Be intentional about self-care

Take time to care for yourself. MSU Extension offers website resource for self-care.

Yoga instructor Kendra Gibson showing a yoga pose.
Yoga instructor Kendra Gibson showing a yoga pose. Photo by Wendy Marek.

Mental health awareness is more evident today than ever before. Michigan State University Extension created a Virtual Calming Room website to encourage youth and adults to be more intentional about self-care to encourage positive mental health. The Virtual Calming Room has eight topic areas to explore:

  1. Affirmations, Motivations & Laughter
  2. Breathing & Meditation
  3. Calming Apps
  4. Creativity and Games
  5. Help & Support Resources
  6. Movement
  7. Planning Your Own Self-Care
  8. Sights & Sounds

These resources will be updated quarterly, so check back often to see what new features are added.

The Affirmation generator is a fun tool to use to focus your thoughts on positive self-talk. According to the Mayo Clinic article, “Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s no joke,” laughter has short-term benefits and long-term effects. It stimulates many organs while improving your immune system. Positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses. Laughter is good medicine. The Motivation section offers videos that may empower someone to make each day count. Life is short, so harness each moment.

The Breathing & Meditation section offers videos to guide readers through Bubble Breathing and Dragon Breathing as well as MSU Extension’s Heads In, Hearts In, Mindful Dice Guide. In this activity, participants will roll a die and practice a mindfulness activity that goes with each number on the die. They will learn six mindfulness activities they can use when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Soon there will be Heads In, Hearts In videos of 4-H youth demonstrating the activities.

Creativity & Games are fun tool for all ages. Playing in the sand has a new meaning digitally. Mandala coloring or doodling are mentally soothing for many. If readers haven’t experienced silk weaving art, this activity is a must try. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Games and activities have a “Do nothing for 2 minutes” timer. This may seem like a simple task but try it. This will make anyone realize we rarely do nothing during our waking hours. When someone needs to calm their mind, this activity could work for them. Journaling can help clear a mind, manage stress, and boost a person’s mood. Whether it is once a day or once a week, 5 minutes or 30 minutes, journaling can be a benefit! Using the prompts as a way to express emotions, thoughts, feelings and to open oneself up to a path of discovery can be very beneficial!

Movement includes yoga, mindful movement and exercise. Readers select a movement of choice and enjoy the benefits of intentionally moving to better mental health. MSU Extension offers videos created from our health and nutrition staff.

Sights & Sounds features RyAnn, 4-H youth’s watercolor artwork, for a visual feature with each animal live cam button. Participants enjoy watching many animals like tigers, koalas or condors go about their day, which may relax you or give you a break mentally. The music and sound tab includes nature, spa, library, rain sounds and much more as well as visual relaxation including ocean scape or Mandelbrot.

Watercolor painting of a hippo.
Hippo watercolor from Sights & Sounds live animal cam. Photo by D’Ann Rohrer, MSU Extension.

Planning Your Own Self-care is unique for all individuals. When creating a plan for a person’s own self-care, there are a variety of options to choose from. Participants can review the ideas and pick the top four activities that interest them the most. It’s important they refer back to their individualized self-care plan when they are feeling stressed or to help them relax while grounding themselves. 

Free Calming Apps are a great way to have access to something directly on a phone. These apps will be right at a user’s fingertips so whenever they feel the need to ground themselves, they have direct access to ways to refocus.

There could be times when self-care just isn’t working during times of extreme stress, trauma or neglect. Help & Support Resources offers resources such as National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741, National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233, and Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386. There are times when professionals need to be involved when times become overwhelming.

4-H grows successful youth through positive developmental relationships. If you would like to learn more, visit the Michigan 4-H website. To learn more about youth development programs, contact D’Ann Rohrer at or 231-845-3361, or our 4-H Leadership, civic and cultural engagement team at

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

Find other global educational opportunities on the MSU Extension Global and Cultural Education website. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension county office.

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