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33 Practical Ways To Fill Your Cup When Life Gets Hard

Have you heard that you should fill your cup first?  We usually hear this term in relation to self-care, but what does it mean exactly?  I want to share with you what filling your cup means to me, and why you need to fill your cup first.  There are many ways to fill your cup, and I’ll share with you what works for me as well as some of the reasons that I personally struggle with it.  

What Does “Fill Your Cup” mean?  

Has your life ever gotten too busy?  Mine does from time to time.  I want to do so many things for so many people and I want to do them well, too – not just half-way. I want to help people and be there for my friends and family when they need me. 

There’s only one problem with that, though…. I’m just one person and there are only so many hours in the day.  I can’t do everything, even though I am guilty of trying. When that happens, it leaves me feeling depleted. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt depleted….emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted; like you had nothing left to give?  At that point, your cup is empty.

To fill your cup means to replenish those stores of mental, emotional, and physical energy.  It means that you need to stop and recharge your batteries. You would not expect a device to run with a depleted battery, would you?  A device cannot run when the battery has no energy to give. While you are much more valuable than any device, you do not run so well on depleted batteries either.  You have to fill your cup.

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Why Is It So Hard to Fill Your Cup?

In today’s modern world we are all busy – a fact that my elderly relative comments on frequently.  In her view, we are too busy. Perhaps she is right. We run and run trying to fit more and more into our schedules. Since we can’t make more hours in the day, we inevitably wind up taking that time out of our sleep.

It’s hard to find time to unplug.  Sure, the idea sounds nice, but you have X, Y, and Z on your to-do list and it has to be done today!  The world might end if it’s not done! You will let someone down. Someone will be disappointed. Everything seems like it should be a priority.  

So we keep running.  Over time, that running makes our cups develop a slow leak, which sometimes turns into a big leak.  Our bodies and our brains are not meant to run full out all the time.

Stop. Just stop.  You are one person and can only do so much.  You are not responsible for the world.  It may feel like it, but you are not. That’s why it’s so hard to fill our cups.  Stopping in today’s busy world is incredibly hard. But – it can be done.

Sometimes you just need a break and a stress-free day.

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The Consequences Of Not Stopping to Fill Your Cup

So what does happen when you don’t fill your cup?  Burnout. According to Google, there have been over 350,000 searches for the term “burnout” in the past 30 days.  Wow. That seems to me to be a problem. Burnout is what happens when you don’t stop to fill your cup. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged periods of stress.  

Our bodies are equipped to handle stress in short bursts – not long term.  It’s no secret that long-term stress has many negative effects on the body. When you stop to fill your cup, you are recharging your batteries so that you can better deal with whatever you will face the next day.  

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Filling Your Cup is Creating White Space

No, it’s not a blank canvas or a blank word document.  White space refers to the places in your life or in your day where you pause.  It’s the empty spot on your calendar. It’s the spot that you take your “me time.”  White space is the time in your day that’s dedicated to filling our cup. Like the metaphor it calls to mind, it’s blank time that you can choose to do whatever you want with for you.  This is not an empty time period to schedule one more obligation or appointment. Your white space is an appointment – with you, from you, and for you.

Stopping to Fill Your Cup is Self-Care

To me, filling your cup is self-care.  There are many ways to care for yourself.  It’s not all bubble baths and candles and “fru-fru stuff” either.  Guys need self-care as much as women. Hobbies are a great way to practice self-care, or you can write or journal, sip tea and watch the sunset (or sunrise). I also love to take a walk and enjoy being outside.  There are many, many ways to fill your cup, and you may do something different every time.  Pick something that appeals to you.

33 Practical Self-Care Ideas to Fill Your Cup

  1. Do a hobby that you love
  2. Try a new hobby
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Go hiking
  5. Call a friend
  6. Call your Mom
  7. Read for pleasure
  8. Watch tv
  9. Play a video game
  10. Draw or paint
  11. Sit outside
  12. Do Yoga
  13. Go fishing
  14. Try a restaurant you have never tried before
  15. Take a bath or shower
  16. Put on makeup, even if you plan to stay home
  17. Watch a movie
  18. Play a card game
  19. Look up something you are curious about
  20. Watch youtube
  21. Read your Bible
  22. Go to church
  23. Give someone a hug
  24. Order dessert
  25. Garden
  26. Plant flowers
  27. Plan a  camping trip
  28. Go for a horseback ride ( I am biased, but I sometimes refer to this as “horse therapy”)
  29. Take a bike ride
  30. Take a nap
  31. Sleep in
  32. Cook a nice meal
  33. Learn Something New

Finding Time to Fill Your Cup

We have already talked about how precious (and limited) the commodity of time is.  Like money, if you do not have an intentional plan, you will find it has slipped away. Schedule your “me-time.”  If things are not adding up, then you may have to start subtracting. Subtract some things from your schedule. “Say no to good so you can say yes to great.”  Be willing to let it go. My husband and I were talking about this subject recently, and he told me that “Sometimes you just have to walk away and let the world burn.”  He reminded me that I can only do so much.

