Cost of healthcare in Singapore: What to consider

9th July 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadSingapore is known for its top-notch healthcare system – great news for all of us, though it can also mean some hefty bills! To help navigate the issues around these costs, we asked the team at Pacific Prime to give us a better understanding of how the healthcare system works, the cost of healthcare in Singapore and what you need to factor in if you want to live here as an expat.#1 No subsidies for expatsSingapore citizens and permanent residents have access to various subsidised healthcare services through government healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, expats don’t enjoy the same luxury and will be charged regular high rates. To ensure that you don’t need to pay everything out of your pocket when living in Singapore, buying a private health insurance plan is essential. #2 Public vs private healthcare in SingaporeIn Singapore, healthcare is made up of two sectors: public and private. The option you choose will have a significant effect on the price you pay. It’s common for private clinics and hospitals to have a higher price range than public alternatives. However, the difference has become less steep over recent years since the two are in direct competition. So why is the private sector more expensive? It offers a better service level to start with as well as many add-ons. Private facilities usually come with shorter waiting times and more privacy.#3 High-quality healthcarePrivate facilities may offer more perks compared to public medical centres, but you can be certain that any hospital you go to will be of a high standard. Hospitals in Singapore are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, well-maintained facilities and have highly-trained and caring staff. This is why the cost of healthcare in Singapore is on the high end. Both public and private facilities also ensure that the entire process is efficient from start to finish. All of these reasons and more are why many expats living in other parts of Asia visit Singapore for medical care.#4 Difference in doctors’ experienceOne option that you might have in Singapore is to choose to see either a junior or senior doctor. The local medical system values time spent practicing and experience, which means that a more senior doctor will come with a higher rate.#5 Costs and locationLocation is a key factor to consider when you’re choosing a clinic or hospital. Prices can vary depending on where the facility is located. For instance, a clinic in the Central Business District (CBD) is going to have higher prices than a family clinic in a suburban area.It’s advisable to find a doctor that’s close to your home and another that’s near your office. You might want to consider finding another one near your children’s school, just in case. To save on healthcare costs, you can secure individual health insurance in Singapore for access to a wide medical network and have inpatient and outpatient expenses covered. Handy tip: Be wary of cheap insurance plansYou get what you pay for when it comes to health insurance so don’t be enticed by health insurance plans with appealingly low premiums. These are usually too good to be true and often result in extra costs such as rejected claims. The most common risks associated with cheap health insurance plans include:A small network of healthcare providersUnpredictable premium increasesLow limitsLimited options for pre-existing condition coverage, or none at allMany exclusionsNo outpatient benefitsPoor customer serviceNeed some help?Whether you’re looking for individual health insurance or family health insurance in Singapore, consider seeking the expert advice of a reputable insurance broker such as Pacific Prime. Their team of experts are happy to answer insurance-related questions and help you customise the ideal insurance plan for your needs and budget. Contact Pacific Prime Singapore for advice or an obligation-free quotation.You can also check out Pacific Prime’s State of Health Insurance Report for a deeper understanding of key insurance trends.Written in collaboration with:Pacific Prime Singapore18 Cross Street, China Square Central, #14-056346 3781 | pacificprime.sgRead on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore:Top six health issues in SingaporeLocal vs international health insurance

