How to Stop Pouring From An Empty Cup

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In reflecting on the past month I realized something: my energy, mental, and physical health had all been completely shot. The month of October blazed by, and by the end I found myself trying to pour from an empty cup that had not been replenished in what felt like forever.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve actually been pretty happy, and spent the entire month mentoring students, going out with friends, and visiting New York. As fulfilling as that all was, especially when I got to be a resource and safe space for people, I was giving way more to others than I was to myself. Rephrase: I gave everything to others and nothing to myself. Here lies the problem.

When all my commitments died down, I felt overwhelmingly exhausted. Depressed, honestly. It was like I had been riding on a huge social high and then BOOM. Down I went. It left me wondering where in the world I went wrong. Then I checked myself, because self-compassion.

Have you been feeling like you’re pouring from an empty cup? Great, me too. Let’s go on this journey together to replenish ourselves, balance our spirits, and move forward feeling empowered to end this year on a high note. Here’s how we’re going to do it.

Step 1: Cancel everything.

You heard me. Find a day where it’s most reasonable to just cancel your commitments, or as many as possible. If that’s not possible during the week, block off Saturday or Sunday. This is also a great lesson in just saying “no.” Devote at least half a day to rest and unwind. Do anything you want that only involves you. Rest your mind, lay in bed (or do it couch potato style) and just relax. You deserve it.

Step 2: Write it out (using well wildflower journal prompts)

Now, it’s time to figure out what areas in your life need a little love. I took a look at the Well Wildflower Instagram for journal prompt inspiration because sometimes, it’s just hard to know where to start. My favorites are:

In what areas do I need to switch up my pace?

What parts of my life would be served most by gaining more clarity?

What does being in perfect alignment look like for you?

Find their highlight story called “journaling” for more inspo. They post new prompts most Sundays. These allowed me to figure out what was going on with me internally, reassess my way of living, and determine how to fix the problem.

Step 3: Prioritize and Schedule

There have been many times where I’ve waited too late to schedule time in my calendar for myself and instead get stuck in a week of meetings, class, work, and social time, with little to no room for things that benefit my own well-being. Schedule in time for yourself, whether it’s an art class, yoga, enjoying some tea and a good book, wash day (for all my fellow curlies out there), or time to just be. Make it a priority and a “can’t miss” just like any other meeting. When schedules get busy, it’s easiest to let go of things that only you are held accountable for. But, those tend to be the most important when it comes to your happiness, so schedule it in that calendar of yours and keep it pushing.

Step 4: Integrate

At first it might feel uncomfortable to do for yourself after holding off -- just be patient! Integrating self-care into your routine takes a bit of practice, but the results will pay off and have you feeling like your full, vibrant self in no time. Once you begin to feel better, don’t stop. This is a mistake that’s often made after thinking, “hmm well now that I feel so great, I can pour back into all the work I was doing at full force and come back to self-care later!” Nope. That is not how it works. Just like body movement, exercising your mental health muscles take consistency in order to keep your well-being intact. Feeling better is always wonderful, but make sure to keep up your practices. Falling behind can often mean getting stuck in the empty cup zone again.

Step 5: Affirm

You are worth the energy being poured back into your cup that is leading you to be a happier version of yourself, so remind your soul of that daily! We all need an extra boost of confidence from time to time, and I love affirmations as a way to do so. Affirm all that wonderful self-care you’ve been integrating by repeating statements that remind you of your worth. I recently started using the ThinkUp app, where you can record up to four affirmations at a time and play them anytime you want. I love beginning my walk to campus each day by listening and repeating affirmations to myself as soon as I step out of the door. ThinkUp has a ton of different categories to choose from, but my favorite is Dr. Joy’s (from Therapy For Black Girls!) section. I love the affirmations she provides, and all the ones I recorded are hers.

The Importance of Pouring Back Into Your Cup

Being of service to others can be some of the most fulfilling work, but it will never replace the importance of nurturing your own body and mind. Showing up for your own well-being allows you to present the best version of yourself to the world. It’s a reminder of the value in life, and how vital it is to approach your wellness with love, patience, and care. How we treat ourselves transmits energy to the rest of the world that allows us to attract what we’re emitting, so pay attention. Giving yourself love that feels good attracts more experiences and people who will show you that same kind of love.

I recently started pouring back into my own cup after two months of not doing enough. So far, I’ve pulled myself out of the slippery depressed slope that I usually fall down around this time of year, prioritized sleep and body movement, and manifested some incredible people and experiences into my life. Let’s journey together. Tell me below in the comments how you plan to pour back into your cup.