You have to realize that you should be a priority.  I know we can’t make everything a priority or it defeats the whole idea of priorities, but you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.  If I don’t take time to take care of my health, which includes my mental, emotional, and physical health, what would happen to my family? Taking care of me IS taking care of them.  

I am always learning more about filling my cup and finding time to work on myself. I cover this more in-depth in my course, Questing for Contentment.

Fill Your Cup Quotes

I love a good quote to lift me up.  I’d like to share a few of my favorite fill your cup and self-care quotes in hopes that they will lift you up too.

“Self-care is not selfish” - Jim KwikClick To Tweet
  • You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
  • Take time to do what makes your soul happy
  • When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” – Ben Franklin
  • “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”
  • “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne LamottClick To Tweet

Related: 20 Beautiful Short Inspirational Quotes to Live By

Fill Your Cup Bible Verses

There is no one that can fill your cup better than the one that gave you the cup in the first place.  There are several categories of self-care and “spiritual” is one of them. To me, filling my cup is about renewing my strength, faith, and overall well being.  These are some of my favorite Bible verses about filling your cup.

  • Psalms 23:3 “He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Psalms 23:3 “He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”Click To Tweet
  • Psalms 23:5 “ Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
  • Isaiah 40:31 “ But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
  • Romans 15:13 “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  
Romans 15:13 “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  Click To Tweet
  • II Corinthians 7:4 “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.”  

*All verses are from the KJV

Related: 18 Bible Verses For Hard Times

My Personal Challenges With Filling My Cup

I struggle to find time to fill my cup.  I don’t’ want to let anyone down. (Hello perfectionism!)   I want to be there for people. I want to be depended on and relied on and I want to pull my weight.  There is guilt of wanting to make everything perfect, and of trying to do everything that I think everyone expects.  When in reality, that’s not the case at all, it’s just my perception.

Sometimes my to-do list seems overwhelming and I feel like I have no choice but to keep going and doing.  I feel like my batteries are getting low and my cup empty, but I press on. I commented to my husband this morning “I’m not even sure I know how to relax anymore.  What do you do to relax?”

Our joke is that I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m terrible at relaxing.  My natural tendency is go, go, go, but that’s not good for me. I’m trying to let go of the guilt.  I’m trying to make positive changes and remember to make time for myself.  (Yes, it’s still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.)

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If You Feel Like You Cup is Empty, You Are Not Alone!

If reading my account above sounds familiar, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Many people, and I think women and mothers, in particular, have a hard time filling their cup first.   I came across this account from another blogger about her own struggle with filling her cup.  Sometimes just knowing that you are not the only one that struggles with something makes you feel better. (or it does for me.)  

Life is messy. It’s demanding at times, and sometimes, it’s just downright hard!  It’s ok to not be perfect and not have it all together. Remember to stop comparing yourself to others because there’s a lot you don’t see.  No one’s life is social media perfect. That’s just a highlight reel for the good things.

Remember this: you are loved, you are special, and no one in the world can take your place.  You need to take care of you in order to take care of everyone else in your life.      

The Results of Taking Time to Fill My Cup

I have seen some great results since starting this blog and taking time to fill my own cup.  I’m happier, overall. I have learned a ton of personal development, and things for personal growth that I have tried to share with you.  Life is not always easy, but there is always joy to be found. Sometimes you have to look harder than other times, but it’s there. I want to encourage you and uplift you as you read.  As I write, I do the same for myself. Love is a funny thing – the more you give it away, the more it comes back to you.  I know that you are busy loving and taking care of the other people in your life, but remember to take some time to fill your own cup as well.  Share some of that love with yourself.  

What are some of your struggles with taking time to fill your cup, or what are your favorite ways to unwind? Leave me a comment below!

God Bless and Happy Questing!

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12 thoughts on “33 Practical Ways To Fill Your Cup When Life Gets Hard”

  1. This was just shared with me by a very dear person. I am so happy that she did. I think this is what I have needed.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have an extremely hard time not being on the go. I always feel like I need to be doing something.

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