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What do you do?  Where do you get help from?  Is ‘getting help’ even on your radar?  Getting help is for wimps isn’t it?  You can do this all alone right?  Look, everyone else is doing ok….

I looked up the phrase ‘being strong and getting help’ in Google Search.  Apparently the two don’t sit well together in western culture.  We have to be strong, we have keep going, ‘never give up’ said Winston Churchill (and thank goodness at the time).

Well, do you know what?  That’s all very well and good and, ahem, very MALE (sorry guys – but the health stats speak for themselves), but does ‘being strong’ really work if you are under constant pressure and stress as expats are when moving to and negotiating new lives overseas.  Life is busy, frantic and pressured and our minds are constantly aroused by never-ending stimulation and demands.  It’s exhausting.

It’s either ‘be strong’ or get help, which kind of infers that getting help doesn’t have a lot to do with being strong.  I disagree. Strongly.

I keep seeing on so many Expat websites, blogs, chat rooms and alike that huge numbers of expats are depressed.  This cuts me to the core.  I’m no therapist but I do know that depression can affect anyone, and that catching things early by learning to recognise the signs of depression is useful.  Expatwomen.com say this:

Depression is often the result of the overly busy and stressful lives people lead these days, not giving themselves enough rest time and not spending enough time with their families. It can be hard work and stressful to say goodbye to friends and family at your previous posting, find and set up a home in your new location, help transition your family, learn your new environment, meet new people and try to establish your life in a new home. Sometimes expats are so busy convincing everyone around them and those at home (and often themselves) just how wonderful expat life is, that they start to deny that living abroad can also bring feelings of unhappiness. Guilt over feeling “down” when living “the privileged life”, only exacerbates the problem.

One more reason that expatriates may be susceptible to depression could be the lack of structure in their new lives. This is especially true when they have just relocated, although it can creep up at any time, particularly if a major change has occurred (such as becoming a new parent, divorce, unemployment or the loss of a loved one). A daily “routine” can sometimes provide the safety and security that many expats crave. “

If you think you may be showing the signs of depression, or any other mental illness I would urge you to visit http://www.mind.org.uk/ and start accessing help.

If you are not depressed but want more from your life abroad, more structure, more joy and more fulfilment whilst overseas, click here:

 

Final Expat 360 logo small

The Expat 360Life Programme is a coaching and mentoring programme for expatriates and I’m running a free Jumpstart Webinar on Tuesday 29 April at 20.00hrs BST.  Register for free here: http://www.expat360life.com.  Join others in similar situations who want to stop counting the days and start making the days count.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone.

Amanda x

 

 

 

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Social Media Pyramid

Expats probably spend a good deal more time than most people on the internet.  Connecting with friends and family back home, searching for local information, translating things etc.  We are probably quite expert – ‘Super Users’ in fact.  I do nearly everything on the internet now – over Christmas I didn’t even step into a shop and battle with the crowds, I purchased all my gifts online, and herein lies a bit of a trap.

Expats are so vulnerable to what I call the ‘time thief’ of the internet – that ability to get sucked down into the rabbit hole so that something that should have taken us five minutes becomes half an hour.  Our monkey brain jumps from one branch to another, page to page, link to link, and we suddenly find ourselves robbed of time.  Our brains love this exploration and expansion, but it’s not necessarily what we want for ourselves when we are setting up our life abroad, and let’s face it, we didn’t come here to sit in front of a computer.  If we were to add-up all the time we waste on this each year I’m sure we would find it quite shocking.

The Time Thief

International Assignments are not forever.  Our time in these countries is so precious (call me for a chat if you don’t feel like this!) and in order to get our lives where we want them, it takes energy, attention and action.  For example, I noticed I would log onto Facebook to get a sense of what my friends had been up to that day, and my mind would wander through all the Upworthy feeds (now averaging at about six a day!) and it would be easy to lose a good 30 minutes, and then I’d give myself a hard time.  I realised that since New Year I’ve wasted a significant amount of time looking at news items that I can’t actually take action on, no matter how important or shocking they may be.  When changing the world, or our lives, for the better we can know so much but unless we take action nothing changes.  The knowledge provided by Upworthy makes me anxious – terrible things happen in the world – just read any newspaper.  I stopped reading daily newspapers many years ago, so why do I still have bad news delivered to me? Crazy!

The Information Diet

So – I’ve just ‘de-liked’ Upworthy!  Am I sticking my head in the sand?  Maybe.  But here’s the thing.  If the universe requires us to take action, and make a difference in the world, there is nothing you or I can do to stop the universe bringing this message to our front door.  By hook or by crook the message will be delivered with perfect timing in the perfect way, a bit like you getting this blog post today.  I’m letting go of that inner ‘hair vest’ voice that tells me I need to know this stuff.  I don’t actually.  What I need to do is live my life responsibly, with love, compassion and take action with those people I feel called to be in service to.  That’s the small part I play in the world.

Time Thief Detox

Today I unliked Upworthy, last week I went through my inbox and labelled set-up some rules for which folder which emails should be delivered to – I now have only the most important emails coming to me, and my goodness it have saved me time!  I only look/respond to my emails twice a day and don’t get the constant worry and interruption from unsolicited incoming mails.  I’m on an information diet – a time thief detox, I have more time, my energy levels are up and I feel amazing, look, I even have time to write the blog (she says red faced, knowing full well it’s been a while 😉

So, come on and join me – try this little exercise.  For one day (a busy one preferably), set your alarm on your phone or watch to go off every hour.  Then make a note of what you are doing and what you did in the past hour.  Make a note of all the areas that are ‘time thieves’ or simply inefficient uses of your time.  As always, awareness is the first step.  Now go through your Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc and make sure you all the ‘Likes’ are genuine, non-time wasting and make you happy.  Do the same with email, set your folders up and rules for the addresses you want to maintain contact with and check the notifications settings on your smartphone.  Let’s make this wonderful technology work for US, not the other way round.  We have a million distractions in our world, so feel free to remove the ones which are simply not a good use of your time.  Your time is precious, you and your mental health are precious so guard yourself and powerfully choose the influences you want to accept into your life.  In Expat life, you really don’t have time for anything but the best use of your time.

Rant over, I’m going back to work!

Have fun and enjoy the ride,

Amanda.

PS I am running another Expat group coaching course starting in March 2014 – for those people who really want to kickstart or re-boot their lives abroad.  It’s back, improved and updated and I’m really really excited about it!  I’d love for you to join me on a Webinar I’ll be running at the start of March, so you can find out more about the programme and what it will do for you.  Click on this link to register your details so you’ll get an invitation:

www.expat360life.com.  

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be amazingPart Six of the Expat ‘From Struggle To Success’ Series considers that when no one else is setting the rules, we pretty much have to set our own. 

Your new life abroad stretches out in front of you like a glorious blank canvas – deliciously blank and full of possibility.  Well, not always.   Waking up to a blank canvas every day can be quite daunting – overwhelming even.   Too many choices, new experiences and ideas to process leads to fatigue even for the smallest of activities (is this why we always sleep so much more on holiday I wonder?).  The chaos life in a new country brings is a real challenge – more so for those who have no corporate office to attend, team to join or paid work to provide structure.  We have to function within the chaos.

Artists and writers have a general reputation for living in chaos, unreliability and mess, and this has become almost synonymous with creativity.  In actual truth, the most prolific and successful artists and writers are ones with a strict routine and structure.  Many of these successful artists and writers have also been successful expatriates too – Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein to name a few.  In Picasso’s routine he would only work for the early part of the day and spend the rest pursuing leisure activities – even so, at his peak this he was able to produce up 8 canvasses a day plus sketches!

523-routine-cartoon

The artist’s routine seems at odds with creativity, yet neuroscience gives us important clues as to why this works.   To give this a car driving analogy; in our brains we have an area called the ‘Basal Ganglia’ whose job is to sweat the small stuff (where’s the gear stick? which one is the brake?) leaving our frontal cortex free to do the cool bits like deciding where to go and at what speed to drive.  If we constantly have to think about where the indicators are or how to turn he engine on, we soon get really tired (remember your first driving lesson?).  Leaving us only performing at a very basic level.  A strong and sustaining routine can be worth its weight in gold to you whilst attuning to your life abroad, where all the newness and learning can be really daunting.  It frees you up to spend time doing the stuff you really want to do.

Jazz hands

 

What Makes A Good Routine?

Jazz hands! No – only joking (although jazz hands are ALWAYS a part of any good routine).  This is the cool bit – you get to design it!  For maybe the first time ever, you get to consciously craft the days to encompass elements and activities of your choosing.  What if you were to design your weekly schedule around the simple task of creating joy for yourself?  What would that look like?  Consider these questions as a place to begin designing your supportive schedule:

  1.  Well, what makes you happy?  What makes your heart sing and dance?  What energises you?  Start there.  If you have small children your routine may mainly be based around them and creating joy with them, AND you will probably find your spirit and mind improves ten-fold by adding-in elements to your schedule that are just for you and that finding trusted quality childcare for a few hours a week will bring you untold benefits.
  2. What self-care do you need to do, what values would you like to honour more?  Put it all in!
  3. What elements of your week de-energise and ‘drag you down’?  Consider the following actions: a) outsource it, b) create a different perspective and ‘just do it’, or c) forget it.
  4. Tip – create your structure in an online calendar that is accessible via your phone – add-in time for planning and remember things like ‘self-care’, research, telephone calls etc.  Sometimes its the little things that makes the difference too.