6 Outdoor fitness activities in Singapore

There are heaps of outdoor fitness activities and sports to do in Singapore. Yes it is hot, but we promise you you will feel good afterwards! Research shows that getting outdoors more can boost our energy and mood, relieve stress, fight depression and anxiety, stimulate creativity and concentration, reduce inflammation and lower risks of heart attack. So, read on for six of the best activities and things to do outside to keep you fit here.#1 HikingHiking is a great outside activity – get some sunshine and get fit at the same time. There are loads of locales across the island for a nice hike with the fam – from MacRitchie Reservoir Park and the Southern Ridges to any one of Singapore’s many other trails. You’ll engage different muscle groups all at once, including your core, thighs, calves and ankles, while building cardiovascular strength and burning calories. And, it’s free – a win for everybody! #2 Personal training in the parkGreat news if you’re looking for a challenging workout tailored specifically to you. UFIT – a leading fitness community in Singapore for the past decade – has launched PT in the Park at several of its outdoor fitness locations, giving clients the opportunity to enjoy the popular personal training programme outdoors. Kettlebells, exercise bands, disinfectant spray and wipes are provided; all you’ll need to bring is your water bottle, exercise mat and towel! You’ll even get access to the UFIT app, which includes real-time messaging, exercise videos, healthy eating ideas and more. #3 BootcampTraining in a group with likeminded people is great for motivation and can make exercising more fun – and, UFIT’s got tons of great outdoor class options across 14 different locations islandwide, including Fort Canning Park, the Botanic Gardens, East Coast Park and Sentosa Cove.“Humans are meant to be outside, it’s that simple. As health professionals, we should be advising our clients and friends to spend as much time in nature as possible, provided the circumstances allow it, as it’s a much needed ‘system interrupt’ away from our daily working lives,” explains NATHAN WILLIAMS, personal trainer and group class coach. “Combining nature and exercise, especially with some early-day natural sunlight, can provide numerous benefits that will lead to improvements in our overall health.”From fast-paced Metcon and HIIT classes to Box (boxing, kick-boxing and Muay Thai) and strength-training Build classes, there’s an outdoor fitness activity to get everyone’s heart pumping.If you’re looking for a bootcamp-style class that mixes things up, UFIT’s Burn is a great cardio workout suitable for all fitness levels. Expect some mobility and strength training, plyometrics, AMRAP workouts (“as many reps as possible”), running hill sprints and more.Of course, classes are kept extra small for social distancing purposes. Participants can still enjoy the group energy while getting more than enough personalised attention to ensure they’re doing the exercises correctly. #4 PilatesNo need to go into a studio when you can practice Pilates outside! UFIT’s Pilates in the Park programme is another great thing to do outside in Singapore especially if it’s amongst greenery. Whether you opt for a private or small group class, Pilates can help you tone up, strengthen those deep core muscles, align your spine, and activate those muscles that have become inactive through disuse or pain. It’s also a great way to de-stress and boost your mind-body connection!And, the good news is, Pilates can be practised by anyone, regardless of age, gender or fitness abilities. Instructors can adjust the exercises to suit each client’s specific needs and health conditions.#5 RunningA great way to blitz calories and get in shape, running is a full-body, endorphin-producing workout that can help bust stress and strengthen your joints. Whether it’s along the Singapore River, the Botanic Gardens, the Sentosa beaches or East Coast Park, there are plenty of places to power-walk, jog or full-on sprint.Looking to get fit with running but don’t know where to start? UFIT’s Run programme helps individuals ignite their passion for running in a fun and social setting. Held at Fort Canning and Evans Road Track, Run takes regular runners outside their comfort zones by introducing intervals, Fartleks, stairs and hills, and combinations of each. You can even kick things up a notch with UFIT’s Trail Running programme that will have you tackling rocks, mud, tree trunks and hills at MacRitchie Reservoir. It’s led by a runner and osteopath who specialises in injury prevention.For a complete list of outdoor things to do, running trails, and helpful running tips, head to expatliving.sg/health #6 GolfPlaying golf can be great fun, but it’s also got a range of mental and physical benefits – from stress relief to improved mental alertness to cardiovascular fitness. It’s a low-impact exercise that can be played by almost anyone. In fact, it’s a wonderful outdoor activity for families, explains LEE CARRINGTON, a fully accredited Golf Professional and member of the Australian PGA, who has been teaching golf in Singapore for 20 years.“It’s a terrific game for both kids and adults, as it teaches honesty and humility,” she says. “It also offers fresh air and exercise – especially if you walk instead of ride! What a great way to get in those ‘steps’ in!”Whether you’re a complete beginner or want to hone your existing golf skills, Lee offers private and small group classes at Champions Golf Academy (60 Fairways Drive) in Bukit Timah.“Golf is challenging, no question; but, that’s one of reasons it’s so good – it’s all down to you. Whatever happens is in your hands and yours alone,” says Lee. “The best part of golf is the learning curve and that never ends – no matter how old or how good you get; and that is one of its most endearing parts! Before heading outBe sure to familiarise yourself with the most up-to-date coronavirus guidelines (gov.sg) before doing any exercise outside of your home. Check here for live updates of how busy certain parks and green spaces are across the island.Directory Lee Carrington Golf 9798 5858 | [email protected] | leecarringtongolf.comUFIT Health and Fitnessufit.com.sgThis article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Best hospitals for kids – and mums

1st July 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadA great benefit of living in Singapore is having access to top-quality medical care. There are many good public and private hospitals available for different healthcare needs, from family medicine and gynaecology to geriatrics and oncology. If you’re planning to start a family or already have kids, it’s handy to know which are the best children’s hospitals in Singapore. Read on to find out where to go for paediatric care and women’s health.Concord International HospitalThe private hospital has three renowned services: comprehensive cancer treatment, minimally invasive surgery and women’s health. They have a Women’s Centre which offers ladies access to all treatments in one place. There is a dedicated team of specialists, including oncology, breast surgery, aesthetic and plastic surgery and gynaecological surgery. They aim to provide patients with personalised service for greater comfort and quality of care.19 Adam Road KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH)Dedicated to women’s and children’s health, this facility is one of the most popular children’s hospitals in Singapore. KKH’s offerings include a breast centre, an endometriosis centre, a gynaecological cancer centre, and a plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgery centre. Patients will be accompanied in every step, from diagnosis to treatment. Emotional and psychological care are also provided when needed. Check out the hospital’s complete list of services now.100 Bukit Timah RoadMount Elizabeth Novena HospitalMount Elizabeth offers healthcare in a modern facility, with a comforting and stress-relieving environment. In addition to services for women and children, the hospital offers adapted rehabilitation therapy services, ranging from occupational therapy and physiotherapy to speech therapy and immunology.38 Irrawaddy RoadRaffles HospitalRaffles Hospital provides a 24-hour service for emergencies as well as family medicine and multidisciplinary specialist clinics. Its niche lies in strengthening western medicine with the benefits of eastern medicine to deliver the best possible care to patients. They have a specialised centre providing health services for children and infants as well as a fertility and women’s centre.585 North Bridge Road Singapore General Hospital (SGH)SGH sees patients referred by family physicians as well as specialists in both public and private practice. It is more budget-friendly as it is a government-run facility. They offer a comprehensive range of medical specialties and services, including breast surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and family medicine. To make stays more comfortable, they have bedside iPads for patients to access their individual medical information such as schedules, diagnoses, vital signs and test results. They can also ask questions and put in requests for water, pillows or housekeeping services. Outram RoadThomson Medical CentreThe family-friendly medical facility offers a variety of services, ranging from fertility and maternity to children’s health and Chinese traditional medicine. They also have a dedicated breast centre and a 24-hour family clinic for outpatient consultations.339 Thomson RoadWhere are they located? Want to know more?To find out more about the healthcare facilities in Singapore, check out UEX’s comprehensive list of private and public hospitals.Are you covered by health insurance?To understand how health insurance plans can cover your healthcare costs, approach the friendly UEX team for information and guidance. With UEX, you can obtain a quote for both AXA and APRIL health insurance contracts, customised to your needs and requirements.Written in collaboration with:UEX Global3158 3677 | [email protected] | uexglobal.comRead more in our Health and Fitness section.What vaccinations do my kids need?Is it time to renew your health insurance?

