Self-Care Can Help Troop Leaders Be Their Best Right Now
Self-care is more than just a buzzword associated with spa days or eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting (though we’re not judging). It’s about paying attention to your needs and taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. And in challenging times, like the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through, self-care—whatever it looks like for you right now—has become more important than ever.
It’s easier said than done, of course, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we best care for our families, our troops, and the other people and things we hold close to our hearts? In practicing self-care, you also demonstrate for your girls what it means to listen to your gut and be your best self.
Just remember, troop leader: you are enough! If your best isn’t what it normally is right now, be forgiving and show yourself a little love. Borrow some ideas from our Volunteer Experts: from what to do at home to what to do with your troop, here are their tips for rolling with the changes like a Girl Scout.
There’s comfort in the familiar, and if having a regular routine—like enjoying a daily bike ride or phone call with your best friend—feels good to you right now, stick to it! Keeping to a schedule can help you feel organized, and feeling organized can give you a sense of control in these uncertain times.
“Some things I’m doing to practice self-care are getting a full night of sleep each night, sticking to a wakeup and bedtime schedule, taking a daily walk, and eating healthy foods,” shares Cheryl Lentsch of Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska. “I also try to do something that makes me happy each day, like reading a book or working on a jigsaw puzzle.”
If you have the time and energy right now, holding regular virtual meetings can provide the stability and activity you crave.
...or prioritize flexibility.
On the flip side? Embrace the fact that every day may look different; if certain routines don’t work for you right now, consider shedding them until things normalize.
“I have tried to adopt a flexible mindset,” says Denise Montgomery of Girl Scouts of San Diego. “What this looks like in everyday life is being flexible about our family routine and expectations of each other, making do with ingredients and materials we have at home, and being open-minded.”
This also means your expectations for your troop’s routine might change too, and that’s OK! Let girls and their families decide how much they want to continue with Girl Scout activities right now and give them some options for participating from home—it's part of keeping the troop girl-led.
Keep your connections strong.
Lean on your social circles—your friends or your fellow troop volunteers, for instance. Knowing that others are also struggling and are finding their own unique solutions can help you power through trying times. “We have met [virtually] as leaders [and talked about] both personal and Girl Scout topics,” says Sheila Morris of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. “It's great . . . to see a face and not just a voice!”
Sometimes, keeping connections strong—especially when everyone is living in the same space—means carving out time for yourself. “[My family] is always together, which means that we get on each other's nerves a bit more," laughs Chrissy Schaeffer of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “To combat that, we are taking specific time for ourselves. My daughter and [our neighbor’s daughter] spend time riding bikes or skateboarding together—practicing social distancing, of course. I spend time in my office; when the door is closed, my family knows I don’t want to be disturbed.”
Or, as Denise has found, balancing family time helps everyone feel good. “As a troop leader I have spent so much time with my daughter on troop activities and strive to balance that with special time with my son,” she shares. “With the increased time at home, we have tried various activities, and my son and I are both enjoying meditating together.”
Whether that means focusing on the positive, putting time into your hobbies, or letting go of what you can no longer do in the current climate, finding ways to stay grounded can help you cope with any stressful situation that comes your way.
“I've made sure to continue to take time to do some of the hobbies that allow me to relax and maintain my equilibrium,” says Lara Cordeiro of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, “so that when I am back doing work and chores, I can give it the 100% it deserves.”
"I currently work with COVID patients, and making sure I don’t burn out is important,” says Khadijah Pinckney of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. “I’ll do anything from grabbing a bite to eat—while observing social distancing, obviously—to watching Netflix and catching up on my shows. I also try not to get everything done in one day, and I sleep in when I can.”
“Part of my self-care is being intentional about how much news I am taking in and when I am taking it in,” says Denise. “I am also balancing hard news with news of kindness and generosity during this time.”
Set reasonable expectations.
Saying no can be difficult for many of us, but if you’re already feeling stressed, trying to do it all can lead to burnout. "It was a hard moment of reflection to realize I just could not do more at this time,” says Bridgette McNeal of Girl Scouts Greater Atlanta. “I had to realize for my own sanity that this is temporary and that there will be a time when things aren't this way.”
Remember, troop leader: whatever you need to feel balanced right now is the right kind of self-care for you!