Unlocking the overflow: 5 easy Self-Care practices

We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” which is true. More recently, I have heard people using the phrase “you pour from the overflow.” This is a great way of looking at wellness and self-care. If we only fill ourselves up past empty, we will only go so far, especially if we are sharing ourselves with others. However, if we can get to having some overflow, we can easily share ourselves with others. The challenge is getting to that point.

This pandemic is impacting many people’s mental health. A few months ago, Adam Grant’s article on languishing came out in the New York Times and spread like wildfire across social media because many people identified with its message. The main takeaway is that many people are sitting in this space between thriving and depression called languishing. He describes it as the feeling of having dull motivation and focus. This pandemic has had its high points for some working from home, more time with family, connecting into what matters in a time of crisis. However, for the most part, people have been struggling to take care of themselves through everything. 

Taking care of myself doesn't mean "me first" it means "me too"
LR Knost

However, for the most part, people have been struggling to take care of themselves through everything. 

I believe that even though we have “more time,” because we haven’t had to travel or go to social engagements, but we are lacking that motivation and focus to even pay attention to our self-care and wellness. As one friend put it to me this week, we are surviving, not thriving. So how can we make 2022 more about thriving and less about surviving it’s pretty simple to think about but harder to put into action because the change has to start with our behaviours, habits, and practices. There is often a gap between what we know we “should” do, and what we have the capacity, desire, motivation, and bandwidth to do. Below I’ve listed five simple self-care practices you can start experimenting with that will hopefully help you move out of languishing (if you feel like you are there), start filling your cup closer to an overflow state, and promote your wellness. Keep in mind I define self-care very broadly because, like many things in the wellness industry, it’s up for interpretation. Self-care is in the eye of the beholder. If these five ideas don’t work for you, I encourage you to pick 3-5 things that you think could fill your cup a little bit more.

  1. Gratitude practice: This one is so simple. I try to do this with my son every night before bed (he is three, so if he can do it, we can all do it) because I want him to get in the habit of practicing gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is small. So I ask him three questions, and I also have to answer them myself: 
    • What are you thankful for or grateful for today? 
    • What are you proud of yourself for today? 
    • What are you going to work on tomorrow? 
  2. Get outside: The days are getting really short and much colder, but even a few minutes of fresh air can help clear your mind. Even better if you can go for a 10-minute walk. Many people think they need to get 30-60 minutes of activity consecutively to gain benefits, but benefits can be seen in 10-minute bouts if that is all you have. 
  3. Say No more often: This can be hard to do, but it is such a great practice to start. Remember, whenever you say no to something, it means you can say yes to something else. How great is that! If you struggle with the outright no, especially to things like accepting plans, start with “let me get back to you.” Then you can walk away and think about it. This line can help you avoid the feeling of regret for saying yes to something that you don’t want to do, and you avoid the guilt of cancelling last minute. 
  4. Get to bed a little earlier (and put away your phone): This is one I struggle with daily. I suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination which is staying up later to get time by myself or with my partner rather than going to bed closer to when my kids do so I can get sleep. But sleep always makes me more productive the next day. It’s a shift I’m really trying to make and continue to battle, but I know it makes a difference in my well-being. 
  5. Connect with others: 2020 and 2021 have us missing connection more than ever. Being purposeful about connecting can improve our mood and uplift our day. Surround yourself (even virtually) with people who lift you up, support you, and brighten your day. This doesn’t mean you need to be around people who are full of sunshine and rainbows. They need to be people that you can connect with, talk to, and who make you feel heard, seen, and understood. 

The best part about this list is that they are all free and can positively impact your wellness in some way.

The best part about this list is that they are all free and can positively impact your wellness in some way. Your physical, social, emotional even intellectual wellness may benefit from some extra sleep and great conversations. I hope that you can find a little bit of “you” time this holiday season so you can go into 2022 ready to thrive instead of trying to survive.