How to donate bone marrow: Saving a stranger

An English expat living in Singapore, ZOË HAWKINS was surprised last year by a call from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) – Singapore’s only register of volunteer marrow donors – asking her to donate bone marrow.It had been more than six years since she’d put her name on the registry at a sign-up drive organised in a friend’s function room – and it was a distant memory. “My friend’s family friend had leukaemia and obviously you just want to help in any way you can,” says Zoë of adding her name to the list back in 2014. “When you finally get the call, you think, ‘Oh, okay, I never thought I’d actually be called upon!’” It turned out Zoë was a match for a leukaemia patient, somewhere in the world, whose only chance for survival was to have a bone marrow transplant. Found inside the hollow spaces of large or long bones, bone marrow contains stem cells that produce red and white blood cells, and platelets. Patients with various blood disorders, including leukaemia – a cancer causing rapid production of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow – are unable to produce healthy blood cells or the right combination of such cells. Therefore, a bone marrow transplant (also known as a stem cell transplant), which is often a last chance of survival, is done to infuse healthy blood-forming stem cells into the patient’s body to replace damaged or diseased marrow.Oftentimes, siblings can be matches. But, according to the BMDP, less than one in three patients can find this sibling match. That’s why an international database is used so that organisations can cross-reference donors; it’s key to identifying necessary matches.Because the chances of being a match to someone you’re not related to vary widely depending on the rarity of the patient’s tissue type, Zoë knew she had to seriously consider the opportunity to save someone’s life.How to donate bone marrowThere are two methods for bone marrow donation, and donors can opt for their preferred method (with no expenses paid by the donor).One is a Bone Marrow Collection, where bone marrow is removed from the back of the pelvic bone using a special needle. Though there is no surgery involved, the procedure is done under general anaesthetic and the donor must stay overnight in the hospital.Keen to avoid the downtime that can come with recovery from general anaesthetic, Zoë opted for the other method: Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection. This is an outpatient procedure in which stem cells are collected from a donor’s bloodstream; blood is drawn from one arm and passed through a machine that separates the blood stem cells. The remaining blood is then returned through the other arm. According to the BMDP, 90 percent of donors choose this donation process. Though there is no downtime and normally no hospital stay involved, the donor must prep his or her body for four days leading up to and on the day of stem cell collection with daily injections to stimulate the production of blood stem cells.Admittedly, Zoë didn’t feel her best during the few days leading up to the stem cell collection. The daily injections (administered by her GP, as she didn’t want to inject herself) made her feel as though she had a bit of a flu. Still, it was nothing bad enough to stop her from doing her daily activities (“I just had a few more naps!”).“The rougher you feel, the better. It’s a sign your body is doing what it’s supposed to,” she says. “Also, you ache in your hips because that’s where the bone marrow is primarily.”On the day of the stem cell collection, Zoë was linked to a machine while lying in bed. With a line in and line out, blood was taken out of one arm and put in a machine that filters out the blood stem cells. Throughout the day, the bags filled up, and the remaining blood was sent back into her other arm (“It’s like a very long blood test!”).“It was incredible to see what the body can do – and what the machine can do,” says Zoë. For her, it took seven hours to get the right amount of white blood cells and plasma needed for the recipient.“I was linked up at about 8am and done by around 4pm. Everything was sent to the lab at 4.30pm, and by 6.30pm we knew there was enough. I was at home on my sofa by 8.30pm!”Though she was a bit sore and tired in the days following the procedure, Zoë says she could still do everything she needed to do. “In the end, it was just 12 hours in the oncology ward. It was really nice to do something meaningful and it was really nice to do something to help people,” she says. “I was on such a high – I was the lucky one because I was a match.”She adds, “It’s really humbling spending a day in an oncology ward. It puts things in perspective, especially living here in Singapore where we tend to be so spoiled and take things for granted.” How you can help donate bone marrow“It’s important to hear from someone who’s done it,” says Zoë; “to hear them say, ‘Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not unbearable; it’s a bit scary, but not too scary.’ She would do it again in a heartbeat to save a life, too.While it may seem like a bizarre concept to some – after all, it is volunteering to help a stranger despite the discomfort and inconvenience – this act of kindness can be the difference between life and death for a patient, and a beacon of hope for the patient’s family.In Singapore, anyone in good health between the ages of 17 and 49 can sign up as a marrow donor. To register, you can apply online at bmdp.org/be-adonor. Normally, a kit will be sent to your home and all you need to do is a simple cheek swab and mail it back. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, the BMDP team will not be dispatching swab kits until the situation improves. Nevertheless, it’s still a great idea to put in a request, and the team will be in touch.In the event that you’re identified as a match, a BMDP coordinator will get in touch to answer any questions; in fact, the coordinator will be with you every step of the way.To find out more, visit bmdp.orgThis article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Help kids ‘play’ back from lockdown

