Self-care has been a buzzword for awhile. If you've been introduced to this concept, you've probably also heard about taking time to do activities that "refill your cup."
The idea here is that we tend to constantly be pouring out of own cup to fill up others. You might be emptying your cup to help others at work, at home, at school, at the barn, in your community, and so on. When we are constantly giving of ourselves to others, we can forget to take time to take care of ourselves. We can forget to refill our own cup. When we are feeling stressed and drained, we aren't able to be our best. When we are stressed and drained, we can't be as good a rider for our horse, as good of a friend, as good of a parent for our children, as good of a partner for our spouse, or as productive in our jobs. We need that self-care time to refill our cup, so we can be at our best for the people who are important in our lives.
Honestly, I've always struggled with this concept. I am a very busy, achievement oriented person that constantly has a bunch of tasks on my to do list. For me, self-care and "filling my cup" felt like adding more things to my never ending to do list! It usually feels to me like my cup is pretty full, and if I had fill it anymore, it would overflow! How can I feel ok about taking some me time to refill my cup by taking a relaxing ride with my horse, when there is a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry waiting for me? I end up reaching a state of stress and overwhelm, knowing I need to take a break, yet feeling as if I cannot do so or if I do take the break, I end up not enjoying it because I am thinking about all of the other stuff I still have to do! At the same time, I understand that self-care is important, because when I am stressed and overwhelmed, I'm not as good of a mother, wife, rider, friend, or as productive at my job.
Then I heard about the idea of emptying your cup before you could refill it. This was so refreshing for me to hear that I am not alone in feeling like I can't enjoy the "refill your cup" activities because I have too much to do! Of course it makes sense that I need to take some things out of my cup before I can add in more things!
One way I have started to empty my cup is by making lists. When I start feeling overwhelmed, I sit down and write out all of the things that I need to do. All of the things that pop into my head as reasons why I can't take a break to read or enjoy a quiet trail ride with my horse, I write them down.
Then I look at the list.
Are there things on this list that simply aren't important? Cross them off.
Are there things on this list that can be delayed for next week, or next month? Move it to the save for later list, or add it to your planner.
Are there things on this list that you can delegate to someone else or ask for help on? Reassign those tasks, then cross it off.
Is there anything on the list that you are waiting on something to be able to finish? Add it to the save for later list or put it in your planner.
What's left on the list? If it is something that you can get done today, do it. Make that phone call, send that email, do that chore. If you can't do it today for whatever reason, make a plan to get it done or schedule a time to work on it, then let it go.
Once your cup is empty and you aren't feeling so overwhelmed, take your much deserved break and refill your cup. Then you can go back to being the best version of you for your family, friends, co-workers, and of course, your horse!