Keeping your cup full has nothing to do with the kitchen, but it is part of a recipe.
It’s building patterns and behaviors that help us accomplish all we need to do in a busy world without being burned out.
A full cup allows us to be present with life and fully experience the joy in every moment.
While our lives might feel like we’re being pulled in the opposite direction, and it could even seem selfish to take care of ourselves first, let’s explore why your cup is the top priority.
- What Does It Mean to Fill Your Cup?
- How Will I Know When My Cup is Empty?
- 25 Ways to Fill Your Cup and Take Care of Yourself
- 1. Add “You” to the Schedule
- 2. Start Your Day with Grace
- 3. Keep a Positive Attitude
- 4. Re-Evaluate Your Plan
- 5. Don’t Put Other Stuff in Your Cup
- 6. Have Something to Look Forward To
- 7. Do You Really Need to Do THAT?
- 8. Create a Cup Committee
- 9. Plan an Organization Day
- 10. Look for Little Miracles
- 11. Communicate Openly
- 12. Get Lost in Your Happy Place
- 13. Give Yourself a Confidence Boost
- 14. Create a Conversation
- 15. Remember When Your Cup Runneth Over
- 16. Go To Yoga
- 17. Create a Playlist
- 18. Take a Bath
- 19. Dance Away Stress
- 20. Just Say No
- 21. Imagine Your Cup
- 22. Take Responsibility for Your Cup
- 23. Be a Kid Again
- 24. Take a Staycation
- 25. Talk to Someone
- What Happens When You Don’t Fill Your Cup First?
What Does It Mean to Fill Your Cup?
There are various catchphrases for filling your cup: running on empty (like a gas tank), your internal battery is drained (like a mobile device), or burned out.
Filling your cup means keeping energy, attention, and emotional levels at productive levels to care for those we love and our personal and professional obligations.
Here’s the recipe for how to fill your cup:
- Self-Care: You take steps to prepare yourself for the tasks ahead. This could be an insanely busy holiday season or just a week with a full calendar.
- Self-Love You understand that you can only do so much as one person, and stop trying to be a superhero to everyone.
- Mindfulness: Start the day with mindful practice to stay in the present moment, approach challenges with a positive attitude, and forgive yourself in advance for missteps along the way.
How Will I Know When My Cup is Empty?
The brain is a powerful part of our body, and if we feed it information that we can “do it all,” it will believe us.
You’ll know when your cup is running low because your body will tell you.
It will send warning signs, like irritability and fatigue, but those signs will increasingly worsen as the cup and your mental health drain.
- Healthy Habits: If you’ve thrown healthy eating to the wayside and didn’t have time for a workout, you’re missing great chances to fill your cup back up.
- Putting Others First: When you lose sight of what makes you happy instead of what makes others happy, you’ll feel it in your mood and attitude.
- Side Effects: From stress acne to insomnia to achy muscles, anything physical manifestation that isn’t directly related to an illness or other issue is a sure sign your cup is getting low.
25 Ways to Fill Your Cup and Take Care of Yourself
Take a moment before reading ahead to get into the meditative space to accept this information.
Close your eyes and take five deep inhales, hold for four seconds, and exhale at half the rate of the inhale. Affirm that “I will be open to ideas that keep my cup full.” Ready? Let’s go.
1. Add “You” to the Schedule
Treat your needs as necessary as everyone else’s; only make them a top priority. Block out “me time” on your calendar and then do whatever suits your needs that week.
Yoga, a nap, or time well spent on the floor playing with your pet are all ways to nurture the soul. Do not make “Me Time” negotiable.
2. Start Your Day with Grace
No matter how busy your day looks, you’ll be in a better mental space if you start the day with light stretching, meditation, or affirmations.
Write down your affirmations and keep that piece of paper with you to take a moment in the parking lot or dressing room to remind yourself of that safe, productive space.
3. Keep a Positive Attitude
Feed your brain positive information while your cup is full. Avoid saying, “I don’t know how to get all of this done.” Instead, use phrases like, “I am going to get so much done today, and I have a great plan of attack.”
Negative, stressful talks will empty the cup faster and risk running out of energy midway through the day.
4. Re-Evaluate Your Plan
If your cup is always empty, it doesn’t mean you can’t get it all done. You are brilliant at tackling tasks, but you must look at what has prevented you from “doing it all” in the past. Hindsight can give you a great incentive to improve in the future.
5. Don’t Put Other Stuff in Your Cup
You can’t find the magical elements of your proverbial cup in a martini glass, a Big Mac value meal, or with artificial inspiration like excessive caffeine.
Watch out for your weakness and plan ahead, like bringing a healthy drink or a small snack with you to avoid temptation.
6. Have Something to Look Forward To
Your schedule can sometimes be difficult and boring. Fuel the momentum with something just for you as you complete your tasks.
It gives you something to look forward to, even when the busy schedule wears on you. Instead of saying, “I’m just overwhelmed,” you can say, “I am one step closer to watching that new show tonight.”
7. Do You Really Need to Do THAT?
Look at your schedule and see if you can cut anything. Do you need to make homemade cookies for the potluck? Or can you buy cookies at the store?
Is your inner overachiever working against you? Find solutions ahead of time, so there will be more room in your cup for essential things.
8. Create a Cup Committee
Work with the friends and neighbors around you to help keep everyone’s cup full.
Schedule sleepovers with the kids so stressed parents can re-fill their cups for a date night, ask the neighbor’s son to walk the dog after school, or, in the spirit of #7, plan gatherings that require no home cooking and disposable plates.
9. Plan an Organization Day
This idea pays dividends in the long run. Schedule a day when you plan for your cup to be depleted down the road. Create an Amazon list of birthday and holiday gift ideas for each family member, or send a link to loved ones when the time is right.
