Taking Care of Yourself First

As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. It is also true that it can take some time to refill the cup when it has been emptied and not used to holding on to anything.

When life gets busy and everyone and everything around us demands our attention and energy, we easily put our own care down low on the priority list. It can be so much easier to be a workaholic or say yes to everyone else, than it is to have the strong self discipline to take time for yourself and your needs. 

We all have times in our lives when there are peaks and troughs in how busy we are. This is a natural cycle that seems to be slowly diminishing into a constant lifestyle of being busy. Times when we would sit down and have a quiet conversation or do activities that recharge us, are being replaced with time scrolling on social media, or finding something to watch or be entertained by. This is ok to do occasionally but we also have to be aware that doing this all the time can lead to burnout. We need time when we are quiet or creative or doing things that make us feel alive. Always consuming entertainment and media is making us feel mentally drained, overloaded and constantly on the go. 

We all need time just to be and not constantly be doing things. Time when we are not mentally going through the to do list to find what to do next. 

It takes our minds a while to relax out of the addictive rat race and slow down the pace. When we first start to stop, all the thoughts and ideas we haven’t made time for come to the surface and bombard us. Eventually they slow and settle, like in a meditation practice. 

We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed and all we want to do is watch our favourite comfort movie and forget the world. That’s exactly what you might need to do for a while!

When we hit the stage of being burnt out, it can be hard to do any activities. It takes effort, discipline and time to clear out the clutter of stress, tension in the body and the constant inflow of thoughts. Continuing on the empty cup analogy, we need to get rid of all the leftover dirty water and give the cup a good clean. 

Once you have taken some time to stop and ignore the world, then comes the next stage of feeling restless and wanting to do something creative or whatever makes you feel alive. This is when we want to start filling the cup again. It can be easy to fall into old patterns of being busy and dedicating your energy to everything but yourself. If we want the cup to stay full of clean refreshing water, we need to gradually and regularly add to it with things that restore us, in balance with the things we have to do. 

If your cup has been empty or depleted for some time, it can be hard to accept that you need time for yourself and to hold yourself to it. Your cup may not be used to holding water at all and you are used to freely giving it away without considering what will sustain you. Breaking this pattern is tricky but so worth it! You may need to start with setting some rules around having time set aside just for yourself. It might be taking time first thing in the morning to be still, have quiet time or self care before anyone else gets a piece of you. Let your family and friends know that this is ‘your time’ and get them to help you stick to it!

Asking others to help us restore our energy is vital too, if they feel that their cups are full, they may top up your cup until you can fill it yourself. We need help with delegating tasks and equaling up the workload when it becomes unbalanced. 

You may find that your cup has cracks in it where the water gets out without you noticing. Slowing down can show us where our energy and time can be disappearing, like down the rabbit hole of the internet or social media. It also makes us aware of how we feel after these activities – do we feel energised or drained? Do we want to continue doing them or only do it occasionally and with limits?

Nature is an instant way to slow down and feel at ease with the world. It is impossible to feel rushed when walking in the bush or watching the ducks at the local pond. 

Going back to activities you did when you were younger is a great gateway into activities that slow you down and bring joy. Playing a musical instrument, reading and writing, making crafts or art, dancing and singing, building things and gaming. Anything that helps you get out of your head and into your body always helps! 

At first slowing down and making time for ourselves is an uphill battle, then all of a sudden you start to like not being constantly busy and you coast down the other side of the hill, gaining momentum and building more self care reservoirs as you go. Before you know it, you have a full cup of healthy, clean water that you can overflow and help others with too. 

Take good care Readers, I’ll keep the light on.

A Word on Timing, Comfort and Change

There is something to be said for timing and usually we only see that something happens at the perfect time if it involves an obvious change or lesson, but even the things that we seek comfort from can come to us at the right time.

Book Therapy – Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time

One of my all-time favorite people to recommend is Brooke McAlary and her new book, Care, helps us work out what to do when the world’s problems feel too big and we are burnt out from trying, and we need to restore ourselves so that we can continue to care for things.

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