Updated: Aug 16
You may be familiar with the saying, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It is very true, and I don't know about you, but my cup is not always running over. Whilst it is important to give and share and be there for others, we need to replenish and nourish ourselves in order to give consistently. You can't give from what you don't have. If we want to show more love, kindness, acceptance, grace, creativity, time, energy etc. to others, we need to add these to our own lives daily. Then we can give to others from this reserve without fear of running on empty.
Need a top up? Well, this post will give you 5 ideas to help you fill your cup, ready to serve others and live a life of fullness and generosity.
Tip #1 - Fill up with nature
Nature is the gift that keeps on giving. No matter how small, including nature into your daily routine will always lift your mood and improve your wellbeing. It stands to reason, we are nature, and so flourish when we connect with it.
My top ways to include a daily dose of nature are:
Get outside - come rain or shine, warm or cold.
Look outside - just watching the natural world outside your window can serve as a tonic.
Grow inside - houseplants have a host of benefits, from looking beautiful to cleaning the air we breathe. And taking care of them helps stave off anxiety and loneliness.
Watch and learn - simply watching a nature documentary has shown to be stress reducing and creates similar effects on the body as being in nature. I love anything by Nina Constable, David Attenborough and the brilliant Netflix film My Octopus Teacher.
For more ideas, read my blog post https://www.sarahalexcarter.com/post/nature
Tip #2 - Fill up with writing
I find great solace and calm in writing. It was a major factor in my recovery from a nervous breakdown. It see my thoughts in front of me, literally in black and white, helped me fathom and unravel the knotted mess that were my thoughts. I still journal today, and use it as a way to make sense of life.
The ways I use writing to calm me down and fill me up are:
Brain dump - when I feel overwhelmed, I take a blank piece of white A4 paper and write down EVERYTHING that is on my mind. There is no structure or reasoning - just words out, spilling over, until I feel a sense of calm. Then I take a highlighter and choose the 6-8 most pressing things that need my attention. I turn the paper over and write these on the other side in order of what needs doing first.
Gratitude journal - saying thank you for 3 things at the end of the day helps me appreciate what I've done and who I have in my life. Focussing on the good in my life keeps me grounded and sends safety signals to my brain.
Note taking - if I'm reading a great book, I'll make notes from it. I love learning and this practice scratches the perpetual student itch that I have.
Read about my love affair with writing here https://www.sarahalexcarter.com/post/my-80-s-dream
Tip #3 - Fill up with rest
I love rest because it comes in a variety of guises: from deep relaxation to switching off momentarily. Claudia Hammond has written a brilliant book called The Art of Rest. In it there are 10 chapters, each devoted to a type of rest; everything from watching TV to a nice hot bath.
Here's my top 5 ways to rest:
Reading - preferably in bed or a sunny spot where I can then do my second favourite restful activity.
Nap - I love to shut my eyes and doze off, especially in the afternoon.
Walking - a wonderful form of active rest.
Daydreaming - whilst looking out the window.
Yoga - especially Savasana (or corpse pose), its my favourite part of the practice.
Read about my journey of recovery from breakdown with the help of self care and plenty of rest here https://www.sarahalexcarter.com/post/self-care
Tip #4 - Fill up with inspiration
I love that feeling of discovering new ideas, researching a topic and adding to what I already know. I can lose hours in libraries, on Pinterest boards and when listening to podcasts. I love stories and hearing what others have to say. Tuning out the negativity and bias of newsfeeds and social media has been so important for my wellbeing, as too has reducing the amount I share in negative conversations and the latest gossip. Consider those things that drain you or build you up - be that what you watch, listen to or the relationships you have.
Great ways to be inspired are:
Try something new or do something you've always done differently. This could be a new route on your morning commute, sitting in a different spot in your regular coffee shop or sparking a conversation with the person serving you your coffee.
Reading biographical books about people I am inspired or intrigued by or watching documentaries.
Visiting somewhere new - near or far - taking in the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar is a great way to broaden your horizons.
Use your local library, museum, gallery, theatre or community centre to tap into local knowledge and find new information that's not just a click away.
Curate your environment, be that your home, room or office, with things that make you smile and fire your imagination. Use colours, textures and items that bring a sense of life and interest to your day.
To find out what inspires me read this https://www.sarahalexcarter.com/post/inspiration-is-everywhere
Tip #5 - Fill up with others
One of the reasons our cup runs dry is that we may give too much of ourselves to others. But also, we may be spending time with those that take too freely. We all know people who take more than they give: people who want so desperately to be heard, all they do is talk about themselves or individuals that are far too dependent on others and take no responsibility for their own lives.
We cannot judge these people, as everyone has their own back story, but we can protect ourselves from the effects of giving too much or too often.
Surround yourself with those that give back, that reciprocate your friendship, that listen to you, and offer a helping hand. You know who those people are too. They go above and beyond; they meet you in the middle and have kind words to say. They ask how you are and want to know the answer.
Find out more ideas on coming together and caring for others here https://www.sarahalexcarter.com/post/together-care
Refiling your cup is not selfish or arrogant, it is essential. I'd love to know how you may take these ideas and make them your own. Please share with those that need to fill their own cup and let's live together better.