Nourishment When You’re Depleted

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to over-extend myself. I love to learn; I love to share what I’ve learned with others. Deep connection to the people I love, my community and my environment are extremely important to me. I invest a lot of time & energy in these areas of my life and notice, often after the fact, that I’ve packed more to-do’s into the day than are hours. 

The trouble is, if I do this for too long, I can feel depleted, drained, as if I’ve nothing left to give – to my work, to my family, friends, community . . . to myself.

Not a good place to be. 

I bet you have a similar list of values and interests where you willingly and happily invest your heart and soul.

We naturally eat when our body is hungry, and yet, it can be so common to expect ourselves to invest energy into our interests without giving ourselves the necessary time to replenish.

But the simple fact is, our spirits need nourishment as much as our bodies. 


Photo Credit: Karen Arnold via Pixabay

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron refers to what I call nourishing the spirit, as an artist date where we get to “fill the well” – our internal reservoir that sustains our efforts. That metaphor really works for me because when I’m not getting regular time to myself, I feel empty. 

This concept doesn’t apply strictly to those who consider themselves artists. Everyday of our lives is an act of creation. Every endeavor, a creative expression. Building a career, growing a garden, crafting relationships, raising a child – all beautiful works of art.

So if this filling the well is what we need to create our art, and our very lives are a work of art – how essential is the need to nourish our souls, our hearts and our minds with rich, uplifting experience!

We need inspiration to prompt insight. We need play to kindle plans. We need to experience light and delight, color and caresses, our bodies need to move, to dance and run and swim. We need the sun and fresh air on our skin. We need to pamper and feed our senses to provide fuel for all the generous, brilliant, compassionate effort we want to extend to the world.

Here are some signs that nourishment is needed.

  • A sense of forcing or dragging ourselves into action.
  • Diminished caring. Not a healthy letting go, but rather a despondent, exhausted, turning away from life.
  • A decline in energy and enthusiasm.
  • Boredom or disinterest.
  • Feeling depleted, drained, or empty.

That sense of feeling depleted or drained is a serious red flag. It means the well is getting dangerously low. The ideal cure for me is to make sure my routine includes regular experiences that fill the well. What a difference it can make to have a regular practice that invites us into mystery, where the only constant is variety, and the primary requirements are curiosity, play and delight.

Need some ideas for filling the well? Here are some that work for me.

Visit a local park. Soak in the sunshine and sounds of children laughing.

Hang out in nature. Get in some stargazing, bird watching, or gardening. Spend time with flowers, trees, free-flowing water, bugs & wildlife.

Let your body move. Go swimming, dancing, take a walk in the forest, along the beach or down a city street.

Engage your senses. Soak up the sunset or sunrise. Listen to music, a river, the ocean. Feel the salt air on your skin. Pay attention while you’re cooking to all the sensory pleasures and while you’re at it – try foods you’ve never tasted before.

Let the masters inspire you. See your favorite movies, visit galleries and museums.

Incorporate novelty. Try changing up your routines. A shift in your schedule, your route to work or any other regular activity can go a long way toward giving you a fresh, new perspective.

How full is your well? Are you in a habit of using your inner resources without restoring them?

Consider making inspiration, play and delight an intentional part of your every day life. Be present for the fun that’s there, consciously receive the inspiration that is already making its way to you, and make regular time to nourish your spirit.

And with that – – it’s time for me to go outside!




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