CNA 93.8 Money Mind, 29 April 2020, 11.15 am



5hue Learning Strategist, Edwin was interviewed by Presenter Chew Wui Lynn and Stanley Leong on CNA 93.8 Money Mind.

Edwin shared with the listeners on how one can stay positive amid all these negativity with 3 As, moving from Acknowledgment to Acceptance to Action.  He also shared some practical tips to work from home effectively and to manage tensions at home.

Below is the transcript of the interview:

Wui Lynn:
This is Money Mind on CNA 93.8 and you’re with me, Chew Wui Lynn and Stanley Leong. It was announced last week that the circuit breaker period would be extended for another four weeks so instead of ending next Monday, the circuit breaker will end till the 1st of June. In addition, more workplaces have been made to close and only the most essential services remain open.

Stanley:
And while you’re talking about the extension until the 1st of June, suddenly part of that song from Les Misérables comes to mind, one month more, one day more. Yeah, that’s how long we’ve got to wait till that 1st June.  Anyhow well, you might have been disappointed, of course, hearing that the extension has taken place, especially if your business has been affected or if you have been looking forward to escaping from the confine of your home and coupled with so much negative news about Covid 19.  It’s not surprising that healthcare workers are reporting a second curve associated with the Corona virus and it has all to do with mental health and mental health issues.

So what can we do about the situation? How can we lift our mood and embrace a maybe more positive outlook? Is that even possible? Well, I don’t know. Let’s post these questions and more to Edwin Sim. He is the Principal Consultant and founder of 5hue and they are a learning and organizational development consultancy practice and Edwin’s also an Associate Senior Consultant with Business Future Consulting. If you’ve got a question for him, we welcome your calls at 66911938 or your text messages or WhatsApp messages at 96311938.

Edwin, thank you for making time to speak with us today. How are you?

Edwin:
Good morning, Stanley. Good morning, Wui Lynn.  Hi, I’m good. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Stanley:
A lot of us might be feeling down, quite down right now. It’s been a few weeks that stay-at-home measures have been in place and it’s going to be extended until 1st June. How can we, I don’t know, try to feel positive amid all this negativity, especially if we got to be stuck at home?

Edwin:
Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s important for all of us to recognize that Covid 19 is an equalizer for all of us so no one is spared. I mean, even my kids who are doing home based learning, they are stretched. It’s like there is no access to their friends other than zoom calls.  No access to expending their energies to go outdoors in usual ways so I think a lot of us are affected by this.  I think learning to acknowledge that this is real is the first step.

Wui Lynn:
From your discussions with your clients and all that, what do you think are some of the main reasons why they’re feeling down during this period?

Edwin:
I think it doesn’t help that we are constantly receiving bad news.  Just yesterday we had MAS predicted or forecasted 65,000 jobs loss this morning. MAS made an announcement and said that it’s going to be probably the worst recession in recent years. Being surrounded by all these negative news really doesn’t help to encourage or to make us feel positive so it’s only natural.  I think the message out there is really to learn to acknowledge that this is real. We cannot run away from it.

Stanley:
And by acknowledging that these circumstances in which we are either currently in or will be and expecting, how then would it be even possible to try to feel any sort of positivity as we look into the future?

Edwin:
Great question. I think moving from acknowledgement is the next thing called acceptance.  Can you imagine if the first circuit breaker announcements were made and we were told that we have to stay home for two months. I think most of us would go crazy. But I think that when the government made the announcement subsequently that it will be extended for another six weeks, we all moved to the state of acceptance.

We realized that it is important and critical. There’s no two ways about it so moving to that state of acceptance is the very next natural thing to do and then ultimately we need to go to the next ‘A’ which is action. So what do we do next? That’s something that I think we’re all stuck with right now. What do we do with the remaining four to five weeks? How can we make it possible for us to still feel positive?

Stanley:
Edwin, I like to just backtrack a little bit to talk about acceptance because while we can prescribe it as something that we should find ourselves in, in that state of acceptance yet it’s something that each of us individually, personally have to imbibe it and really take it too hot rather than it being prescribed and something that I don’t really want to consume it in that sense.

So how does that happen though? I mean as someone who may be stubborn about, this is not possible and they’ll continue to want to put up those defenses and say, you know, let’s try to move on with life as I used to remember it to be rather than to accept the current situation.

