You cannot pour from an empty cup - tips to look after you

Helen Neary gives her tips on looking after you.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 3:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 9:28 am

The term self-care has become widely used but due to its over use its very definition is misunderstood.

This means that many of us aren’t sure how to incorporate effective self-care into our daily lives. To be quite direct, self-care is anything that has a positive effect (no matter how small) on you. That’s it.

If an experience improves your physical and mental wellbeing than it’s a form of self-care.

However, a core feature of self-care is that you recognise it as something that boosts you (physically, emotionally and/or spiritually).

A second core feature is that it’s something you like to do. Beyond that there are no rules.

Here are a few ideas to nudge you to look after yourself a little more on an everyday basis (for free too):

Become your own cheerleader

Listen to your inner voice and the core beliefs you hold about yourself.

Many of us have the belief that our needs come after others. This is simply not true your needs are as important as your loved ones.

What has your inner voice been saying to you while you’ve been reading this article?

Identify the following types of talk: negative/critical, anxious/worried, emotional, encouraging, kind/compassionate.

The chances are your self-talk is more negative than it is positive and your inner voice is not part of your self-care habits.

Now you’ve become more aware of your self-talk start to change it.

This will be a slow process, be kind to yourself.

We all have automatic negative thoughts so when you hear yourself say one use your inner voice to say the opposite of that thought or ‘that’s an unhelpful / wrong thought’. Then replace it with a more positive thought and listen to the positivity.

Over time you will hear less negativity and you will start to be kinder, more compassionate to yourself.


Paying attention to your breathing takes no time out of your busy day.

Research acknowledges that slow deep breathing lowers the body’s stress response. We tend to breath shallowly and quickly.

Start to breathe in for seven counts and out for 11 as this enables our bodies to unwind. This breath length is a challenge so work up to it.

Move your body

We are designed to move so move as best you can within your physical abilities.

Celebrate the body you have been given.

Move it simply because you can.

Take the stairs instead of lifts, walk outdoors, move in the park with your children.

Walk around rather than sitting on a park bench.


Be aware of smiling in your day when you’re washing up, cooking, tidying up at the end of the day.

The experience of smiling lifts our mood.

The power of nature

Take a couple of seconds to look properly at something like a tree, flower, bird or spider’s web.

Taking that moment to pause and focus on a small act of nature has amazing benefits for your mind and body.

You are important and worthy of self love.

You need to care for yourself so that you have the capacity to give to those who need you to care for them – emotionally as well as physical.

Otherwise you will be trying to ‘pour from that empty cup’ and are likely to get overwhelmed/exhausted.

By feeling good in ourselves we are less inclined to run out of patience so we feel less tense and we feel better.

You may be thinking ‘why bother? I’m getting by just fine as I am’. I would say to you two things; do you really want to be just fine? Or would you prefer to be good? I think you deserve to feel good every day.

Secondly, do you want your loved ones to be just fine or do you want them to feel good? I think you want the best for them. Taking care of yourself is excellent role modelling.

Your loved ones need to have self love, acceptance and respect for themselves and who is their biggest role model? You. If only for the love of your loved ones, look after yourself.

They love you and they want you to be well and feel good. They know (even if you don’t yet) that you deserve the best you that you can possibly be.

For more information on Helen who is a parent coach and academic success mentor find her Facebook or email [email protected]