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Fill Your Cup First

Take a break – it seems like such simple advice in theory.  To truly stop and take time throughout the day may seem impossible.  For most of us with days of back to back meetings, running kids to practices, attending events, and other social commitments means our calendars are consistently jam packed.   Do you take time to fill your cup?  I’m just not talking about a cup.  Do you take time each day for yourself?

Fill your cup first.  You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Over the years, I diligently tried to incorporate breaks throughout my workday. I would aim for at minimum mini breaks such as standing out in the sunshine for a few minutes between meetings to longer breaks when my schedule permitted enjoying a walk or eating lunch away from my computer.  Some days were easier than others to make this happen.  I found the days that I incorporated breaks I felt more energized, tasks didn’t feel as mundane, creativity flowed and I was happier.  On days that I couldn’t take a break in back-to-back 10 hours of virtual meetings, checking emails and responding to messages between calls, I felt exhausted and always digging deeper for perseverance versus thriving especially in the afternoons.  I found it extremely difficult to be at my best.

During a trip to Sweden last summer with friends, I was introduced to Fika.  In Sweden, fika  (pronounced fee-ka) is something of a ritual. It does typically involve coffee and a sweet pastry, but just as important is the decision to take a deliberate break from your day with others. It’s a chance to relax and enjoy social connection with family, friends or colleagues.

We absolutely made the best of fika each day enjoying coffee and sweet treats in the morning to a glass of wine at a café in the afternoon.  Even on vacation, it was a chance to slow down, regroup, and just enjoy the moment. 

Apparently fika can be both a noun (let’s have some fika) and a verb (let’s fika now.). In Sweden, taking fika mid-morning and midafternoon is part of the way of living being simply taking time for yourself.  Fika is a way of recharging your batteries to relax for a short little while, and to collect yourself to go on with your day.

Coming back to the US after our trip was a culture shock.  No one was taking Fika.  I needed to maintain this as part of my routine and bring Fika to people in my life.  I began sending messages to friends with a photo of me and my cup, asking people to join me even for a virtual fika, and carved out two breaks each day.  Suddenly my schedule began taking shape in a new framework that allowed me to have these breaks and still get everything accomplished I needed to do plus feel good doing it.  If I had a meeting and really needed to take a break, I simply asked the person if I could delay our time by a few minutes so I could take a break.  My colleagues were understanding. In many cases they expressed excitement and relief as they really could use a break as well and were grateful for the time. We would meet and both be energized, in better spirits, and more productive. At the end of the day, I was no longer exhausted from plowing through just to do it all over again the next day.

By taking time to fill my cup first, I was able to feel good about taking care of myself and achieving my goals.


Fika is about genuinely slowing down, getting back in touch with your body and the people around you, and recharging on a deeper level.  I encourage you to add fika into your life.  Fill your cup first.




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