By Daniel Gonzalez (UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County) and Chelsea Jones (Cornell Cooperative Extension Cortland County)
We welcome you back to our mental health blogging series. This is our final installment of the series in which we will recap everything we have discussed in the last 10 months, and wrap-up with recognizing the value that is present throughout our lives and community. So, let’s begin!
- Generosity (April) – While we are passionate about growing generosity in young people, it is important that we encourage our youth, their families, volunteers and fellow educators to be generous with themselves. Remember to give yourself the gift of self-care!
- Independence (June) – Independence is a common goal of many youth development activities. The goal is to nurture young people’s understanding of how to complete tasks and projects on their own, which encourages decision making skills and independent thinkers.
- Belonging (August) – 4-H programming is an example of a group where youth, adults, and educators can work together to create a sense of belonging. This can be accomplished through simple actions such as welcoming new members, creating a safe space, and encouraging engagement.
- Mastery (October) – Working towards mastery in developing a healthy work-life balance is not always easy and takes practice. It also takes the same commitment we as for our 4-H’ers in their project areas. Remember to take a break, ask for help, turn it off, discover a hobby, and get some sleep!
- Healthy Living (December) – Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition. Volunteering with your local extension office can be a fantastic way to log those “outdoor hours.”
For this final installment, let’s discuss the concept of “value”. Value is defined by a person’s principles of standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. As we all live our lives as global citizens and volunteers impacting youth lives (both directly and indirectly), we should keep a couple things in mind (and in turn teach youth) as we are shaping our own values along our journey:
- Don’t compare yourself – Many of us have heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. We are all created with different strengths and weaknesses, which allow us to better serve different communities. The “greatness” that you may be yearning for surely has its own struggles.
- Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses – Building on the prior point, we all have both. Beginning with your weaknesses, how can you fill the gaps within your areas of improvement? Perhaps others have strengths that can complement your weaknesses, and in turn allow you to better recognize the value in others. Now, think about your strengths. How can you serve others? Serving (and volunteering) is a great way to recognize your own value and contribute to our communities.
- Know that there is always someone thinking of and caring for you – During the hardships of life, it is normal to feel as if we are alone. Know that you are not. A good exercise to remind you of this is to create a list of individuals who come to mind that you consider to be friends and family. When the going gets tough and we are more likely to forget who we can reach out to, refer to the list as a resource for a listening ear, and helping hand.
In summation, although our mental health blogging series ends here, the resource of the USDA’s Cooperative Extension System, and in turn 4-H, does not. We encourage you to reach out to your county extension office for more information. Thank you for your continued support, and we’re looking forward to your future!
Did you find the above blog useful? Please let us know by completing this brief Qualtrics survey: http://bit.ly/3Jhowd3. This blog is a product of a larger mental health blogging series. If interested in receiving more information, please reach out to Daniel Gonzalez (firstname.lastname@example.org).