Five months ago, at the very beginning of my City Year journey, I believed that self-care was as simple and straightforward as taking a bubble bath when you were feeling stressed. Taking a warm, relaxing bath could certainly be an act of self-care, but I have found that there is so much more depth to self-care than this. Self-care manifests itself in all aspects of life. Making decisions that you know will always benefit yourself is true self care. It is remembering to pack yourself a clementine for an afternoon snack… or laying out your fashionable khakis and red vest the night before so they are ready to be worn the next morning.

City Year has been the catalyst for me to unfold the deeper depths of what true self care is. Working long days, but for such an important purpose, has developed my desire to be my best self. I want to be the best version of me not only myself, but for my teammates and my students.

Caring for myself is not a single act to remedy built-up stress, but instead it is constant choices which I make every day. The most important aspects of self-care for me can be simplified into these categories: planning, rejuvenation, and reflection.


Planning is necessary in order to have the least amount of friction between you and your goals. In the most classic idea of planning, it is important to have a planner of some sort. Whether it be in your phone or an actual physical planner, having a place to write down important dates and times will help you solidify how you need to spend your time. Making a mental plan for your needs and emotions of the next day is also helpful. Example: I always like listening to music when I write my session plans, so I can’t forget to pack my earbuds today!


Physical and mental rejuvenation are both important aspects of caring for oneself. The physical part of rejuvenating is easy…sleep! Figuring out what is needed for my mental care is much more an exploratory mission. Over the last few months I have been finding what I need to feel mentally refreshed. A good book, a phone call from my mom, or a trip to a new museum sort of reset my brain back to a healthier and more positive mindset.


Taking a step back to think about your service year is incredibly important. As John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on our experience”. Writing down the challenges and joys of my service has allowed for personal growth. While journaling I will always be revisiting the questions: What are my challenges right now? What has been the successes? Bonus journaling material can be the hilarious things your students have said to you. That will be great to look back on, especially on difficult days. 

Here are some small actions you can do right this second to care for yourself:

  • Write down one thing you did today that makes you proud
  • Make yourself a cup of tea
  • Google “dog or blueberry muffin”
  • Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
  • Pay yourself a compliment
  • Pay someone else a compliment

Written by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member, Jillian Roth serving at Kensington Creative and Performance Arts Team. The work of Jillian and her team is made possible by Program Sponsor, Starbucks. 

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