For more ideas and support on creating a sustaining (maybe radical) routine for your life abroad, book a free consultation session right here by clicking on the button below:  

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Tune-in next week for Part 7  of the ‘From Struggle To Success’ series when I look at Finding Your Purpose – it’s a big one so make sure you get access to it by hitting the ‘subscribe to this blog’ button on the right hand side of this page.

 

HURRY UP – ONLY ONE PLACE LEFT!!!  We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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 Remember in my last post I said you were beautiful?

Well, some powerful evidence has just shown up, which took my breath away…

 

 

If you would like support figuring out your gifts and strengths, or get help in getting unstuck, click here to book your free 40 minute consultation: schedule_session_large

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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Part Five of the Expat ‘From Struggle To Success’ Series looks at ‘landing’ like an expert.  Today is World Art Day, so I encourage you to celebrate the work of art that is YOU.

LandingCheck YOU out, you sexy expat thing you – meeeooooowww!  Yes you, with the eyes….reading this, looking at my letters, words, spaces and all, you are beautiful…I mean it, really really beautiful.  Just look at you…you fabulous human being.

Are you cringing?  Are you embarrassed by that?  Does this make you feel shy or maybe think I’ve gone a little crazy this week?  Has the little voice inside your head just gone and said something like ‘this is stupid, how could she possibly mean me, she doesn’t even know me?’. Good, you are alive! This week let’s start right out the gate by asking you three questions – I want you to score yourself out of ten for each one:

1.  How good are you at taking a compliment or being acknowledged by another person?

2.  How often do you give a compliment or acknowledgement?

3.  How often do you acknowledge yourself?

How did you do?

So, why bother?  What’s the point?  Sure, we can all see the value of numbers 1 and 2, but 3, really??  Me, with my Self-Improvement/Work Ethic?  Let down my guard with this self-indulgent back-patting nonsense?  Steady on!

Ok, so let me propose to you the following idea: a compliment or acknowledgement is an opportunity to see yourself and your gifts as you really are, stripped of all the nonsense we make up about ourselves and our lives.  How you really are is naturally resourceful creative and whole.  You don’t need fixing and you are not broken/lesser than/not good enough/insert as appropriate.  Of course, your may FEEL a little like those things are true at times but that’s just you inner light shining on some stuff that is no longer working to your benefit.  When we really connect to who we really are, our gifts and inner resources, something happens.  Our light gets a little brighter and our energies begin to shift, helping us come full circle – home again to our natural state of well being.  How to connect in?  There are many, ways but this week I want to visit the often overlooked art and skill of Self-Acknowledgement.  Self-Acknowledgement is recognising stuff and saying ‘yes, this actually exists’.   It’s the opposite of denial, where we hold onto stuff so it sticks around (the more we resist, the more stuff persists).  Acknowledgement and recognition releases, frees energy to work its mysterious, sexy ways to our benefit.  When we acknowledge ourselves, we truly ‘land’ home again.

Let me give you an example: when we are struggling, stressed and under a lot of pressure (like creating a new life abroad) it can be really easy to overlook, wash-over, diminish or forget about those gifts within ourselves that brought us to where we are today.  We spend so much time busying around, sorting the apartment, finding schools for the kids, finding where to buy groceries, worrying about finding friends etc – paddling like ducks just to keep our heads above water, we deny our experience, we deny our courage and we deny the fact that we are actually doing REALLY REALLY WELL.  Yeah, you might not have broadband (or running water), but heck, you are here and you are breathing!

So, my next step on the road to successful life abroad is to afford yourself the gift of truly ‘landing’ where you are.  Through self-acknowledgement.  Seat belts off and doors to manual:

1.  Make a list of all the stuff you have achieved in the last two years (and I know you are achievers…) – use your diary or photos to remind you if need be.

2.  Make a list of all the strengths and gifts within you that enabled you to achieve that stuff. What did you demonstrate?  What gifts showed up?  Working with a trusted friend or partner on this can be really valuable as they see things you might not.

3.  Identify from your list those words that you are comfortable with and those which you feel you do not allow yourself to fully own.  What’s difficult for you to swallow? You may find this list helpful: http://www.myvocabulary.com/word-list/character-leadership-vocabulary/

4. Choose two or three words from your list each day and take five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening to settle yourself in front of a mirror (or some other shiny surface if you don’t have one yet), and breathe.  Take three beautiful deep breaths and say to yourself ‘I am….insert word 1. I am..insert word 2.  I am…insert word 3.’  Breathe again and repeat as many times as it takes for the words to ‘land’ with you. 

If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog today, I would encourage you to hit the ‘Follow This Blog’ button on the right hand column to get these posts delivered direct to your inbox, and give yourself an extra minute or two of time for self-acknowledgement.  You are so smart…

If you would like support figuring out your gifts and strengths, or get help in getting unstuck, click here to book your free 40 minute consultation: schedule_session_large

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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