How do you know if you have enough energy for everything going on in your life? And especially now, how do you know if you have enough energy for the holidays?

You use the Spoon Theory!

This is a lovely analogy that uses cutlery to represent your inner resources. It goes like this…

You have a fixed number of spoons. Everything you do uses a certain number of spoons. So getting up and getting dressed takes a spoon. Making lunch for three kids while in a rush and trying to get out the door takes two spoons on a regular day. If you are pre-menstrual it might take three. If your kids are particularly cranky and you realise you’re out of their favourite lunch foods it might take four. And you haven’t even left the house yet!

So hopefully you get through the day and maybe even have a spoon or two left for yourself or your partner.

But what if there are some underlying issues that are taking some of your spoons before you even get out of bed?

I love the Spoon Theory, but I had forgotten about it until yesterday when I saw a post from my friend Shayne Henderson, a wonderful massage therapist and movement coach who specialises in working with pre- and post-partum women.Β  She has done a beautiful job of laying it out, and I really encourage you to check out her post (and the rest of her work) on Facebook or Instagram!

Why did this resonate with me so strongly?

Because I think it affects all of us, teachers, clients, those with many spoons and those without.

spoons 2

I think as teachers, it is important to remember that some of the clients walking in our doors at this time of year may be out of spoons.
They are getting through the day, and they’ve made time and space for their time with you, honouring themselves, their bodies, their commitments and their self care.

But that might be all they’ve got.

Be aware in your cuing and your teaching that some people may not be moving as well as they normally do and that needs to be ok!

The holidays are stressful for many people just because of the basic, busy, overwhelming stuff. Here is a short list of things that exacerbate that:

a history of trauma

or grief

or mental health issues

or exhaustion

or systemic immune disorders

or food issues

or family dysfunction…

Can you see how a person might easily run out of spoons?

Once those resources are depleted a client may not move as smoothly as usual. They might not learn new moves as quickly. They might tire sooner. We always need to be aware of, and ok with, changing our expectations to best support our clients, but especially during the holidays.

Someone who is low on or out of spoons might be:

  • zoning out
  • talking more or less than usual
  • getting frustrated with themselves or others
  • unusually sensitive to the environment (noise, smells, light, other clients)
  • tensing their facial muscles
  • less precise in their movements
  • more restricted and tense in their movements
  • more emotional than usual
  • late

Be sensitive to their responses and remember that this might be a particularly troubling time for them, or they may simply be out of spoons. Be kind, be patient and don’t make a fuss! Help the client or clients to get the best session they can and hopefully being there, engaging in some movement and self-care, will add a spoon to their stock.

And if YOU are out of spoons, be as gentle with yourself as you would be with your favourite client

  • Allow yourself a little extra time between sessions, if you have that flexibility.
  • See if you can find some extra time alone if you are an introvert
  • Make time for a supportive friend if you are an extrovert
  • Don’t plan fancy new classes. Teach what you know and love!
  • Keep your social obligations to a minimum
  • Don’t ever “should” on yourself, but this season is full of pressures. Keep them at bay and do the things you want to do, not the ones you feel you should do.

Do you have ideas or questions about how to manage your spoons? Post them in the comments below and let’s see how many strategies we can build!


xoΒ  Alison



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We all work better as teachers when we have the internal resources to bring our best selves to the mat.

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