AmeriCorps members work long hours, during the darkest and grayest months in Seattle, giving all of their energy to their students and team. Often, people in service roles forget to take care of the a very important person- themselves. Here is one AmeriCorps Member's perspective on that all important self-care.
What is self-care?
by Team Leader Jake Gehman
This is a question I didn’t think about at all until I was in City Year. I’ve always had hobbies, but I didn’t have that intentionality to go with it. I now understand that self-care is necessary to be able to maintain consistency and high energy levels throughout the service year. Just like we give our time and energy to service. We need to give some time to ourselves. This time to ourselves is strategic and necessary time that doesn’t take away from the communities and students we serve. If we do not set aside time for self-care, our minds would never be able to refresh and release the stress that builds up as the days go on, resulting in burning out and losing the energy to continue to serve.
Being active. That is the main ingredient to my self-care. Yes, it is important to sleep well (work in progress), eat and stay hydrated. But I need a way to take my mind off things and focus on an activity I love. My favorite ways of doing this are playing basketball and hiking. Sports have always been an important part of my life and since I am no longer on an athletic team of any kind, I need to devote time to being active and losing myself in nature or on the court. This refreshes me and allows me to release stress and anxiety. I also enjoy playing almost any other sport, especially with people I know. When I am not being active, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows to give my body a break. When I do not build these things into my weekly schedule it often results in not sleeping as well and inhibiting my ability to stay focused throughout the 10-hour days.
Why self-care? While service can be fulfilling, it is crucial to find the different avenues to free your mind, body and spirit from the distress and exhaustion that come with being a City Year Americorps member. This allows service to feel as rewarding as it does. You cannot fully take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” - L.R. Knost