Have you started your exercise routine? Don’t procrastinate!

This week, I would like to talk about mental health. I find it odd that people are eager to tell others that they are sick or they have caught a flu, but never want to admit that they are sad, upset, or depressed. Our minds also need care and can get sick at times, like our bodies. Let’s face it. Let’s talk about it. We live in an era of uncertainties, frustrations, and complications. We always find ourselves lost at times, with or without reasons. Many of you might find maintaining good scores very stressful. Others might suddenly ask why are you doing what, and for what, for whom. Mental health has become a bigger issue now in this pandemic years than ever after the lockdown, and no travelling “new normal”.

I would like to share with you the article on New York Times entitled “How to Improve Your Mental Health in 2022” (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/30/well/mind/mental-health-advice-2022.html). If you need subscription to get in, here’s some noteworthy points:

  1. Do not shy away from your feeling. You can even give your feeling a name. Talk to people you trust and/or professionals (Counsellors of SAO are very helpful). But do not “talk” about it in social media. Please observe the possibility of cyberbullying.
  2. Find purposes of your everyday activities. Amazingly, simple chores like cleaning your room or doing your laundry can give you a sense of accomplishment, and stop languishing.
  3. Try meditation. One easy way is, by Dr. Brewer: “Hold one hand in front of you, fingers spread. Now, slowly trace the outside of your hand with the index finger on your other hand, breathing in when you trace up a finger, and out when you trace down. Move up and down all five fingers. When you’ve traced your whole hand, reverse direction and do it again.”
  4. Allow yourself to grieve “small’ losses. An example, similar to that in the article, is to consider growing a small plant to represent burying your loss, which could be cancelation of an airline ticket, or a birthday party invitation.
  5. Take a “Sad Day” if your brain and body need a break!
  6. Write down what’s bothering you before going to bed so as to stop the matters lingering in your mind and stopping you from falling asleep. When you write, you will bravely confront to the matters. Very often, you will then realize they are more trivial than you think.
  7. Count sheep, or something. Counting will calm and bore you to sleep. But make sure you do not cheat yourself by continuously thinking and letting your mind roll.
  8. Give back whenever you can. Join volunteering work. Help others.

Hope this is helpful! It is important that we admit that we are not always as strong as we look, as we are expected, or as we want! We are just human beings! Even computers need switch-off time. So do we!

Happy New Year! Welcome back to school, and in particular, to HC! Hope you have had an enjoyable Christmas break, and wish you a happy start of the new semester!

To kick off a fresh start, let’s do something different. I am not going to talk about anything intellectual. Instead, I want to ask you to move! Yes, move! Work out! I am not saying you are chubby and therefore need to lose weight! In fact, some of you might actually be too skinny, especially girls! It is always OK to eat more, if more means healthy amount and healthy food!

Studies have confirmed that exercise enhances our mind. We can think better, sharper, and more creative, after a good workout. Sorry, not a 5-minute workout; that is not a workout! For any benefit to kick in, you need to do aerobic exercise for at least 20-30 minutes. Exercise can also strengthen our immune cells. Even better is that exercise brings us a sense of purpose. You tend to have goals and plans that make you think you find the meaning of life. In other words, physical activity is closely linked to psychological well-being!

I am telling you this because that is my own experience. I used to play tennis, squash, badminton, and swim. None of this, however, fitted the definition of “exercise” for me. They were only “sports” = for fun by spending time with friends once in a while. Now, my exercise is jogging and/or HIIT (high intensity interval training), every other day. No excuse! Just like you won’t have excuse for not sleeping, not eating!

Come on! Give your new year a fresh start! Pick some exercise that you will do frequently. And do not give up! A nice fast walk for 20-30 minutes will be a good start if you have no preferred exercise yet. Let me know when you can carry on with it throughout the semester! I shall wait for your replies in May! 😊 Again, feel free to share with me your valuable experiences!

I always start the last email of the semester with “Time Flies!”, which cannot be more suitable for other semesters than this one, thanks to the pandemic and the typhoons! Hope you could still catch up with your coursework without much difficulty! As usual, I will not bother you during your exam revision break, your exam period, and your lovely Christmas break.

In this last mail of the semester, I would like to suggest you the “S.T.O.P.” method for relieving your emotional blocks or stresses and restore your mindfulness, especially when you prepare for your examinations.

Stress can affect your judgement. So, before you even feel stressed or restless, you should practice the following so you can apply it anytime you need.

Stop: Pause! Stop whatever you are doing for a moment!

Take three slow deep breaths: Focus on your breaths, and you will find yourself more relaxed and relieved.

