Prioritizing Self-Care for Mental Well-being
Focusing on self-care is essential for everyone, especially those with a mental health condition. It is a fundamental human right that individuals with mental health challenges should not lose their autonomy and dignity. Unfortunately, discrimination and exclusion are widespread issues faced by people with mental health conditions worldwide, and they often lack access to proper mental health care.
At City Year, self-care is an integral aspect of our work. We provide direct service to communities that are often overlooked and under-resourced, and many of our service members come from these communities and have personal experiences with mental health struggles. Our work as Student Success Coaches centers on social-emotional learning, where we witness the challenges faced by children and families who lack access to the necessary mental health resources. We employ coping skills, open communication, trauma-informed care, and de-escalation tactics to help these students and ourselves navigate the classroom environment effectively.
Given the nature of our work, maintaining our mental health is a significant learning curve for many service members during their service years. Fortunately, City Year offers various resources to support our mental well-being, such as Talk Space, dedicated hotlines for AmeriCorps members, and health insurance for clinical help when needed. However, while supporting students with mental health, it can be challenging to find time and energy to invest in our well-being. Neglecting self-care can lead to burnout and secondary post-traumatic stress disorder (SPTSD) from exposure to others’ traumatic experiences. It is vital for us to identify outlets and routines to manage our mental health and make the most of available resources to serve our students and support each other better.
Whether you are a service member or not, here are some tips and tricks that you can use to combat mental health triggers and burnout. You can allocate time for self-care through activities like:
- Consuming nutritious food
- Spending time outdoors
- Engaging in physical activity
- Connecting with loved ones
- Exploring hobbies
I struggled with my mental health immensely in my first year as an AmeriCorps member. When I incorporated weightlifting and gym sessions with fellow corps members into my routine, I found a way to release negative emotions, stay active, socialize, and set personal goals outside my professional life. This simple change improved my emotional management, boosted my energy levels, and motivated me to face long, challenging days with a positive attitude. Prioritizing self-care is essential to ensure that we can bring our best selves to those we serve every day.
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