30th May 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 3 Min ReadChild’s play: how it helps kids work things outBy Caroline EssameThere is a new monster under the bed. It may stay there during lockdown, but for many children it will rear its ugly head once they are free to get out more. But children are resourceful and play is their secret weapon to overcome the anxiety and the sensory and physical deprivation of lockdown. Parents can help them to express and process their fears through play so that the beast under the bed won’t stand a chance.The power of play to help children overcome trauma is well documented. After the 9/11 attacks, children in the US played more violent and superhero games. At first, people thought it was a reaction to shocking footage on the television. But psychologists realised it was the children’s way of finding inner strength when they didn’t feel safe. They needed to be the heroes and overcome the bad guys. More recently, in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, therapeutic play is used to support Rohingya children to make sense of what they have lost. So here are some tried and tested tips to give them positive play experiences.First, let the children lead their play. They know what worries them and they will know what they need to do to deal with it. Support free play by letting them know there is no right or wrong in play, and that you understand it’s important to them. Don’t direct their play by suggesting what they should do. Allow them to make choices and mirror what they say and do so that you validate their play, using the language of sight such as “Oh, I see Teddy needs looking after” or “What a great den you’ve made, it looks really safe and cosy” and “I see the paint is so messy – that’s OK.” Create free but safe spaces, allow some mess, and give children time to work things out for themselves.Young children find it easier to talk through metaphor rather than directly. They don’t really understand viruses – all they know is that something scary is lurking out there. So help them feel strong, don’t try to get them to explain what they feel literally and in words, and don’t ask too many questions. There’s a reason why children love to play Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes: they give them a sense of power and control in a frightening world. Give them lots of opportunities for this kind of play. Finally, make sure your child has lots of movement and multi-sensory play after lockdown. Fear and uncertainty impact our bodies and children store a lot of their experiences there, so get them out into gardens, playgrounds and beaches again. Let them climb, jump, crawl, run in water – help them feel free, literally throwing off the shackles of lockdown. It will do them more good than you’ll ever imagine. They’ll forget the monster was ever there, and it will simply disappear.Play resources in SingaporeFree play resources designed to support children play in the way they need to – 30 stay-at-home activity resources based on developmental play in one group page, multiple languages and tagged by developmental levels.Parent courses on the importance of play: createcatt-academy.comPlay Therapy Summer Sessions: Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre offers specialist support for children with anxiety and developmental needs arising from the coronavirus. Available June to August individually and in small groups, they give children the chance to create, play and move in a specially designed environment with guidance from staff trained in developmental play. Email them at [email protected] Caroline Essame is an arts, play and occupational therapist with a Masters in play-based education. Working in Singapore as a clinician and educator, she is the pioneer of CreateCATT Developmental Play and author of Fighting the Dragon, Finding the Self: Why Art and Play Matter in Early Childhood.Kaleidoscope: 6468 8991

Local vs international health insurance

22nd May 2020 by Lindsay Yap 4 Min ReadThere isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to health insurance – you’ll need to look at your needs, budget and future plans to figure out what works best. When choosing medical insurance for you and your family, the first choice you need to make is whether you want a local or international health insurance plan. But how do you decide? Pacific Prime tells us the differences between them so we can make an informed choice.Health insurance in SingaporeSingaporeans and PRs are automatically signed up for MediShield Life, a basic health insurance plan by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board. An Integrated Shield Plan can be added on to it for extended coverage. Foreigners do not have access to public healthcare subsidies so they’ll need to get private cover.#1 Coverage beyond SingaporeIt goes without saying that local health insurance plans are exclusive to Singapore while international health insurance plans offer coverage outside of Singapore. That said, there are some local plans that include cover for medical emergencies while on short overseas trips. But this coverage is usually very limited.Note that there are different types of international plans: there are those offering worldwide coverage, some that exclude the US (though most still include emergency cover) and others that only cover Asia. So read your policy details thoroughly before committing and ensure that you’ve selected adequate coverage. #2 Policy coverageInternational health insurance plans tend to be more comprehensive in their coverage. They come with benefits such as outpatient, specialist, dental and maternity coverage. They also typically include emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage, as well as allowing add-ons for specialist or GP visits. Almost all local health insurance plans do not include international medical evacuation. They may cover outpatient treatments before and after hospital stays, but they don’t cover treatments that aren’t directly related to them.For international plans, you can also go to any hospital or medical facility without worrying that your insurer will reject your claim. Local plans typically have more restrictive networks, with selected hospitals or clinics that will accept your claim in full. As for pre-existing conditions, local plans also offer limited cover (or sometimes none at all).#3 Policy premiumsAnother key difference between local and international health insurance plans in Singapore is the premium you pay. Local plans tend to have cheaper and more affordable premiums compared to international ones. If you have a tight budget and rarely leave the country, a local plan might be sufficient for you. But if you’re constantly on the move, an international plan will work best.#4 Annual limitsIt’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in Singapore is high. Surgery for appendicitis, for example, along with an overnight stay in a private medical centre, will cost at least $10,000. Treatment for this particular condition in a public hospital is lower, at about $5,000. However, medical costs can quickly add up, so it’s important to think about how much your insurance plan can cover in a policy year.Local insurance plans usually have an annual limit between $600,000 to $1.2 million. In comparison, international insurance plans often have a higher limit of $1 million and above.#5 PortabilityLocal policies need to be terminated once you’re no longer living in Singapore. But you can take an international health insurance plan with you if you need to leave Singapore to go back home or to another expat posting. You can also avoid waiting periods and underwriting for add-ons as well as the issue of pre-existing conditions (these will be taken into account if you sign up for a new policy in your new country). #6 Making claimsInternational health insurance plans are also a popular choice as the insurer will typically settle the bill directly with your healthcare provider. Some plans even offer a cashless option for outpatient treatments.Choosing a planBoth local and international health insurance plans come with their own unique benefits. What is more suitable will depend on your needs and how much you’re willing to pay. There is also the option of choosing different coverages for different members of the family. Insurance policies differ across insurance providers so it’s advisable to consult an insurance broker before making your choice. Pacific Prime is an international health insurance broker that specialises in helping you find the most suitable health insurance for you and your family, including individual health insurance and senior citizen health insurance. Contact the team for advice or visit their website to get a free quote.Written in collaboration withPacific Prime Singapore18 Cross Street, China Square Central, #14-056346 3781 | pacificprime.sgRead on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore:Top six health issues in Singapore5 tips to stay healthy

