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Insights丨Fill Your Cup… and Encourage Others to do the Same

08 April 2020
Welfare and Guidance Lead Samantha Wood
It is often said that you should fill your cup before you fill the cups of others, because you cannot pour from an empty cup. This is true, and I explained in my previous article Taking Care of Yourself and Those you Love’, that if we do not look after ourselves how can we find the energy to help those around us; we can keep giving until we have nothing left to give, we can always put others before ourselves and before long you find that you are so far at the back of the queue you know there will be nothing left. Having said that I feel that the situation we find ourselves in now calls for a different outlook. Most people reading this article will have been spending an increased time with their families; parents and grandparents supporting the education of the youngsters ensuring they actively engage in the excellent e-learning being provided by the Wellington teachers; while at the same time working from home, maintaining the house, and keeping a close watch on the health of all. All this while also keeping abreast with the latest regulations and news around the world. If you feel overwhelmed, then you are in good company, for many parents will feel the same way. And then there are the children… No matter their age, they will have been feeling the strain of keeping up with their education, worrying about their friendships and whether they will weather this storm; hearing the news, fake and otherwise and wondering if the world they knew will ever be the same again; and on top of this they are confined, for many, in their bedrooms for hours on end. It certainly does not paint the most uplifting of pictures, but is there an alternative? In a recent webinar ‘Stress in the Time of Covid-19’ delivered by Dr Theo Cope, psychologist and psychotherapist with the Raffles Medical Group in Beijing, we were presented with the Balance Model created by Dr Nossrat Peseschkian the founder of Positive Psychology. It is in this model that I feel we have not just a realistic response to the difficult times we find ourselves in, but one that is possible to practise along-side our family members. We don’t have to fill our own cup before filling others, instead we can collectively fill our cups, and the beauty of this approach is that in pouring positivity into one cup we simultaneously fill all. So how do we fill the cups, and how does the Balance Model help us to do this? The ‘Balance Model’ expounds a four-part approach:
  1. Body – Health and Well-being
  2. Achievement
  3. Contact
  4. Future, and Meaning
  Quarantine Bingo Why not create your own that hits each dimension of the Balance Model. If we address each of these aspects, then filling the cups becomes more manageable.   1 Body To support our health and well-being, we need to ensure we have a balanced diet, a good sleep routine, exercise, relaxation and something that gives us a sense of pleasure. In Zone Activities An activity which takes your full concentration and provides a sense of achievement; for example juggling. Using mindfulness behaviours like breathing, meditation and ‘in the zone’ activities, helps to still the mind and bring a sense of calm. Mindfulness Breathing Imagine you are on a beach watching the waves gently roll onto the sand. Match your breathing to the movement of the water, don’t forget though to pause between each part of the breath. 2 Achievement When we laugh, we reduce feelings of stress and increase healthy hormones (endorphins). It also creates a stronger immune system. So, take some time to watch something funny on TV or the internet. Interestingly, even simply pretending to smile or laugh can trigger the real thing! 3 Contact Maintaining contact with our friends and family helps our cups to overflow. Spending quality time with those you live with and speaking to your friends around the world is time well spent. In these conversations you have the chance to share, seek advice and above all laugh – the power of laughter should never be underestimated. Feel Good message Send a message to someone to let them know you are thinking of them. 4 Future & Meaning I am sure we can all agree with the Buddhist teaching of anicca ‘everything is impermanent and does not last’; and this is true of Covid-19. Adopting a positive attitude as we look to the future is essential in times of stress. When our mind takes us down the path of negativity, take five minutes to breathe deeply, and bring the mind back to reality. Looking Forward At the start of each day list 3 things you are looking forward to. These could simply be on a post-it note; or form part of a ‘Hope’ journal.   So go ahead, try to follow this Balanced Approach, fill your cup and smile as those you love do the same. Smile! Smile at others, look in the mirror and smile at yourself, smile at people when you are outside (even with your mask on people will see your eyes smiling. This simple act makes the giver and receiver feel good, and as it uses 12 muscles to smile it also counts as exercise!