During times of uncertainty, it is crucially important to look after your mental health to ensure you remain happy and healthy! This is especially true for our older Girl Scouts, who may be in the process of applying to colleges, studying for exams, or getting ready to leave their childhood homes. Taking the time to relax, refocus, and regroup is essential to a girl’s growth. We’ve put together some helpful ways you can manage your stress levels, be productive, and connect with loved ones!
A Note for Parents
While you are taking the necessary steps to manage the stress in your own life, it’s important to keep in mind that children take emotional cues from the adults in their lives. We live in complicated times, and it’s impossible to completely guard our children from the news or conversations happening around them. Although the outside world may be out of our control, we can take matters into our own hands by utilizing a few strategies for finding calm among the chaos. These tips work for both children and adults, so why not try them as a family?
Physical activity helps your body release endorphins, which helps counteract stress! Try taking a walk around your neighborhood, having a dance party in the living room, playing catch in the backyard, or shooting some hoops in the driveway.
Both younger and older Girl Scouts can take a nature walk to get connected to the world around them. Utilize all of your senses: listen to the birds chirping and leaves rustling, study the shape of the clouds and the color of the leaves, pay attention to how the fresh outdoor air and the ground beneath you feels, and notice any new smells around you. Walk in silence, enjoy the sun, and then take a moment to discuss all that you discovered along the way!
Practicing mindfulness is all about taking the time to slow down, be present, and pay full attention to the task at hand. These practices can be done at any time, anywhere, and without any equipment, allowing you to acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings and reduce stress levels!
Taking deep breaths signals to your body that it’s time to slow down and relax. Notice how your chest feels as it expands and contracts, then try holding a few deep breaths (breathe in for four counts through the nose, hold for four counts, and breathe out for four counts through the mouth). They can try imagining that with each breath they are filling up a big balloon with air!
Meditation helps your brain release serotonin, a chemical messenger that helps to elevate your mood and keep anxiety at bay. Find a quiet space where your girl can get in a comfortable position (sitting cross-legged, laying down, or even standing is ok!). Put on gentle music or nature sounds as background noise, have girls close their eyes, and ask them to try having their minds follow their breath. There are all kinds of free guided meditation videos for kids on YouTube that can help!
Do a Body Scan
Body scans are a great way for girls to reconnect to the present moment and pay attention to their physical space instead of what’s going on inside their heads. Have girls sit or lie down on the floor, closing their eyes, breathing deeply, and focusing on one part of the body at a time. Start with stretching your toes and feeling them relax, moving up to the shins and calves, the knees, and so on to the tops of their heads.
Pay attention to the ground beneath you, the air on your face, and all of the smaller physical sensations. Both younger and older Girl Scouts can try out this easy 3 Minute Body Scan Meditation as a guide!
Break Out the Familiar
Studies have shown that when it comes to de-stressing, it can be particularly helpful to revisit the familiar! The predictability of a plot or storyline we already know can bring us a sense of peace and calm when feeling anxious. Try reading a familiar book, or watch a movie or TV show you can practically quote! Now is the perfect time to break out your favorite trilogy or turn on some re-runs!
In addition, taking out a favorite board game, jigsaw puzzle, or even old photo albums to browse through can help with preoccupying your mind.
Keep Up Healthy Habits
When we are stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol which increases our appetites. It’s easy to reach for “comfort foods” like salty snacks and sugary sweets during these times. Although they satisfy our cravings for a moment, food with empty calories can leave up feeling even worse. Instead, stick to nutritious, whole foods that will fuel your body! Have some fun making a healthy snack like banana sushi (tortilla, banana, peanut butter, and Nutella) or mini zucchini pizzas (zucchini, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, mini pepperoni slices).
Worry can also affect our quality of sleep, which results in the production of additional stress hormones. To avoid this cycle, keep bedtime to the usual time or even earlier if possible.
Use Your Hands
Creative activities like coloring, crafting, and drawing can do wonders for reducing stress. Try cutting out fun pictures from a magazine to make a vision board or scrapbook. Take a moment to journal how you’re feeling, write a funny poem, or make up a short story! Looking for inspiration? Check out some of the fun crafts, DIY projects, and printable coloring pages on our Pinterest board.
Older Girl Scouts (or younger girls with supervision) can bake something fun or try their hand at a new recipe! Cooking with your Girl Scout is a great way to relax and bond through an activity. If you’re already missing cookies or have some extra boxes stored away in your freezer, try out one of these Girl Scout Cookie-Inspired Recipes on our Pinterest Board.
Staying indoors doesn’t have to mean complete isolation! Human beings are social creatures, and the emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce anxiety levels and makes us feel more confident in our ability to cope with stressors. Help your younger Girl Scouts hop on a video call with a relative who lives far away. Get older Girl Scouts set up with Netflix Party (a free extension on Google Chrome!) so they can host long-distance movie nights with friends.
Think of someone else that may be feeling lonely during this time. Do you have elderly neighbors? Write them a note, draw them a picture, and leave something on their doorstep that will be sure to make them smile.
Additional Tools and Resources for Coping with Stress*
- Tips for talking to girls about COVID19, Raising Awesome Girls by GSUSA
- Mental Health and Coping During COV-19, Center for Disease Control and Protection
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with Coronavirus Disease, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Remember that now more than ever is a time to be kind, compassionate, and generous to yourself and others. Practice being prepared, not scared with our new at-home patch program, out now! Once completed, Girl Scouts will not only have taken charge of their learning but will be prepared and capable of taking a leadership role in their families and communities about preparedness.
*For mental health emergencies: Call 911 or the Disaster Distress Helpline, a national hotline for crisis counseling, at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUsto66746.