The past few years have been a blur in so many ways. A time warp of self-sacrifice, constant vigilance, planning — and an overall nightmare for health care. It’s been a time for fast-paced learning, growing, and improving. The COVID-19 pandemic has offered glimpses of some silver linings, and now with a greater understanding of the disease and how best to manage it, it’s time to start recalibrating ourselves to a world living with COVID-19. This recalibration can be the perfect excuse to reexamine our own professional and self-development — reimagine, restart, relearn, and reemerge as an improved version of ourselves.

Professional development is often required to maintain certain levels of education for ongoing practice in healthcare and most other disciplines. And staff training plays a vital role in seasonal employees staying up to date on best practices for providing campers with a fulfilling and impactful camp experience as well. However, we can sometimes let personal development go by the wayside — but I believe that the two really should go hand in hand. When you are your true best self, only then can you be the best employee, counselor, director, or health-care provider.

Throughout the pandemic we have focused on protecting ourselves and those around us, but without close detail to real self-care. Things like proper sleep hygiene, diet, and exercise have been easy for many to push aside. Without careful attention to these basic needs, it is not possible to be the most productive in the work setting. This is especially poignant in the camp environment, because these essentials to self-care are often hard to come by when taking care of others.

At first, the mental switch toward improving self-care may be a challenging step, especially if, like so many others, it has been long neglected. But, with some dedication to self-improvement, it is possible to achieve success without too much hardship. Camp can provide little time outside of the workday, so consider starting with these bite-sized self-care steps:

  • Set small, individual goals that are easily accomplished. For example, commit to taking five minutes of time for deep breathing, stretching, mediation, or an extra walk.
  • Focus on one task at a time. And really focus. Make sure to approach each new task as a very important one, no matter what it is. Dedication and less distraction always result in better success.
  • Because one person can’t do it all, delegate appropriate tasks. Be intentional about your to-do list, and offload some tasks that someone else can easily accomplish.
  • Take the time to appreciate and give thanks and support to those around you. When you fill others’ cups, your own will also be filled. Remembering to say “thank you” and show your appreciation really can help bring you joy. In addition, showing support for others is a really great way to set an example for your campers and staff.
  • Don’t forget about the benefits of exercise. Just a few minutes of movement throughout the day can boost your mood and productivity. Make sure to set small and attainable goals here as well, so that you can be successful.
  • Make healthy meal choices. Concentrating on good nutrition is always worthwhile in the long run. A well-balanced diet makes for a productive mind.
  • Don’t neglect your sleep hygiene. Some people function well with seven hours of sleep; others need a solid eight or more. Critically assess your sleep needs, and prioritize making a good night’s sleep happen. When you are rested, you are more resilient, alert, thoughtful, and productive.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we must look for silver linings and explore opportunities for self-improvement. Focusing on personal development and self-care can lead you to become your best self. And your best self is likely a productive, empathetic, respected team member who can do great things in the camp setting and beyond.

Jane Glazer, MSN, MA, CPNP, FNP-BC, has practiced in urgent care, college health, and residential camp health. She is interested in education, evidence-based best practices, and providing care to campers in a safe and fun way.