Amy Eksteen

Since tomorrow is Valentines Day, I want to dedicate this post to a special type of love – self-love.

Have you ever felt as if on some days you have so much energy and motivation that you would be able to conquer the world? And on other days, you find yourself feeling a bit tired and demotivated? Because I have.

We’re living in a world that is so demanding of our time and energy, sometimes leaving us feeling as if certain days are an uphill battle. Feeling this way can easily lead us to neglect one very important aspect – taking care of ourselves, showing ourselves a little bit compassion and understanding.

I often find myself wondering why my energy and positivity sometimes fluctuates to a level of exhaustion and negativity. The thought of this alone would stress me out, until I learned about The Spoons Theory. As a result, it has led to me dedicating my time to getting to know myself better and becoming more self-aware. I’ve learned to manage and accept my own limitations, therefore learning how to take better care of myself. I feel as if The Spoons Theory is a healthy concept that can be used to facilitate better insight and highlight the necessity for self-love.

Okay so, The Spoons Theory was originally created by a woman named Christine Miserandino in 2003 as an analogy for people living with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities.

You might be wondering what spoons have to do with all of this?

Well, in this theory, ‘spoons’ are used to represent units of energy or one’s capacity to accomplish tasks in a day. The concept behind the theory is that a healthy person has an unlimited amount of spoons when they wake up in order to complete certain tasks for the day ahead. This is compared to someone living with a chronic illness or disability, otherwise known as a ‘spoonie’, having a limited amount of spoons, aka, a limited amount of energy for the day.

The spoonie has to be very careful in choosing what tasks they get to spend their energy on because once the spoons run out for the day, they run out. Simple tasks like showering, eating a meal, attending class and/or getting out of bed (to name a few) may be the tasks a spoonie has to choose between. Choosing between these simple tasks may cost a spoonie the majority of their spoons for the day or it may lead them having to choose to use all of their spoons on one specific task, for example, having no choice but to study for a test/exam the following day.

Each day can also vary, not knowing how many spoons one may wake up with. This can be due to having a bad nights sleep and dealing with minor or major stressors like relationship concerns, conflict, financial constraints or fighting the flu. It may all contribute to someone having even less spoons.

After The Spoons Theory was created, it led to people being able to empathise with others, especially people with a chronic illness and/or disability. The theory has also evolved to include and consider people who battle with mental illnesses. I thought that this theory and the fresh perspective it brings, is worth sharing since it helps one to empathise, to care and to be mindful of other people. In true Valentines Day style, the theory may help all of us spread a little more love.

With that being said, when reading and learning more about this theory, I thought why not use this post as an opportunity to help ourselves understand the need for self-love and self-compassion? I think spreading awareness on this theory is a chance to lift our perspectives and think about ourselves differently. To be kinder to ourselves. To remember to have empathy, to care and to be mindful of our own emotions and feelings like we would for a spoonie. After all, I believe that we all, in some way or another, have a limited amount of spoons. We are all dealing with varying amounts of energy every day that we need to know how to manage in order to stay healthy. We all have our own battles that we have to deal with, be it an emotional, physical, mental and/or spiritual battle. We all face stressors in our day to day lives, which can lead to a sense of demotivation and eventually a level of depletion. I know that as humans, we tend to be so hard on ourselves as well, facing negative self-talk and thoughts like ”There is no time to rest”, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”, “I can’t afford to be lazy” or ”Why am I so useless sometimes?”.

Please remember that it’s okay to say “No” to certain tasks that you have planned for the day. It’s okay to cancel a social event or ask your friends or relatives if you can reschedule plans you’ve already made. It’s okay to use your energy to rather focus on ways to show yourself love and compassion. It’s okay to put yourself first and it’s okay to ask for help when you feel like you aren’t coping.

Most importantly, I feel as if ‘self-love’ also includes taking note of the days when you know you may need a little bit more ‘me time’ while also taking note of the days when the feelings of demotivation and depletion are becoming too frequent and too overwhelming. This may be an indication of other underlying factors that need to be recognised and addressed. If this may be the case, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when help is needed.

I feel like it is also important for me to state that while I am choosing to use this theory as a way of enhancing the outlook on self-love, I also want to remind my readers that I in no way want to shift the focus away from The Spoons Theory’s main purpose. I want to acknowledge that there is a major difference between someone who is battling with a physical, emotional or mental illness, compared to someone who may be in need of self-care and self-love.

I hope that this post reminds you that it’s still okay to feel like you sometimes have a limited amount of spoons. It is so important to be aware of your limits, to know your own personal signs and symptoms that may indicate a need to rest or reach out for assistance. To know when to stop and ask yourself “Why am I feeling so demotivated today?”, “How can I show myself a little more love today?” or “Who can I reach out to for help?”.
Below are ten suggestions for self-care or when you feel like you’ve ‘run out of spoons’. For Valentines day, maybe choose one suggestion and dedicate time in your day to some more self-loving.

  1. Take a nap
  2. Spend time in a relaxing bath
  3. Spend some time in nature
  4. Read
  5. Do some journaling, write, colour or draw
  6. Pray
  7. Practice some meditation and/or mindfulness
  8. Listen to calming music
  9. Write a gratitude list
  10. Cuddle your pet

Here are some links including more information about The Spoons Theory:

Take care xx