Category Archives: Mental Health

Beyond Blue Monday: addressing burnout and crisis fatigue in the workplace

While Blue Monday traditionally signifies a peak in winter blues and shines a light on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the current global landscape is far more complex. The prolonged exposure to crises, economic uncertainties and climate anxieties are creating a sustained strain on individuals. Concerns regarding crisis fatigue and burnout among the global workforce are also prompting organisations to re-evaluate their mental health support strategies and to prioritise proactive mental health support for employees.

The International SOS Risk Outlook 2024 data identifies burnout, the cost-of-living crisis and mental health concerns as the top risks to organisational wellbeing this year. Mental health emerges as a critical concern, as the pressures of burnout and financial difficulty can manifest in emotional and psychological distress. The survey data also underlines a growing understanding of the direct link between employee wellbeing and organisational success.

With 82% acknowledging the vital role of health and wellness policies in recruitment and retention and 77% see safeguarding employee wellbeing as a board-level priority

  • The World Health Organization also highlights that globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
  • Burnout rates among the global workforce have nearly doubled in just two years, soaring from 11-18% to 20-40%, with many reporting burnout levels as high as 50%.
  • This staggering data aligns with a recent McKinsey Health Institute study, revealing that 22% of employees across 30 countries are experiencing burnout symptoms at work.
  • Despite a significant rise in global burnout rates, the perceived risk its impact will have in 2024 varies across regions.
  • Globally, 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals identifies employee burnout as the top threat to their organisation and workforce. Notably, this concern is most pronounced across the Middle East (93%), Oceania (88%), Africa (84%) and Americas (84%), which are exceeding the global average.

Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Global Health Advisor at International SOS said “The post-holiday return to work is known for its challenges and for many employees, this period can be a tipping point for exhaustion, chronic stress and burnout. Some may still be facing the lingering effects of the festive season, navigating financial pressures from rising bills after the holiday celebration. Heightened geopolitical uncertainties and ongoing global crises are also amplifying employee anxieties and creating a complex landscape for businesses navigating workforce wellbeing and productivity.

“Employee demands for strengthened mental health and wellbeing support within the workplace had been steadily increasing even before the recent succession of crises. This pre-existing trend has now acquired greater urgency amidst employee experiences of burnout and crisis fatigue. Blue Monday offers a timely opportunity for organisations to assess and strengthen workplace mental health initiatives. When employees feel supported and empowered to take care of their mental health, they are likely to be more engaged, focused and able to excel in their roles. Organisations that recognise this and prioritise on cultivating psychosocially safe work environments – from providing stress management workshops to flexible work arrangements, are not just doing the right thing, they are also making a strategic investment in their workforce & potential.”

International SOS urges organisations to take action and implement proactive strategies to prevent burnout and combat crisis fatigue in the workplace:

1. Create an emotionally open culture and encourage open communication: provide a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health and wellbeing. Encourage them to speak up if they are feeling overwhelmed or struggling.

2. Provide flexibility and promote work-life balance: support flexible working arrangements that help employees to balance their work and personal lives. Promote regular breaks and empower employees to prioritise their wellbeing.

3. Invest in emotional wellbeing: provide access to mindfulness sessions, and stress management training. Partner with certified mental health professionals to offer confidential counselling and support services.

4. Offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs): consider providing support such as financial counselling services or benefits consultations to address anxieties surrounding economic uncertainties.

5. Equip managers with mental health first-aid training: upskill managers to identify signs of distress and offer initial support to employees who may be struggling.

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There’s more we can do for mental health in Australia – and it starts with what we eat


What we eat has a profound impact on the mind, body and brain, yet the power of nutrition and dietetic supports remain largely underutilised within Australia’s mental health care system.

The nation’s peak body for dietetic and nutrition professionals, Dietitians Australia, released a mental health brief to evidence on how nutrition therapy can be harnessed to tackle the spectrum of mental health challenges faced nationwide.

The Dietitians Australia: Nourishing the Mind, Body and Brain Evidence Brief 2024 details evidence-based solutions for better integration of dietetic and nutrition services into Australia’s health care system to shake up the way we manage mental health conditions across the nation.

“Our health care system needs to evolve to manage the often-complex needs of people living with mental health conditions.

 “That includes ensuring Accredited Practising Dietitians take the leading role within multidisciplinary teams when it comes to providing effective, evidence-based dietary therapy for the prevention, treatment and management of mental health conditions their symptoms and commonly co-occurring physical illnesses,” Dietitians Australia President Tara Diversi said.

