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On-Site Staff / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Self-Care Ideas: Give 1/Get 8

Youth development is hard work and often emotionally draining; taking even a few minutes for self-care can be beneficial for our mental and physical health. I know what you’re thinking, self-care is all about juicing, advanced yoga poses, beach vacations, and lavender-scented spa days. Although these absolutely fall into the category of self-care, there are plenty of simple ways to practice self-care without breaking the bank.

For this article, I want us to reimagine self-care by bringing one of my new favorite resources to life, CASEL’s Give 1/Get 8. This bingo-style activity will guide you in answering questions about how you nurture yourself on a daily basis.

Using an equity lens, we as educators have the opportunity to demonstrate that self-care can be an affordable, accessible, and inclusive practice. Self-care is meant to fit our needs as individuals and help address the stress in our lives through mindfulness, collaboration, and reflection. The sustainability of the programs we lead depend on resilient staff and employees. 

To get us started, I’ve completed my own Give 1/Get 8 worksheet. Below you’ll find ideas from 7 friends and a strategy of my own.

Tamsyn Oakes, Director, Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance 

What do you do during the week to nurture your spiritual health? 

I keep a gratitude journal; every morning I jot down three things that I’m grateful for that day. After a few days, I found myself with more and more to be grateful for every day – it’s like I had trained my mind to look for the good things in life.

How do you carve out “me time” during the workday, and what do you do? 

I set a mindfulness reminder on my phone, and every day I take 3-5 minutes to shut my office door, play some soothing music, and do some focused breathing. It’s a great brain break!

Kate Burke Blackburn, Manager of Practice & Prevention, Nemours Children’s Health System 

What do you do with your friends or family that re-energizes you? 

There are a few beautiful trails near where I live; I visit them frequently with my family, friends, and dog. My happy place is being on a trail in the woods, surrounded by the sound of birds chirping and a creek bubbling.

How do you carve out “me time” during the workday, and what do you do? 

During the workday, I set a timer to remind me to take a break to re-center with a quick meditation and/or do some stretches and movement.

Clarissa Hayes, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, Food Research and Action Center 

What morning routine helps you prepare emotionally for the day? 

To prepare for the day, I make sure to start with some easy stretches while my coffee is brewing. I also make sure to stay off my phone for the first thirty minutes after waking up. I find that it gives me more time to think about the day and what I want to accomplish, instead of being distracted by news and social media. Although it’s not easy to wake up earlier than necessary, I’ve found that it helps me feel more alert and prepared for the day!

Marisa Paipongna, Project Associate, Afterschool Alliance 

What strategies do you use to eat healthily?

I have a “2×2” goal that I set for myself when I grocery shop at the beginning of the week – I buy enough fruits and vegetables to make sure that I can get two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day. Although I encourage myself to have two servings of vegetables each day, it’s rarely a salad! I think the mindset that has been helpful is identifying what dishes I already like to prepare and creating ways to add in some extra variety of fruits and vegetables.

Georgia Hall, Director and Senior Research Scientist, National Institute on Out-of-School Time, Wellesley College 

What morning routine helps you prepare emotionally for the day? 

I always try to do 50 sit-ups and 25 modified push-ups each morning as a routine, even when I travel. I find it helps me re-focus, charge my system and gets me up and ready to take on the day.

*learn how to do modified push-ups with this resource from the American Council on Exercise

Kassy Rousselle, Health and Wellness Coordinator/Trainer, OregonASK 

What strategies do you use to eat healthily? 

I avoid buying processed snacks like cookies or chips. Instead, opting for simple unsalted roasted nuts and whole fresh fruit. I also try to keep my fridge stocked with fresh vegetables. By doing this, I don’t immediately reach for cookies when I’m in a “snacky” mood and it prevents me from going out to eat because I don’t want to waste any of the food I’ve bought. I also like to buy new vegetables or fruits I’ve never tried before to keep my meals and snacks more adventurous.

Matina Kazameas, Partnership Coordinator, LiveWell Greenville 

How do you care for yourself when you have had an upsetting or stressful day? 

I try to significantly lower my expectations of what I will accomplish when I get home. I think about what the most important chores are (postponing anything that is not a priority), do them immediately, ask for help from my husband if he is available and then reward myself by dedicating the rest of my evening to a relaxing activity – yoga, coloring, crocheting, watching videos, calling loved ones, or reading.

Thanks to my friends for sharing their self-care ideas. What common themes did you notice? Which of these self-care ideas are you already practicing?

Here’s my strategy:

How do you unwind and recharge after work? 

To recharge after work, I turn off my phone during dinner. It’s not always easy, but disconnecting from digital devices while I’m with friends and family is important to me.

Now it’s your turn to fill in the last part of my worksheet!

Pick a question from Give 1/Get 8 and share your answer on social media. Tag 8 friends and ask them to share their #SelfCare strategy. Don’t forget to include @healthiergen and #BOOSTblog.

*Special thanks to Healthier Generation’s new Senior National Advisor for Social-Emotional Health, Elizabeth Cook, for her support and guidance as I developed this article.

For breakfast, I enjoyed a cranberry cutie parfait. 

Author: @danielh

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