‘Depleted’ – a word coined for 2021

Author: Erin Louw, Xena Founder & Executive

‘Depleted’ – a word coined for 2021..

When Cate ran a poll on the Xena app asking for everyone’s feelings towards the last few weeks of the year, as much as it was disturbing (let’s face it, ‘stress’ and ‘dread’ are serious words), it was almost comforting to know that I’m wasn’t the only one feeling…I didn’t know what the word was…

It wasn’t ‘tired’, because as much as I know I have no trouble sleeping and I also have the suspicion it won’t solve what I have. ‘Exhausted’, maybe? Yet, somehow it does not cover the mental element to it. ‘Burnout’ then…but I don’t feel like I can’t go anymore…so what was this feeling?

Then a dear friend mentioned the word ‘depleted’. And in an instant, I felt that ‘aha’!

That is what it is! Depleted somehow covers the entire spectrum above as well as the sense of feeling empty and lack of mental capacity to deal with anything ‘additional’. And yet, the diary appointments seem like they multiplied overnight with no end in sight.

So of course, I Googled ‘depleted’.

Healthline.com asked: Do you experience any of the following:

  • Absentmindedness (tick)
  • Irritability (tick)
  • Irrational anger (tick)
  • Increased cynicism (tick)
  • Sense of dread (tick – to the point that I really am dreading my pending birthday)
  • Apathy (well, tick – since I somehow feel like I’m faking my empathy more)

What does that even mean? Can this be caused by:

  • Perfectionism (tick)
  • Difficulty to meet deadlines (tick)
  • Working long hours under high pressure (tick)
  • Raising children (tick)
  • Being a caregiver (yes, if you have children)
  • Death of a family member or good friend (yes…COVID really made this a reality)

Okay. What if I really love my job, my family, the kids and it is too late to do anything about my perfectionism? Do I just surrender to the inevitable?

No. I refuse to accept that this is how I’m entering what is supposed to be the ‘most wonderful time of the year’. If there is anything I know from years of attempting December breaks – they do not work when you enter them feeling like, well, this…

It also does nothing for my caring nature to know that ‘I’m not alone’. The part ‘fixer’, part ‘(ex) medical professional’ in me really would like to get to the treatment part now that I think I’ve diagnosed the problem.

Let’s say I have 2 weekends left, how can I hack my way to a ‘holiday-mom’ (and not a recovering workaholic mom)?

Therefore, I hereby declare, that I’m challenging myself to do the below 5 step plan (1 for every finger on my hand) – because I love a good challenge and might even throw in a few ‘family-team-events’:

1. Spend time talking to someone (‘some-many’) you care about


Helloooo date night for the introvert me (or, double dating with a couple I haven’t engaged with recently) for a relaxing evening of talk and dinner and authentic connection. Feeling someone ‘caring’ about you is a surefire way to get those endorphins flowing. If you don’t believe me, just close your eyes, and imagine a deep hug from your mom. Wait…and…there it is…

2. Be creative in any way


Do some festive card making, drawing, sketching, making music, gardening, cooking (would not work for me through, as that just feels like regular Tuesday)… anything and everything. Find ways to engage and distract your mind from things other than to-do lists and work tasks.

3. Enjoy a proper ‘post-series-binge-sleep’


I know I don’t feel tired, but it could also just be because I’m so wired that my brain does not want to recognise the sleep signals just in case it gives in and is not able to yank itself back. Book a ‘book-day’ with sleep and tea, and some more sleep and popcorn, and preferably keep an eye on the weather app since a cloudy day is great for just such occasions.

4. Reduce stress through whatever means necessary


That also involves removing things (or people) that trigger that feeling of irrational phone throwing – just avoid altogether if you must – that is ‘January 2022-me’s’ problem. Also, it involves doing things that reduce stress like ANY exercise – walking, running, jumping, dancing…find the things that bring you joy and do a lot of it…daily.

5. Get help (even professional help if necessary).


One of the reasons we feel overwhelmed is because we are. Put your pride in your pocket and ask for help either from your spouse or colleague. Identify whether it is a ‘now’ problem or a ‘futures state’ problem and recruit where necessary. Often, the answer to being a better you lies in a bigger team.

Now, like you, I’m new to this whole post-covid-coping thing, but I’m giving the above a shot and would love to know that I’m not alone in (also) tackling this.

If you have any other great ideas that deserve one of the fingers on the other hand – please shout and add – we are going at this, together.

To network with like-minded women in business, connect with us on the Xena platform. Download the mobile app on the Apple Appstore or on Google Play and start building your network.

About the Author
Erin Louw is also a Xena Mentor and is learning everything about growing an online community. To grab a coffee or connect over work, kids and owning your journey, book a session with her via the Xena app (download on Apple Appstore or Google Play).

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