“The brief highlights the emerging evidence that has found making changes to the quality of food intake, can lead to the remission of depressive symptoms in some people.

“Australians must be supported with food and nutrition guidance to prevent occurrences of mental health conditions, with evidence showing eating a diet that isn’t made up of nutritious foods can increase the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders.

“There are limited pathways for Australians facing mental health challenges to access nutrition therapy and dietetic services through the Medicare system.

“We’ve been calling on the Government to create avenues through Medicare and other funding programs to support Australians with depression, mood disorders and severe mental illness to access individual and group consultations with Accredited Practising Dietitians as part of a holistic and truly multidisciplinary approach to care.

“Currently there are only limited Medicare item numbers for people with eating disorders and other chronic health conditions to access an Accredited Practising Dietitian for mental health care.

“Mental health conditions cost the economy upwards of $70 billion dollars a year from lost productivity.

“The personal and societal impact cannot be quantified, but is an enormous load for many Australians’ who live with and support people with mental health conditions.

“Dietitians stand ready to play a poignant role in transforming the way we manage mental health care in this country and will continue to advocate for ways we can better nourish the minds, bodies and brains of all Australians.

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WHO calls for greater attention to violence against women with disabilities and older women

Older women and women with disabilities face particular risk of abuse, yet their situation is largely hidden in most global and national violence-related data, according to two new publications released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). The health agency is calling for better research across countries that will help ensure these women are counted, and that their specific needs are understood and addressed.

Where there is evidence on gender-based violence amongst these groups, data shows high prevalence. One systematic review found greater risks of intimate partner violence for women with disabilities compared with those without, while another also found higher rates of sexual violence.

“Older women and women with disabilities are under-represented in much of the available research on violence against women, which undermines the ability of programmes to meet their particular needs,” said Dr Lynnmarie Sardinha, Technical Officer at WHO and the UN Special Programme on Human Reproduction (HRP) for Violence against Women Data and Measurement, and author of the briefs. “Understanding how diverse women and girls are differently affected, and if and how they are accessing services, is critical to ending violence in all its forms.”

Intimate partner and sexual violence are the most common forms of gender-based violence globally and affect around 1 in 3 women. Older women and women with disabilities are still subjected to these types of violence, but also face specific risks and additional forms of abuse, sometimes at the hands of caregivers or health care professionals. These include coercive and controlling behaviours such as withholding of medicines, assistive devices or other aspects of care, and financial abuse.

Among women aged 60 years and older, a review conducted by WHO found that physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence remained the most frequently experienced forms of abuse. However, as partners aged, some women reported a shift from predominantly physical and/or sexual violence to psychological violence, including threats of abandonment and other controlling behaviours.

Older women and women with disabilities can be extremely isolated when violence occurs, making it more difficult for them to escape and report the abuse. Stigma and discrimination can further reduce access to services or information, or result in their accounts of violence being dismissed by responders.

“Gender-based violence is rooted in unequal power and control over women,” said Dr Avni Amin, Head of the Rights and Equality across the Life Course Unit at WHO and HRP. “For older women and women with disabilities, their dependency and isolation are further exploited by perpetrators, increasing their risk of abuse. Services must be responsive to their needs and identify appropriate contacts through the health and care systems, so that all women experiencing violence can access empathetic, survivor-centered care.”

WHO recommends several measures to address evidence gaps. Noting that older women are currently represented in only about 10% of data on violence against women, this includes extending the age limit for survey participation. They also suggest incorporating questions relating to different types of violence, encompassing a broad spectrum of disabilities.

The two briefs, Measuring violence against older women and Measuring violence against women with disability, stress that older women and women with disabilities and their representative organizations should be engaged in all phases and aspects of survey design and implementation, to ensure they are appropriate and user-friendly. Formats like Braille or EasyRead can expand accessibility.

The briefs are the first in a series on neglected forms of violence and were developed as part of the UN Women-WHO Joint Programme on Violence against Women Data, through HRP. They are intended for use by researchers, national statistics offices, social care and welfare services and others involved in data collection on violence against women. Funding has been provided from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Alongside the briefs, WHO has developed a survey module to support data collection on violence against older women, to be used alongside existing surveys. Resources to support inclusion of measures of disability in such surveys will be released later in the year.

