Before Covid-19: Zoom was the sound a car made when it goes very fast. Post-Covid-19: Zoom is how you have team meetings with your colleagues, and how you have happy hour drinks with your pals. It’s how you have family birthday celebrations and celebrate festivals. And it’s how, if you’re working for 8days.sg, you have ‘face-to-face’ interviews with celebrities. While trying to eliminate unnecessary in-person meetings this virus season, we’re trying out a new thang — Celeb Zoom Meetings, where we catch up with stars at home, and chat about stuff.
We kick things off with Sheila Sim, rocking a five-month preggers glow, whose stay-home style is effortlessly chic (she throws on a big tee and a straw hat with barely any make-up and looks totally Zoom-ready). She’s speaking to us from the apartment she shares with her husband Deon Woo and their two cats, where they’ve been huddled since the start of the Circuit Breaker. Her baby girl’s nursery (she’s due in October) is in an unfinished state thanks to shops being closed, Sheila’s drama is on hiatus and she’s not sure if her growing tummy will interfere with filming continuity, and many things are still up in the air as Singapore enters Phase 1 post-CB, adding a little more stress to an expectant mother’s already-apprehensive state of mind. But Sheila is chill, ’cos she has ways of dealing with uncertainty, anxiety and stress, thanks to her lessons in Positive Psychology. And she’s here to share some well-being tips, her thoughts about the Circuit Breaker, and a quick video house tour (see the link at the end of this story). Let’s roll… we mean, let’s Zoom.
8 DAYS: Hey Sheila! You look great!
Sheila Sim: (Laughs) I’m so used to my usual quarantine look that it really takes a lot of effort to look decent! This is half decent! (Laughs) Most of the time, I’m in my PJs and no make-up! But today I put on eyebrow make-up and curled my lashes, and I have under eye concealer on. This is the best time for me to rest my skin.
Sounds like you’re sorta enjoying quarantine life.
(Laughs) I’m actually quite loving this! This helps us realise that what we need is so little — just the necessities and it can keep us happy. All the things we’ve been used to seeing and reading, like all the luxury skincare, bags, shoes and travel — no one wants to see that now. I’m always been someone who believes in very organic and basic things, and I think it’s good how people are now adjusting their mindsets and simplifying things. Things were getting too complicated and superficial and materialistic — this is like a kind of reset.
Yeah, it really makes you realise what is important.
Yeah, in the beginning [of the Circuit Breaker], it was really difficult for everyone — there was so much uncertainty and we were facing something we were completely not used to. But it’s really the uncomfortable situations that make us see things at face value and help us to change. The environment and the planet have been trying so hard to wake us up, but we are so in our comfort zone that things don’t change. So things have to affect us directly before we can make a change.
That’s so true, and this situation really affects us directly.
Yes and as it ends, I’m going to miss some things about it! Like my husband has been working from home — he goes back to the office twice a week—and when CB ends, he will go back four times a week, and I’m really gonna miss him. I mean, even if I’m in the living room and he’s in the bedroom, we’re in the same house and one of us can walk in and steal a kiss — it’s so nice. We had all these plans during my pregnancy — we wanted go on a babymoon, travel to Europe, and eat and shop like crazy. Obviously all that didn’t happen, but I’m grateful that we can be so close and have a period to bond before the baby comes.
When is your due date?
My EDD is Oct 8, but we are getting a cesarean on Oct 1. Last September, I found out that I have fibroids, a lot of them, and I got them removed via a laparoscopy. And after a keyhole operation in the womb, you can’t delivery naturally.
I see. The CB has been mentally tough for some. What’s your mental state going through this, especially as an expectant mum?
It’s been quite a ride, with a lot of ups and downs. The worst was when they extended the CB the first time — I guess I should have been mentally prepared, but I wasn’t. I was looking forward to getting my nursery done, buying stuff, just finishing my work, so that news hit me hard. That day, I cried. It was very traumatic. I was lost for a while, and I told Deon that I was very upset, that I’m going to binge watch HK dramas and eat a tub of ice-cream. (Laughs) The next day, I was up and running again.
