By Daniel Gonzalez (UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County) and Chelsea Jones (UF/IFAS Extension Marion County) 

Together we are going to embark on a mental health blogging series, discussing each of the 4-H Essential Elements and how to foster such with youth, youth volunteers, and our fellow educators. The four 4-H Essential Elements are generosity, independence, belonging, and mastery. In this blog, we are focusing on generosity. 

Generosity can be defined as “the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly” (University of Notre Dame’s Science of Generosity Project). While we are passionate about growing generosity in young people, it is equally important that we encourage our youth, their families, volunteers, and fellow educators to be generous with the time they give themselves. We are thankful for 4-H supporters who give to others, in this case, our youth, freely and abundantly. We also recognize that our colleagues are doing the same in their program work.  

Between club meetings, leader meetings, competitive events, day camps, and more, it can be hard to find time to give ourselves the gift of self-care. It may also feel like coming up with a roadmap for self-care is another daunting task. We are here to tell you; it does not have to be challenging or complex. If you feel you are ready to take a step into giving yourself the gift of self-care, consider these seven pillars: mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational, and social. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Practice mindfulness: In a world of many distractions, it is normal for our minds to wander, but the more you practice, the easier it will become to stay present. Remember to live in the moment. Lastly, always treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. 
  • Go for a walk: We have pledged our health to better living, so take the first step for your mental health with a walk outside. Maybe take your best two or four-legged friend with you.  
  • Watch your favorite movie: There are so many great stories to enjoy; why not press play on your favorite? Bonus tip – put the phone down and really watch! 
  • Explore a new place: There may be parts of your physical surroundings that you would like to visit – whether or not you know about them yet. Now is the time to do it! 
  • Make time for a hobby: We are life-long learners, and taking part in a new activity is a great way to practice just that! We encourage youth to be bold and try new things – it may be time for you to do the same. 
  • Call up an old friend: When experiencing a tough time, hearing “I can only imagine how you feel” serves volumes. Not to mention it can take your mind off what you are going through and remind you of the bigger picture… 

Did you find the above blog useful? Please let us know by completing this brief Qualtrics survey: This blog is a product of a larger mental health blogging series. If interested in continuing the conversation, please reach out to Daniel Gonzalez ( and Chelsea Jones (    

Stay tuned for our next blog in the series this coming June, discussing the essential element of independence! 

by Daniel Gonzalez and Chelsea Jones

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.

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