Virtual Therapy & Counselling Sessions

During this period of high tension and lots of unknowns, our mental and emotional wellbeing is more important than ever. If you need professional help to manage and treat emotional issues, anxiety and stress, resolve relationship issues or tackle your child’s behavioural struggles, here are some clinics offering virtual therapy and counselling sessions. Read on to find out how these therapists and counsellors can help.Aspire CounsellingMaria Luedeke from Aspire Counselling offers virtual counselling and psychotherapy sessions for individuals, families, couples and children. Highly experienced in video counselling, she will be able to meet you over a secure online conferencing platform. Maria is a highly qualified American counsellor with international educational qualifications from USA and Australian institutions. She has also undergone advanced training in several areas of therapy including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Choice Theory Reality Therapy and Gottman Couples Therapy. Having studied and worked internationally, she takes on a multicultural approach and possesses great sensitivity when counselling individuals from different backgrounds and nationalities. What’s more, she specialises in anxiety management and self-care, amongst other areas including body image, life changes, relationship issues, addictions, parenting, grief, behaviour and anger management. Besides being a counsellor and psychotherapist, Maria is also a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) coach. So, in addition to helping individuals who are facing struggles, she’s also able to offer professional guidance to those hoping to live better and more meaningful lives. This can be in work, relationship, health and other domains. Look out for her new weekly podcast, “Aspire to Wellness”, which discusses various mind, body and soul topics to help listeners move towards total wellness.aspirecounselling.netCounsellingconnectzCounsellingconnectz aims to offer a safe space for individuals to find balance, empowerment, independence and direction in their lives. They conduct tele-sessions via Zoom, all secured with individual meeting IDs and passwords. Using a broad range of techniques, the team provides emotional and mental support to individuals of all ages. Their counsellors are highly qualified and certified master practitioners. They’re registered with the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors of Singapore (APACS), the Singapore Association of Counsellors (SAC), and the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellor Association (ANZICA). Areas of expertise include acceptance and commitment therapy, depression, anxiety, burnout, change and life transitions, coaching, cognitive behaviour therapy, fertility, couple counselling, depression, grief and loss, pregnancy support, trauma and stress management. During counselling sessions, besides working through struggles, counsellors will offer self-help tools that you can practice on your own. The clinic also runs an infertility support group, conducts sessions for couples undergoing fertility treatments and provides certification training for professionals. They have also presented study research results at international medical conferences.counsellingconnectz.comPsych ConnectClinicians from Psych Connect have been providing teleconsultations for many years. They are experienced with conducting counselling and therapy sessions on online platforms and believe that therapy doesn’t need to be limited to a clinic setting. Psych Connect offers online individual and group psychological therapies (such as emotional regulation and social skills groups for children) and educational therapy sessions. They also have individual and group art psychotherapy sessions (including parent training). Catering to children aged seven to 11, the emotional regulation group course is especially relevant for times like these. It enables kids to learn how to manage their feelings and stress. The team of therapists have experience with a huge range of ages. They have even conducted psychological therapy and counselling sessions for children as young as three years! Psych Connect uses a convenient online platform called PlatoConnect – connecting to it for a session is easy. Upon confirmation, just click on the invite sent to you. The system is protected by AES-256 encryption and SSL Certificates, so only authorised parties can access the consultation. So, you can be assured that the communication with your therapist will be kept fully confidential.psychconnect.sgRalitza PeevaBoasting a Masters in Counselling, a PhD in Sociology and numerous other coaching certifications, Ralitza Peeva is a wellness and life coach and counsellor. She has lived and worked in Europe, the United States and, for the past 18 years, Singapore. She offers therapy and counselling sessions on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and over the phone. Taking on a person-centric and solution-focused approach in her consultations, she strongly believes in tailoring her sessions to individual needs and qualities. Ralitza supports individuals to manage emotions, identify their priorities and create a balanced lifestyle with healthy and satisfying relationships. With the aim to create a supportive and safe space for guidance, Ralitza offers support in various areas. These include anxiety, stress and depression management, relationship issues, life transitions, parenting challenges, divorce or separation, grief and loss as well as empowerment and life coaching. She also integrates multiple disciplines and methodology in her practice. As a certified administrator and facilitator of scientific tools such as the MBTI instrument, she is able to learn more about her patients to help them more effectively. Through these tools, individuals are also able to learn more about themselves.ralitzapeeva.comState of ReikiStephanie Schueller has been a certified Reiki practitioner since 2018 and uses the Usui method of Reiki founded and taught by Dr Mikao Usui. Suitable for anyone, Reiki aims to improve the flow of energy around the body. It enables relaxation, reduces pain, speeds up healing and reduces symptoms of illnesses. Stephanie also practises “distant Reiki”, where the energy is sent remotely. It can treat body pains, illnesses as well as emotional issues. During the Circuit Breaker, you can choose the amount to pay. It will be donated to It’s Raining Raincoats, a non-profit organisation supporting foreign workers in Singapore. All you’ll need to do is provide your name, a photograph of yourself, the country you live in, a brief description of the state of your health and your desired outcome. After the session, Stephanie will send written feedback of her findings. Lasting about an hour, sessions can be done anytime and sent anywhere in the world. Patients are said to feel a change in mood, and an improvement in their energy and stress levels.stateofreiki.com | facebook.com/StateofReikiSingaporeLooking for more about living in Singapore?The expat’s guide to where to live in Singapore5 tips to stay healthy

