Caring, Self-Care, Unified Caring Association

Decorating During Quarantine Times: Pandecorating!

What better way to increase your well-being then to spend time improving your space? Decorating during quarantine times is a great way to practice self-care and to care for your family.

Decorating during quarantine times: Pandecorating!

Decorating during quarantine, making the most of these times.

We have all been impacted by the coronavirus, and have been subject to stay at home orders for weeks on end. This can really impact our well-being . One thing we can do to increase our sense of well-being is enjoy a little pandecorating! Decorating during quarantine times can have a lot of benefits on our minds and emotions, as well as be a really practical project.

Stimulating our visual senses with objects that entertain the eye or bring interest to a room is part of the reason for decorating. In addition to pleasing the eye, practical aspects should be considered, like the function of the room, and of course, comfort. Many people saw the opportunity early on, and redid porches and yards as springtime blossomed. But if you missed this trend, fear not, you too, can enjoy some pandecorating! Maybe you have time and are feeling ambitious, or maybe you want to stick with bite sized projects. Whatever the case, there is a DIY decorating during quarantine project waiting for you.

Some of us have had to redesign our space to conform to new needs, like homeschooling and working from home.

Once upon a time, pre-COVID-19, you had a dining room. Now you have a dining room/office/classroom. There is nothing like the central space of a long table where projects can be done, schoolwork tackled as a family team, and of course, prepare and enjoy food together. While adding functions to a room like this can be just what you need, proper design can help make sure that the dining room table can still be…well…dined on.

Tips to turn your dining room into a multi-purpose room but not lose your dining room!

  1. Purchase a small to medium sized fold-out table to set up any laptop needed for working from home. It helps to have a set up that you don’t have to take down in order to get dinner on the table
  2. Set up a shelf to place homeschooling materials. Kids can grab easily and put back when it is time to clear the table for dinner.
  3. Don’t forget your family’s hobbies! Designate some space on the shelves for crafts and art supplies. Having these available makes being home feel like a creative and productive place to be.
  4. Consider flow and adequate space when adding any kind of furniture to the room. Think about using a chair from the dining room set for your computer table instead of adding an extra chair. Maybe take a chair out of the set and use in a different room to make more space.

Decorating during quarantine time has taught us about appreciating our homes.

We are all a bit tired of quarantine restrictions, yet have also come to know the joys of being home. Many of us are simply grateful to have a roof over ourselves and a space in which to “shelter in place.” The world has been on pause and we have had a chance to go inward and reflect. Part of reflection is self-care, and part of self-care is caring for our space. Our space is an expression of our life, what we like to do. We have been busy at home, and had a chance to see what kind of space we need for our important activities. Decorating during quarantine times can start with adapting to the new functions of your stay at home life.

There are lots of ways to decorate, just use your senses.

Start with your imagination and pick a new theme for a room. Maybe you are dreaming of travelling again. Frame maps and put them on the wall. Does your kid have a globe in their room? Snag it! Paint the walls sky blue and put out objects that remind you of places you want to go. Pick lush houseplants to hang from your ceiling to set your imagination to greener pastures. Try and think of what combination of items will set your imagination free and bring peace to your heart.

Remember, decorating is about creating a safe place to return to your senses, so make sure you pay attention to the details. Place flowers or lemons on a table for their color and also for their scent. Airy curtains over a window can let in light and play on the breeze. Placement of speakers and lighting are also important. Think about the set decorators, lighting experts, and sound technicians in Hollywood. They intentionally set the atmosphere required for a scene. You too, can set the stage for your life at home.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Caring Action, Self-Care

Unlearning What it Means to be Productive

Felt journal to do list

The world has changed. Many of us can’t go to work. Likewise, many of us have lost our jobs. Although some of us are lucky enough to work from home, anyone who has kids is most likely homeschooling them right now at the same time! And probably for the first time ever! Let’s face it, more than just the world has changed, the very basic details of our lives have also changed. It is time to take what we have always thought about being productive, and unlearn it. Unlearning what it means to be productive.

Unlearning is a concept that comes from homeschooling, ironically enough.

