Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

This post is inspired by sundaebean.

We often hear our fellow expats complain about a lack of sleep and work taking over their lives -it seems that expat lives involve far too much work and impact sleep significantly. So for this edition, I thought I would talk about setting certain ground rules in our lives to get out of overdrive.

Getting Out of Overdrive Mode in Life

Christine Hansen, sleep expert and founder of Sleep Like a Boss, has detailed and often surprising insight into how expats can improve their sleep hygiene. Let’s dive in:

  • Before any ground rules can be established, it is important to figure out why expats have such frequent complaints about their sleep. The root cause can be traced down, surprisingly, to expats themselves. We just want to do everything as international professionals. Work, explore new locales, experience the local food and culture and architecture, give time to the family back home in another time zone and engage the kids in activities. As a result, sleep is the first thing that gets sacrificed in the quest to make each day last longer.
  • Many people, expats or otherwise, still question the science behind needing to sleep a certain minimum amount. The evidence is clearly there in your daily productivity – work output is shoddier and error-prone and any time you theoretically “saved” by sleeping less is consumed in correcting those mistakes. The evidence is also there in the long-term effects of low sleep, our bodies deteriorate with age and too little sleep not only accelerates it, but it also leaves us vulnerable to a host of symptoms and illnesses. Is that really a price worth paying for “a little more time” every day?
  • Sticking to the scientific approach, a good approach for expats who want to do it all is to figure out precisely how much sleep they need. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you start by getting slightly less sleep than you need. Then, by keeping the time you wake up at unchanged for the next two weeks – maybe use an alarm, you work your way backward in increments of 30 minutes until you reach a point where you find yourself waking up just a few minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off. That point may be less than 8 hours for some people, more than that for others, but this exercise will allow you to pinpoint the right amount for yourself. That way, you can schedule the rest of your life around the optimal sleep time.
  • As with most things in life, consistency is key to establishing great sleep hygiene and getting optimal quality sleep. That can sometimes get difficult if you have kids and have to travel, jet lag is the ruin of any good sleep routine! That’s why it’s important to try and continue on that routine even during travel, it really helps! An interesting tip here, especially for children, is to make certain fragrances part of the “going to sleep” routine. Our bodies react really strongly to familiar scents, so you can take these fragrances everywhere you go and they will help maintain the same sort of sleep your children get in the comfort of their own beds. This works for adults too, our olfactory senses really are that amazing!
  • Let’s face it, most expats have busy lives. There are many however whose lives are so busy that they frequently have no time for themselves and they end up encroaching on sleep time for their hobbies. The recommendation for them, inflexible and tough as it sounds, is to schedule “me” time in advance. It’s really the only way to consistently squeeze in hobbies and relaxation time into the very busy schedules.
  • Throughout these suggestions, the recurring theme has been “add structure, plan your sleep and your life around sleep” which can seem boring, but the benefits reaped from high-quality sleep are immense! Tired people are irritable, prone to more illness and generally not nice to be around. I am sure we can all relate to that last one!
  • One thing that can really help you get into the right frame of mind to improve your sleep hygiene is to remind yourself why you are doing it: Whether it’s for better work performance, or quality time with family, reminding yourself why you want quality sleep will help you be motivated – it’s human nature to prioritize yourself last and choosing external motivators will prove more effective for this.

To wrap up, one last tip: Something you can do immediately to improve your sleep hygiene is to start a sleep journal. Just take five minutes out of your day to just jot down all the crap and rubbish and stress you face in a day. That way, you’ll take it out of your brain and see an immediate uptick in the quality of sleep you get.

I’m sure you have noticed the arrival of fall by now – the avalanche of brilliant red-golden leaves falling off trees, the shortening of precious daylight hours and the sudden briskness in the breeze.

While the beauty of a European fall is unparalleled, for some people the shorter days and cold weather heralds a period of demotivation and negative feelings. For me it is the “Zurich fog” in November that can get to me. 

Considering the current situation of Covid-19 and the consequent loss of freedom, the thought of November could be overwhelming. So I have thought about ways to make November bearable for all of us.

Dealing with feelings of loneliness is doubly tough when you are an expat who just arrived here. However, even international people who have lived here for years sometimes miss close friends in this city.

Feeling lonely, sad and unproductive can affect not just your work performance, but your everyday life too. So today, I’d like to talk about ways in which we can keep ourselves inspired and motivated through November and the impending winter months, especially if we don’t have a family here.

1 – Plan and stick to an exercise routine and meal plan

A productive routine is key to keeping your mind crisp, and exercise keeps both your mind and body in tip-top shape – combine the two and you have a recipe for staying motivated in the coming seasons! 

