Forming Faith Blog

Self-Care: Fill Your Bucket

Find self-care activities that fill your bucket and work to include those in your routine in a meaningful and faith-focused way.

A woman meditating next to a dog for self-care.
Photo by cottonbro studio on
Fill Your Empty Bucket

Educators and students often see the summer months as their only time for self-care. This idea is incorrect, as what is needed for self-care is probably just different in these months. In the summer, we may be able to focus on ourselves more and tend to gravitate towards bigger acts of self-care with routines like joining a yoga class or starting each day by walking the dog. During the school year, acts of self-care tend to take on more of an instant gratification role like having a daily coffee or binge-watching a show. Both forms of self-care are valid and speak to what you need in that moment.

We cannot serve others with an empty bucket, so we must find ways to regularly fill our bucket.

It took me a long time to realize it, but the state of my fingernails has a direct correlation to how well I am doing mentally and emotionally. You see, I have always been a nail-biter, and nothing I do seems to be enough to break the habit. The emptier my bucket is, the stubbier my fingers look. It has become a self-care routine to get my nails done once a month. This one hour forces me to focus on myself, instead of the things that contribute to draining me. Now, that can’t be the only form of self-care, but it is a routine to get a few drops in the bucket that continues to need filling.

Faith and Self-care

It’s easy to connect faith and self-care. Reading a devotional, praying, or reminding yourself of your beliefs while you do your self-care activity is a simple way to be faith forward. This can also allow you to be intentional in meeting your needs as you engage in your activity. As I make my morning coffee, I try to set my intention for the day which is often founded in my beliefs. “Trust the process,” I might say to myself as I put the second scoop of grounds in the coffee maker.  Then throughout the day as I take a sip, I may find myself thinking about how God is guiding the process I am going through for other tasks.

The Little Treat

Sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of “the little treat.” Running to the grocery store? Well, I might as well pick up a little treat while I am there. Driving past a coffee shop on the way to work? I really should stop for a little treat since I am running early. When this pattern starts, I know it’s time for some intentional self-care because I am looking for things to fill my own bucket. As I said before, that is a valid form of self-care, but when I start this pattern, I know that I have disconnected from my beliefs. I’m not setting an intention when picking up a little treat, I am just satisfying a craving. This is when I know I need to get back into my healthy habit of making a conscious effort to put myself first. That is how I can keep my bucket fuller for longer.

Adapting to the Season

For me, I practice self-care by hiking. The longer and more secluded the hike is, the better I feel afterward. I can ride that feeling for days! However, hiking in Minnesota is limited to the summer months simply due to nature, which has caused me to be creative in what I do for self-care the other 9 months of the year. Working in education, there are not a whole lot of natural breaks to get out to places to hike. A personal day here, a long weekend there, I make sure to schedule meaningful outdoor activities to chase that same feeling. Now, I have developed a love for snowshoeing. On a more “as needed” basis, my dog and I have a handful of secret spots we like to walk where it seems like it is just us out in the world. With these nature activities, I always find myself focusing on the beauty of the world. Just existing in nature is a reminder of what God created and for me, that is just the reset I need.

Make a Plan

Whatever it is that refills your bucket, get out there and make it a routine. Find something to do daily, weekly, monthly, and as needed that lets YOU be the priority for the time being. Start by identifying the activities, routines, and treats that make you feel good after you do them. Once you have a few things identified, set a schedule or routine of how often you need to engage with those to feel the effects. Last (but definitely not least), decide the best way you can be faith forward in your practice. Remember, self-care is to keep your bucket full, and only then can you be present for others.


Elaine Seekon

About the Writer:

Elaine is an educator by trade and passion, licensed in Special Education areas of Emotional Behavior Disorders, Specific Learning Disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as Communicative Arts. Education-driven, she has previously completed a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the area of Social Psychology. With Spirit & Truth Publishing, Elaine is happily employed as a writer and editor.

This blog post is part of a monthly series of practical advice for faith formation leaders by faith formation and education professionals. Summaries of these posts are sent in a monthly email to email subscribers. Subscribe today!

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