Related link: Violence against women (


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Mental health recognised as a critical concern by people in Asia, yet are unlikely to seek external support

FWD Group survey finds people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support – positive reframing of the issue may hold the key to bridging the gap.

·       65% of people in Asia believe mental health will be one of the most critical issues in the coming year, yet only one-third are open to seeking external support

·       31% of respondents in Asia believe renaming “mental health” can help people to open up

·       40% of respondents in Asia say the cost of treatment is the biggest impediment to seeking outside help for mental health care

Hong Kong, 10 October 2022 (AFTNN/PRNews) – FWD Group Holdings Limited (“FWD Group”) today released the findings from its international mental health survey, one of the largest completed in Asia, to identify insights and ideas to help promote better overall emotional well-being.

In collaboration with Blackbox, an independent research company, the survey interviewed more than 10,000 people across 16 international markets between June and July 2022, including nine markets where FWD operates: Cambodia; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand and Vietnam.

Sim Preston, Managing Director and Group Chief Operating Officer, FWD Group, said, “While it’s great that mental health is gaining more and more awareness, especially in Asia, the stigma and cost of treatment remain barriers for people to seek the help they need. Published on World Mental Health Day, we hope this survey contributes insights and ideas that can help further raise awareness for this critical issue. As an insurer, we also look forward to making mental health protection more inclusive and focused on building mind strength, to enable people to celebrate living.”

While the survey found that 65% of people in Asia believe that mental health will become a critical issue in the coming year, only one-third of them prefer discussing their concerns externally. Given the cultural and societal stigmas associated with mental health, the survey findings showed that reframing mental health in a more positive way, such as ‘mind strength’, may reduce the stigma attached to the more traditional term and encourage more people in the region to open up about their challenges.

Cost of treatment was also identified as one of the most significant barriers to receiving care for mental health challenges in Asia, and 76% of respondents expressed their interest in exploring insurance options to address such challenges. The survey also uncovered that people in Asia worry about their families and jobs, which can lead to a higher rate of mental health challenges.

“Our survey showed that contributing factors to mental stress include concerns about a wide range of family responsibilities, coupled with work-related stress, rising inflation and post-pandemic adjustment. Given we also know that people may not be comfortable seeking help externally as individuals, family assumes a particularly important role. Opening up and addressing these challenges as a family unit first instead of individually, can make a difference as people may feel more comfortable,” added Joanna Chu, Group Head of Product Proposition, FWD Group.

Overall key findings of the survey include:

  1. Mental health issues will become more prominent around the world, yet stigma remains:

o        65% of people in Asia believe mental health will be one of the most critical issues in the coming year

o        74% of people said they had experienced (16%) or known someone close (28%) and distant (30%) to them who had suffered from mental health challenges

o        People in Asia place a higher value on self-help rather than seeking outside assistance, only 34% prefer discussing issues openly with others

o        31% of people in Asia believe renaming “mental health” can help people to open up

  1. Inflation and the future of children/family are top concerns leading to mental health challenges today

o        Concerns around inflation (47%) cause more mental health challenges than post-pandemic adjustment (30%)

o        People in Asia worry about their jobs (31%) and family-related concerns, including the future of children/family (34%) and increasing family responsibilities (32%)

  1. People in Asia are interested in insurance options for mental health

o        76% of people want to explore insurance to assist them in dealing with mental health challenges

o        The cost of treatment is one of the most significant barriers to receiving mental health care in Asia; 40% of people in Asia say the cost of treatment is the biggest impediment to seeking outside help.

– Ends –

About FWD Group

FWD Group is a pan-Asian life insurance business with approximately 10 million customers across 10 markets, including some of the fastest growing insurance markets in the world. Established in 2013, FWD is focused on making the insurance journey simpler, faster and smoother, with innovative propositions and easy-to-understand products, supported by digital technology. Through this customer-led approach, FWD is committed to changing the way people feel about insurance.

For more information, please visit

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Relationship between COVID-19 stressors and health behaviours: results from The Psycorona Study

The pandemic is teaching us key lessons about the relationship between different types of stressors and health outcomes.