Schedule your oil changes and doctor’s appointments in one fell swoop instead of facing the cup-draining urgency that comes with a missed appointment.
10. Look for Little Miracles
When a dog goes for a walk, how does it attend to everything around it? A bird can be fascinating, the tree smells so good, and everything is perfect in that brief moment.
Do you know why? It’s because the dog is enjoying the present moment. Follow their lead for a change, be present at every moment, and focus on little things.
11. Communicate Openly
There’s a cup-draining element when we go above and beyond for someone, and the recipient says, “You didn’t have to do that!” Talk to your loved ones about how you are drained and ask what they can handle for themselves rather than relying on you.
You might find out your son can ride with his bestie to soccer camp, or your spouse can make dinner tonight.
12. Get Lost in Your Happy Place
Whether it’s the beach, a beautiful mountain setting, or some other natural setting you find peaceful, visualize yourself in this happy place. Imagine yourself in this setting and notice everything you see, hear, smell, and feel.
Allow this lovely setting to fill up your senses and energize you while bringing you a sense of peace and connection.
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13. Give Yourself a Confidence Boost
We do our best when we’re comfortable in our own skin. If it’s good for you to put on makeup and have your hair done, take the time to do it.
If cleaning your house and clearing clutter makes you feel accomplished, then clean away! Set a small goal that you can achieve quickly.
If you feel confident in your abilities, you’ll feel energized.
14. Create a Conversation
This is a great tactic when you’re waiting in a long line that doesn’t seem to be moving. While loud sighs and seething might expel the cup-draining energy, it won’t make the line move faster.
What will? Talk to the people around you.
Make a new friend or learn a new thing from the people around you. You’ll be at the checkout before you know it, and your cup will still be brimming.
15. Remember When Your Cup Runneth Over
One great aspect of mindfulness is the belief that “you’ve been here before, so you can go there again.” When a “cup runs over,” it means sheer joy and happiness with the abundance of love around you.
Close your eyes – even if you’re standing in Aisle 5 – and just use that space as a touchstone to replenish your cup.
16. Go To Yoga
Give it a try, even if you’ve never done yoga before. One of the best parts about yoga practice is that you can’t bring your mobile device.
It’s you, a mat, an instructor with at least an hour of cup-filling self-care and awareness. You’ll be amazed at how full your cup is when you leave.
17. Create a Playlist
Some of us still wonder how to stop negative self-talk, right? Use music. Create a playlist of empowering songs, or maybe it’s soothing sounds of nature.
Pop in those earbuds and enjoy the soundtrack of your day, week, or month.
18. Take a Bath
For this, you’ll need a piece of paper and a sharpie. Gather all your favorite bath products too. Write “DO NOT DISTURB” on the paper and tape it to the outside of the bathroom door.
Soak in the warm or hot water of the rub for at least 30 minutes. Savor every step. Deep inhales. Long exhales. You’ll emerge as a more inspired and relaxed person with a fuller cup.
19. Dance Away Stress
Nervous energy needs to go somewhere, so release it with a fun dance in the car or your office instead of cursing or stewing. The sillier you look, the better. It’s guaranteed to make you laugh, and laughing is a free refill of that cup.
20. Just Say No
Mindfulness and self-awareness give you the confidence to say “No” to things that drain your cup too quickly.
It might be hard at first if you’re a people pleaser, but you get a firm boundary and a longer lifespan of your cup in the long run.
21. Imagine Your Cup
What does your cup look like? Create a look. As you’ve been reading this, have you envisioned a small teacup?
A coffee cup? A Big Gulp? When you are more aware of your internal cup, you’ll be able to see better when it’s running low.
22. Take Responsibility for Your Cup
Believe it or not, the level of our cups is completely within our control. Our response and reaction to cup-draining events are two different things.
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. Practice some meditative soul-searching to accept your role in creating too many cup-draining events.
23. Be a Kid Again
Young kids haven’t found out about their “cups” yet, so feed your inner child with a bike ride or hopping on a swing set. Adult coloring books are trending, so you can even color in or outside of the lines.
24. Take a Staycation
Get away from piles of laundry and social obligations by telling everyone you are going on a vacation. You don’t need to mention it’s to the luxury hotel downtown for one night.
Tell them you’ll be out of phone range for 24 hours. You’ll have so much more energy to tackle that laundry in half the time than the empty-cup version of yourself.
25. Talk to Someone
Talk therapy is a great way to create a better version of yourself. Sure, you can gab with your friends, but they won’t always help you feel better.
A judgment-free yet productive, safe space is an excellent way to focus on how you can have a fuller (and bigger) cup.
What Happens When You Don’t Fill Your Cup First?
When we fly, the flight attendant tells us that we should always put on our own oxygen masks first in an emergency. We do this so we can better take care of others.
This logic is the same as keeping your cup full. You are putting yourself first, so you can be the best version of yourself to move ahead. If you don’t, there are substantial risks.
- Overwhelmed: You’ll feel buried in a task list. You might even deal with nagging anxiety or panic attacks because of it. This will empty your cup even faster. It can also wear down your immune system and make you sick.
- Resentful: Whether it’s a slow drain or a cup breaker, you can start to resent all the tasks and people in your life who have created an unattainable goal.
- Self-Loathing: Setting impossible expectations can drain our self-love and create doubt in even the strongest people. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to others and not celebrating all the things we do that others can’t.
You are not being selfish by putting your needs first. You are taking better care of the people around you when you have a full cup and a happy heart.
Remember that you are setting an example for those around you. Encourage anyone you influence to do the same mindful self-care and cup replenishing to be present not just with others but with life itself.