I have a confession; I am terrible at self-care. I have a suspicion that I’m not the only one. Too often female youth leaders are the worst offenders when it comes to neglecting rest. We care for our families and then turn around and care for the leaders and students in our churches and communities. There is always so much to do and too few hours in the day. And yet, God in his wisdom, requires us to rest, to Sabbath every week.

It’s often during our busiest times that we need to rest the most. And while every week is busy, the busiest week of the year, in my experience, is always the week of the Youth Group summer mission trip!

So, how does a person sneak in a little self-care during a week that demands so much and allows for zero alone time? I discovered a little trick, by accident at first, but it has now become a self-care mission trip habit!

Before leaving on the mission trip I make a quick visit to a store that sells my favorite soaps (LUSH), shampoos, conditioners and lotions (AVEDA). You know, the stuff you normally don’t buy because it requires a little more time and money. I only purchase the small travel size bars and bottles and immediately pack them into a suitcase. Since the only 5 minutes of alone time any adult gets on a mission trip are the 5 minutes spent in the shower, I turn those precious few minutes into a spa visit!

Come mid-afternoon, when it’s finally time to hit the showers, I eagerly pull out the special occasion spa products, take five minutes and deeply breathe in the natural aromas of calming lavender, invigorating mint and cleansing citrus! It’s just enough time to clear my mind and rejuvenate my soul… because usually the next task is dinner – and dinner with 75 teenagers is no joke!

Special shower products may seem like a trivial detail in the scope of the entire week, but I have found that this small act of self-care allows me to be more fully present during all the other minutes of each day. By filling up my own cup, I have something available to pour out and give to others.

Before you leave on your next youth group mission trip, think about ways that you can sneak a little self-care into the week and be intentional about making it happen. I am confident you will notice a difference, and so will everyone else!