Covid-19 Fatigue – Part One: A report by Australia Fitness Today

In a recent study published in Preventive Medicine Reports*, Dr Shian-Ling Keng, Associate Professor from the Department of Psychology at Monash University Malaysia, along with a team of 107 researchers from over 40 countries globally, are charting COVID-19’s deadly sweep across the world by delving into the virus’ often overlooked impact on people’s health behaviours. This study is conducted with Dr Michael Stanton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health at California State University, East Bay as a co-leading investigator. Other key collaborators of the study include Dr LeeAnn Haskins (University of Georgia, USA), Dr Jeannette Ickovics (Yale University, USA), Dr Antwan Jones (the George Washington University, USA), Dr Diana Grigsby-Toussaint (Brown University, USA), and Dr Carlos Almenara (Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, Peru).

Anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and home confinement measures have been found to be associated with adverse health behaviours, such as unhealthy eating, smoking, drinking, and decreased physical activity. These unhealthy behaviours are risk factors for non-communicable diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, which in turn increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 and greater disease severity and may eventually lead to increased mortality. However, to date, most studies have been limited by regional sampling, which precludes the examination of behavioural consequences associated with the pandemic at a global level.

Descriptive Statistics for COVID-19 Stressors and Health Behaviors. | Download Scientific Diagram ( – image via license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Using data from the global PsyCorona project, an international, longitudinal online study of psychological and behavioural correlates of COVID-19, Dr Keng and over 100 behavioural scientists surveyed 7,402 adult participants from 86 countries across three waves of assessment and measured  their perceived infection risk, economic burden, and engagement in health behaviours ranging from physical exercise, unhealthy eating, smoking, to alcohol consumption. By employing a multilevel regression approach in its data analysis, the team tested whether COVID-19 infection risk and economic burden correlate with a decline in healthy behavioural habits. The study found that perceived economic burden was linked with reduced diet quality and sleep quality, as well as increased smoking. There was also an interaction between perceived COVID-19 infection risk and economic burden, such that diet quality and sleep quality were lowest among those reported high levels of COVID-19 infection risk and economic burden. Neither binge drinking nor physical exercise were associated with perceived COVID-19 infection risk, economic burden, or their interaction.  

“The pandemic is teaching us key lessons about the relationship between different types of stressors and health outcomes across different socioeconomic groups. In particular, it highlights the importance of attending to cumulative, negative effects of high infection risk and economic burden on health outcomes”, said Dr Keng. This project began when Dr Keng was a faculty member with the Division of Psychology at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

Since March 2020, the PsyCorona scientists have conducted ongoing 20-minute interviews with more than 60,000 people in 115 countries. The survey topics range from handwashing and mask-wearing to dissatisfaction with government messaging. The project is jointly funded by the New York University Abu Dhabi, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid, with Dr Pontus Leander (Wayne State University, USA) and Dr Jocelyn Bélanger (NYU Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) as principal investigators. 

“We are asking: If you perceive that you will get infected, and if you think that in the next few months your personal situation will be worse due to the economic consequences of COVID, will you sleep less, and will you eat more and eat unhealthy food?” Dr Stanton explained.

Preliminary findings from the study point to the value of developing interventions to address COVID-related stressors, which have an impact on health behaviours that, in turn, may influence vulnerability to COVID-19 and other health outcomes. Dr Keng noted that the relationships between COVID-19 stressors and health behaviours appear to be consistent across geographical regions — from impoverished nations to more developed European countries and the United States, and the relationships remained after controlling for variations in gender, age and levels of education. As a next step, the team aims to examine psychological mechanisms that may account for the relationships, including negative emotions and use of coping strategies such as problem solving and avoidance.

Dr Jones, Associate Professor from the Department of Sociology at The George Washington University, expressed that pandemics are notorious for inciting short- and long-term economic challenges. “However, there has been less attention on…how socially and economically vulnerable populations will be affected by the changing spatial landscape brought on by the consequences of the pandemic,” he stated.

Another co-author, Dr Grigsby-Toussaint, Associate Professor of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, indicated that supporting and engaging in international collaborative efforts are critical for mitigating the impact of COVID-19. “Although effective interventions targeting COVID-19 have to be tailored to the local context, it is important to have a broader view of stressors and health behaviours that are continuing to drive the pandemic.”

*Articles published on Preventive Medicine Reports are peer-reviewed and made freely available for everyone to read, download, and reuse in line with the user license displayed on the article.

AFT Ed.’s notes:

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Discovering your core values

By Dominic Junghaenel
Including workbook with exercise and step-by-step instructions.

What are core values?

