How Pouring From an Empty Cup Affects Your Body and Mind

Pouring From an Empty Cup: 8 Self Care Tips

There are moments when you feel like you’re on top of the world.

And there are moments when it feels like everything is crashing down.

On any given day, you could be experiencing either. Or both. I know. I’ve been there. We all have.

But if you’re one of those people who shows up, full-tilt, for everyone and every situation, it won’t take long for you to drain your cup. And let me stress that the “you can’t pour from an empty cup” saying is more than a cliché… it’s so very real.

Are You Suffering From “Empty Cup Syndrome?”

If your typical day includes any or all of these things, it’s very possible your cup is either already empty, or well on its way.

  • You work, run a household, manage a relationship, and may even have kids at home
  • You take your aging parents to all of their appointments and do all of their grocery shopping
  • You’re the unofficial “life coach” to your family, friends, coworkers, and even the people you meet in line at the grocery store 
  • You’re constantly trying to balance All The Things for All The People and you do it all with a smile on your face
  • You put other people’s needs (and desires) before your own, and only if there’s time or energy “left over,” you give some to yourself
  • You love being everyone’s go-to gal because you feel needed and valued, but at the end of the day, you’re both mentallly and physically exhausted 

Sound familiar? Remember, even ticking one of these boxes (never mind a host of others I haven’t even mentioned here) could put you in danger of Empty Cup Syndrome. 

Symptoms Of Empty Cup Syndrome

You may already know for certain that most days your cup is all-out empty, but if you’re in the denial phase (totally natural) here’s a checklist to help you get honest with yourself:

  • You feel rundown 
  • Your skin is dull 
  • Your eyes are dim 
  • You feel unhealthy
  • You can’t focus
  • You don’t sleep well, even though you could collapse from exhaustion
  • You’ve stopped pursuing your hobbies
  • You rely on unhealthy snacks or meals instead of reaching for nutritious fuel
  • You feel like you need to just keep pushing, no matter what

You may also feel like too many people depend on you for you to take time for yourself… and this includes exercising, meal prep, quiet times, or any leisure activities.

My friend, if you feel you’ve lost yourself in your role as a mom, grandma, aunt, friend, employee, coworker, wife — as a caregiver — your cup is woefully empty.

Why Is It So Important To Fill Your Own Cup?

If you’ve ever traveled on an airplane, you’ve heard the spiel about applying your own oxygen mask before helping someone with theirs. This is because if you pass out from a lack of oxygen, you’re not going to do anyone else any good. 

The same is true when it comes to helping others in your day-to-day world. You can’t possibly be there for them — or yourself — when you can barely function.

Not only that, but there are some very serious physiological drawbacks to neglecting your own needs. 

You may have heard about the gut-brain connection? If you’re unfamiliar, I wrote a whole post about it, which you can read HERE.

But to summarize, your gut (which is your entire gastrointestinal system) and your brain constantly talk to each other through a communication network in your body called the “gut-brain axis.” Information is passed back and forth between your actual brain and your “second brain” (aka your gut), and the health of one impacts the health of the other. 

When you’re stressed, the signals sent from your brain to the gut through the vagus nerve are inhibited. This can lead to an imbalance in your gut’s delicate ecosystem. An unbalanced gut microbiome can negatively impact your digestion, immune system, sleep, weight, blood sugar, energy levels… on and on

So you can see that “pushing through” without taking time to rest and recharge can set you up for health issues, and if ignored, could lead to lasting health issues. Suddenly, being everyone’s go-to gal is no longer an option… because you’re nursing yourself back to health.

As the saying goes, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” You don’t want that. And no one wants that for you.

How to Refill Your Cup… And Keep It Full

If you’re used to spinning all the plates, none of what I suggest here will be easy. But it’s all necessary. Promise me (and yourself… and your loved ones) that you will prioritize these things. That you will prioritize yourself. That way, you can help others with their oxygen masks while knowing yours is already intact and keeping you strong.

  • Get enough sleep:  A full night’s rest can work wonders for your health, your general outlook, and how you interact with those around you. Aim for 7 to 8 hours each night if you can.
  • Sneak nutrients into your diet: Bone Broth makes for a relaxing pre-bedtime drink and it’s loaded with nutrients that support gut health. You can also add flavorless Complete Collagen Protein to your favorite soups, smoothies, and even your coffee to boost your daily protein intake and support joint comfort, healthy blood sugar levels, and luminous skin and hair.

Dr. Kellyann Bone Broth

  • Spend time in nature: Even in the midst of everyone’s chaos, your mind and body crave time outdoors. Taking a walk by the beach or just sitting on the front porch can seriously benefit your mental health.
  • Exercise regularly: Getting active is often associated with physical appearance, but moving your body is a loving act of self-care. Not only are you sweating out toxins, but you also get a rush of endorphins that make you feel happier and rejuvenated!
  • Take a “me” day: Whether you’re soaking in a warm bath, reading a book, or getting a massage (which offers its own benefits for sleep and mood), carve out some time to do the things that make you happy.

RELATED: 9 Tips To Boost Your Happiness (Without Taking a Pill)

  • Start journaling: It doesn’t matter what you write about, but the process will be cathartic for you. Journaling relieves stress and clarifies your thoughts, so you can turn a new page on happiness and focus on what makes you, you.
  • Let go of things: Do you really need to do all of your parents’ shopping? Is there someone else who could help? Maybe you resign your position on the PTA board or you hire a housekeeper to help with chores. Stripping things down can help you have room to breathe… and give you time to fill your cup.
  • Respect yourself: Always remember that you are as important as everyone else in your life. So, it’s okay to say no to things that consume your energy. “No” is a complete sentence, and you do not owe anyone an explantation.

Remember this… it’s time for you to say YES to yourself. Say YES to great nutrition, say YES to movement, and say YES to your hobbies. Your cup needs filling. Your health depends on it.

BONUS TIP: No matter what, never forget to speak to yourself with the kindness and respect you would give to anyone you love. You talk to yourself more than anyone else. Make sure what you say fills the cup of your soul.

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci