On Learning to Refill My Cup: Part Two

Jennifer MitchellPsychotherapy

Previously (Click Here) I shared a few of the changes I made (or re-started) in my life to refill my cup. I had been scraping the bottom of my cup due to academic pressure, chronic pain, overextension on commitments and grief. However, no matter where you are at, it is never too late to make small changes, which can lead to bigger changes and result in feeling more in control of your life. While everyone is different, my hope is that by sharing some of my own strategies, it might prompt you to try the same or get you thinking about the ways you perhaps used to fill your cup or ways that you are going to start to filling your cup.

  1. I mentioned moving the body in my last post. I have tried some fitness apps and I quite like the 7 Fit app. This app walks you through a 7 minute workout. Even 7 minutes can be hard, but having the app helped me to start moving my body. Research other apps that encourage stretching or light work outs to get your body moving. It’s okay to start slow!

  2. Try not to check your email first thing in the morning. This has been great! As I wrote in the last post, I start my morning by narrating my experiences as they happen to keep me fully present and to manage the influx of worrisome and stressful thoughts. I likewise committed to wait to check my email (or any social media) until after I completed my morning routine. Checking our email first thing may push us into “work” right away and checking social media can suck us in and eat away our time.

  3. Reward yourself. Yep, you bet! There have been days that I did not want to get out of bed, shower or complete tasks. While I don’t think we need to reward ourselves for every little thing we do, it is good practice to reward ourselves every now and then – whether it’s a mental pat on the back, taking a vacation or taking ourselves out for a walk or a coffee, it’s important to be nice to ourselves.

  4. Say No! I believe it is imperative to our mental health to set boundaries. Perhaps you struggle with saying no to friends, family or saying no to taking on extra duties at work. Perhaps you are afraid of disappointing people or afraid of what they may think about you if you say no.  I get it!  I do as well. Boundaries deserves a whole new post – but these few key points help me:

    • When you say “no” to giving more of your time – you are saying “yes” to time doing the things YOU want to do.
    • Listen to that inner voice! Does your gut tell you to say “no”? Have you started to feel resentful when you complete that task, lend that money or do that favor that was asked of you? Do you dread doing what you have agreed to do? While it can be complex, these are often red flags that our boundaries have weakened.
    • When it comes to socializing, it is important to spend time with people we enjoy! Be okay with saying “no” to socializing to people that drain you, are one-sided (they never ask about you), or who are unkind to others.
  1. Do what nourishes you! These are the activities that bring you joy and contentment. However, too often, we start to feel guilty for doing them, or tell ourselves we don’t have enough time or even hold a core belief that we do not deserve to nourish ourselves. Everyone has different ways of nourishing themselves. Personally, I find joy in walking my dogs and I love browsing used bookstores. If you are finding it hard to nourish yourself, feel guilty or have lost the joy you once had in the activities you love due to stress, anxiety, pain or burnout, it is OK to reach out for some assistance to get you back to enjoying the things that nourish you!

Often we pour and pour without conscious awareness, but as we gain awareness, we also gain the power to make small changes and build on those changes to feel stronger. If you are tackling a dissertation or big project and are starting to feel overwhelmed, apathetic and emotionally and/or physically exhausted, try taking small steps to refill your cup. If you are finding small steps difficult, a therapist can help you identify obstacles and assist in exploring strategies that are right for you.