Simply put, your personal core values are your fundamental beliefs. They reflect what you stand for, what’s important to you. Your core values guide your behavior and your decisions. The emphasis here is on YOU; we’re not talking about values in a sense of morality or social norms.

Why core values are important

As a career coach, personal values are one of the most important tools in my work with any client, and one of the first things I want to get clarity on. For me, those values form the base for all subsequent work, such as creating a personal mission statement, building a vision or setting career goals.

If our goals are not set in line with our values, we’ll have a much harder time mastering the challenges along the way. Similarly, if your job does not satisfy your personal values, you’re more likely to experience a lack of motivation and fulfillment in the long run. Knowing your values can therefore help you make the right career choice.

And there are other reasons why identifying your core values is beneficial, such as:

Making good decisions

Knowing your personal values is one of the best tools to make difficult decisions. If you’re crystal clear about what you want and what’s important to you, you can eliminate a lot of inner dialogue and arrive at decisions more efficiently and with more confidence. Or put the other way around, I believe the best decisions we make are the ones based on and aligned with our values.

Experiencing more fulfillment

People who live by their values tend to experience greater fulfillment and happiness. In other words, if we neglect our personal values, we suffer mentally and emotionally. I have experienced this in my own life too. Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, claims that our values are even more important than our goals, because “we might not reach our goals, but we can always choose to live by our values”.

Becoming an effective leader

Getting clarity on your own values is also a critical step in becoming an effective and authentic leader. Studies have shown that leaders who are seen as inspiring tend to have consistent values that they display every day. It seems that people become effective leaders when they are rooted in who they are and what matters most to them.

Are you ready to discover your personal values? Scroll down to find an exercise that will help you discover yours.

Exercise – Discover Your Core Values

Download the workbook or follow the step-by-step instructions below


Before you start

Approach things with an open mind. We’re often quick to presume we know the answers before we even start. As a result, we are missing the opportunity to embark on a creative self-discovery process. Adopt a beginner’s mind by letting go of any expectations about what will happen and instead develop a curiosity to understand yourself more deeply.

Core values are discovered, not selected. Your core values are an integral part of you and the point of the following exercise is to help you become consciously aware of them. Core values are not the same as aspirational values that express who you want to be, what you aspire to.

To do this exercise, all you need is a piece of paper, a pen and an undisturbed place. When you’re ready, start by following the instructions below.

Step 1 – List up

Things you enjoy

  1. Make a list of things you enjoy – What are your interests and hobbies? What are you passionate about? How do you spend your free time? List up everything that comes to your mind.
  2. Think about why you enjoy these things – This is a crucial element of the exercise. Two people can have the same interest, let’s say they like playing tennis, but their WHYs can be very different. One person might enjoy the competition and the challenge, for them it’s about winning and seeing who’s the better player. The other person might play tennis to get some exercise and keep in shape, for them it’s part of a healthy lifestyle. Take some time and carefully think about your motivations for the activities you listed.
  3. Assign values – Go back to your list and try to determine what values lie behind each of the things you enjoy. In some cases the values already became evident when you thought about your motivations. In the example of the person that likes to play tennis in order to win, their values might be “Challenge” or “Recognition”.

Role models

  • Think about people that inspire you – These can be people you know personally or indirectly or even historical figures. List them all up. Again, the important part is to ask yourself why you respect or admire these people. What do they stand for, what values do they represent?
  • Same as before, list up the reasons and determine the underlying values.

Negative experiences

  • Think about negative experiences – Another way to discover your values is by remembering situations in which you were frustrated, upset or sad. What did you feel in those particular situations and why?
  • What values were being violated or suppressed? Write them down.

If you need help to come up with values, you can refer to a list of the most common values below (page 6 in your workbook). The list is by no means exhaustive so don’t restrict yourself to those values only.

Core Values

Core values list by

Step 2 – Group together

By now, you might have a long list of personal values. Maybe there are 10, 20 or 50 values on your list. The next step is to group similar values under related themes.

For example, compassion, empathy and understanding are similar. Or independence, freedom and individuality are related. Group them together.

Step 3 – Find a common theme

Look at each group and select a word that best represents the whole group. It can be one of the values within the group or a new word.

For example, I might choose “self-reliance” as the word that best describes my values of independence, freedom and individuality.

Step 4 – Determine top values

After completing step 3, you may still have a considerable list of values. Now comes the time to determine which values are most important to you.

