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3 Brilliant Things to do Before Moving Overseas

3 Brilliant Things to do Before Moving Overseas

Though I’ve had much fun and adventure learning the ins and outs of living overseas, there are a few things I wish someone would have told me a year or two before I left the sunny shores of America.  I’m going to share the three that can easily change your move from “Holy crap, what am I going to do?!” into “Whew, I’m glad I read that one blog post because my life over here rocks!”

In January of 2012, my life could only be described as absolutely awesome. I had just received a new promotion at work, bringing my income dangerously close to six figures.  For the first time in my life, I was driving a new car.  My relationship with my girlfriend was stable, fulfilling, and very rewarding—there was even talk of marriage.  One year earlier I had purchased my first home, and in December of 2011 I purchased my first investment property.

For some strange reason, this struck me as the perfect time to sell everything and move overseas. Among the many lessons I’ve learned living in the Mediterranean, here are three that no -one told me about until after I arrived.

Create an income source BEFORE you leave your home country

The concept I see a lot of people carry when they move overseas is that they will find work in the local community, or possibly be an English teacher to locals.  If you run a Google search for American Jobs Overseas, you will be bombarded with advertisements for ESL teaching certifications, as though the entire world is hungry for Americans to come over to their country and teach all the locals English.  In fact, you might think that when you arrive, they will immediately pick you up, carry you through the streets with a hero’s welcome, take you to your lovely new apartment and school, where the local children will sit at your feet in rapt attention, aching to hear your accent and learn your language.

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Doesn’t happen. I know because I tried it. Shortly after arriving in Turkey, I became certified to teach English and got a job. The pay was average, the classrooms were overcrowded, and the students weren’t really that interested. It was very much like teaching a subject back in America, except for the most part my students had no idea what I was asking them to do.  On top of that, the office politics associated with education were very prevalent, and after consulting with many ESL teachers from across the globe, I found that the situation is pretty much the same everywhere.

So, if you don’t enjoy teaching as a profession in your current country, you’re probably not going to fall in love with being a teacher in a foreign country, but if you love teaching in America, you will probably love teaching somewhere else.  Understand that no matter where you are, it’s going to be a very similar situation.

After a failed term as a teacher, I started following my true professional calling: writing and coaching.  With a lot of heartache, fear, sweat, and crying, I’ve managed to replace and outpace my teaching income.

Don’t make the same mistake I did; go overseas with an income source already established.  A blog is a great way to start if you enjoy writing and have a particular subject you are wildly passionate about.  There are many companies which hire full time work-from-home employees and with a little creativity, you can earn a decent income while living in an area with a very low cost of living.  Lastly, if you have a particular service to offer, such as accounting or web design, agencies like Odesk and Elance are a great way to build clients and earn income.  Having this very important step taken care of before moving overseas will save you months of frustration and fear.

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Plug in to the local community of expats.

This may seem like an obvious statement to some, but for me, I had no idea how or why I would reach out to fellow Americans living in Antalya, Turkey.  Having a fiancee from the area, I assumed she would be all I needed.  I was very wrong.  Many of the headaches around Resident’s permits, having packages delivered from America, and getting help with job-hunting requirements, were beyond the scope of my fiancee’s experience.  Having lived in Antalya most of her life, she took some things for granted—like the right to stay in Antalya and having the requirements to get a job.

Let me ask you a question (no Googling): what are the current legal ways an immigrant can stay in America, and how would you go about getting one for an immigrant friend?  It might be more difficult than you think, and in some countries the bureaucracy is mind-boggling.

Having contacts from your own country who have already gone through the hoops you’re about to jump through can be a lifesaver.  Internations.org and Lonelyplanet.com are great places to get started, though I’ve had better luck in the blogging community.   If you Google “(country) + blog” you will find a wealth of bloggers currently living in the country you intend to emigrate to.  Leave a few comments and reach out to the blogger, and you will find someone more than happy to help you with your move.

We bloggers are helpful people, after all.

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Get a major credit card

All of the Dave Ramsey fans reading this are undoubtedly shaking their heads furiously at my horrible advice.  Credit cards are bad, right?  Bad debt is what caused our financial crisis and to advise people to get more credit cards is a terrible idea, don’t you think?

The truth is, if you go overseas with only your bank debit card or the idea that you will have money wired to you, you are in for some serious trouble.  Most banks have transfer fees and many banks overseas will only allow a foreigner to open an account if he/she deposits a large some of money; say $5000+.  On top of that, signing up for a bank account without really understanding the business culture can put you in a very sticky legal situation down the road.  Best to avoid getting a local account until you are fully convinced you will be in the country a few years.

How do credit cards factor in to this equation? For starters, many credit card companies will waive any overseas transaction or conversion fees. Case in point, if I use my U.S. Bank debit card here in Turkey, I’m charged a 5% overseas transaction fee. On my Capital One Master Card, there is no transaction fee. Over the past year, that has saved me well over $1000 in fees alone. On top of that, there’s a decent fee to transfer money via Western Union, or to perform an international wire transfer between an American bank and a local one overseas. My credit card allows me to withdraw local currency from almost any local ATM for a measly 3%, so on the occasions I do need to carry local cash, it’s an easy, affordable stop to the nearest ATM of any bank.

The last reason I recommend a credit card is because it can help you manage your budget. I have a $1200 limit on my card and refuse to raise it higher. If I begin spending more than $1200 a month here, I’m doing something wrong. By keeping my spending all on one card, it’s easy for me to manage my budget monthly without being able to go over. And, since I religiously pay off the balance every month, I get all the bonus miles without any interest charges. It works for me; maybe it could work for you.

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Those are the three things I wish people would have told me before moving overseas.  I hope they will save you from some headaches in the future.  If you are planning on moving overseas, please feel free to contact me and I will give you whatever help and advice I am able.

I do have a question for you: what advice would you give someone moving overseas for the first time?

 

 

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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