Many people need hip or knee replacements as they get older because their joints have carried their bodies around for over half a century. They’ve played hopscotch in schoolyards, danced at weddings, ran to catch trains, piggy-backed children, and walked countless steps throughout the world.
The wear-and-tear didn’t happen overnight, and most people notice “little things” long before the operating room calls. Cracking and popping, pain when it rains, stairs become harder to mount… until there’s enough reduction in quality that it endangers the ability to function properly.
Now, unlike a physical ailment that we can x-ray, emotional depletion is much sneakier but equally as threatening to our wellbeing. And if you feel like 2020 brought the weight of a decade’s worth of mental hardship compacted into one year, you’re not alone.
We’re living through an unprecedented global depletion. And this week, we’re going to release everything we’ve held in for months, recognize what we’ve endured, and celebrate that we’re still standing.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Hindsight’s 20/20 vision
- Pausing to honor how you’ve shown up this year
- List & release: all the ways COVID has robbed you
- Gentle-yet-consistent replenishment
- (Temporarily) icing your goals
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 7:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
I sat down in front of the doctor’s large oak desk. She shuffled some papers in front of her and I could see highlighted on them numbers with some pink highlighter and some green highlighter. She started to speak and then she paused and she said, “Welcome to my practice. Why are you here today?”
I’d already sent my blood results. So I told her, “I was seeing the other doctor and it’s really important for me to keep on top of my blood work to make sure that everything’s fine so I can be healthy and keep focused and have energy. It’s been a long time since I’ve done blood work. So I just wanted to touch base.”
She looks back at me and she pauses and she says, “I didn’t expect you here based on these numbers.” And she proceeded to walk through my blood work in saying where I was depleted, “Magnesium, not enough. Calcium, not enough.” On and on and on she went through numbers of what I was depleted in. And I was surprised because I feel good. Yeah a little bit of COVID fatigue, but physically I feel strong.
We walked through the numbers, I took copious notes, and then we had a plan of how we could supplement my nutrition to build back the things that were depleted. I walked out, paid the bill and drove home and it wasn’t until I actually had those numbers in front of me myself that I could even let in that maybe, just maybe, I was more tired than I was letting even myself see.
Depleted. Depletion is synonymous with exhaustion, impoverishment, bankruptcy, deprived of something essential. Deplete implies a reduction in quantity so as to endanger the ability to function.
For me the story is illustrative of what we’re seeing. We are in the middle of unprecedented global depletion. I can’t tell you how many calls I had where I asked my clients how they were doing and they said, “Depleted.” How many Whatsapps I sent to friends and I said, “How are you really feeling?” And they answered, “Depleted.”
So if you’re feeling depleted, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Of course we are depleted. Whole communities are feeling drained. After battling literally in the streets for their own rights. Whole communities feel drained because they’re in conflict over how to handle a health crisis. Countless numbers of us within the global mobility community who feel bankrupt of connection with their loved ones from afar. Small business owners everywhere looking at their balance sheets and seeing the depletion of their accounts wondering how are they going to make up the loss of the finances that were hit in the last few months.
Collectively, we feel impoverished of gathering, right? I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying Sundae, “This is Expat Happy Hour and now you’re making me feel like crap.” But listen, I want us to just pause on that. Take inventory.
Of course in light of everything that has been going on, you’ll feel depleted. So let’s pause and honor how you’ve been showing up this year.
And it starts first with naming where you feel robbed, instead of masking it. Like drinking coffee when you’re tired to just move forward. Let’s pause and feel it, right? Where do you feel robbed?
You feel robbed because you didn’t get to see your family this summer. You feel robbed because all the hard work you did in your business to grow has been sabotaged by this pandemic. You feel robbed because your connections with people within your own community that you want to serve are barricaded because of lockdown, right?
Name it. Allow yourself to grieve and to feel frustrated by all that you have confronted and are still facing.
And when you look at that list, I want you to number it and then count the ways in which you are a warrior moving forward day after day doing your best.
Right. This is not a pity party. This is a celebration of you. Of what you’ve endured what you’ve navigated. What you’ve held in, day in and day out for months and months.
And for some of you who are listening you are going to well up with tears when you hear this because you’ve been blocking it out. And you finally let in a little glimpse of the weight that you’ve had on your shoulders. Let that allow those emotions to flow through you. But we’re not going to stay here, but we need to start here.
So what does all of this mean?
For starters, it means three things. Number one; It’s time for 20/20 vision. Now 20/20 vision doesn’t mean what you think. It means there are two ways of looking at it. One, it’s time for hindsight. You know, how we say everything is 20/20 with hindsight? I invite you to think about how you feel right now physically. If you’re emotionally and physically depleted, it hits you like a brick. But actually when you think about it, this has been creeping up, right? So take a moment to pause and use 20/20 vision.
What was the first sign where you are starting to feel tired? When were you not interested in connecting with someone? When did you feel like after a night’s sleep you were still exhausted? When did your motivation for work start to take a hit? Right? The reason why it’s important to use the 20/20 vision here is so you can see the signs that were early indicators which led you to where you are now. And I use this example with my friends, with my family. It’s this idea of parenting when you have a little baby and something happens. I think I mentioned in the last episode where your child spits up, okay, and then one day they cry when you lay him down. And then another day you notice that they’re cranky and four months later you’re at the doctor’s office and your doctor says your child has reflux. And it surprises you but when you pause and think about it, it actually showed signs months and months before.
