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Fill Your Cup/Fill Your Toolbox!

Ten ways to fill your cup and fill your toolbox!

(This may or may not be a low-key plug for my upcoming retreat of the same name, but whatevs…)

We all know you can’t pour from an empty cup and to put on our oxygen mask before helping those around us but these days (as in 2020!) it takes on a whole new level of “LITERALLY”! As a yoga therapist, meditation, breathing techniques and yoga poses are clearly my thing but are not for everyone. So how do YOU fill your cup? Oh, you don’t? Let’s work on that shall we, because I’m pretty sure if there is ever a time to figure this out it’s during the tsunami of back to school/election/flu season that is about to drop.

1. STOP with the guilt! We all have needy partners, pets, friends, kids, parents and bosses; some of whom are not used to hearing “no” from us… Say it with me…NO! Feels good, right? When you feel badly about carving time out for yourself regardless of the reason, you teach others to expect you to always be available and you teach yourself that you don’t deserve the time for you. Also, you teach those who look up to you, kids, employees, men-tees, etc., that they should emulate this behavior themselves which makes for exponential growth of a crappy behavior! Decide now, especially if you are going to keep reading, exactly how much time per day or week you are going to set aside for cup filling, and don’t tell me you can’t find 30 minutes 3 times per week!

2. Share this schedule with everyone who may or may not care! Set that boundary up ahead of time…I will not take non-emergency work calls between 8-9 PM, I will not be answering my phone to hear about your latest breakup, colonoscopy, or ZOOM fiasco before noon, I will not read that bedtime story AGAIN after 7:00. You get where I’m going here, set yourself up for success and articulate WHY you are setting a new boundary, and that it’s seriously for everyone’s safety and well-being.

3. What were your favorite things to do before, well, life? This is a little more challenging now that we can’t do all of the things we used to, so get creative! Love the theater or movies? If theaters are closed where you are, charge your tablet or laptop (or borrow your kids school issued chromebook) and head to a park (or even a parking lot) for a showing for one. Don’t forget the snacks. What was a special art or craft you enjoyed as a child? Loop potholders could make a comeback! Collect old magazines and make a collage of what you want to do in 2021, scrapbook, or just take a nap! I think we are all over the sourdough by now but if it’s your thing…

4. About that nap…pay attention to whether your chosen activities are REALLY filling your cup or are an avoidance technique. The term “self-care” gets on my nerves sometimes if I’m being honest because it can be used as an excuse to indulge in activities that really accomplish nothing. Binging “Below Deck” on Bravo is a favorite way to kill a few hours and if I’m not feeling well or just totally fried then sure, self-care. But if I am honest with myself, it’s usually not filling my cup, just damn entertaining! The line here is different for everyone, even from day to day, no judgement! Just be mindful of how you feel before/after and use the time for what will make a difference for you in that moment.

5. Get outside! And trust, I do not mean a camping trip or even a 5-mile hike unless that’s your thing. NOT mine. I mean get some good old vitamin D the way nature intended, from the sun. Obviously, you know what you need in terms of sunblock so no lecture from me here, but just sitting on a bench or your front step for 5-10 minutes can hit a reset button. As the weather starts to turn, this is even more important so bundle up and go! Even better, use that 10 minutes for a walk around the block, soundtrack optional.

6. Cup’s empty, it’s Monday and the previous items on this list aren’t possible right now. Take 30 seconds, more if possible, close your eyes, repeat slowly to yourself, “I can do this” or “I am calm” (or any phrase or word that resonates). Focus on slowing down the breath and create a pattern with the word or phrase and the breath. If your mind is still all over the place, try picturing the words as you say them or picture your favorite color or place. This “pre-meditation” or concentration is easier the more senses you can distract. 3-5 rounds of this can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and calm you down.

7. Start journaling! This can be hard to start, staring at a blank page and not wanting to do it “wrong”, I get it! But 5-10 minutes of getting what’s in your head out and on paper can provide some clarity, new ideas, and peace. I had a hard time making this a habit, but it eventually became a valuable part of my day. Some prompts to try… I feel…I am overwhelmed because…I am grateful for…Today sucks because…

8. Clean something! Very few of us can put cleaning on the favorite things to do list, more like the things I hate to do list but there is something to be said for a sparkling clean bathroom or fresh laundry. When things are overwhelming or I am stressed, I clean…not because I like it but because it is something I can control with a tangible result. That result might not last long, but it’s a way to feel like I am accomplishing something. Let’s face it, the world seems a little out of control right now, so when we can make our little piece of it better, more orderly, more comfortable and peaceful, it does wonders for our mind set and that of those who share this space.

9. Stock the pantry! I’m not suggesting starting the second wave of the great TP hoard, just creating a little extra piece of mind. We don’t know what the Fall/Winter will bring so stocking the freezer and cabinets with some extra supplies little by little now will keep things calmer in the coming months. Weird things were on short supply during the Spring, (yeast!) so knowing I don’t have to participate in a hunt for olive oil or cake mix should that happen is calming and one less thing to worry about.

10. Eat well and seasonally! I am kind of sick of cooking too but resorting to packaged and convenience food too often is not the way to go. We all know eating healthy foods is best but especially now, we need the nutrients for our immune systems. Try menu planning and prepping. I know it’s time consuming and a lot of work, but it is so worth it! My kids (21, 21, and 15) will totally ignore a container of strawberries in the fridge but if I wash them and cut them up in a bowl, gone in no time! Should they be doing this themselves? 100% but I’m more concerned with them eating the fresh foods than beating myself up for creating this situation. (mom fail!)

Start each day with a grateful heart, compassion for yourself and others, and contagious optimism! We got this!

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