Exercise for most people means a trip to the gym. Don’t worry if you are one of those who cringe at the thought of indoor gyms. Instead, you can take advantage of the wonderful sights and sounds that fall affords us and take up cycling or jogging. The double endorphin release of exercise and beautiful scenery is a great way to stay positive and inspired about your daily life.

Note, though, that it is important to strike the right balance with the rest of your routine. Most people enter exercise with a lot of passion and overdo it, which kills motivation very quickly. 

Start slow, perhaps with a 25 minute walk on two or three days a week and try to follow the schedule. That is more important than straining your body too much.

You should also develop a meal plan for every day which includes a lot of fresh vegetables and greens. Make sure you include lemons, apples and other Vitamin-C deliverers.

2 – Improve your Sleep Cycle

Another critical component of improving your health is to fix and improve your sleep regimen. In today’s always-on era, we are all guilty, to a certain extent, or taking actions that poorly affect the quality of our sleep. So here is a short primer on how to get better, more refreshing sleep daily: 

Take your mobile devices to bed. Give them a place in your home outside of your bedroom where you place them by 9 pm. After you’ve put your phone to bed, don’t touch it anymore. Use the “sleep” mode to block incoming messages. Turn off the buzzers.

Stop using all electronic devices two hours before you want to sleep. Studies show that the light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythms. Instead, consider going to bed with a novel or other light reading (again, not on devices). 

Practice relaxation techniques such as PMR. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is especially beneficial for reducing muscle tension caused by psychological stress and has a proven rejuvenating effect if practiced regularly. 

Get up at the same time every morning. This loops back to the discussion on how routine-building is beneficial to physical and mental health. 

3 – Don’t fall into the trap of worry

Worry is a feeling or a state of being anxious and troubled over potential problems. Worry is a type of futuristic thinking about events in a way that leaves you anxious and apprehensive. The back and forth around integrating into and adapting with a new culture as an expat can be inundating. From experiencing culture shock to trying to create a new professional network and then to the thought of being cautious not to catch Coronavirus. The most appealing response to this type of situation is obviously “Worry”. 

Ironically, what we worry about most times often does not happen. Worry is just a mental clutter that incapacitates you from taking any meaningful step and doing anything worthwhile. It blocks your brain from being productive. 

Hence, try not to fall into that trap! You may want to ask how. Let’s see.

Be present. Whilst it is good to be futuristic in one’s approach, do not allow the thought of tomorrow still the joy of today away from you.

Read a book. It is proven that reading helps reduce stress and anxiety. Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors.

Ask for help. As simply as this sounds, it is a proven means of easing tension and offloading burdens. Asking for help from the right person is not a sign of weakness. It is, in fact, a sign of how strong you have been. 

4 – Learn a Creative Skill

An unforeseen consequence of expatriation is just how much every aspect of it takes over your life – from the learning curve of the new job to the transactional tasks of integrating into a new culture (send an email to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com to get the excel version of the checklist) and country. By the end of the day you may find yourself with no time left for your own growth.

In the scenario described above, it can be tough to carve out regular time for developing creative skills that interest you, especially if you don’t have an accountability buddy or coach to keep you motivated.

How does one find inspiration? I find that duplicating, or being a part of what the creative community does every fall is an excellent way to both build new relationships and spend time on yourself. You could participate in National Novel Writing Month (NoNoWriMo) where large swathes of communities online and offline get together to create and explore their artistic sides daily for the duration of that month. We have our very own Zurich writer’s community supporting you with the Woolf.

If such creative endeavours appeal to you, definitely pursue them! Otherwise, you can utilize the same template for whatever skill you are looking to develop. Devote a fixed amount of time daily where, distraction free, you engage in a certain skill-building activity. As with the previous suggestion on exercise, routine and regularity is key! 

This is the reason why I encourage you to write those 25 minutes practices into your RockMeApp and tick them off at the end of the week. A good practice would be: “On 5 days out of 7, I’m writing my long-hand diary 25 minutes a day to develop a writing routine”.

5 – Join a Special Interest Group such as our Theatre Nights

Last year we started a special interest group for going to the theatre since the Schauspielhaus Zurich introduced English-speaking surtitles. This is an example of a group you could join. Search on Meet-Up for anything you are interested in and I am sure you will find it. 

6 – Support and Help as a Volunteer

I recommend that if you are feeling a bit low in November that you find a group where you can help out as a volunteer. Helping others for the sake of being a good human being and without an agenda behind it usually raises your energy level. You can limit it to 3 hours a week so you don’t burn out but try if this works for you. If you have no idea how to volunteer contact us. We have an overview of associations and we also can recommend contacts for you. Also, we have four requests for volunteers that we shared in our Global People Club Facebook Group.

