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You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup - Especially During a Pandemic

May 12, 2021
5 minute read

Since the last Mental Health Awareness week, we have had a global pandemic that lasted for longer than any of us could have ever imagined. With mindfulness as part of my business, and being very attuned to my own mental health, I was surprised at how much the whole chaos of the world affected my calm. I found myself completely analysing and refocusing my life intentions (I know that sounds dramatic, but its true!). The changes that have happened in the last 12 months of my own life personally and professionally have been huge. I am typically described as an ‘empath’, I am not massively keen on labels, but I am afraid the characteristics of this one really do resonate with my personality. Watching the news during this time was making me feel sad, I was crying uncontrollably, drinking far too much, stuffing myself with sugar, and thinking constantly about how everyone was becoming affected by this awful virus. Going to bed thinking about what was going on and how it was going to all end was a regular occurrence. I found myself needing to know more and reading anything I could get my hands on, and everyone I spoke to, was talking about nothing else - we didn’t have anything else to talk about, did we? I wondered how people were coping. I wondered how, if I have all of these tools to calm my emotions and to regulate, and I was still struggling, how on earth were people who had never been taught these skills managing day to day. That made me feel even more sad.

I am very fortunate to have a husband who is incredible, and he asked me one day ‘how is reading and worrying serving you? What is it doing to help?’. He helped me to reframe the spiral of emotions that were out of control in my mind. I decided to share my techniques and practice my own teachings. I started a group on social media called ‘Join my calm, forget the chaos’. Together, we did guided visualisations, we talked, and we supported each other through an unknown period that none of us knew how to navigate. That helped me more than it helped the wonderful people who participated. I regained focus on putting my daily rituals back into place. Did it stop me from feeling sad? A lot but not completely! I still feel sad about the world and everything that everyone has been through, but I am in control. The spirals are less frequent. My rituals are not rocket science, they are simple and effective. I plan them into my daily routine like I do brushing my teeth! The main one being connecting with my breathing, deep, and slow, in through the nose and out through the mouth-sometimes outside, barefoot. I write a gratitude journal daily - not at a specific time anymore, just in the morning or the evening. I do yoga most days, I walk, and I say nice things to myself in the mirror, along with occasional hand massages (we have to sanitise so much now, its easy to do that one!). My children love doing all these things as well, and their mental health has been stable throughout this time because of it. Children see, children do. They breathe, they do yoga, they practice gratitude, they stand barefoot on the grass and they say lovely things about themselves and each other.

I am learning to practice what I have preached for so long; I finally say the things to myself that I have said to others for years:

  1. You can’t pour from an empty cup-so fill it, with whatever works for you.
  2. Be gentle with yourself - so I am. I am pretty kind to myself in my thoughts these days (that’s a whole new blog and a whole lot of practice).
  3. And I always ask, so what are you doing to take care of you? It takes some trial and error to work out what works best for you and to find the best way to calm your emotions, and it’s definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ practice. Find what makes YOU feel good. And that may change, as life does. Be open to trying new ways to calm, you never know what might work for you.

Now that we can see some light at the end of this tunnel, I have realised that all of these things can’t just be done one day, feel better and then move onto the next, it’s a commitment to yourself, for yourself that everyone around you benefits from too! Stacy Mann, Early Years and Childcare Specialist/Mommy/Mindfulness Coach

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