Because Leaders Can’t Run on Empty: Riley’s Way’s All-Council Check-Ins center the importance of daily self-care habits

By: Amarantha, Riley’s Way Intern

To document my favorite time spent as an intern here at Riley’s Way, I’ve created a visual collection, very vision-board inspired, of my favorite all council check-in themes.

In common, they express the great significance and value of daily self-care, serving as a reminder that one, especially a leader, can’t pour from an empty cup! Speaking, that we’re at our best when we are taken care of mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually (if applicable).

So what better way, especially now during a worldwide pandemic, than to teach, learn, and actively practice such beautiful and impactful habits?! Well, that’s what our weekly Riley’s Way All Council Check-In looks like. And being it the Riley’s Way to share, here’s a nugget from us to you!

Hope you enjoy!

Fun Fact: humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.

This All Council Check-In was co-led by Julia and Lauren. It targeted the importance of better sleep habits, and was structured so everyone can help share some tips they personally find to be helpful to increase our quality and quantity of it.

This is especially important because sleep is vital to healthy and effective human function, and is just as important as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise and or movement. Poor sleep, amongst many other factors, can greatly harm your health. So if you’re experiencing difficulties and or have any concerns, I highly recommend consulting a professional.

It was so informative and fun, Julia later held a part 2 with more tips.



Tips are as follows:

– Make your bed a sleep-only space, so choose someplace else to work
– A sound machine: have music or white noise play in the background
– A weighted blanket
– Consider room conditions that bring you comfort such as adjusting room temperature, lighting: dimly lit or dark room, cleanliness, scents: sleep sprays or essential oils

So if you’re not already, implement a number of these tips into your routine for a few days to a week and see if there’s a difference but again, please see a professional if you’re having any concerns.

“Just write. Don’t think about what they will say, it’s for you anyway. Don’t twist your ideas and the things you love because of fear. Don’t worry about being correct or proper. Don’t write to impress. Write to absolve your heart. Write to dull the pain. Write so you can breathe easier. Just write.”

This All Council Check-In was student-led by Aishe.

This session was a designated space to practice one of Aishe’s all-time favorite methods to destress, free writing! Freewriting is a creative exercise to write about a topic or prompt for five to ten minutes without stopping.

All you’d need for it is something to write or document with, pen, paper, tablet, laptop, typewriter even, and a goal. You can even get creative and decorate your journal and or entry too!

For a prompt or goal, maybe you’d like to vent, or reflect on your day or week. Maybe you’d like to deep dive and see what you can subconsciously find. There are so many prompts online that can help you get there, feel free to explore.

But if you’re feeling out of whack, out of any of your typical element, I recommend you speak to a trusted loved one and or professional about it. There are many outlets and platforms specifically curated for individuals with mental differentiation in mind.

I personally found this check-in, and exercise, to be very therapeutic. The best part was that there were no rules, only to let go and let be.

We didn’t think, we didn’t care about grammar, and spelling? An afterthought. We just poured onto our papers. All the pent up emotions, we let it go. The weight of the world we felt like we were carrying? We intentionally let it fall, making no effort to hold onto the unserving any longer. It was no longer our problem(s), because then by the end, we’d released it.

Don’t just take my word for it, look what one of our students who attended had to say:

“I enjoyed all of the themes presented at the check-ins as I feel like each one impacted me in a special way… the free write check-in had impacted me because I was able to learn that writing has a special place in my heart and is one of my passions that I hope to utilize for a greater impact in the near future.”

– Tiara

“What’s an extreme sport? Leaving the house without sunscreen.”

This All Council Check-In was student-co-led by Victoria, Sarah, and Sasha. They covered some basics regarding skincare, we collectively talked about skincare routines, our favorite products and tips!

Some tips are as follows:

– Understand your skin type(s), this will help you find products that are generally curated for individuals that share the same type(s) as you
– Your face can reflect a lot on your health, so listen to the clues it gives you. For example, dehydrated skin means it needs more hydration (water) and moisturizing products
– Have your own skin goals, whether that is to treat acne, get hydrated, glowing skin, treating hyperpigmentation, preventing premature aging, the list goes on
– Highly recommend to see a professional regularly, if you can, especially if you’re having concerns. You can also receive some professional graded tips as well
– SPF, also known as sunscreen, is important friends! It doesn’t matter your skin tone or shade or type, protect that skin from sun damage!

Also, the ladies ask for me to please remind you to love the skin we’re in, especially while in progress. Told us to keep in mind that healthy skin is not an overnight process and that we can admire someone else’s beauty without questioning our own. This is especially important in this day and age of social media; beauty standards, makeup, and beauty filters. That skin no matter is normal and beautiful, filtered skin is not a healthy representation of what one’s aspirations should be.

“During quarantine, I lost my routine and typical lifestyle; the only sense of normality I had was skincare. I woke up everyday and did my morning routine and went to sleep after completing my night routine. Skincare has always been a staple in my self care journey and it is one of the things that I treasure. Hosting an all Council Check In about Skin Care and sharing my love for skincare with the Riley’s Way council members and staff, was an enjoyable and memorable experience for me. I appreciate everyone who participated and shared tips!”

– Victoria

More quotes from Council Members

“As for my thoughts on the all Council check-in, I would say that it has allowed me to get to know council members from other schools on a deeper level. With more serious topics such as the Derek Chauvin trial, it was amazing to have a safe place to discuss the topic. With more light-hearted topics such as the free write, it was great to have a place to just talk and get to know other Riley’s Way community members. I would say that overall, the all council check-in has allowed me to make deeper connections with everyone and have a moment to reflect on myself as well.” — Sasha


“I think the new all Council check-ins have been really successful in accomplishing one of Riley’s Way’s main goals: to foster meaningful connections between individuals. I loved each one I went to because I got to know students in a comfortable, open setting who I would not have otherwise met. Whether we are talking about a serious topic like mental health or a creative one like vision boarding, everyone is willing to share about themselves and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. These meetings were one of the few positive things to come out of our new virtual reality caused by the pandemic, and hopefully they will continue in the future. My favorite check-ins were the ones about sleep that I led with Lauren. Each one consisted of a small group of individuals who were open to sharing personal experiences, tips, and habits that have helped or hurt their sleep. The meetings were always very constructive, and I think they showcased the beauty of Riley’s Way’s tight-knit community that everyone was able to share so freely and comfortably with people they had met only a handful of times over zoom.” — Julia