4 C’s Calculate – Choose – Change – Create

Guest post by Val Bath

Our ability to build culture mastery doesn’t rest only on knowing about another culture, but also on our ability to appreciate what values, habits and behaviors affect that culture.

Given this challenging year and the need for cross-cultural understanding, the ability to regulate one’s emotions when working with others from diverse cultures is critical. The Culture Mastery 4C’s Process™ surfaces the “why” behind the cultural differences and responses.  In this article, we will explore the 4 steps in the process which brings together the practice of coaching and intercultural training.   The goal of the program is to teach coaches and other leaders in talent development to guide their clients on a journey from identification of cultural preferences through the establishment of real-world solutions. 

Culture consists of many things.  It encompasses tangible elements such as food, language, customs, religion, and dress as well as intangible elements such as values, beliefs and traditions.  These intangible elements are often full of emotions.  The emotional component frequently gets overlooked in most models and most informational cultural presentations – but that’s the one component that is the most critical when you get to the core of succeeding in another culture.  This emotional undertow often makes changing and working with other cultures a struggle and will define how difficult or easy it will be for anyone to adjust to the habits and behaviors of the new culture. 

Culture manifests itself in the interaction between individuals.  Our culture reflects both our values, our dreams, and our beliefs, and it reflects our talents, our skills, and the habits we learned from our surroundings. Similarly, our counterparts also exhibit their values, beliefs, skills, talents, and dreams, through their culture manifestation.  When we interact with each other (and if we are observant) we will discover our own values, behaviors, perspectives and their values, behaviors, perspectives.

Our journey to understanding another culture and to culture mastery consists of 4 phases – 4 C’s – Calculate – Choose – Change – Create.

Calculate Choose Change Create

The process starts with the first C – Calculate.  You calculate your preference on the continuum of each cultural variable and thus learn your own Cultural Blueprint. You then compare it with the Cultural Blueprints of your co-workers/staff/clients/ partners from another country/culture and calculate the gaps between your preferences and theirs.

The second C – Choose – takes you through the process of choosing your negotiable and non-negotiable variables.  Making that choice from the perspective of your values will allow you to understand which behaviors/habits you can adjust.

The third C – Change – teaches you the process of changing your cultural attitudes, habits and behaviors when dealing with negotiable variables.

The fourth C – Create – helps you create cultural alliances and agreements for those variables that are non-negotiable.

The following ICF coaching competencies are incorporated into the Culture Mastery 4C’s Process:

  •         Coaching Mindset: Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others.
  •         Co-Creating the Relationship: Seeks to understand the client within their context which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.
  •         Coaching Presence: Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident.
  •         Communicating Effectively: Considers the client’s context, identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs to enhance understanding of what the client is communicating.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Val Bath

Valerie Bath is a recognized authority on cultural relativism and its impact on the productivity and profitability of individuals and global organizations. She has trained consultants, coaches, and employees from multinational corporations over the past 15 years. Previously, she had a career at Accenture and for scientific technology leader Texas Instruments Semiconductor. In both organizations, Valerie designed and implemented enterprise-wide multi-continent systems solutions working with clients and colleagues in the US, Asia, and Europe.

For more information about the Cultural Mastery 4Cs Process::

https://webinars.globalcoachcenter.com/

Please watch the testimonials: www.globalcoachcenter.com/services/assessment/ 

in English, French, and German.

#crossculturaltraining #crosscultural #coaching #CultureMastery #CCE #ICF #expat #culturaltraining

Are you one of those settled professionals who suddenly had to get out of the last job? Did you love to write as a high school senior but figured a career in journalism would take too many years of crafting the art?

Maybe this is the time in your life when you want to get back into the habit. Perhaps this is really the time when you want to consider starting a writing career in Switzerland. 

Seven Reasons to Start a Writing Career in Switzerland

1)   You cannot handle frustrating meetings any longer

2)  You don’t want to conform to the typical 8 AM to 5 PM working day

3)  You’ve decided that you finally want to feed your passion and earn an income out of it

4) You’ve always been good at telling stories and want to do it more consistently

5)   Your values constantly clash with your company’s values

6)   Parenthood completely overwhelmed you

7)   Your partner got a wonderful –it-was-always-my-dream-to-move-to Switzerland-Singapore-Santa Barbara-kind of job offer and you are in a new country without a professional network.

How many of these points can you tick? If you can relate to at least one of them, I encourage you to keep reading what comes next. 

Four Signs You Feel the Urge to Develop Your Creative Side

1)   You neglected writing in order to earn a living but you always journal during your holidays.

2)  You did not know you were more creative than others until a psychologist told you.

3)   You are bored and need to do more than painting your nails, cooking and washing clothes to satisfy your creativity.