Some have found it hard living with the people in their household ’cos they’re not used to people being around all the time. Have you had moments like that?
The first two weeks, I wanted to kill my husband. (Laughs) I had this big project in my head, and I wanted to do something useful during this period and clean my house. But the house is a shared space between the two of us, and most of the things I wanted to clear were his, ’cos he’s more of a hoarder than I am! (Laughs) I got him to throw away a lot of things, and it was not easy! It took a lot of convincing and it was like, “Let’s sit down and talk about this.” (Laughs) After that, it was like, “Okay, now let’s enjoy each other’s company.” (Laughs)
That’s your pre-baby nesting instinct coming in!
Yeah! Thanks for that term — I should have told Deon what it was! He was shocked when I suddenly got into this crazy cleaning mode. (Laughs)
How’s the pregnancy treating you?
I’ve been getting quite bad insomnia, since the beginning of the pregnancy. I don’t know if it’s some subconscious anxiety, so I’m thankful for this period, ’cos I can rest in the day. So even though I don’t sleep well at night, I can sleep in, almost into the afternoon. I’m taking this time to really rest and do my stretches and workout, and prepare myself for baby.
Your baby is quite lucky that you’re relaxed and not stressed out about work and chilling at home.
Yes, I’ve been reading to the baby, reading new stuff for myself, and it’s generally been quite relaxing. You’re right, my baby is quite lucky to be in this state. I’m also very lucky that baby is still in my tummy — I would be so freaked out if I had given birth during the CB!
You’ve been holding Positive Psychology Zoom workshops during the CB — tell us more about that.
Yes, I’ve been doing workshops with Jade Seah and our teacher from The Positive Movement. We took a Positive Psychology course together last July, and we really wanted to roll out some workshops, to create a safe environment and a community for people who are struggling during this period. The first week, we dealt with anxiety and stress, and gave people tools to mentally deal with the situation and to talk about it. Then we had a session about boundaries, and how to be in the same space with someone 24-7. It’s something we are no longer used to, so there has been a lot of conflict. The sessions have grown and what we’re doing helps people to deal with not just the CB, but for everyday life, and for the rest of their lives. It’s really very powerful.
Do you have tips for the rest of us on how to deal with life in this trying period?
Learn to be in the Power of Now and accept that what's passed has passed. No matter how enjoyable or unhappy that time was, it is in the past. The future is yet to come. So learn to enjoy the present.
Set an intention every morning when you wake up. No matter how big or small the intent may be. It could be as small as: “I want to be on time for work today.” Or as big as: “I want to connect with someone new at work.”
Practise or create a self-love routine. It can be anything that makes you happy intrinsically. For eg, five minutes of meditation in the morning, a relaxation breathing technique, or even savouring your meal. Or like me, savouring my twice-a-day skincare routine. Those short five minutes I use to apply my skincare, that time is all mine. I put all thoughts aside and just enjoy that time — the texture of the cream, the smell of the products, the pressure I apply to different points on my face.
Three Blessings journaling. This is one of the most powerful tools. To journal about three things that happened today that make you feel grateful or happy. We often give too much power to negative thoughts. We forget that positive attracts positive.
Amazing stuff. Thanks for that. What’s next for you? Will you still be filming?
I am doing Ho Seh Bo (How Are You?), and we had to break during the CB. We’re going to continue in June, but my stomach is now showing. It would have to be mostly close up shots, and it’ll be tricky for the cameraman and the director. I would have been happy to work throughout my pregnancy, but it’s out of my control. I feel that physically, I’m strong, but my work is trickier than just a deskbound job so we have to play by ear. I would like to work ’cos staying home and thinking about this and that wouldn’t be good as well. I’m also thinking of holding some Positive Psychology workshops on my own for expecting mothers. It would be nice to do that and have a group of people to journey through this together.
Watch as Sheila takes us on a mini house tour!