Fill Up Your Cup With Self-Care

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Have you ever heard you can not pour from an empty cup? In this metaphor, we are the cup and what we pour is our energy. We pour from our cup all day. We spread our energy at work, at home, to our partners, our friends, family, and even people for whom we do not care. But what happens when there is nothing more to give? We have to find a way to fill our cup – or ourselves – back up with energy to spread around again the next day. Our society says to drink more coffee or that being tired is just part of life…but is it though?

If we spend our lives running out of energy, what kind of life are we living? Imagine what life would be like if you took a little time for yourself, just enough to fill up your cup with the energy you need and what is asked of you by others. Allowing your needs to take precedence over other things in your life from time to time can actually make you more valuable to others. Taking time to fill up your cup is called “Self-Care”.

There are many different elements to self-care. When I think of self-care, I immediately think of taking care of myself physically and mentally. For me personally, part of practicing self-care is eating right and getting some physical activity every day. Using physical activity as my alone time, or time to do something for myself that re-energizes me. But I also think of bubble baths, mud masks and long walks on the beach. Sometimes even spending a fun afternoon with my family can really fill up my cup with energy, enough to go around.

I appreciate Kristin Souers’ model of what she calls the “Top Four Components of Self-Care” which include health, love, competence, and gratitude. Her components really allow me to explain my definition of self-care and add other activities to my self-care regiment. Let’s break these four components down: You might want to consider replacing regiment with routine.

Health – 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. The idea is to be active every day. My simple explanation of health is to at least go for a walk and eat a few vegetables every day. Remember, exercise nurtures our mental health as well as our physical bodies.

Love – Do whatever you need to make sure you feel happy and rewarded for being the special person you are. Give yourself praise! Acknowledge your strengths, skills, and goals as well as your fears and peculiarities. Celebrate what makes you uniquely YOU!

Competence – Challenge yourself! We all have comfort zones and research shows that learning happens just outside of those zones. You will find these challenging experiences will increase your confidence and overall sense of competence. Try something new, make new friends, or take a class at your local extension center. Learn to garden or cook.

Gratitude – The more we acknowledge gratitude and find the silver lining in life, the happier we tend to feel. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to acknowledge all the things for which you can be thankful. Simply take a few minutes at the end of each day to write a list of five things for which you are grateful.

These components are just one way to think of self-care. We will continue to explore other models. I hope this post encourages you to explore at least one new aspect of self-care! Some ways N.C. Cooperative Extension can help you take care of yourself is by providing educational classes that help you take time to enhance your skills and life. Sign up for our 4-week Self-Care Series starting January 14, 2019, or check out the wonderful cooking classes we offer on the “What’s Cooking?” page. This year make your New Year’s Goal about doing something positive for yourself. For more information, please contact Olivia Jones at 232-2261 or email olivia_jones@ncsu.edu.

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