Top tips for healthy eating at home

We’ve seen plenty of memes lately about what we’re eating or how much we’re snacking during all this ‘stay at home’ time. But seriously, it’s a good chance to adjust your diet while there are fewer distractions (like dinners out and the pub!). From a healthy eating point of view, this really is the time you need to be focusing on looking after yourself in whatever way you can.Immunity-boosting foodsKnowing how to make smart food choices is always important. But eating nutritiously is now crucial for staying healthy and improving our response to infections, says gastroenterologist DR ANDREA RAJNAKOVA.“While we don’t have a specific answer targeted for COVID-19 yet, we can build up and strengthen our immunity with certain foods,” says Dr Andrea.Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to reduce the symptoms caused by bacteria and virus infections. Fruit and vegetables like guava, papaya, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, kale, peppers, spinach and tomatoes can provide vitamin C, plus a range of other vitamins and antioxidants.Zinc has been also shown to have a significant impact on the immune system and can be found in meat, shellfish, dairy, bread and cereals, nuts and seeds. The same goes for Vitamin D, which can be found in oily fish.Additionally, Dr Andrea says probiotics play a beneficial role in regulating intestinal functions. Probiotic sources include yoghurt, dairy products, sourdough bread and fermented foods like miso, tempeh, kimchi and natto. Dr Andrea’s top tips for healthy at-home eatingNeed some guidance? Here are six ways to get your healthy eating diet on track, according to Dr Andrea.#1 Plan your dayEven though it doesn’t seem flexible at all, planning meals in advance is actually crucial. Without planning, it’s very easy to run out of ideas of what to prepare, and to turn to unhealthy foods and increase waste.“Using a weekly menu is a great way to utilise all the ingredients you have at home before going out to buy new ones,” says Dr Andrea. “Especially nowadays, when we are advised to limit trips outside of the home, this planning solution is an essential strategy that comes in handy.”#2 The rule of fivesIt’s not a good idea to start dieting in quarantine as it will only increase your frustration. In turn, this can lead to emotional eating, where you eat more than your usual diet. Instead, Dr Andrea suggests following the “rule of fives”. This involves eating five times a day without omitting any food groups, but focusing more on small portion sizes and food quality. “Eating healthy carbohydrates packed with good fibre like wholegrain products, and avoiding simple sugars can be very helpful in reducing food cravings. Start with a generous breakfast and finish your day with a small dinner.”#3 Choose fresh fruit and vegetablesIt’s important to buy fresh whenever possible. Vegetables can be cooked in large batches and stored in the fridge to have options available for a few days.“Veggies likes cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, broccoli, kale, carrots, mushrooms and asparagus can also be frozen, and can last for up to six months,” says Dr Andrea. “Fresh fruit like banana, strawberries, mango or berries can be cut into pieces and stored in containers for a few months with a splash of lemon juice on top. If the fruit is very ripe and you can’t consume it quickly, prepare a fruit puree and freeze it in ice cube containers – you can use it later for smoothies!”When fresh fruit and vegetables are not available, you can easily find other prepacked alternatives. However, Dr Andrea warns that canned products may contain salt, sugar and preservatives. A better idea is to choose frozen foods, which usually don’t contain any nasty ingredients and are easy to prepare.“In order to be able to control your food intake during meals, always start with a big portion of cooked or raw vegetables and drink a glass of water to fill up your stomach.” #4 Go for healthy proteinDr Andrea advises filling a quarter of your plate with a protein. This could be eggs, chicken, cheese, healthy oily fish or legumes.“If fresh options aren’t available, you can find pasteurised eggs with a longer shelf life,” she says. “Or choose hard cheese instead of the fresh and soft versions because it can last longer. Fresh fish and legumes can be replaced with dry or canned products, which provide good nutrients and can be stored for months. You can find different brands of legumes preserved in water only, without any other nasties. Alternatively, opt for the dry version, which is healthier and longer-lasting.”Canned fish is also a good alternative, says Dr Andrea. Look for sardines, mackerel, tuna and salmon; these are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D.Additionally, try vegan alternatives that are packed with healthy probiotics – things like natto and tempeh are fermented and have long expiration dates. Use canned and fermented foods cold in sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a warm meal.#5 Don’t forget your carbsIf supermarkets are running out of staple foods like white rice or noodles, this is a good time to choose other grains that can be cooked and stored in the fridge for a few days; for example, quinoa, black rice, red rice, buckwheat, oat, teff or millet.“These are tasty, more nutritious, full of good fibre and can be easily used to make healthy salad bowls,” says Dr Andrea.#6 Opt for healthy, homemade snacksYou’ll be very tempted to eat sweets, chocolate or other unhealthy foods while at home for the entire day. So, it’s a good idea to stock your house with a variety of homemade healthy snacks. Dr Andrea suggests the following:Prepare something easy like yoghurt with fruit, or popsicles made with blended yoghurt and mango or banana for the kids.Use avocado for smoothies with some milk, or a plant-based milk alternative like almond, rice, hazelnut or oat milk.Combine some ricotta cheese with honey or making skewers with hard cheese cubes and cherry tomatoes.Spread hummus, tzatziki, nut spread or guacamole on bread (or rice crackers for the gluten intolerant). These dips also work well with vegetable sticks, of course!Make an “Immunity Boost Juice” with orange, papaya, strawberries and watermelon. Other great combos include kale, mint, lemon, coconut water and apple, or orange, apple, beetroot and carrot. Andrea’s Digestive, Colon, Liver and Gallbladder Clinic#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena, 101 Irrawaddy Road6264-2836 | andrea-digestive-clinic.comLike this? See our Health & Fitness section:Get fit: Home workouts and online classes30 ways to be healthier and fitter