And now on your second child and your child spits up or they’re cranky when you lay them down, you can better anticipate what might be building. And it’s the same thing with you. Not a bearer of bad news, but I don’t know what 2021 will look like. It could be more of the same. No one knows. And even if it’s not 2020, we’re still in November 2020 and we’ve got December and January, February. However long it takes until things start to noticeably shift.
So even if you take a break on the weekend and you start to feel better on Monday, that was not enough to replenish what’s been depleted? So it’s important for you to know those signs for you. So if I think about physical depletion, for me, signs that I notice is I might have not three coffees a day, but then all the sudden I’ll have four, right. Or maybe I’ll have a glass of wine on Tuesday when normally I wouldn’t. Or maybe I won’t run 45 minutes, I’ll only run 25. Those are early indicators for me that something is going on. And because I know that I can pick it up on a Tuesday, right. Or I can catch it on my second run.
So I save myself months of building leading to depletion instead of catching it early and I’m not always perfect at it. That is for sure. But I know more now than I did two years ago, three years ago, five years ago. And every time I learn an early indicator, I call them “Red flags,” I’m able to be more present with myself and make quicker adjustments. So I want you to think about that for you. If you’re feeling emotionally depleted, good feeling physically depleted. What are your early indicators so that if they start to come up you are in a better position to respond. Okay. So number one, what does this mean for us? It’s time for 20/20 vision.
Number two; Your number one goal right now needs to be replenishment. Replenishment. You actually do not have the luxury to be sloppy with this right now and when we’re talking about replenishment. We’re thinking your mind, your body, your spirit. Whatever is feeling depleted.
So for example if it’s physical like when I talk to my doctor, now is the time for me to be taking supplements morning, noon, and night. Gentle but consistent. No radical diet changes. No radical, who knows what, but consistent replenishment.
So think about for you what needs replenishment right now? Is it physical? Is it sleep? Joy? Connection? Playfulness? You name it. You fill in the blank. If you’re really honest with yourself right now. What needs to be replenished?
Okay, hold that close because now it’s time for number three, which is; Do things differently. Do things differently is critical because whatever has worked for us in the past is not really happening right now, because things are different for almost all of us.
I remember there was a summer where I was working mobily. My kids were with me. I had been to South Africa, Switzerland, the US and I was feeling depleted in summer. I was confused. I thought, “Gosh, I have these strategies down.” Like, “These have worked for me for the last two years. I’m really proud of how I’ve developed effective strategies. Why am I feeling tired?” and then I realized that the difference between last year and that year was that my client load doubled. And so did how much I was doing with my podcast. So, of course the effective strategies weren’t as effective with a whole new context. I didn’t pause to think about what has to happen now, this summer, for me to feel balanced, I just used what I thought worked. And that’s your invitation, now.
We have this window of opportunity. This podcast comes out mid to late November 2020 and most of us are saying, “Wow. I can’t believe we’re already heading to the end of the year.” Some of you are so grateful to just say goodbye to this iconic year.
But it’s imitation for you to do things differently and you start with this question: What has to happen between now and the end of the year for you to replenish? What has to happen between now and the end of the year for you to replenish?
It might mean some important things. Switching things up. Creating new boundaries at home. Pushing work back. Saying “No” to certain things, saying “Yes” to the things that are restorative.
So make a list of what will serve you with the goal of replenishment. And you can start small. Just ask yourself, whatever you’re doing that day, “Hey, what would we feel restorative this afternoon? What would feel restorative tonight? What would feel restorative this week?” And then do that.
And if you’re goal-oriented like myself, I’m kind of doing that little slap on the wrist thing right now. “This is not the time to start setting goals. This is the time to replenish right? Don’t worry about goals. I got you. I promise. End of year beginning of next year. I’ve got your back on goals and how to actually do it differently. But right now we’re going to focus on more urgent needs.” Alright, so think about that. What has to happen for you to do things differently? And then make a gentle replenishment plan. Gentle.
And it could involve renegotiating your boundaries with your team. Could involve communicating new boundaries with your partner or your children. It could involve renegotiating how you spend your time or what you say “Yes” to at work. Okay, you’ve got this.
So let’s step back. Number one; You are not alone. Half of the people that you’re in community with are probably also feeling some level of depletion. And maybe some of them have a few strategies that have helped lessen it. Ask them what’s working for them? Maybe you can try it out.
Number two: Celebrate fiercely how you have shown up and that you’re still standing… or kind of, right? Take a moment to celebrate you and what you’ve plotted through this year.
And three: It is time to do things differently. It starts with that 20/20 vision and ends with making replenishment your number one goal. You’ve got this.
With depletion, there is this gorgeous opportunity to re-examine things you haven’t seen before. There’s still time to make this the best worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening. Stay tuned for the coming episodes where we’ll talk about building resilience and what that means in these wonky times. And then transition to how we can look ahead to the coming year differently. I’ll leave you with the words of blogger Lydia Backer: “Give yourself space for grace.”
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