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K-pop star Taeyang journals in a ‘special room’ before bedtime to keep stress at bay

SEOUL – What do top K-pop stars do for their mental well-being?

For Taeyang, a member of K-pop boy band BigBang and a successful soloist in his own right, he takes long walks in the day and writes in his journal at night. 

The 35-year-old shared his self-care habits at a panel discussion on Wednesday hosted by Canadian athletic apparel label Lululemon in Seoul, South Korea.

It was part of the launch for its Find Your Wellbeing campaign, which coincides with World Mental Health Day on Tuesday.

Dressed in a sleek black outfit and sporting blond hair, Taeyang says: “Whenever I have the time, I go for a walk because it helps me feel the change in seasons.

“I get to enjoy the sky and clear my head and mind. It gives me inspiration and resets my mind so that I can have good relationships and conversations with the people I love.”

The South Korean singer-songwriter has been married to South Korean actress Min Hyo-rin since 2018. The couple share a son, who will turn two in November.

Taeyang released his first EP in six years, Down To Earth, in April 2023. It includes hit tracks like Vibe – a duet with K-pop boy band BTS’ Jimin – and Shoong!, which features K-pop girl group Blackpink’s Lisa. 

The things that keep Taeyang sane are also what get his creative juices flowing.

He adds: “I have this special room in my house I go to before I sleep, where I write down my thoughts and feelings in a journal. I try to reorganise my feelings into one word or sentence for any future inspiration. I’m a musician, so I need creative ideas, but I think this can be a good habit for everyone.”

Joining Taeyang on the panel was Jeon Somi, his labelmate from The Black Label.

The 22-year-old South Korean singer-rapper, formerly of K-pop girl group I.O.I, is known for hit singles like Dumb Dumb (2021). 

She says taekwondo – she holds a black belt in the martial art – has kept her centred over the eight years she has trained in it.

“It guided me in the right direction when I began practising it as a teenager. When you practise, you have to focus and you learn many things, like what the right posture is and how you can empower yourself. It’s been very helpful to me.”

But being well is not just about exercise, Jeon says, as simple things can do a lot for one’s mental state.

“Having good food and productive conversations with close friends and reaffirming my relationships with others are also a big part of my own mental well-being,” she says.

K-pop star Jeon Somi at Lululemon's Find Your Wellbeing campaign launch in Seoul on Oct 11. PHOTO: LULULEMON

The event was also attended by other celebrities and influencers from the region, such as K-pop girl group Red Velvet’s Yeri, Thai singer-actress Thanaerng Kanyawee Songmuang and Japanese actress Aya Asahina from sci-fi thriller series Alice In Borderland (2020 to present).

Mr Gareth Pope, senior vice-president of Lululemon, Asia Pacific, says: “This campaign is all about how do you, regardless of your age or background, seek well-being? As a brand, we can provide tools, events and experiences, but also invite changemakers and influencers who can talk about their struggles, and make it okay to have a conversation about how you seek your own well-being through the voices of inspiration around you.”

The campaign comes amid the release of results from the brand’s third annual Global Wellbeing Report, which surveyed more than 14,000 people from 14 regions, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

The report defines well-being as a combination of three elements: physical (being empowered and able to engage in activities needed for health), mental (feeling emotionally prepared to handle the future) and social (feeling connected to others). 

It found that while well-being is a top priority for many respondents across the world with 67 per cent globally prioritising it, only 12 per cent feel that they have achieved an ideal state of well-being, citing barriers such as time constraints, cost concerns or cultural norms that stigmatise seeking help.

K-pop star Taeyang at Lululemon's Find Your Wellbeing campaign launch in Seoul on Oct 11. PHOTO: LULULEMON

Many respondents also feel anxiety about a potential global recession and worsening climate change.

This highlights a “well-being dilemma”, where the prioritisation of well-being has not led to an improvement in it.

This dilemma is particularly pronounced in Singapore.

The survey showed that locals were more unhappy than the global average with their well-being, despite more considering it a top priority. 

Some 72 per cent of Singaporeans consider their own well-being as a top concern, but only 10 per cent of respondents feel that they have reached a state of well-being they are comfortable with.

There are also 48 per cent of Singaporeans who feel that the ideal state of well-being is impossible to achieve. 

Certain obstacles are more concerning in Singapore, with more than one in three (36 per cent) feeling that they have no time to think about their wellness, more than the 30 per cent global average.

Over 50 per cent of local men – more than the global 43 per cent – also wish they are not judged for showing an interest in improving their mental health.

To raise awareness about the well-being concerns in Singapore, Lululemon is partnering CrossFit trainer Aidan Chemaly from training gym Mobilus, as well as gyms Canvas, Division Athletics and Urban Edge, to embark on a 24-hour Murph Challenge on Sunday.

The Murph Challenge is an hour-long workout session consisting of a one-mile (1.6km) run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and another one-mile run, all done with participants wearing a weighted 9kg vest.

The 24-hour challenge comprises 12 such sessions conducted over 24 hours.

Mr Chemaly, head coach of Mobilus Clarke Quay who will be leading all the sessions, says: “Although the workout is famous for being a difficult one to complete, the movements are simple and can be scaled down for each participant.”

He adds: “Physical activity just for mental well-being is highly underrated. You don’t have to do anything specific. Find something easy that you enjoy and see how much of a difference it makes to your mental state.”

Lululemon’s ambassadors such as host-presenter Naomi Yeo and CruCycle co-founder Bebe Ding will also be holding meditation and sound bath classes on Oct 21.

Tickets for the workout sessions and classes cost $30 each. Go to str.sg/ipfy for more information.

All proceeds from the local events will be donated to non-profit suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore.

k-popMental HealthEXERCISE/FITNESS