It is a method of teaching children that comes from allowing them to cultivate the desire to learn, and then nurturing that. On the surface, it may not look as productive as traditional methods, because traditional methods are all about accountability and completing tasks. Yet, there is something to be said about deeper affect of allowing a child to build their own interests and then learn skills to fit those interests.

So, how do we re-frame our lives around a very different schedule and class of demands?

Some of us are juggling working, teaching, and household tasks all day. What comes first? What is most important? Work? Your child’s education? A clean and sanitary house? Making sure everyone is fed? Some days it may seem like there is too much to do, and you really haven’t accomplished a thing.

One way to start organizing tasks, goals, and objectives is to begin a good old fashioned To Do List.

Or a few To Do lists: work, kid’s school, personal. Try this one! Or this one! Get your thoughts organized about what you want to accomplish on these fronts. Start getting an idea where you are at and where you are headed on a daily basis. But don’t stop there. The next step is crucial. Make a DONE list (also available on some to-do list apps). This will help you see what you have accomplished, help you understand that your day doesn’t just go by in a blur of cooking meals, answering emails, cleaning the house, and putting on your “teacher hat” (or trying to find where you even put that thing).

Don’t omit any tasks you feel any sort of accomplishment over.

No task is too big or to small. You made a phone call! Yay! Put it on the list! You spent an hour and a half getting your kid to write three words! Yay! Put it on the list. Watched some cool YouTube videos that helped you understand how the sun works with your kids? Cool. Totally write it down. Kept everyone in the loop about an upcoming work project? Put it on the list. Everything you do is productive, in one sense or another. This will help you realize that. When you feel a sense of accomplishment, you are more likely to continue in that vein, and you will sleep better at night knowing you have done something with your day, even just one thing.

In fact, we should count ourselves very productive to even accomplish one thing on some days.

We are going through a very strange time on our planet. Many of us are experiencing a sense of loss, emotional turmoil, or just plain old stress. We need to be mindful about how bad news affects our psyche, and our body stress responses. We need to think about what can be done to put more space between what is going on in the world and how we respond to it. So, put that on your To Do list! We at UCA wish you a very productive and peaceful day, even if that means accomplishing 10 minutes of mindful breathing, a taking hot bath, or drinking a good cup of tea. Here are some ideas for self-care to put on your todo list! And click here for some work from home tips.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Caring Connections, Self-Care

How People are Re-finding Natural Balance

How People are Re-finding Natural Balance

We have passed the Spring Equinox.  The days are growing longer than the nights, the sun is warming the earth, and flowers and animals are returning.  And yet, we humans find ourselves in a unique situation trying to re-find our natural balance in life.  Some are searching for their “new normal.” With so many people under stay at home orders, we are seeing nature is in fact re-finding its balance.  There are animals returning to places they haven’t been in a very long time. The dolphins and swans have returned to the canals of Italy, elephants are roaming free through garden groves in India.  Other changes, like pollution being lowered all over the world because of the closure of factories and people not driving hours to work and home every day are also brightening our outlook about this pandemic.  But what of our own balance? Most of us have had to make major changes to our daily social routines.

Being Social

Being Social

Humans are social creatures.  And with such a task as self-isolation and social distancing being required of us, we find ourselves in new uncharted territory.  But humans are highly adaptable. And people are finding ways to be social even while home and practicing social isolation and social distancing. We are seeing a return of community that we haven’t seen in a very long time, perhaps not since the invention of television. People are walking their dogs, playing with their kids or siblings in the front yard, riding their bikes, and visiting lakes and beaches.  People make it a point to say hi from their porches and introduce themselves from a distance. On a nice day you may see people tinkering in their garage or with their cars, playing cornhole on the lawn, or flying a remote-controlled helicopter. In more rural areas, people have a chance to ride their horses, visit lakes and streams and fish, and hike.  In cities we are seeing folks singing and exercising with each other from their own balconies. Musicians are doing balcony performances. And almost everywhere, family members in different households are video chatting and sending letters to each other.

It looks like we are indeed re-finding our natural balance during difficult times. We are staying connected, staying social, and getting closer, in the midst of social “distancing.”