You want to end up at somewhere between 5 to 10 values. If you have too many, you won’t be able to remember them all and to use them effectively, for example when making difficult decisions. Picking just a few forces you to get to the root of who you really are and what you stand for.

Ask yourself: What values are essential to your life? What values represent your primary way of being?

Step 5 – Rank your values

In this last step, we want to rank your core values in order of importance. This is usually the most challenging part but also a crucial one; you may have core values that are in conflict with each other, for example, growth and stability. Or there might be situations where not all your values can be met. So it’s important to know which of your values are non-negotiable.

In order to do this, write down your core values in no particular order. Then look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” Go through the whole list and compare all values with each other until your list is in the right order.

Step 6 – Review and adjust

Congratulations! You’ve completed the exercise. It’s time to take a break and clear your mind. I recommend to “sleep over it” and come back to your list the next day.

With a fresh mind, review your core values list.

  • Do these values “feel right”? Do they resonate with you?
  • Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice wasn’t popular?
  • Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to your friends and family?

Don’t hesitate to make changes to your list, nothing is written in stone.

Step 7 – Observe yourself

Over the coming days, be mindful of the choices you make and keep reviewing your list regularly.

Whenever you make a decision, consciously put a label on the values behind. Are the values on your list reflected in your daily life. If not, are there other values that you are living by as you go through your day? Keep working on your list (removing/replacing values, changing the order, finding a better word to describe a specific value, etc.) until you are satisfied with it.

Final notes

Knowing your core values is only one step on the path to an authentic life. Learning to apply them daily is a major component to happiness and success.

The key, especially in the beginning, is to keep your values top of mind. Put them where you can always see them, for example on post-it notes or on your screensaver or desktop.

As you go through your days, identify behaviors and actions that satisfy your core values. Try to bring more of those into your life – and get rid of the ones that are in conflict with your values. Whenever you set a goal or evaluate an opportunity, make sure you take your core values into account.

By actively and consciously living your values, you will experience – and enjoy – personal growth.

“Knowing your values does not mean you’ll always live in perfect accordance with them, but as a map, they will help guide you on your journey through life.”

Amy Blacklock

This article has been contributed by Dominic Junghaenel of Dominic is a Career & Leadership Coach who is passionate about personal development and supporting people in overcoming challenges and reaching their goals. He is also a sports enthusiast and is currently challenging himself to go ice swimming in Switzerland.

Cover image: airdone Getty Images via Canva Pro.

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Sonic Cure

This performance by Ryuichi Sakamoto was commissioned by the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and streamed live via the Kuaishou app, which has over 300million users. Entitled “Voluntary Garden Online Concert: Sonic Cure”, nine musicians were selected to perform. They all had various styles and differences in their art and included Sakamoto (b. 1952) to Liu Yucao (b. 1995), multimedia artist Feng Mengbo to suona master Guo Yazhi, all coming together to give an improvised concert, performing in relay via the Kuaishou app.

The UCCA website shares that this performance on 29 February 2020 featured musicians Feng Mengbo, Huang Jin, “Two Chamber Quarters” Pang Kuan, and Xia Yuyan who are in Beijing; Zhang Meng in Shanghai; Feng Hao in Hefei; Liu Yucao and Guo Yazhi in Boston; and Ryuichi Sakamoto in New York. The seven solo performers and one duo each performed an unprecedented musical conversation broadcast to audiences across the world. In this featured post, we showcase Mr. Sakamoto’s act.

A renowned keyboardist and songwriter attached to the Haruomi Hosono’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, he is a synth pop pioneer and famed for solo experiments that collaborated with global genres and classical impressionism that led to him scoring over 30 films including Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. In the past 20 years alone, he’s written a multimedia opera, turned a glass building into an instrument, and travelled to the Arctic to record the sound of melting snow. That exploratory spirit runs through Sakamoto’s 2017 album, async, which paints an audio portrait of the passing of time informed by his recovery from throat cancer. “Music, work, and life all have a beginning and an ending,” said Sakamoto in early 2019. “What I want to make now is music freed from the constraints of time.”

Mr. Sakamoto wanted to share this with you who are in isolation.

Here is another performance, dedicated to the isolated: and a fan-produced playlist from his album Energy Flow.

Coming up…

Ryuichi Sakamoto:
seeing sound
hearing time

M WOODS is presenting an exhibition devoted to Ryuichi Sakamoto. The exhibition is Sakamoto’s first institutional solo show in China. It includes work in various media from the last thirty years and new outdoor site-specific installations made especially for M WOODS.