Edwin:
I think that’s a great question, Stanley.  I think I’ve been taught since young and in my practice that you cannot change someone from the external. It has to be driven internally. I think if we are looking from external as a manager, supervisor or co-worker and we face with someone who is reluctant to accept, I think the first thing we need to do is just to give them time.

They need the time and the space. For some people, it takes just one week, a couple of days, they can snap out of it and just accept what is happening. Well, for some people it may take a little bit longer and we need to give them that time and space.  If you want to take an additional step, I think the next thing that we can do for people like this is to be there to listen to them and just to be there, don’t have to tell them to accept it. In fact, I think a lot of us know deep down that we need to accept this but we just need to be given the time and space to come to that realization. So I think giving people space helps a lot in this instance.

Wui Lynn:
Edwin, you mentioned that the first step is acknowledgement then acceptance and then the third one is action. What kind of action are you talking about?

Edwin:
I’m always reminded of this quote that, you cannot choose what happens to you but you can choose how you respond to what happens so there is this fundamental thing called choice.  There are many things that we can do despite losing our job, losing our financial security.

If you wallow in that and I accept that, some of us may need some time to just ruminate and be in that space for a while. But afterwards we need to make a choice. We need to decide what we need to do next. And that is where my study into the field of positive psychology helped me a lot during this period.  There are things that you can actually do actively to get yourself out of those situations.

Stanley:
And given the current circumstances, most of us are working from home. Children are spending the last few days of their home base learning before school holidays kick in next week already. What actions can we do really to tide us through this period until at least 1st of June when second breaker measures are lifted?

Edwin:
We came up with a resource named “Seven Habits for Working Effectively from Home”.  You can go to the website, www.5hue.com and download it.   I’ll share a couple of things that will be very useful. I think for me, working from home and I’ve had the fortune of working from home for the last couple of years but these few weeks is really 100% working from home.

One of the things that has been very helpful is to wake up early.  I like to wake up before the rest of the family does and what I do is just spend time by myself. I could have my cup of coffee, look out of the window, have a piece of paper and just journal or write down the things that I want to do or I want to achieve.  Finding time to be by yourself especially when you’re cooped up in an apartment or in a small space where you have so many people in the room.  I think having that me-time is very important.

If you’re not like me, you are not only person then just schedule a me-time.  It could be in the evening or could be just before you go to bed. I think that has been very helpful.  The other thing is I don’t miss out on connecting with people during this period.  We are doing so many calls, we’re communicating so much but are we really connecting? So I think taking time during meetings, putting in the connection opportunity, just checking in with people how they’re feeling. I think those are very important things that we can do during this period.

Stanley:
This is Money Mind on CNA 93.8 and we’re speaking with Edwin Sim who is Principal Consultant and founder of 5hue. It’s a learning and organizational development consultancy practice and Edwin is also an Associate Senior Consultant with Business Future Consulting and we’re talking about how to stay positive amidst the current circuit breaker measures. If you have any questions for Edwin, do send them to us at 66911938, you can text us at 96311938 as well.

So Edwin, tell us a bit about your other habits that you’re doing, working from home. How you maintain positivity in your life?  Especially for the children. I’m interested in your children as well. How do you keep them positive?

Edwin:
I have a 16-year old and this year is a milestone year for a 16-year old – O-level.  Being a 16 year old, she’s most of the time locked in her room on the computer and just doing the home based learning and connecting with friends. Since we can’t do grocery runs as a family anymore, we try to take turns to encourage people to get out of the apartment, to go and do the grocery runs, take the dogs out for a walk.  

Next week is going to be my Missus’ birthday. It’s the first time that we’re going to have a birthday under the lockdown situation. So last night we spent some time, me and my daughter – I hope my wife is not listening to this. We spent some time just preparing and thinking about how we can make the evening a memorable one for her.

I think you can find opportunities to bring in your kids into your lives, integrate them into your work and cook with them, read a book with them, watch Netflix movie with them. I think you have to be intentional. You can’t leave things to chance so you need to plan for it.

Stanley:
I like how you are also alluding to the fact that we should always have all these milestone celebratory, more uplifting events to look forward to.  To plan around so that there’s something to look ahead with anticipation rather than just the day to day where Monday seeps into a Tuesday and Friday seeps into a Saturday and Sunday and a Monday doesn’t seem like it’s much different anymore.