4)   You are going through a transition and that triggers the urge to WRITE, PAINT, SING, PLAY AN INSTRUMENT…

Your writing could become a new source of income for you. You will probably not land a bestseller overnight but even publishing a book has become rather easy in the age of kindle desktop publishing.

It is important that you have the skill of language composition and you know your grammar well.  Unless you wish to become a literary fiction writer,I don’t think you need a diploma in writing though.

Three Tips to Start a Writing Career in Switzerland

#1 Guest Blog

You could guest blog for “Hello Switzerland” for starters or submit your articles to www.ezinearticles.com. They also have good writing tips there.

http://blog.ezinearticles.com/

http://www.helloswitzerland.ch/

https://www.contently.com/

https://serp.co/content/what-is-content-marketing/

You can also check the categories on our website to see if you would be a good fit as guest blogger for Global People Transitions. We’d be happy to read your content! Write to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com if you’re interested. 

#2 Join a Community of Writers

As a large and international expat hub, Zurich has a great community of writers and independent authors and there is a lot to learn.

http://www.nuancewords.org/

https://rowinggirl.com/

https://zurichwritersworkshop.com/

http://www.dicconbewes.com/category/writing/

http://triskelebooks.blogspot.ch/2013/11/tis-season.html

#3 Educate Yourself with a Good Mentor

If you need a kick in the b… I recommend you read Jeff Goins’ blog. He is a motivator for aspiring writers and authors.

What’s your experience with blogging and writing?

Please share with your best friend. You can also leave us a comment below if you feel like sharing with our Club Sandwich readers. 

 

Choosing home and school languages How will my child learn German best now we have moved to Switzerland? Which German should they learn first, Swiss German or High German? Living with several languages forces you to juggle your child’s needs and your family’s future. In this talk for international parents with young children, Monica Shah Zeeman will present strategies that will help you plan your children’s language learning in the multi-lingual school environment in and around Zurich. 

Why parents should choose early education Learn about brain development and the foundations of your child’s learning in this talk about how to fulfil his or her individual potential. Preparing your child for a brighter future and school success is not always easy but once you know what to look for in your child’s early years learning environment you are well on your way. 

Choosing between school systems in Switzerland Should parents choose a Swiss or an International School? And what is a –Swiss International school? There is a great choice of schools here, each with their own curriculum, language/s and culture. The school you choose has implications for your child’s future. Monica Shah Zeeman founder and Head of Children First in Zurich will share her experience of the pros and cons of each and explain some of the differences between schools and routes to university. 

Reflective Parenting and Presence Play We all want to be engaged parents once we get home as well as keep energetic at work. Children keep you on your toes, they are a challenge as well as a joy! In this talk Monica Shah Zeeman founder of Children First Association presents new strategies including Reflective Parenting and Presence Play to help working mums and dads to act confidently in unpredictable situations and to develop their children’s independence. Sometimes being a parent is harder work than going to the office but no-one gives you any training in it. 

Career and Children: Is it possible? After having a child, your worldview changes forever. Your career, however, is still a huge part of your identity and which will ultimately benefit your family greatly if you pursue it. Many new mothers deal with guilt and the pressure to juggle it all perfectly. With many flexible options and changes in the workplace today it is more possible than ever not just to have a job but to pursue a meaningful career. Having the right network and strategies in place will be key before finding the right job or starting your own company. Monica Shah Zeeman 

will teach you how to manage family expectations, find a support network while living abroad, arrange childcare and important considerations in building your career path in Switzerland. 

Daycare languages How many languages should my child learn at once? What’s the difference between one daycare and another? What do they learn in the early years? If your preschool child is growing up with more than one language come and hear early years expert Monica Shah Zeeman talk about daycare with a difference. 

How to choose a bilingual daycare Developmental daycare is an early years setting where the teachers care about how your child is developing and learning as an individual. Language adds another dimension in a social group. 

Choosing the best school for your child There is a great choice of schools, each with their own curriculum, language/s and culture. The school you choose has implications for your child’s future and ability to realize their educational potential. Get informed from the get-go! 

Parenting Multi-lingual Children We meet parents whose children could speak 5 languages – how to choose which one to encourage first, in which order can they learn to minimize confusion, how can we get results that suit our individual family? This talk can be arranged with individual families. CHF 50 per 30 minutes. 

Choose Zoom or a talk in your company (distance due to Covid regulations apply). 

About the speaker: Monica Shah Zeeman, Children First Association, Founder and Head 

Monica Shah Zeeman has been working with international families since 2006 to support their lives abroad. Founder of Children First, her diploma from the renowned Tavistock Clinic in London informs Children First care and educational services and she runs parenting courses and workshops for teachers in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Monica is the Education columnist for Family Matters (an online magazine in Switzerland) and author of Heinemann Management series ‘Working with Parents’ for secondary school teachers. 

September 2020