Craving Normalcy & Fighting the Panic

Being in the middle of this pandemic or COVID-19 (couldn’t they have come up with a catchier name?) is starting to wear on us all emotionally. Even if we don’t quite realise it. The big extension until 1 June didn’t help. I’m guessing you’re feeling a bit like I do: depressed, panicked and a bit fearful. But I don’t think we can let it win. We need to acknowledge whatever negative feelings, and then fight like hell against them. Here are my thoughts – and how I’m fighting to stay positive.Sleep — or lack ofThe clock reads 3.47am. Again. For what feels like the gazillionth night, I am wide awake. It’s not like insomnia of days of old when I was worried or panicked about something in particular. Rather, it’s just I can’t sleep anymore. My new routine is lay awake all night; manage the day pretty well; take a 20-minute power nap at 4pm; push through dinner and the kids’ bedtime; try to watch Netflix; fall asleep on the couch at 9pm; wake up at midnight; climb straight into bed; and wait to fall asleep at 4am. It’s like jet lag without the fun of getting it. My nine-year-old son can’t sleep either. It makes me so very sad when he peeks his head into the family room at 10pm (waking me up on the couch for a brief few minutes).Unexpected panicAnd when I went to the grocery store last week, I found myself in a mini-panic. It happened in the canned tomato aisle. Or what used to be the canned tomato aisle. There were no canned tomatoes. And no flour or sugar a couple of aisles over. I wanted to make my husband a cake for our 20th wedding anniversary, but I couldn’t find anything I needed. I settled for a frozen cheesecake. Lucky, I guess. It was far less work and tasted okay.But that panic — that panic was unexpected. That’s just not me. I’m a glass half-full kind of gal. My eyes peeping above my mask started to well with tears. I found myself breathing a bit faster and I had to work to slow it down, to not let the panic seep in. I found myself wondering yet again if I was living in the early scenes of one of those end-of-the-earth movies we’ve all watched. Did the horror start with a few news stories on the radio that became wall-to-wall news and then silence? Will this end in a few weeks or just get worse? Is this what happened before The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead? All those shows always seem to feature presidents not listening to scientists, don’t they? As an American, that feels a little too familiar just now.And again, I had to fight to keep that panic at bay. “It is not going to win. I am not going to give into this.” Undercurrent of concernBut the point it, this whole pandemic is getting to me in ways I don’t quite realize and it’s probably getting to you, too. On the surface, I feel okay. My kids are doing their best to soldier through eLearning. I’m so very proud of how hard they’re trying, though I see it getting to them, too — some days more than others. Me? I’m busy working on stories for Expat Living. I have lots of teleconferences with friends — even friends I haven’t seen in a long time, which is super nice. Life is pretty good, actually. I even started a website of nothing but good news and resources just so I would make myself create a daily gratitude list for all that is still good in the world.But just the same, the coronavirus is wearing us all down whether we realise it or not — and I’m not alone. It seems lots of people are in my boat, depressed and panicked both here and across the globe. A mattress company in the US called SleepStandards did a survey and found that about three quarters of those surveyed said they aren’t sleeping well.That’s not good news. Why? Because chronic insomnia can lead to all sorts of health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s. Equally bad? It can leave you open to getting COVID-19. All the more reason to get a grip on this before the panic gets a grip on you.Getting better sleepDonn Posner, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a founding member of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, gave the Harvard Business Review a few steps to fight the panic and help get your sleep back into a rhythm.Don’t take napsDon’t try to sleep in after a bad night’s sleepDo spend time in the sun during the dayAvoid nicotine and caffeineGet plenty of exerciseIf you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do somethingDreamsGreat. So now you can get to sleep, but even if you do sleep, you might not sleep well. Are you dreaming like a crazy person? That apparently is pretty common just now, too. In fact, Google searches for “Why am I having weird dreams lately?” have quadrupled in the US.Research shows that stress during the day affects what you dream about at night. Asleep, your mind goes where it dare not during the day sometimes exploring things that frighten and panic you.“COVID throws up many questions,” Anjhula Mya Sigh Bais, a psychologist, told the Huffington Post. “Your dreams are playing out survival scenarios in a bid to maintain hope, preparedness and stability.Truly, psychologists are having field days helping you explain your wildest dreams. But dreams are good. They help us work out what we cannot during the day. Our minds are taking care of us. Embrace it.Feeling unsettledBut what about that feeling of unease during the day? That folks, is grief. I remember this feeling after 9/11 when I lived in New York. The whole city walked around in a bit of disbelief, longing for life to return to normal. I’m guessing this is how people feel during war, too. And while we weren’t attacked by a typical enemy, it feels the same. COVID-19 truly is an enemy.It’s normal to feel this way. It’s normal for the days to blend together. And it’s normal to feel blue. Life as we know it has stopped and it may never quite return.It’s normal …  but these feeling don’t have to take over.The solutionSo what can we do about it? Well, for starters, you can’t give in. You just can’t. Feeling panicky and being enveloped in grief actually lowers your immune system. This means we need to be kind to ourselves. Accept that you’re hurting even if you don’t quite realise it. Don’t pressure yourself to write the next great novel or solve world peace. Breathe. Look for the positives. Realise you aren’t going to be a perfect parent during all this. Are your kids safe? Healthy? Fed? Then you’re smashing it as a parent.And then think ahead to what you want life to be like again. Plan for that day. Dream about it. Hang onto the knowledge that things won’t stay like this forever. There is a lot of good in the here and now, too. Search it out. And mostly, just be grateful that you now realise just how good life was – and will be again.Remember, this too shall pass.For more tips on how to fight the panic, read our top five tips on how to stay healthy.