Observe yourself and your circumstances: Try to imagine you are another person looking at yourself, your feeling, your body, your reaction, and your surroundings.

Praise yourself in any way you can, big or small, and Proceed: Think about what you have done right, and/or what you are good at. Thank yourself for not making worse decisions. You will start seeing your issues with clearer views. Then, find your focus and proceed now with your clearer mind.

This method can help you not only when you are stressed, but also when you cannot think clearly. Practice by trying to remember some not so good moments of yours, such as those that would score 3-5 in your stress scale of 10. Then do the above S.T.O.P. After practicing this a few times, you will be able to apply it whenever you need it. Here are some sites that you can refer to: https://theantiburnoutclub.com/the-stopp-or-stop-method-for-anxiety-and-overwhelm/;

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-mental-trick-you-can-use-to-get-through-any-stressful-situation;

https://thewellnesssociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/STOP-Technique-PDF-1.pdf

Start practicing today, and get ready for your exam weeks.

Good luck to your exams! Hope you have enjoyed this semester! Merry Christmas in advance!

Some of you are still at your hometowns rather than UM. We all miss you! I am quite sure you miss us too! No matter where you are, have you ever thought women at your place are, or being considered as, less capable? A recent study, “Women in the Workplace 2021”, showed that women have shown to be stronger leaders, but were being unrewarded over the past 18 pandemic months. One in three female says that she has considered “downshifting” her career or leaving her work during that period. The situation is worse for moms who were taken for granted children caretakers.

Upon reading this type of reports, I cannot help but feel really fortunate to be in the Greater China, at least in Macau, where I do not really feel much discriminated. So what is my point? Girls, nobody has the right to look down on you if you do not! March along your life with confidence (but not arrogance!). Show others that you are equally competent. Boys, you have no right to assume girls are not as good! Girls can be strong, more resilient, and persevere! Boys, you will find yourselves happier and more charismatic if you can respect everyone, including the other half of the world (i.e. female). Well, I must admit girls can be less capable in some aspects. However, that doesn’t mean girls are always inferior. Remember, every person, male, female, or other, has a role on earth! Even if you excel in many ways, you won’t excel in ALL ways. If someone has failed several times, guess what? He/she has already learnt enough to be stronger in the future! After all, who said all boys are strong? (Imagine me having a skeptical Emoji face 😝) Sorry, boys, if I sound discriminating you! My point is that we should not presume who is more capable and competent than whom.

Please respect everyone, and I mean EVERYONE and be better persons yourselves! Please help build a better world!

Did you try to browse about COP26? I would like to continue discussing the topic in a broader sense. Reduce creation of waste is only a very small step we each could do. What can countries do to slow down climate change? I suggest you to browse for answers. Examples of resources are: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58073295; and https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-d6338d9f-8789-4bc2-b6d7-3691c0e7d138.

Countries have been advocating people to switch to electric cars. Why? Carbon emissions! Carbon dioxide constitutes a major part of greenhouse gas emissions, the latter of which come mainly from transportation, generating electricity, industry, agriculture, and others. You may ask how is agriculture, which is part of nature, related to greenhouse gas? Interestingly, another component of greenhouse gas is methane, which is emitted by livestock. Cows and sheep produce methane when they belch after eating grass (like we burp after eating). So, can you imagine human beings eating less meat can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

While I am not particularly asking you to eat less meat, I am sure you can help in many ways. Try carpooling and using public transportation and avoid only you driving a 4-seater car! You can also help by switching off lights and air conditioning whenever you leave the rooms. Do not wear a lot of clothes and turn on the air conditioning. Even better, please check this out: https://www.un.org/actnow:

Start with ten impactful actions

I am sure you can help! Please start from today if you have not done so yet!

What has been the big news over the week, and will continue till the next? The COP26!

What is it? Why is it important enough to worth discussion? COP26 is short for “The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference”, which is the 26th conference of UN Climate Change, held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. This conference is right after the G20 meeting in Rome, Italy. Their goal is simple: to cut emissions by 2030 so that global warming will not be over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and eventually cut emission to zero by 2050.

Have you ever thought of how big a difference has 1.5 degrees Celsius made? It is November now. My personal experience is that I would have to wear cardigan in November 20 years ago. What are we wearing now? Short sleeves! Extreme weather, flooding, drought, avalanche, wild fire, you name it! All have occurred more frequently than ever.

The time for change in our life style is long overdue! Yet, it’s never too late. Do not keep giving yourselves excuses that your changes are too small to matter! When you change, the people around you will also change, even if not immediately.

Have a nice weekend, and start to change your lifestyle by reducing waste, recycling whenever possible, and reusing as much as you can!

