Health and Wellbeing, mental health, Mindfulness, Personal Development, Self Improvement

A guide to nourishing and depleting activities

I don’t know if like me you come to a halt sometimes and ask yourself why you feel quite so crap? You’re tired, your skin is all puffy and pink, you are slothing around eating things that aren’t good for you and then you wonder why you feel awful? You think back to the last time you relaxed, or didn’t rush round doing things for other people. You can’t actually remember when you did something that relaxed you, or truly nourished you. Do nourishing and depleting activities feature on your radar?

In today’s modern world, we have little time to nourish ourselves. By that I mean look after ourselves, do things that make us feel happy, feel calmer, feel that we’re looking after ourselves, actually take care of our mind , body and soul. We’re mostly attached to our phones, we work longer hours than ever, and we have more and more commitments which mean that activities like reading a book, listening to music, watching a film, taking a long walk, or having a long bath can often seem like a time sapping exercise, taking us away from our to-do lists. No wonder depression and anxiety statistics are the highest they’ve ever been.

Nourishing ourselves

So what can we do to nourish ourselves and why is it a good thing to do? *Self care/nourishment/looking after yourself (*delete which you don’t like) helps prevent us from the effects of stress, which as well as having an effect on our mental health, also affects our physical health; from increased blood pressure,  insomnia, heart problems to skin conditions and can affect arthritis and diabetes. Self care helps balance out the difficult bits of life with lovely things that make you happy.  It helps prevent us from getting burn out when our life is challenging, and makes us more resilient in our workplace, in our family life, with our friends and when shit happens.

So what activities are nourishing? Well that all depends on you. We’re all different and so what nourishes us will be different. For instance I nourish myself in lots of ways:

  • napping
  • reading books
  • reading a magazine
  • watching a film
  • meditating
  • walking
  • going for coffee
  • being with friends and family
  • spending time with our pets
  • a bath
  • writing
  • going for a drive
  • spending time in our little garden
Depleting ourselves

Even though we know it makes us feel awful, tired, grumpy, or just plain crappy, we all do things that almost put us in a self care overdraft. If looking after ourselves deposits a credit in our bank of good health and wellbeing, doing things that deplete or make us feel empty, exhausted or drain us takes a debit and leaves us with a debt.

There are things of course which we need to do which might deplete us, for example the odd late working night (guilt of that one), too much of the food that’s bad for us (guilty again) or difficult relationship with a partner, friend or family member (yes, guilty again) but if these are regular or prolonged, we can end up making ourselves feel awful. Here’s some of the things I do that deplete me:

  • working too much
  • signing up to too many emails and getting really cluttered inboxes
  • not saying no to things I should say no to
  • not getting enough sleep
  • eating food that does not nourish me
  • being on my phone too much
  • Being on my phone too late so I get eye strain
  • Not meditating
  • Stressing over tiny things
  • worrying
Make nourishing yourself a habit

So to nourish yourself more and deplete yourself less, what can you do? I’ve decided  to make self care and looking after myself a habit. Something to embed into my daily life to ensure I do more on my nourishing list, and less on my depleting list.

I am guessing you’re probably like me and when you’re in the depletion zone you forget about getting yourself into the nourishing zone.

So I’ve created a worksheet for you, so that you can create your own list of nourishing and depleting activities.

Nourishing and Depleting worksheet

  1. To use it, click on the link above and download it.
  2. Make a list of all the things you like doing that make you feel nourished
  3. Write your list on the opposite side of all the things that deplete you
  4. Aim to do one thing on your nourishing list each day
  5. Aim to do one thing less on your depleting list each day
  6. Keep the list somewhere like your fridge or on your wall to start your habit, and keep it in your mind on a daily basis.
Looking after yourself first is key

We can be led to believe that looking after ourselves first is a selfish thing. We should always put ourselves after our families, our children, our colleagues. Be selfless. However if we don’t stick the credits in our self care bank we’ll have nothing left to care for others with. It’s not a bad thing to say no to people, to shut the doors, and keep the outside world away whilst you do something nice. Something that makes your heart go ‘Aaaah’. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I understand this to be true, and still now I can struggle with taking care of myself. For others who have had or have depression, self care can be the first thing to go. It’s then that it’s most important to try and do at least something that helps you care for yourself. Make make a list of easy self care stuff and then some activities you find slightly more challenging to do?

So what do you do for nourishing yourselves? What depletes you? How do you balance the two?


4 thoughts on “A guide to nourishing and depleting activities”

    1. Thanks Adele, I did this as part of an exercise on a mindful course and it really helped me realise the things I should limit and those I should do more of! Thanks for your comments, Jo


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