Self-Care in a Cup

By Valerie
December 11, 2021

Can you feel the stress in the air? Or that feeling of tightness in your chest? That’s because it’s December! Even in my own “trying to simplify”, I rub up against these feelings trying to integrate my full life with holiday activities.  

Here’s the thing: I want to make space for it all. Yet, I know what will happen if I try to “do it all”… 

Hello Exhausted Elf.  Hello Resentful Rudolph. Hello Grumpier Grinch.

Although it feels like society is shifting towards doing less, being more mindful, focusing on ourselves, those thoughts and habits are hard to break. We still predominantly live in a society that embraces achievement, qualifications, status, and success. Sometimes, we work extremely hard to get there ignoring what our bodies and minds are whispering to or in some cases, screaming at us.

Caregivers tell me they have a hard time putting on their oxygen mask first and they often see their well-being falls to the bottom of the list.

Self-care is being soft (NOT!)

Unfortunately, self-care can still fall into the category as “soft” requirement and something that many don’t think (or should) is needed. We often send the message that we should be able to soldier on through illness, stress and feelings of overwhelm. We think a holiday, a sleep in or a “self-care” day will put everything back in order. 

Yet, what I hear from family caregivers is having respite or short breaks are lovely but they don’t even the score, so to speak. In fact, with prolonged caregiving or acute intense situations, there can be a cumulative negative effect on well-being. 

So how do we find joy and meaning over the holidays (or any time of the year) while trying to integrate caregiving and our other roles? How do we refill our cups during times when it feels like there is more on our plates?

I like to remind myself of this quote – “If you’ve met one caregiver, you’ve met one caregiver”. Everyone’s needs are different and unique to their situation. 

You are your best expert when it comes to what refills your cup.

Here is a very simply exercise you can do to put wellbeing back up to the top of your list. It only takes 10 minutes. Ready?

Self-Care in a Cup Exercise

  1. Print out (if you can) the Self Care in a Cup template and write in the three needs or activities that refill your cup. If you can’t print it out, feel free to draw a cup by hand and write in the 3 activities or needs.  I like to think the bottom of the cup is your most needed non-negotiable so fulfilling this need will always keep your cup filled, even if it isn’t all the way to the top.
  2. Place the image or drawing where you can see it during your day.

Here’s mine and it lives in my office on my cork board. 

Bringing awareness into our needs, brings awareness to our well-being. Being aware is a huge part of self-care. This exercise can be done all year round. Lives change, the people we are caring for change so do caregiver’s needs. 

Spending time caring for yourself enables you to have the energy to integrate the many demands of different roles. You need to refill your cup. 

But what if, currently, you just can’t fill your cup every day?

Try this. Think of 3 activities that you can do in 5 mins or 15 mins to recharge yourself. Write them down please. 

Here are some of my personal examples: make a cup of tea, drink it and stare out the window or if I’m feeling like I want to, journal for 5 minutes; 15 mins of walking or 15 mins of yoga (I have 3 downloaded programs that I can do from my iPad), lie down on my couch and close my eyes for 5 mins or 15 mins (I always set a timer…just in case…LOL).

I love hearing your stories. If you used the exercise, what worked? What didn’t? Any other advice or tips for other readers? So long as you email me, I’ll be sure to email you back and post your feedback, tips and advice for our readers. We all need a village. I know I do and I’m always honoured to be part of yours. 

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC