- Phoenix Medley
We Are Not Meant to Pour From an Empty Cup
It is common in the United States (with a culture of working until you drop) to forget that we must put aside time for ourselves. Only recently have we started speaking openly about our mental health. An imperative part of maintaining it is self-care.
Active Minds, an organization dedicated to starting conversations about mental health, describes self- care as “...doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being...”
Without such a reprieve from the often busy and stressful reality of daily life, what happens?
We can easily be overwhelmed, which reflects in our work, relationships, and mood.
Do you find taking care of yourself intimidating? Is it hard to know where to start?
Here are some ways to give back to your mental health:
Meditation is the practice of mindfulness, of being present in the moment without placing judgement on our thoughts or surroundings. Meditation allows me to really slow down. Even taking five minutes to sit, close my eyes, and just breath allows me to reset my mood. It helps me bring things into perspective, and realize ability to make it through the day, regardless of challenges.
If you are interested in meditation, it may be beneficial to start with a guided meditation session which takes you through different ways of practicing mindfulness.
If you’re a person who likes to hash out your feelings, and you don’t want to risk judgement of spilling it all to another person, journaling is a great option. It allows you to get all your emotions out, while also being able to reflect on them, and determine how to cope with any stressful situation you may encounter. Journaling doesn’t have to be with pen and paper either. I use an app that, at the end of the day, cheerfully reminds me to make note of my mood, gives journal prompts, and sends motivational quotes for encouragement.
3. Getting Out There
Sometimes the best way to unwind is to go outside and be active. Whether it’s going for a walk, attending a community event, or hanging out with friends, taking a break from work to interact with the outside world can be very beneficial.
If you love animals as much as I do, I highly recommend visiting a dog park. Not only will you be getting fresh air, you’ll also be able to interact with some adorable animals that are sure to put a smile on your face.
Alongside the aforementioned activities, I personally enjoy crocheting cute plushies and doodling out my feelings in my sketchbook.
Here are responses from a few SEED Impact partners to give you even more inspiration on how to give back to your mental health:
Rebecca Fishburne, Deputy Director, The Alex House Project, Inc.
“[To give back to myself] I meditate and spend time with myself; I have a date day, where I take myself on a date. My all-time favorite is aromatherapy.”
Fishburne says that self-care is important because “If we don’t take care of ourselves we cannot take care of anyone else.”
Diana Vigo, Senior Director, Commonpoint Queens
“To give back to myself, I set some time alone to reflect/take walks in the sun, get my nails done, or get a body massage.”
Vigo emphasizes the importance of self-care “...in order to be present for my family, friends, and team.”
EdenMade Director, Because Justice Matters
“... I take time to be quiet and slow down, [practice] prayer, mindfulness, breathing, [and do] things that bring me joy…”
Butts explains: “It is important to care for ourselves simply because we are worth it and our wellness is valuable...It is difficult to invite others into wellness I have not already stepped into, and I am not meant to pour from an empty cup. It is most helpful to me and to others to give from a place of fullness and abundance.”
Taneyri DeJesus, TEEP Program Director, Trinity Boston Connects
“... I have intentional shut-down time every day. Giving myself grace to be selfish with my time has been the key to my mental health.”
DeJesus states an important truth: “Work is not the most important thing … I am so much more than my job title…”
Yolaida Martinez-Caro, Program Coordinator, BMA Tenpoint (Black Ministerial Alliance)
“... I do my best to schedule personal headspace … to take a break from personal thoughts, tasks and responsibilities that may seem overwhelming."
Martinez-Caro explains: “I am usually doing things for others, and must remind myself that I care for myself, too.”
She schedules self-care in her calendar to make sure it happens. She concludes: “I have to let my ownself know that I am just as important.”
Phoenix Medley, age 16, began volunteering with SEED Impact in 2020. She connects with SEED Impact’s client-partners and researches topics of interest. She enjoys writing to support their work, and as a way of drawing more attention to their passion, vision, challenges, and life-giving outcomes.