Alone Time versus Me Time or How to Refill Your Watering Can

March 10, 2015
Do you ever feel exhausted? Do you neglect yourself because you’re always there for everyone but you? Do you feel you’re giving all the time? Then let me share something with you: a lesson I learned last year about the importance of recharging my batteries.

I feel soooo exhausted!

I started my organising business almost two years ago and have really enjoyed what I’ve done during that time. However, towards the end of last year I started to feel exhausted. Everything was going well and I was loving my work, but still, something wasn’t feeling quite right. It felt like my brain couldn’t take in anything anymore; I felt mentally exhausted and too tired to think.

During the summer holidays, having the kids at home, I had time to take a step back, have a good long look at my life and do some thinking. I had long conversations with a couple of very good friends that changed my perspective quite a bit, too. One day I listened to an interview given by my lovely yoga teacher (http://www.olgadossa.com), and it was such an eye-opener for me! You might have heard the ‘empty cup analogy’ – I had. Several times. But somehow, this time it really struck a chord!

It goes something like this: We are like a cup full of water – or if we use my preferred container, a watering can. But we can only give and share if there is enough water in it. If the watering can is empty, there is nothing to give. So we need to fill and top up our watering can regularly.

Very logical, don’t you think? And so true, I find. Thinking about this a lot in the last couple of months, I realised something. I had made a mistake – a big one! For some reason I had confused alone time with me time. Since our boys started school about four years ago, I’ve basically had six hours a day to myself (yeahhh). And this was my me time – right? Wrong! I misinterpreted it as my me time and thought I had plenty of it because I was mostly on my own – that is, if I wasn’t working with clients or meeting a friend or doing the grocery shopping or running some other errands. But being without kids or husband doesn’t mean that I automatically recharge my batteries. Of course not. But it took me until now to realise this. I did and still do enjoy my work. Working does top up my watering can to a certain degree because it gives me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment when I get to help my clients on their journey. But it also involves a lot of giving. Giving time to do marketing and administrative tasks that honestly don’t really fill my watering can, even though I like these tasks, too. And of course there are many other giving activities involved in a typical day, especially if you’re a mother. Often, we simply forget to put ourselves first and recharge our batteries.

If this sounds familiar, read on to find out how I fixed it.

 

How to fill and top up the watering can

1. What fills my batteries?
I had to think about what I actually need to recharge my batteries. It can be so many different things and it is different for each and every one of us. For me, it included doing Pilates and yoga, amongst a few other things. I noticed that this is how I can get grounded and connect with myself best. What fills your batteries?

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule!
Once I had defined what I need and want to refill my watering can, I sat down and scheduled time for it. This was quite easy for Pilates and yoga because I go to lessons and can write them in my diary. Other things, like reading a good book for pure pleasure or going for a walk, are a bit trickier because there is no day and time dictated by a teacher. So it takes a bit of discipline to schedule these activities. Look at them as you would any other important appointments. The only difference is that these are appointments with yourself.

3. Review and adapt
After a while, it’s important to think about what works and what doesn’t. Things change all the time. Maybe you thought that reading would recharge your batteries, but after a while you realise it doesn’t give you as much pleasure as you thought. Or maybe you did it during a time of the day that wasn’t ideal, or it was simply the wrong book. Find something else or reschedule it to a different day or time. I love walks, but more so in spring and autumn, when it’s not too hot and the air is so beautifully fresh and crisp. I don’t walk as often in winter and almost never in summer, but I do other things instead. Tweak the system as much as you want until it suits your needs.

As we all know, life happens. Sometimes we might not be able to invest enough time in our well-being. If this happens from time to time, it won’t be the end of the world. However, if we are constantly giving more than we’re refilling, we will feel the consequences sooner or later and burn out. So take care of yourselves – take the time you need. This is not being selfish. Because if your watering can is full and is constantly topped up, there will be plenty to give. And that is definitely not selfish, is it?

 

What do you do to recharge your batteries? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

 

Update 3rd December 2015: I came across this wonderful blog post that I think ties in nicely with the above-mentioned tips: 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy. Just before Christmas, many of us are really stressed and also emotional. Try a few of the tips Marthe suggests to stay sane during this season.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Mary

    Chantal – you are so amazing! I hope you are doing well and wish I lived closer to you. Thank you for writing about this constant push-pull. I Have been doing my own regrouping here in NH, USA (though it has been through our snowy winter, not during sunny summer) and so appreciate your reminders. What fills my bucket (as the saying goes here) turns out to be more yoga, reading and sewing. Who knew? (Making fantastic beach totes is the perfect antidote for the cooooold weather.) But it is so important to find out these things and then, as you say, to take the time to schedule them into our “free” time. Thank you! And I hope your watering can is overflowing.

    • Chantal Imbach

      Thanks so much Mary and good to hear from you :-). Yes, I also like sewing and I’m a keen knitter and crocheter more so in winter. I need to keep the beach totes in mind though, great idea! Wishing you an awesome spring with lots of activities to fill your bucket.

  2. Dionne

    Awesome blog entry! Yes I too discovered this over the past summer holidays. I spent my days “on my own” doing housework, working and running errands and was constantly grumpy with my beautiful girls. The Saturday before Christmas I woke up with a pinched nerve down my left arm and being left hand dominant it has been frustrating to say the least!! BUT it has forced me to rediscover one of my greatest passions in life – gardening!

    Our garden had been totally neglected for the past 7 years (and it showed!) and now it’s flourishing :-). The added bonus is that I’m increasing the value of our asset each time I grow something and as I can’t bring in an income at the moment – it’s doubly rewarding.

    Gardening fills my watering can 🙂

    • Chantal Imbach

      Thanks for sharing Dionne, it is so frustrating when one wants to do things but can’t, let alone the constant pain. Glad you found such a fulfilling and rewarding activity that brings you so much joy :-). Wishing you all the best for the recovery and sending good vibes your way!

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