Fill up your own cup

I know we have all heard this self-care message of filling up your own cup first or fitting your oxygen mask on a plane before being able to help fit your child's.

It happens to be a well-used metaphor of mine… not only in my own personal life, but also for the parents that I work with.

An empty cup or a crisis mindset can present so differently for people. Depending on the family needs, past and present experiences and challenges some may be struggling with that constant feeling of overwhelm, where as for others it may emerge with the ebb and flow of life.

Some unhelpful effects of a crisis mindset are:

  • We lose perspective

  • We can only focus on the short term

  • We become focused on immediate problems

  • We spend all of our energy ‘putting out fires’

  • Our pace becomes too rapid

  • We do not dare stop and reflect

  • We are unable to learn from our experience

  • We use our resources inefficiently

  • We try to go everywhere and try everything

Some of these effects may resonate with you; I have certainly witnessed them playing out with families I’ve worked with, especially in the early days of a diagnosis and the need to try every intervention available.

I hope I can give you a little hope and some helpful insight that can help you feel a little more in control of your family, life and mindset.

Becoming aware of when your cup is getting empty is the first step. Learning mindfulness and moving into a space where you can practice being in the present moment is fundamental.

This requires being able to:

  • Take a ‘step back’ when needed

  • Evaluate yourself in a productive manner

  • Look at things from multiple perspectives

  • Shift between being fully engaged in the present moment, reflecting on prior experiences and preview possible future situations

  • Be mindful of things that we often take for granted

Find something that works for you. In those moments when you begin to feel your heart rate increase, a tense feeling in your physical body, feelings of frustration, increase stress, high emotions or simply just burnt out.

  • It could be as simple as stepping outside or into another room. Taking 3 deep breaths and focusing on your diaphragm and lungs filling with air and then deep sighing and exhaling of the breath.

  • Creating some time in your day or week to do something just for you. A yoga or exercise class, coffee catch up with a friend or if all you can manage is a walk around the block.

  • Keep a journal to get out some of those feelings and unhelpful thoughts and feelings. This is a great and simple strategy to get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

This visual can serve as a take-away message to remind you that in order to

support your children through their growth and development,

it is crucial that you look after yourself first.

#selfcare #autism #relationships

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