Also for fun, here are some questions for you: (1) How are “climate” and “weather” different? (2) What can you “reduce, recycle and reuse” in your everyday lives? (3) What are G20, and G20 meetings for? (4) What is the role of China in this (G20 and COP26)?

Welcome to Autumn! Last Friday was actually cooler than today. Still, I could feel the light pleasant breeze in the early evening, which perhaps can be more enjoyable on campus than on the busy streets in Macau.

Fast approaching is not only the last one-third of the semester, but also Halloween! What are your plans over the Halloween weekend? I can see some RC HAs already preparing their RC haunted houses! Have fun being scared!!

I bet you have known since primary school that kids could “trick and treat” by knocking at neighbors’ doors and collect all sorts of candies. Remember how you were being stopped or complained by your parents for having too many candies? In today’s (New York is still having evening time) article on the New York Times, it is mentioned that Dr. Julie Mennella of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia said children like sweet food 20 times more than adults! In the same article, Dr. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, professor at Temple University, commented, “It’s really not so much about the candy as the larger picture of what’s happening on all the other days of the week that really matters.” The article went on to mention a study at Pennsylvania State University about the consequence of forbidding the children to eat cookies in a clear jar (Poor kids!).

Here’s the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/28/well/eat/halloween-candy-trick-or-treat.html

How’s that related to you, HCers? What can “the larger picture of what’s happening on all the other days of the week that really matters”, and “Don’t put the good stuff out of reach” remind you of? To me, the first sentence is about how one should not make judgement, perhaps on a person, by only one incident! Do not label people! The second one stimulates me to consider what good leaders should do. If I were a teammate, I would hope my team leader to embrace the people around him/her, understand our capabilities, be fair, and never set unreachable goals and unreasonable rules.

For “old” HCers, “Long time no see!”

For new HCers, “Welcome to the big HC family!”

I have done a couple of orientations last month. On Wednesday, I had a very nice chat at our orientation with those of you who joined UM this year. Today I am very excited to finally kick off my Friday emails for this academic year. For those who do not know what it is, I always send you an email on Friday of every teaching week, usually about topics I come across and/or feel worthy to share. These include notes on leadership, the latest development or news in different areas, how to work efficiently and effectively, how to appreciate life and appreciate people and nature, the ways to relax or overcome obstacles, and so on. I hope you will like them. We have uploaded most, if not all, of those email contents on our HC webpage. Please feel free to do some browsing. In particular, please dig out one about “Respect” and one about how to write emails properly.

Today, I would like to start by sharing an article entitled “Self-Disciplined People are Happier (and Not as Deprived as You Think)”, which you can find from the TIME magazine, or here: https://healthland.time.com/2013/06/24/self-disciplined-people-are-happier-and-not-as-deprived-as-you-think/

I am sure you as HCers will have less trouble disciplining yourselves. That said, please be realistic! There are always times when you really want to procrastinate. You might feel bad afterwards, especially when you ended up not having enough time to finish your work before the deadline. Why not tell yourselves that better self-control will make you happier? The article ended with this favorable line, “… it may mean saving now to get a big payoff later.” I shall leave this as an open question for you. Please feel free to share with me your thoughts if and whenever you like.

By the way, if you are Chinese, you might have noticed that “Long time no see!” is a direct translation from Chinese. This is only one etymological explanation. The other one was that it was first used by a native American long time ago. In any case, please make sure you use it only for informal greetings!

Welcome back! And for those newly joint HC, welcome to our big HC family!

It’s been over a month since the semester has started! I did not send any mails to you because I have been waiting for our new HCers, Class of 2025, to join us. But it takes so long that I cannot wait to say “Hi!” to you anymore!

To start off this semester, even though we don’t have a full family at the moment, instead of sharing new thoughts with you, I would like to remind you what HCers should do. Remember “ELITE” in our slogan? If not, search for it! In case you have not noticed, we have already held some HC activities. For instance, I have already given a couple of Honours Project briefings. We have had an alumnus sharing session by Henry Sio. There will be research workshops, Afternoon Break with HCers, and HC Leadership Lecture Series in this week and the next. I hope to see you there, especially for those who have registered for the activities and events! Being HCers means being responsible people who respect others. Once you have signed up events and activities, you have agreed to go, both physically and mentally, even if there is no signed agreement! You listen and participate, not using your smart phones!  If you cannot come in the end due to some urgent matter, a responsible way is to inform the HC Office as soon as you know you cannot come. Four of the five attributes in “ELITE” are related to you being responsible and respecting others. Show me you are HCers!

Have a great Mid-Autumn Festival!