Exhibition Dates: 5 March 2021 – August 8, 2021

With collaborative works by Shiro Takatani Daito Manabe Zakkubalan Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Curated by Sachiko Namba, Victor Wang, Zhang Youdai. (Source: Instagram)

Editor’s note: AFT has dedicated 2021 to raising awareness about non-communicable diseases. Diagnosed with stage three throat cancer in 2014, Mr. Sakamoto told Thailand Tatler in an interview that even listening to music was “too hard for me—maybe because music is too important to me. To enjoy it requires a certain amount of energy, and I lost a lot of it during [that time]”. On behalf of AFT, we wish him continuous improvement in his health and deep appreciation for his art. Thank you and take care, Mr. Sakamoto.

Keeping active in Germany, from the North Sea to the Alps

Fed up with not being able to travel? Bored with looking at the same backdrop every time you work out? Here at Asia Fitness Today, we relish the chance to be able to enjoy the scenery from Germany.

With plenty of breath-taking vistas in Germany, there is something for everyone when keeping active during the holiday season, whether they are rivers and lakes or mountains and valleys. While traveling to Germany may not yet be a  possibility in 2020, countries like Singapore and Germany are making inroads to ensure safe travels for holiday-goers in time to come so that we can #DreamNowVisitLater. Additionally, with the #DiscoverGermanyFromHome campaign, launched by the German  National Tourist Board, visitors from Southeast Asia can virtually experience destinations in Germany — across the 16 federal states — from the comfort of their own homes. Plus, with all the fitness regimes and goals accomplished during Circuit Breaker or lockdown, training for cross-country biking will now be a breeze. 

The Best of Both Worlds: City and Country  

With more than 200 long-distance cycling routes in Germany, there are plenty of opportunities to see what its cities and countryside have to offer. The Rhine Cycle Route provides the quintessential German experience. With the river being at the heart of life in many parts of Germany, cyclists can explore the history, culture, and significance of the river from its source in the Alps to the North Sea coast. This route passes many UNESCO World  Heritage sites, including the celebrated 194-metre-high Loreley Rock cliff in the Upper  Middle Rhine Valley, as well as the idyllic medieval-era town of Constance, known for its impressive council building that was the home of the 1417 papal election. 

Meander Through Germany’s Wine Regions 

A 360° virtual ride of the Moselle

Cyclists who like to enjoy a taste of the finer things in life can explore routes through German wine country and vineyards. During the ultimate German Wine Route, cyclists traipse through one of the largest wine regions in Germany, where lush vineyards drape the terraced slopes between the foothills of the Palatinate Forest and Rhinland Plain. Here,  there are plenty of taverns and wineries where pitstops to taste Rieslings, Pinot Blancs and Dornfelders are not only recommended but a way of life. For those looking for an alternative, the Moselle Cycle Route cuts through the southern Vosges mountains in France and takes cyclists through the twists and turns of romantic valleys and Middle Moselle Roman wine presses. This cycling path also meanders past the Bliesgau UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, known as the Tuscany of the Saarland with a rich culinary culture. Visitors interested in taking this route, can also hop on the 360° virtual ride and ride through the loops and curves of the Moselle, from Koblenz to France. 

Relive a Part of Germany’s Magical History 

History buffs can take in the sights and sounds of the Allgäu Castle Park Cycle Loop, a 219-kilometre long route that comprises both scenic, historical, and culturally stimulating experiences. After drinking in the sights of Füssen’s old town, the trail leads cyclists to  Hohenschwangau, with its stunningly regal views of Alpine peaks, royal palaces and museums dedicated to Ludwig II — the fairy tale king. This path takes cyclists through the foothills of the majestic Alps, with plenty of castles, palaces, and monasteries to visit,  including the Falkenstein Castle, Pilgrimage Church of Wies — a UNESCO World Heritage  Site — and the Kaltentaler Brauhaus, known for its home-brewed beers.  

Hike Through a Slice of Paradise 

Those who may not be comfortable on bicycles can also explore Germany’s many athletic,  leisurely, family-friend and cultural hikes. With 50 routes of varying categories and a  200,000-kilometre network of trails that are peppered through some of the most stunning  terrains, going on foot does not have to mean missing out on the beautiful sights and sounds  of Germany. Roam through nature parks, national parks, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves,  and even mountain summits — all complete with hiker-friendly accommodation and  hospitality.  

