Tatler’s man about town shares his favourite ways to tackle stress and avoid burnout in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has always been a fast-paced city but recent years have featured moments that shook us all. Stress and burnout are prevalent during these turbulent times, so I’d like to share some of the ways I tackle them, from checking out for a bit to keeping mind, body and spirit in balance.
It may sound indulgent but I have had weekly massages for more than 15 years. After I suffered a slipped disc (which I am convinced was from work stress), they helped me recover. I am lucky to have therapist Jeff Lenz come to my home weekly to relieve my chronic back pain.
For pampering, I go to the Grand Hyatt’s Plateau Spa for a lymphatic massage. I feel healthier and less bloated after one session. I also get regular, no-frills foot massages at Foot at 88 Queen’s Road Central, which benefits my sleep and lowers my blood pressure.
My friends make fun of me as I never use public transport and depend on drivers or Ubers. On a recent Saturday, instead of making plans, I took the escalator down to Soho and spent an entire day wandering on foot. I kept walking on bridges and ended up at the Star Ferry, took the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui, walked along the Victoria Dockside, spent a few hours at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and then returned home the way I came. It was uplifting and reminded me what a vibrant place Hong Kong is.
Last year, I reconnected with tennis. I was a competitive junior and a young tennis coach but I gave it up with a lot of excuses. I enlisted coach Stefan Yates of Mike Walker Tennis (mwt.tennis), an academy co-directed by my friend John Hui.
My training has shown how I can still learn and improve my skills in a sport I started aged 12. When Yates encouraged me to enter a small tournament this autumn, I thought he was kidding but he was serious. It’s not about winning or losing: whatever the outcome, I will have improved.
Look The Part
Your appearance affects how you feel, and I was raised to be impeccably groomed. I have a friend who says “a good manicure is better than sex” and while I disagree with her, I swear by weekly manicures and pedicures by Amy Koon at Xenter Hair Salon in Central.
If my hands and feet are rough, it’s like a metaphor for my life too. I have tried many different hairstylists yet always return to Patrick Wong (also at Xenter), who knows my hair better than anyone. If my eyebrows need taming or I need make-up for events or a photoshoot, the best make-up artist for men is Synni Tam Sui-yan. Tam makes it look so natural—like I got a really good night’s rest.
Party Of One
I am dieting but allow myself one cheat day a week. To make the most of this experience and take a break from my usual entertaining, I decided to indulge my cheat days by dining alone. Recently, I went to my favourite Japanese restaurant Nadaman at the Island Shangri-La and enjoyed just being thankful for what I was eating. The restaurant holds fond memories for me as it was my late mom’s favourite too, and the dining experience left me full not only from eating, but also with loving thoughts.
During the height of lockdown, many of us Marie Kondo-ed our homes. I cleared out a lot of clothes and either gave them away or sold them. Shopping is one of my favourite pick-me-ups but I am now more selective about things that really “spark joy”. Lately, I have been obsessed with beautiful, hand-crafted, sterling silver-coated seashells by Buccellati. You can hear the oceans in them. I have bought several for myself and given them to loved ones.
Curtains Up, Stress Down
Live music, dance or theatre can take us on a journey to another place and time, and inspire us when we are bogged down. Attending the concert by Niu Niu and Laurent Perrin at the First Initiative Foundation and the French May Arts Festival charity evening Hope & Harmony triggered memories of playing the cello as a child and, for a moment, inspired me to take it up again. In the past, I took them for granted; now, I will never again pass up on invitations to see live performances.
Lean On Me
I am lucky to have several good friends to turn to if I need someone to lend me an ear. One person who has been there for me for over two decades is Candice Suen Sieber. She has a wicked sense of humour and swears like a truck driver, but listens when I need to talk. Despite her busy schedule, she insists on face-to-face catch-ups and whatever the problem is, I always feel comforted and usually able to laugh a bit. Thank you, Mickey!
Mind Your Head
I am not ashamed to say that I have enlisted the services of a professional counsellor, on and off, for years. It was worth trial and error to find Dr Michael Eason, co-founder of Lifespan Counselling in Central. Even when life seems to be going swimmingly, the sessions help me improve my mental health, set goals and address personal issues. The Hong Kong Government also offers free counselling available via the Social Welfare Department’s hotline at 2343 2255.
Pay It Forward
I am grateful for all those who have helped me in my career and personal life. Their support inspires me to help others. I volunteer my time and services to multiple charities, and I am especially proud to have helped my friends Halisha and Vishal Chugani launch their local outreach charity The Mia Project (themiaproject.org).
I feel for younger people especially at this time, and as “Uncle Peter” I try to help by giving my time or advice, or to help them find work opportunities or internships. Pay it forward: you get it back—and then some.