Whether it’s for our kids, grandkids, spouses, parents, friends or neighbors, women are often caregivers. We work hard inside and outside the home. That doesn’t stop when the kids move out or we retire.
Women keep the world running. That’s why it's vitally important that we take at least as good care of ourselves as we do others.
Learning how to refill your cup makes you more resilient. It allows you to feel good about the ways you give of yourself. It’s vital for keeping your body strong—for yourself as well as those who love and depend on you.
But if you’re in the habit of giving until you collapse, learning how to refill your cup before it’s empty might feel like a tall order.
We have a few ideas to help. Below are five steps to refill your own cup first, for greater resilience, health and peace of mind.
1. Tune in.
If you’re not used to thinking about yourself, knowing if your tank is empty or full can be a challenge in itself. So take a moment right now to tune in to your body and notice how it feels.
For example, you may feel: light or heavy, energetic or fatigued, peaceful or restless.
Then use what you feel to determine what your body needs. If you feel fatigued or heavy, you may need sleep, exercise, healthy food or water. If you feel restless or anxious, you might benefit from meditation or deep breathing.
Make it a regular practice to focus inward and see what’s going on. Then make a plan to fulfill your unmet needs.
2. Learn what works for you.
There is so much information out there instructing us on what’s healthy or good for us. But what you do to refill your cup only works if it works for you. So be sure you’re not just doing what someone else has labeled “healthy.” Instead try to determine what works best for you.
Take five minutes and think back to two or three times you’ve felt especially rested, refreshed and rejuvenated. Then get really specific. Perhaps the most refreshed and relaxed you’ve ever felt was on your beach vacation—but what about that experience was so relaxing?
Maybe it was sipping coffee on your balcony. Maybe it was hearing the sounds of the waves as you drifted to sleep at night. Whatever the experience, zero in on the memories that left you feeling refreshed, relaxed or energized.
Then consider how you can bring those experiences into your daily life regularly. Perhaps you can’t go to the beach right now… but can you listen to recorded ocean sounds as you fall asleep?
With time and practice, you’ll be more aware of what works for you and can bring those experiences into your life to help you relax and recharge.
3. Consider ALL your needs.
It’s important to consider all of your needs—including physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual needs.
Physical needs may include exercise, a healthy diet, drinking water, getting plenty of sleep or caring for your skin or hair.
Mental needs might include scheduling in time alone, reducing your workload or limiting social media, while spiritual needs might include meditation or connecting with nature.
Some of the ways you fulfill your needs may overlap multiple categories. For example, some women find that running benefits their physical and mental health.
You can always prioritize one need over another if that’s what is most needed in the moment. But once those needs are met, don’t neglect the rest.
4. Schedule it.
If you’re not used to caring for yourself, you’re more likely to skip self-care unless it’s scheduled in.
If your self-care needs include time with friends, don’t casually agree to get together—set a date, time and location. If self-care for you means extra sleep, reset your alarm and let your partner know so they can support you in sleeping in.
Try not to put off self-care you could do immediately. If a bath sounds relaxing and refreshing, don’t wait—do it now (or tonight).
Keep in mind that self-care time is not multitasking time. Focus on the present moment—don’t worry about the future or even think about what comes next.
Of course, if your plan doesn’t work out for any reason, be kind, flexible and gentle with yourself and try again next time.
5. Don’t stop when you feel better.
We have a tendency to stop doing the things that make us feel good the instant we feel better. But feeling better is a sign you’re on the right track, not a sign to stop.
Waiting until your tank is empty to refill it is not good for your overall health. Instead, make a plan to continually refuel well before you’re on “E.”
If you struggle to follow through on your self-care plans, consider asking a spouse, friend or family member to help. Regular check-ins can help you stay on track.
Most important of all, try not to let self-care become just another item on your “to-do” list. Give yourself lots of grace as you learn to care for yourself the same way you care for others.
And always remember that regardless of your accomplishments, contributions or productivity, you are worthy of love and attention. Please take care of yourself.
How do you know when your cup is low? How do you refill it?