A day-long hike on the 66 Lakes Trail — an hour outside Berlin — takes visitors through numerous lakes, streams, rivers, and marshes while marveling at historic monuments like the Sanssouci Palace and Cecilienhof Palace. Spectacular waterscapes aside, the Heidschnuckenweg Trail takes hikers through a sea of idyllic lilac fields and heaths dotted with Heidschnucke sheep, whose delicious meat and carpet-making wool are renowned in the region.  

Dubbed as one of Germany’s most beautiful hiking trails, The Painters’ Way combines romantic hikes in the Elbe Sandstone mountains with enchanting landscapes that provided inspiration for Romantic-era painters such as Caspar David Friedrich. Such views clearly transcend time, being the backdrop of Hollywood movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and  The Grand Budapest Hotel. If leisurely trails are the order of the day, opt for the Goldsteig  Trail, a classic Bavarian route named after the once-precious commodity of salt, or “white gold”. Now, it is more famous for the unmistakable Bavarian beer, where the amber nectar perfectly matches the region’s hearty cuisine. 

Cycling or hiking, there is plenty to discover in Germany’s expansive natural landscapes,  Alpine forests, as well as culturally significant locales.  

#staysafe #stayathome #traveltomorrow #DreamNowVisitLater

Blys launches online wellness and telehealth services – yoga, pilates, meditation, PT, counseling and more

On-demand wellness app enables skilled practitioners to work online 

Sessions help maintain Australians’ well-being from home

As self-isolation measures tighten in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, on-demand wellness app Blys announces the launch of its new telehealth service, which allows clients to book qualified wellness professionals for private or group sessions delivered via two-way video.

Blys also offers mental health assistance

In line with Blys’ vision to ensure wellness services are easily accessible to Australians, Blys will launch 20 new digital wellness offerings to help maintain mental and physical health while people across the country are urged to stay home. Costing as little as $39 for a private session, users have digital access to services including yoga, pilates, meditation, physiotherapy, personal training, mindfulness and mental health.

Blys’ digital offering comes at a crucial time as consumer behavior shifts rapidly to support a healthy lifestyle while in isolation. Research from global affiliate network Awin* has revealed a particular surge in online wellness content, with ‘home workout’ searches alone spiking 90% in 30 days.

In addition to ensuring Australians have access to vital wellness services, Blys is committed to helping self-employed practitioners make a living after being hit financially as a result of non-essential closures. 

Founder and CEO, Ilter Dumduz commented, “We are pleased to launch our telehealth service and continue to carry out our mission of conveniently providing wellness to Australians, especially as we navigate our way through a particularly isolating and uncertain time.

He added, “We are constantly seeking new services, fresh ideas, and partner practitioners to work alongside. Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our customers and practitioners. We urge Australians to stay home and to stay healthy and fit in both body and mind.” 

Blys has various services

“We already had a great response so far from our existing customers, particularly the business customers who are looking for ways to keep their Work From Home (WFH) staff physically and mentally fit.”

In an effort to combat the spread of virus, Blys encourages all valued clients and practitioners to remain at home in order to protect the wider community and has suspended all in-person massage bookings until further notice. 

Anyone looking for work as a personal trainer, yoga or pilates instructor, mental health professional, mindfulness teacher, or wellness expert, can get in touch with Blys directly at

For all information on the telehealth service visit

Humanity on the move

A vast majority of undocumented migrants work in so-called “3D jobs” – dirty, dangerous and demeaning professions.

At AFT.TV, we believe in providing a world view on Asia-Pacific. We have curated this series of documentaries in the effort to create greater understanding about the world we live and work in.

Millions live a life without any prospects. We meet entrepreneurs in Malaysia who are trying to give migrants back their dignity. With foreign workers contributing more than a third to Malaysia’s gross domestic product, migrants help shape the country’s economy and society. However, undocumented migrants tend to exist outside the formal infrastructure. Most of them work in low-skilled jobs in miserable conditions, often existing on the margins of society. Startup founders are helping improve the lives of migrants in Malaysia. This is Part 2 of 3. Presenter Bianca Preaetorius shared in a Facebook post:

DW Documentary are made by German broadcasters and international production companies. This particular edition was made a good friend of ours, Jules Rahman Ong of The Reel Media.