You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup

Dealing with your own mental and physical health tends to take the back-burner in our society as a result of cultural norms and expectations. We are supposed to push ourselves until we’re ready to collapse, and if we stop at that, it better only be for a moment. This is why people lean on drugs, alcohol, sex, partying, etc. People, especially college kids today, need a way to let loose, and quick, so they can hop back on the grind as soon as possible. This is why a glass of wine at the end of a day, smoking between classes, or blacking out every weekend quickly leads to a massive burnout that could’ve been prevented at the beginning of the semester.

 

What I am suggesting, and what has been proven to work time after time again, is daily mental health practice. Instead of waiting until the end of a week to depend on substances and intensive partying to clear your head, give yourself consistent and small mental health check ups to stay balanced and in touch with yourself. You deserve this. You shouldn’t force yourself to struggle through a week with absolutely no breaks, just to abuse your body every weekend in order to survive the next week. And repeat, and repeat, and repeat.... Think about it, the year consists of 365 days, only 52 of which are Saturdays. You should be feeling happy, balanced, and fresh every moment of every day, otherwise what are you truly living for? Not yourself. Here are a few small ways that are easy to incorporate into your daily life to remind yourself that nothing is more important than you. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

 

1. Wake up with Stretching

When you wake up in the morning, don’t force your body to immediately jump up and start the day. You were just horizontal and stagnant for more than 5 straight hours; your body needs time to wake up just as much as your brain. Start with a simple cat-cow yoga flow while you’re still in bed. After you’ve done this a few times, stretch your back into a cobra pose. Once you’ve done that, roll over and pull each knee into your chest and roll your ankles to wake up your feet. When you’re finally ready to get out of bed, sit straight up for a few head rotations to each side. Take a deep breath, step out of bed, and touch your toes. Now you’re ready for that 8 am lecture...kind of (;

2. Breath

This one is important. I know it may seem trivial because obviously you never stop breathing, but that is my point exactly. You are constantly breathing, so make it worthwhile. Your breath is your best friend, it has been with you since your first moment of life and will stay with you until your last. When you close your eyes and focus all of your attention on the deep inhale you feel flowing through your body, and the relieving exhale that rids you of toxins and weight, you will feel 10 pounds lighter. I promise. You can do this for 30 seconds in the middle of an exam to ground yourself, or for 30 minutes at the end of a day to clear your mind. Either way, when you focus on your breath you are focusing on your center, and the affects are worthwhile. Envision the air entering your body and cleansing you, and when you exhale you are releasing yourself of whatever was clogging you. When you pay attention to yourself, your very being will thank you.

3. Fresh Air

Let yourself feel the air outside. Being cooped up in a classroom, office, or bedroom all day is not good for your mind in any way shape or form. Whenever you get a moment, go on a walk. This can be for only 5 minutes. Step outside and feel the miracle of the sun on your skin and move your body. Re-energizing your body re-energizes your mind. Fresh air means a fresh mind. Nature is always there for us, let her know you love her back. This is a relationship we often overlook, but we deserve moments in time to enjoy what ‘s lies outside our walls.

4. Gratitude Journaling 

Finally, at the end of every day write in a gratitude journal. Go to Target and pick up a small journal and dedicate it to your daily gratitude. Right before you go to bed, light a bunch of your favorite candles in your room, turn off the lights, and give yourself a few moments to think over your day. Write in your journal anything that comes to mind that you have to be grateful for. This can be big things, like the support of your family, or little things, like the cafeteria lady smiled at you today and you saw a dog on your walk to class. I swear by this, it changed my outlook on life in the simplest way and you will always go to sleep feeling calm and light. When you get into the habit of noting your gratitude every night, your mind will begin to naturally do this throughout the day, looking for things to be grateful for. Note: this isn’t too hard for your mind to do.

At the end of the day, all you have is yourself. Make your mind a happy home, one you love inhabiting every moment of every day, and don’t need a quick escape from. If you are constantly taking care of yourself, you won’t burnout. Think of it this way: do you leave your plates dirty all week and continue to use them for every meal until they’re so grotesque that you have to boil and scrub them for an hour every weekend, sometimes even throwing them away? No, you don’t because that would be ridiculous, and you’d probably become sick. Instead, you wash it after every meal so that it’s constantly clean. This is how you should treat your mind. Instead of pushing yourself and constantly forcing yourself to push on when you’re clearly worn out, just to need a massive detox at the end of the week to stay alive...keep yourself clean with daily tricks throughout every day. You can’t pour from an empty cup, I promise.