Volunteer Appreciation

Self-care beyond sugar scrubs

Guest Post by Lena Budd, Volunteer Experience Manager at GSWNY

Self-care has been a popular phrase thrown around this past year as we have faced more societal and personal hurdles than ever before. More and more, people are beginning to see the value of putting yourself first and the value of caring for yourself as much as you care for others. Think of the line in the Girl Scout Law: respect myself and others. While taking time off for yourself might have once been viewed as selfish or frivolous, living through 2020 has taught us the value of keeping our tanks full.

This year for Volunteer Appreciation Month I’d like to spend some time focusing on self-appreciation and remind you to put yourself first – putting on your own oxygen mask first, so to speak. The topic of self-care has been popularized this past year, though often the conversation does not move past ideas like “make a sugar scrub!” which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. While we’re on the topic of self-care, here are some out-of-the-box ideas that I think can help you out both as a Girl Scout volunteer, but also as a person navigating life.

It’s okay to say “no.”

By saying no to others, you can be saying yes to yourself. Because we don’t want to upset our friends, family, or co-workers, many of us are inclined to immediately say yes when people ask for help. When we do say “no” we often feel the need to give a litany of reasons why we cannot offer our support; we might feel like saying “sorry, I can’t” is not good enough. We don’t want to disappoint anyone or be perceived as uncaring. Just saying “no” can help establish boundaries and save us from burning out. Check out this powerful conversation between Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey explaining how “no” can be a complete sentence.

Ask for help when you need it

Along with saying no, it is okay to say “help me.” This past year has put our minds and bodies through the metaphorical wringer. Nobody will think you are weak or silly if you let them know you need help. One great thing about being a Girl Scout volunteer is we are always happy to help! Rely on your Girl Scout sisterhood for advice and best practices.

Be patient and practice forgiveness

Just as we practice patience with children and other adults, practice patience with yourself. It is easy to put yourself down when things don’t work out the way you imagined or within your ideal timeframe. Practicing patience and forgiveness with yourself can help replace those negative thoughts with kinder ones. Remember to give yourself a little grace!

Journal your accomplishments

Like words of affirmation, journaling your accomplishments can help you shift your mindset. It serves as a reminder of all the great things you have accomplished. Taking even five minutes to journal at the end of the day can be enough time focused on yourself that you will begin to feel better. According to the University of Rochester, journaling can help manage anxiety and reduce stress.

Put down the phone!

While many of us are working and schooling online, shopping online, and connecting with each other online through FaceTime and Zoom, it is also important to remember to put the phone down and take a break from screen time! Set your phone on airplane mode to give yourself a mental break. Take time to mediate, go on a walk, read a book, or clean your home. Unplugging can boost mental health, as well as giving your eyes and brain a rest from the harsh light of screens. According to a large-scale international study on rest (The Rest Test) the top ways people rest do not include anything digital – rather the test found people rest via reading, napping, being in nature, or simply spending time alone.

Treat yourself!

Finally, take time to treat yourself. Yes, even if this is making a DIY Sugar Scrub! Order dessert, go out for coffee, take a hike, go shopping, exercise, or take a bubble bath; this list goes on and on. Do something special just for you once in a while, you deserve it!

Remember, as this past year has shown us – this is not a sprint, this is an ultra-marathon. I challenge you to take a few minutes each week to focus on self-care and self-appreciation. I hope this will help improve your personal life and Girl Scout volunteer experience. Let us know what you plan to do for yourself, or what you enjoy doing that helps you unwind and refocus!

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