Stay-home guide: Chantal Sajan's 3 things to do today

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Stay in and help fight Covid-19. The Straits Times' Chantal Sajan recommends fun, uplifting things to do.

1. Watch: ​Stay-home online content from NParks and Gardens by the Bay

Plants have a way of soothing even the most frazzled nerves.

Biophilia, a term coined by American biologist Edward Wilson in his 1984 book of the same name, refers to humans' innate affinity with nature, especially their reaction to greenery and its beneficial effects in their surroundings.

Container gardening with house plants is one of the easiest ways to bring the garden indoors and infuse the home with biophilic elements.

For newbies as well as seasoned indoor gardeners, YouTube tutorials from the National Parks Board (NParks) and Gardens by the Bay are a trusty go-to, packed with easy-to-follow instructions on how to grow almost anything.

NParks' tutorials on growing edible plants are especially useful. Pick from videos on growing herbs such as mint and basil, or vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant and lady's fingers in easy steps.

For children, Gardens by the Bay has a series of Disney-inspired craft videos that help parents and children make Winnie the Pooh birdhouses as well as other nifty accessories to display around the home.

Info: NParksSG YouTube's online resources and Gardens by the Bay's stay-home content.

Disney-inspired crafts as well as handy holders from Gardens by the Bay. PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY

2. Buy: Bonsai creations from Indonesian nurseries

Live-stream auctions of Indonesian bonsai are all the rage now, says Mr Niko Soe, who runs Sindo Plant Singapore, a live-stream platform on Facebook which auctions houseplants from Indonesian nurseries.

There are more than 200 varieties of bonsai, which include bougainvillea and golden ligustrum, available from all over Indonesia.

Mr Soe, 28, says that Indonesian bonsai are hardier and better suited to Singapore's hot and humid weather, unlike Japanese, Chinese or Canadian bonsai which need temperate conditions to grow well.

Some bonsai, such as the maple variety, have a hibernation period and need the air-conditioning to be set at at least 10 deg C to thrive.

"Bonsai are perfect for small apartments and are easy to care for," says Mr Soe, who runs the company with his business partner and director Steve Stanley, 41.

Bougainvillea bonsai (left) and golden ligustrum bonsai. PHOTOS: SINDO PLANT SINGAPORE

Since the mid-1970s, the Indonesian Bonsai Society has been perfecting the art of miniaturisation of trees and shrubs through pruning. Prices start at $30 for a small tabletop bonsai and can go up to almost $8,000 for larger, older and more elaborate creations from nurseries in Java and Sumatra.

"The bonsai can take between two and 20 years before they are ready for auction," says Mr Soe.

Bidders can buy a bonsai at the listed price or bid from $1 until a deal is struck.

Those who intend to ship plants into Singapore from other countries must observe NParks' guidelines.

Info: Sindo Bonsai Singapore's Facebook page

3. Watch: ​Self-care with meditation

The self-care trend is set to gain further momentum as a result of the protracted Covid-19 threat.

Recently, a survey by the European Union-Asean Business Council found that more than 80 per cent of respondents in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are looking for more access to medication and self-care solutions.

Practise self-care by using meditation apps that aid in relaxation and doing breathing exercises, which calm the nerves and create a buffer between the inner mind and the outside world.

Here are some free apps to get you started:

Insight Timer: One of the top meditation apps on Android and Apple stores, Insight Timer offers guided meditations, talks and podcasts by neuroscientists and meditation teachers.

Relax Now: This no-fuss tool aids in deep relaxation of the body through recordings by certified American hypnotherapist David Ridgeway.

Healthy Minds Program: Founded by American neuroscientist Richard Davidson, the app integrates neuroscience and research-based techniques with meditation to boost wellness.

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