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Caring Action, Self-Care

Compassionate Boundaries

Compassionate Boundaries

There is a lot of information out there folks!  The definition of a pandemic is an outbreak of a new disease. So by nature, we don’t know a whole lot about it.  On top of a pandemic, we are also dealing with an entirely new way of life living. For example, living under the shelters put in place to help stop the spread of this new virus.  New on top of new! And lots of information out there, so it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. One thing we can do to help soften the blow of fear and anxiety is put up Compassionate Boundaries. 

Compassionate Boundaries

Compassionate boundaries are a form of self-care that enable us to live our fullest lives even during these challenging times.  It could mean turning off the news for a period of time, or not going on social media as often.

Sometimes it is a bit more specific than that.  Sometimes it means having to unfollow certain people on social media because their posts invoke anxiety in you.  Or perhaps mute messages from certain people. This distance can help put you at ease because constant news just adds to the fear you already feeling.  Or maybe don’t click on that link to the article your mom sent you if you have a feeling it may topple any sense of security you have been carefully building up.

Whatever it is you need to do to be compassionate with yourself, do it! Help yourself get through these unusual times with a decent quality of life.  You don’t have to be a shoulder to cry on for everyone. (Okay, maybe save it for your children, or even just yourself.) We have to give ourselves the room we need to feel some sense of peace in this changing world.  If you can lend a helping hand, do it. But don’t feel obligated to read every message or take every call. Put up the compassionate boundaries that allow you to have peace and maintain a hopeful outlook. It may help others when they see you making choices that reinforce hope instead of fear. It is a strong possibility that you are inspiring them to do the same thing.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association and keep up to date on UCA’s caring acts?

Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Other ways to keep up with UCA activities are on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Self-Care

The Gift of Engaging with our Grief

pier over water indicating grief  - Gift of Engaging with our Grief
Looking over a desolate peer and a boat

What does it mean to engage with our grief?

The way we engage with our grief is a good way to measure if we are grieving in a healthy way, according to Hanna Helms, Hospice Social Worker. Helms explains that a lot of unhealthy grieving habits arise from trying to escape grief, and the pain that comes with it.

But still, why is grief a gift?

Grief can become a gift when we actively chose to engage with it. For example, when we make the choice to sit quietly and just let ourselves cry, we get the relief of noticing our feelings. If we don’t allow ourselves to be aware of how we are feeling, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to heal.

Grief is the forerunner of healing

We can think of our emotions as messengers, just like physical pain is a messenger of something wrong physically. Imagine the pain of loss to be compared to the pain of a broken bone. The pain of the broken bone is saying “hey, there is something wrong here, and your attention is needed!” Well, our minds and psyche are not so different. When we experience loss, it can trigger an emotional response that says “Hey, there is something missing that I care about! Can I have your attention please?”

The problem is, sometimes the pain messenger is so great, we can’t bear to engage with it, to fully experience it. When that is the case, says Helms, we can break our grieving up into bite sized pieces, while also focusing on self-care. We can also use a dual process model.

What is a duel process model?

A dual process model is one that allows for us to engage with their grief, even if only briefly, while getting support to live day to day life. According to Helms, this can be especially important for caregivers, who are experiencing a secondary loss of grief.

What is a secondary loss of grief?

A secondary loss of grief is when a person has not only lost a person they care about, but they also have lost the purpose they had for their life. Caregivers can often experience a secondary loss of grief. Caregivers may ask themselves “Who am I now that the loved one I cared for is gone?” A person who has spent years of their life revolving around taking care of a loved one will often be left wondering what meaning their life now holds.

Self-care and grief

Self -care during a grieving period may not look like what you think it ought to. Our cultural narrative is often to be tough, if you are a man, and to be selfless, if you are a woman. How can we fulfill these expectations and still practice self-care? Especially when self-care looks like taking more time to grieve than what society’s standard’s expectations allow? There are no time limits or expectations to grief; however, when it comes to our culture, there most certainly are. That’s why self-care is so important. And so is building a caring community.

Caring Community

Having a caring community around you can give you the strength or support to get through difficult times, like grieving. A caring community can be a local support or bereavement group, it can be a prayer group, a group of friends and neighbors, family, and even us here at Unified Caring Association. We are also here to help.

What ever kind of support you choose to surround yourself with, The American Psychological Association recommends talking with others, as it can help you process your grief. Remember that denying your grief only further creates a sense of isolation. So, give yourself the gift of engaging with your grief. It’s not an easy journey, but it leads to healing.