A Brush With The Virus

20th April 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadBY ERIN TAYLORIt started with a fever: 38.6 the thermometer read. Could there be a worse time to present to a doctor in Singapore with a fever? There are various ways people are coping with the COVID-19 situation in Singapore. Some are laughing it off as nothing more than a cold; others are taking practical precautions and sanitising hands. Then there is the third kind. Me.I kept my children away from school for a week when the Dorscon alert was raised to orange. I wash my hands to within an inch of their lives as often as possible. I don’t hold on when riding the MRT. I would be wearing a mask if I could find any to purchase. “Your lungs sound clear, but given your symptoms and the current climate we are going to transfer you by ambulance to NCID just to be sure.” NCID. Ambulance. This would be a cruel twist of fate for someone who has been so paranoid about this virus. Someone so meticulous in hygiene. Like the virus had sensed my fear and sniffed me out. Two security guards marched me from the GP clinic to the “Isolation Room”, which was last week a storeroom. The security guards were gowned, gloved and masked. I was fully panicked. NCID is a systematic, sterile and uniform place. It is a comforting level of order amongst the panic. Lines to walk along are marked on the floor with red crosses to stop at to ensure you are never very close to the person in front or behind you. After passing through triage you are seated at a desk, exam style, in a room of 30. Rooms like this extend beyond the first. Most desks were empty and the capacity of the place is impressive. After a clear x-ray and a COVID-19 swab I was sent home to await results; quarantining myself in my own bedroom.The febrile state I awoke to was like nothing I had experienced. I took myself back to NCID. Yesterday’s test was negative but the x-ray showed pneumonia. I would have to be admitted.Drip in my arm, mask on my face, I followed two nurses in protective gear into the ambulance. It was a short trip – across the road to the Communicable Diseases Centre. I was in isolation. They were going to re-test me for COVID-19. I couldn’t leave my room. No visitors. My heart raced and fever roared. I cursed my quick-to-catastrophise imagination. A red sign on my door warned people that I was in quarantine. I could see them preparing to enter the room through the glass window: mask, goggles, gloves, gown. People peering down on me through googles added to my sense of disorientation. But the staff were calm and caring. The setting is quiet and controlled.Tests were conducted, doctors came and went, and my febrile state made most of it a blur. Two subsequent tests came back negative. The isolation sign on my door was turned to green. The dinner lady praised the Lord for my health. A frightening experience, but one that has shown me just how prepared Singapore is. There is nowhere I would rather be in a crisis than my Singapore home.Tell us a tale and receive $200Here’s your chance to get published – and make some money at the same time. We’re looking for 500-word written contributions on any funny, poignant, practical or even controversial topic that touches on expat life in Singapore. Simply email your stories in a Word document to [email protected] and we’ll consider them for inclusion in an upcoming issue.