to give yourself time and space to sit with those feelings. To know that those feelings are valid and you don’t always need to be hustling or productive to feel worthy. It makes you realise how toxic some work and life practices were before: The endless churn, the unrealistic deadlines, the pressure to perform, create or consume.
It’s a privilege to be safe and working from home. But right now, people are focusing on keeping jobs rather than healing or even processing what’s going on and for some, that has meant that the lines of work and personal life have blurred. People now working from home are suddenly thrown into a situation where they have to carry on as if it’s business as usual, when it’s anything but – so give yourself grace. I have a daily to-do list, and if I don’t have the bandwidth for everything in that day: That’s ok. There are no pre-requisites to ace this current test. Take the pressure off yourself and do what works for you.
K: Where are you finding it to be the most challenging adjustment? And in which area(s) have you discovered/maintained joy, calm and positivity daily?
A: I think we’re realising how much we took for granted before, and it’s causing me to be grateful for the little things more than ever. Home. Love. A business that helps people. I’m hanging on to the fact that once this is over, we can go to cafes, museums and theatres again, hug each other, travel to meet family abroad who have it 10 times worse where they are. It’s also recognising that if we’re in a position to help others, we should. That extends to neighbours, migrant workers, local businesses, and people in our community who may not have that social or financial safety net.
“When you’re in a dark place, it’s important to give yourself time and space to sit with those feelings. To know that those feelings are valid and you don’t always need to be hustling or productive to feel worthy.”
K: A new normal calls for new rules, behaviours and routines. What does self-care look like for you now?
A: In a bid to boost my immunity, I’ve upped my intake of greens and zinc, and try to go for a quick 20 minute jog around the block a few times a week. It’s also about knowing when to put the phone down and not let yourself get swept up in the news cycle. By all means, stay informed, but walk away when you start to feel overwhelmed.
K: Has this time, this crisis, given you a new insight, outlook on life / in business, and what really matters?
A: Absolutely. From the clearer canals of Venice to the decrease in carbon emissions across various places across the globe, it’s been so encouraging to see the ways the earth has begun healing in this time. I hope this inspires us to collectively re-evaluate how we’re living and working, and the impact that has had on the environment. If anything, this time has highlighted how interconnected we are. Even on a very local level, there are so many opportunities to help and check in with each other. These are the magic words: “How are you—really?”
K: In what ways do you see (or hope to see) the world, your world and your self looking different when we’ve emerged from this on the other side?
A: I hope this time helps to crystallise what matters most: love, family, community, kindness, and generosity. But we won’t remember the important lessons we’ve learned unless we take this opportunity to breathe, rest, and release unhelpful attitudes of hustle and grind culture.
“It’s also recognising that if we’re in a position to help others, we should. That extends to neighbours, migrant workers, local businesses and people in our community who may not have that social or financial safety net.”
Photos: ALLI SIM
[Editor’s note: As you know, a lot could change in a day. Sentiments and thoughts expressed here are accurate as at April 7 when Alli wrote back.]