Filling Your Cups and Finding Your Own Balance

Samantha Waldman, MHC

New York can be a stressful and overwhelming place, and living here often results in a feeling of disconnection and separation from ourselves, our needs, and our sense of balance. As the winter months subside and give way to spring, it offers us an opportunity to take stock, start fresh, and move towards a greater sense of balance and fulfillment.

I find that it can be helpful to use the visualization of our needs being separated into different “cups.” These cups vary depending on the person, but can usually be separated into categories such as work, friends, family, love, and hobbies. At different times in our lives, based on different circumstances and events, we may find that some cups are overflowing while other cups are completely depleted.

Here are some simple steps to help you navigate your needs and move towards your own sense of balance:

  1. Give yourself space
    In today’s society we can find ourselves so bombarded by responsibilities and distractions that we can go a very long time without actually stopping to check in with ourselves. When you don’t take time to really think about how you are feeling in the moment, it is surprisingly easy to through life without ever figuring out what you want. Try taking a little bit of time every day to check in with yourself. There are so many ways you can do this, including simple mindfulness meditations, or taking time to journal at the end of the day— anything to pull your mind into the present.

  2. What do I feel overwhelmed by?
    By asking yourself this question you can gain insight into which of your cups may be overflowing. Maybe you’re thinking “I’ve committed to way too many social gatherings this month,” or “I feel like I’m spending all of my time at work.” When we take time to notice what parts of our lives are taking up more space than we’re comfortable with, then we can actively start making steps to make space for what we feel like we might be missing.

  3. What do I miss?
    Recognizing which of our cups is running dry is equally as important as recognizing which of our cups are spilling over. A simple way of doing this is by asking yourself “what do I miss in my life?”  Perhaps you have stopped participating in a hobby that brought you joy, or you’re missing your conversations you used to have with a friend that you’ve lost touch with. Once we have a sense of awareness of things that bring us joy that we may have let fall by the wayside, we can find ways to start infusing them back into our lives.

  4. Make one small change and get creative
    After you’ve taken time to look at which cups are overflowing and which are depleted, you may feel overwhelmed by the changes you have to make and unsure of how to go about it. Take a deep breath and let go of the idea that you need to change everything at once. Try to make one small change to your current routine and see how it plays out over a few weeks. If you feel like you’re spending too much time in the office and usually eat at your desk, try taking your lunch outside or going for a short walk in the middle of the day. Even what seems like a very small change to your routine could have a great impact.

  5. Reframe balance as a process, not an end goal
    Although it may be tempting to think that once you’ve switched up some of the ways you spend your day that you’ll feel perfectly and indefinitely balanced, the reality is that life is always changing. If we choose to look at balance as an ongoing process, rather than something that can be attained, we can better prepare ourselves to continuously make efforts to adjust life’s changes and let go of the sense that every part of our life has to be perfect.