In a recent report, young adults were shown to be the most stressed-out generation (Sifferlin, 2013). This summer at camp, odds are you’ll have your share of stressful moments, so it’s important to know some self-care and stress relief strategies to help you take it all in stride.
Part of combating stress will be long-term self-care strategies that you can employ throughout the summer. Camp consultant and psychologist Ethan Schafer, PhD, offer these tips in his 2011 Camping Magazine article “Be at Your Best to Do Your Best”:
- Create a set of three aspirational goals that will help you gauge whether or not you are on track throughout the summer.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep needs vary from person to person, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults (eighteen years and over) need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
- Don’t drink alcohol or do drugs (including marijuana and medications not prescribed to you). These can alter your short- and long-term ability to function.
- Reach out to others for support. Tell those you trust your strengths and weaknesses before you feel stressed, and give them permission to talk to you if /when they notice your struggling.
Use time off well. In his 2013 Camping Magazine article, “Wise Use of Time Off,” Christopher Thurber, PhD, recommends, “As a rule of thumb, staff should spend no more than 25 percent of their time off in the car” on road trips. This will keep you from burning out on long drives. Thurber also encourages staff to find safe ways to have fun, like “camping out, seeing a movie, or eating at a restaurant.” Don’t risk an injury or unwanted consequence with activities like “cliff jumping, drag racing or having unprotected sex….”
In-the-Moment Stress Relief
Inspirational speaker and author Michael Eisen, founder of Youth Wellness Network, gives this advice in his 2012 ACA Camp Counselor blog post, “My Favorite Camp Counselor”:
“If you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take five minutes off and find yourself a quiet place. Practice breathing deeply in through your nose and letting out a big sigh through your mouth as you exhale. Do this ten times with your eyes closed and your stress will melt away. Most of the time, when you are stressed out, you are not breathing enough —and without enough oxygen moving through your body, everything tenses up!”
Eisen, M. (2012, May 9). My favorite camp counselor. ACA Counselor Blog. Retrieved from www.ACAcamps.org/blog/counselors/my-favorite-camp-counsleor 
National Sleep Foundation. (2013). How much sleep do we really need? Retrieved from http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we- really-need
Schafer, E. (2011). Be at your best to do your best. Camping Magazine, 84(3). Retrieved from www.ACAcamps.org/campmag/1105/be-your-best-to-do-your-best 
Sifferliln, A. (2013, Feb7). The most stressed-out generation? Young adults. TIME: Health and Family. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/07the-most-stressed-out-generation-young-adults/ 
Thurber, C. (2013). Wise use of time off. Camping Magazine, 86(3). Retrieved from www.ACAcamps.org/campmag/1305/wise-use-time-off
Photo courtesy of River Way Ranch Camp, Sanger, CA