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Find what fulfills you

City Year is hard work, and AmeriCorps service can be exhausting as we pour our heart, soul and energy into our students every single day. At times like these, it’s important to take care of ourselves, because we can’t give our students what they need if we don’t have it ourselves. Like the old saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care will vary from person to person; however, its importance cannot be overstated. Here are some of the ways City Year San Antonio AmeriCorps members take care of themselves to ensure we bring our best selves to school each day.

Exercise. As Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercise is good for your body, helps you sleep better, and can have effects that last long after you get your blood pumping. Boxing. Dancing. Yoga. Running. Weightlifting. Rock climbing. Swimming. It is all great for relieving stress and re-centering your mind.

Reconnect with nature. Whether you head for the park, go on a hike, or just sit by the pool, go and be somewhere outdoors. Outdoor exercise is invigorating, yes, but fresh air alone has restorative abilities for our emotions that help us to re-center ourselves so we feel refreshed and ready for another day of service.

Find a creative outlet. Creativity can bloom in many ways; some people paint, others write or journal, some sing or dance. Expressing creativity outside of the work place can spark creativity and new ideas within the workplace that can benefit your whole team.

Volunteer. Yes, AmeriCorps members engage in service every single day. However, volunteering your time in other ways can be rejuvenating. Find a local animal shelter that takes daily volunteers, find a soup kitchen that needs help, or if you’re looking to sign up for a recurring service opportunity, find an organization that regularly organizes service projects.

Rest and relaxation. Exercise can help you feel better, but sometimes what you need is a night in on the couch. It’s okay to indulge that desire to do absolutely nothing (as long as you don’t do it all the time). Find a new movie on Netflix, listen to your favorite podcast, or find a brand-new show to binge-watch.

Be the Top Chef of your own kitchen. Cooking produces the only form of self-care that you can eat! Experiment with new recipes, bake your favorite cookie, or whip up some homemade macaroni and cheese. Cooking can really hit the spot and help you decompress!

Spend time with animals. If you have a pet, quality time with them can be therapeutic. Time with furry companions is good for the heart (and not just in the emotional sense—pets can lower your blood pressure and be good for heart health). If you don’t have a pet to love at home, find a local shelter that needs a helping hand and spend some time cuddling some furry friends!

It’s hard to see the impact you’re having while you?’re in the thick of your year of service. Sometimes all it takes is an intentional pause and reset to see new options and possibilities that remind you of why you started serving in the first place.

Allison Gasparetti is from Phillipsburg, NJ and serves as a first year AmeriCorps member at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas.

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