Emotional Refueling: Vital to Mental Health

by Emily Phifer, M.S. MFT


During this difficult life season, Sync Counseling Center wants to remind you that everyone can benefit from prioritizing mental health practices.  Particularly during this pandemic and the collective shifting around long-held systems of  racial inequality in our society today, you may find yourself “running on empty”, depleted and fatigued.  It’s not uncommon during times of personal or collective grief, or both, for people to find themselves unusually exhausted, slowed down, and having difficulty completing usual tasks or functions.  Grief and stress slow us down physically, emotionally and mentally, requiring us to intentionally take care of ourselves so that we can continue showing up for life in healthy ways. 

When your tank approaches “empty”, what do you do to refuel?  Whether you’ve seen a therapist in the past or not, now is a good time to take stock of your mental health needs and to seek the support you need.

People with clinical mental health conditions and crises, as well as those looking to overcome limitations and grow in relationships can benefit from mental health support.  

These days, with stress and exhaustion mounting during the Coronavirus pandemic marathon and complex societal concerns at the forefront, self-care is imperativeSync therapists recently explored the concept of needing to “emotionally refuel”, ourselves.  Here, we share with you three important questions emerging from our vital dialogue:


  • What does “emotional refueling” mean?
  • How do you know when you’re becoming depleted? 
  • What are ways that you refill your emotional “tank”?


Emotional Refueling Defined

Our group of therapists summarized emotional refueling as finding life-giving ways to fill ourselves up. Our refueling list includes:

  • finding beauty in nature
  • getting outdoors for activities
  • seeking emotional support by connecting with others
  • having healthy boundaries with others
  • listening to music
  • practicing relaxation (yoga, walking, meditation, bath)
  • enjoying relational connection
  • finding solitary space for quiet thoughts (coffee alone before partner/children are awake)
  • engaging in physical exercise
  • sketching/ creating art
  • watching television
  • reading books


What activities and practices help to restore your energy and vitality? 

What activities and/or relationships deplete or stress you? 


Tank on Empty

Our tanks often become empty when we are overextended, drained, or under prolonged stress.  When depleted, strained and exhausted, we may notice ourselves sighing, becoming easily frustrated with those around us, and running low on patience to face the responsibilities and challenges in our lives.  We can constantly meet the needs of others and the demands around us, while leaving little space for caring for ourselves.  So, pay attention to signs indicating that your emotional tank may be running low.



When do you become aware that you need to refill your emotional tank? What tends to deplete or refill you emotionally in your day-to-day life? What first steps can you take towards emotional refueling in your life today?


As you reflect on your own emotional refueling needs and practices, please click below for inspiration from two of Sync’s therapists, Grace Ou and Athina Danilo, on what emotional refueling means– in their own words.

*The Emotional Refueling series will be an ongoing Sync Blog/Vlog resource featured throughout the coming months. To seek support with your own emotional refueling and self-care, CONTACT SYNC TODAY.