Edwin:
Yeah, that’s right. And I think one other thing that I observed is it is so easy during this period to slip into the weekend without realizing that it’s the weekend. I don’t know whether you feel the same way.

Stanley:
Yeah. I mean I guess Wui Lynn and I are unique in some sense because we still have to come to work, come to the studio. So, I guess while many others of us, most of our listeners, I think it might be different.

Edwin:
I think being intentional so like Saturdays we tried not to do calls or work.  Sunday is a no, no especially for my wife. She is really very consistent about keeping Sundays not doing work and no computer. I tried to do that as well.

I think encouraging each other in the family to be mindful of the time and the space to do the right thing at the right time.  If the weekend is for you to recharge, please do that and get off the zoom calls and WebEx. I think that will be very helpful during this period.

Stanley:
Actually I do spend my weekends sometimes going on zoom because I’ve been using the weekends like you said, catch up, be connected with friends whom you may not have stayed in touch with especially those who are overseas.  I’ve already made calls to friends in the U.S and Australia and different parts of the world.  I think that that is how I spend some of my weekends.

Edwin:
But that’s on a different context and purpose. Perfectly fine as it’s not work so that works and is very helpful.  I think compartmentalizing becomes very important during this period.

Wui Lynn:
Any advice for what to do if tensions arise at home? Perhaps, you know, certain members of the family are starting to feel irritable, any way to lift the mood?

Edwin:
Two things that I can think of. One is preventive and the other one is when it happens, what do you do? On a preventative measure, our family had this little ritual.  On the first day of the lockdown and when the circuit breaker restrictions came in, my wife sat all of us down.  Each of us had a piece of blank paper and we wrote down two things – what are the things that irritate you and what are the things that please you?

The whole family sat down, we took notes, we wrote it down and  these are now stuck on the refrigerator door to constantly remind us on what pleases us and what irritates us so that’s preventive.  Now if you are unfortunately in a tight situation, I think giving each other space, the cabin fever syndrome, giving people space and allowing everyone to have their own little corner. 

I am fortunate that I have a little desk in my room that I can kind of like retreat to. My wife will retreat to her kitchen and of course my 16-year old has her room to retreat to.  When tension runs high, we give each other the space and find your opportunity to reconnect again.  Those are the two things that I can think of – preventive and you have to take active measures to resolve a tension.

Stanley:
I don’t know if anyone shares the whole idea of having happy foods around you as well. Of course bubble tea is not as easy to come by these days. Still, you have them but not as easy to find but some happy foods as well. I mean, they’re not exactly long term joy, pleases and relief measures. But I guess in some sense it’s some happy foods to lift your spirits as well. Nothing like sweet, savory foods.

Edwin:
Those are really the kind of sugar that gives you sugar rush. Actually research has shown that our brains need four chemicals – endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin.   All these chemicals secrete from the brain or in the body can be activated either through physical exercises or the food that we eat. 

In my family, we have a simple rule – we try to eat real food. Real food means if you’re eating a chicken, make sure you see the entire chicken and not a processed chicken patty or something processed.  I’m trying to eat real food. You have to love your greens, try to go for rainbow colour.  I’ve just been recently taught by my wife to read the labels. I was thinking, what do I look out for in labels? And she says if you look at the ingredient list and you cannot understand anything that’s written there, it’s probably chemical. So in the ingredient list, make sure they are real food.  Those would really be helpful in creating the right amount of chemicals that our brains need to create the right emotions during this time.

Stanley:
Edwin, thank you so much for sharing those pointers and also a bit of your life and how you and your family are coping and helps us also think about what measures we can put in our own lives and routines to just make it easier to get through the current situation of this circuit breaker period. And Edwin Sim is Principal Consultant and founder of 5hue.  They are a learning and organizational development consultancy practice and Edwin is also Associate Senior Consultant with Business Future Consulting. Edwin, thank you and take care. Have a great weekend ahead.

Edwin:
Thank you Stanley and Wui Lynn.  Take care. 

If you like to download the resource “7 Habits of Working Effectively from Home” that Edwin mentioned, click and subscribe to our mailing list.