Working together, improving lives

April 2022

Bee's Blog: You Cannot Pour From An Empty Cup

Care of the Self. A hot topic nowadays, with the whole world bombarded by messages to look after ourselves so that we can be happy and productive. But the big change has come- the idea that some of these ideas and rhetoric can in fact cause far more dissatisfaction and poor coping methods.

The Nursing Times recently published an article about how Nurses in particular view self-care as indulgent and egotistical, and as sad as it is to read that, I understand. Working in people-centric roles, where others’ wellbeing and health is dependent on you, the idea of following these ideas that would take you away from the patient feels contradictory.

The idea of using an app in the break room to teach you to breathe deeper, when you could be updating a care plan, or of ritualistic jogs after spending a whole day of dealing with devastated family members might not be what you need, and may make you question your own resilience, leading to feelings of low confidence and selfishness.

However, self-care isn’t the same for everyone. The truth of the matter is that a lot of the publicised and popular new methods are for people like me, who work from a desk, and for whom an extra 5 minutes sipping some fruit tea standing by the window and deep breathing isn’t going to change whether someone gets the care they need. It does make nice pictures for insta though, and that’s half the problem. Mental wellbeing has become fashionable. And that is a good thing, but it’s often far harder to achieve than posting pictures online of yourself in yoga wear, or declaring to anyone who will listen that you are going to have a big bubble bath (something I definitely DON’T do!)

Self-care is, in my opinion, a matter of organisation. It’s picking out the short, medium and long term actions you can take to give yourself a sense of meaning, proportionality and having full regard to your health, both physical and mental.

It is as much about making a lunchbox the night before, as it is about occasionally treating yourself to takeaway. It’s signing up to a month-long course, and having actual lazy time. It’s having a list of goals you want to achieve in the next year, and being flexible about how you will achieve them. Self-care is a long and constant road, but it shouldn’t be made up of blocks and steps and stages that slow you down.

One of my favourite (and frankly life changing) sayings is:

You cannot pour from an empty cup

It’s simple, it’s true and it makes sense. What you put in your cup, in my experience, is what you pour from it. If you hate your job, you throw hate at it. If you have no time to yourself, you take others’ time away. If you are stressed, you pour stress on everything. And it likely isn’t your fault, but frustratingly you are often the only one who can refill your cup.

A huge part of this is having the situations and support around us that allow us to achieve this. That on its own is a huge topic, and in this blog at least, I don’t think we have space or time to discuss the inequities in the whole of the world.

I will sign off with the hope that any nurse or healthcare professional gets the time to fill their cup, not only with the vast amount of training and knowledge they accrue and thusly share in betterment of society, but also with peace and calm, with gratitude and growth. I hope they find the little things in life that make their day, week and month easier and more enjoyable. For if all of our cups are full of lovely things, we can all stand sipping by the window and take a few deep breaths together.

That being said, if any of our Office Staff, Nurses, Carers or Support Workers are struggling and need to talk, please reach out to us. Your wellbeing matters, and whether you need to chat or need some adjustment, we would love to sit down and pour a cup with you.