May 11, 2020

Identifying Depleters

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The gravity that pulls me under

The last blog spoke of buoyancy upthrust. Today we examine the gauges that indicate weight that pushes one under. What pulls you down?
I call these things depleters. It took about six months to accumulate the list of things that drain my buoyancy. Here are eight depleters I have identified.


I don’t run from or avoid conflict like I once did, but it still takes a lot of energy.


Dilemmas are things that are beyond my control or solutions at the moment.

Broken relationships

Relationship Health and emotional health are co-related. The healthier I have become after burnout, the healthier relationships became, and relationships break down less frequently. Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable, different values and different aspirations. Irrespective of why or how, breakdown of relationships exert a significant downward force.


I list preaching even though it’s a gift, a calling and a delight. After preaching, I feel emotionally and physically drained. I know I have to pay attention to filling the tank as I have greatly poured out.

Psychological stress

The loss of a loved one, unrealised expectations, rejection, triangulation, or manipulation all-cause psychological stress.

Physically Sick

When I am physically unwell, I am less resilient and less aware of others. Physical sickness impacts my emotional well-being

Over work

Exerting beyond safe limits makes me very vulnerable to depletion. In this zone, the fuel empties at a quicker rate.


Before my burnout, this was one of my key strengths. Now it’s much harder and requires more effort.

Take time to identify your depleters and monitor them.

Each of these eight items are depleters of buoyancy. Monitoring them has been helpful as it shows me when I need to increase buoyancy activities and where possible minimise depleters. List your depletions and watch the amount of drain.

I am grateful for my mentor who through his feedback helped me build awarness of depleters. He also helped me take ownership of change. For example helping me identify what steps I could take to repaire broken relationships.

Warning stress is has a cumulative effect.

Depleters have a cumulative effect. My burnout was caused by sustained stress over a long period of time. I have discovered that when my chart shows three depletes it’s not just 1+1+1=3, but more like three squared (=9). The sum of stress is greater than the cumulative of the individual stresses. So I know I need to be careful when they mount up. The principle here is to discover what’s your threshold and is that sustainable for you? High stress over a long period of time leads to burnout. Who can help you identify stress and minimise it?

A really helpful book on stress is Adrenaline and Stress by Arch Heart. Arch Heart says that the cumulative effect of stress is seen in high blood pressure. (Loc 1963) My resting heart rate is elevated when under many areas of stress.

Love to hear what you list as depleters.

Weekly Review

Take time to review these weekly. If you note something else to add to any of the carts do so. I am confident that the buoyancy measures work for all. But deleters will have different effects in different people.

After you look at your gauges, apply the principle of self-regulation and self-moderation.

Reflection Question: What do I need to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to?

This season calls for thriving leaders who are able to reinvent themselves and their ministry—to adapt and change in response to the Covid-19 challenge.

Continue reading with these articles…

  1. More great insights Don. Thank you once again for taking the time to put these blogs together

    Cheers Sue J

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