Like what you read? Check out more UCA blog posts:

Giving Helps Promote Happiness https://unifiedcaringcommunity.com/category/connecting/

Caring, Health, Self-Care

Self-Care for Caregivers

hands with hearts indicating self-care for caregivers


Caregivers are so important, but they often forget self-care.

Being a caregiver can add value to life.

To begin with, caregivers knowing that they are providing the care they know their family member or patient needs can bring great joy and value. But beyond this, caregivers also provide a benefit to society at large, in a very practical way. Caregivers save the government and society from a significant financial concern, translating into millions of dollars (Brickell, et. al, 2019).  From the micro to the macro, caregivers are an integral part of the caring community tapestry of society.

But who takes care of the caregivers?

Let’s be honest. Most times, no one. The caregiver is tasked with caring for themselves while taking care of others. This can be a challenge, especially when the toll can be so emotional, whether on a personal or professional level.

Someone who finds themselves in the role of caregiver, whether personal or professional should not disregard the importance of self-care. 

The definitions for self-care are varied, and guidance can help someone decide which route to self-care is appropriate for them. We at Unified Caring Association want to be wayshowers on your journey towards a good self-care regimen.  Go here: https://unifiedcaringassociationreviews.com/?s=self-care to find articles on this topic to help you begin a self-care journey.   

Studies have shown that self-care for professionals can range from self-awareness and mindfulness, to understanding the delicate balance of one’s own needs and the needs of others (Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007). 

And surely, these approaches can be applied to personal situations as well. Let’s talk about these ideas. Let’s explore what it means to be a caregiver and take care of yourself in the face of the huge responsibility of caring for another.  

What is self-awareness and mindfulness?

Bringing the light of our consciousness to our thoughts and feelings is by itself, a transformative power

  Namely, Oxford’s dictionary defines self-awareness as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings” (Lexico, 2019). In short, this type of mindfulness can feel just like telling yourself that you matter.  For example, every moment you take the time to pay attention to how you’re feeling or what you are thinking about is a conscious choice to say “I matter,” instead of putting yourself and your feelings on the back burner.

The thoughts and feelings you are experiencing can sometimes be overwhelming. 

In particular, it is important to allow yourself to experience your thoughts and feelings without judging yourself. Generally, practice self-compassion. You can hear more about self-compassion and what it means to nurture your heart, by listening to Tara Brach’s talk https://www.tarabrach.com/judgment-self-compassion/.

When you pay attention to your feelings, what you need becomes consciously more important. 

The simple act of awareness becomes a self-correcting process.

Amazingly, this awareness and caring about your state of being will present remedies for what ails you in the moment.  Some days, the perfect medicine will be a walk in your neighborhood. Other days, it may be allowing yourself time to sit and watch a favorite movie (even when there are dishes to do!). Or perhaps, you may want to make time to pursue that hobby you have been thinking about for years. Then again, you may want to sign up for a class. 

Self-care is also asking for help when you need it.

Did you know that help from a therapist is just a phone call away? The NAMI helpline https://www.nami.org/find-support/nami-helpline is available. 

Maybe, you want to get out and do something good for the world.

  Nothing warms the heart like knowing you are making a difference.  Read more about volunteering here: https://www.unifiedcaring.org/?s=volunteering.  

What ever your self-care path looks like, we are here to assist and guide you. 

Please reach out to us here: https://www.unifiedcaring.org/contact-us/.  We want to hear your ideas about what self care looks like for you.

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

References:

Brickell, t.A, French, L.M., Gartner, R.L., Driscoll, A. E., Write, M.M., Lippa, S.M. & LAnge, R. T. (2019) Factors related to perceived burden among caregivers of service members/veterans floowing TBI. Rehabilitation Psychology, 643 (3),  307-319

Lexico. (2019). Lexico, powered by Oxford. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/self-awareness

Shapiro, S., Brown, K.B., & Biegel, G. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology 1(2), 105-115. doi:10.1037/1931-3918.1.2.105

Tara Brach, (2019). From judgement to self-compassion (retreat talk). Retrieved from https://www.tarabrach.com/judgment-self-compassion/