an eye in the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Becoming the Eye of the Storm

Between the pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, political tension, and everyday stressors of our lives, it seems like we are in a chaotic whirlwind called 2020. These turbulent times can make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, angry, fearful, disappointed, or any combination of the mentioned emotions along with a slew of others. That is external chaos and it’s is out of our control.  

We can only control ourselves and how we react and give meaning to the chaos. Let’s look at these times as a hurricane and, in the following paragraphs, gain a sense of how we can be the eye of the storm (a calming force) for ourselves and others until brighter days come.

Fighting Fire with Fire?

Our raw emotions can seem like a fire boiling our blood or drawing us to tears. Whatever our experience, our emotions are powerful. These emotions can make us feel like chaos not only exists outside of us but is one with our being. Imagine a time where a situation arose that was hectic or negative and our emotions thrust us into a frantic internal state. How did that impact the situation? Did it change the circumstances or make anything better?

We all instinctively know the answers to those questions. In turbulent times, fighting fire with fire doesn’t work – it just consumes us. Our emotions are meant to be felt and used a GPS. The problem comes when we start to give subjective meaning to emotions we experience, turning them into a feeling which changes our state or becomes the lens through which we see everything.

During these times, it’s important we find ways to feel deeply and release our emotions in constructive ways. We must catch ourselves as we give meaning to what our emotions signify. Why? Because that meaning we give them determines what feelings linger, it determines our state, and can alter our attitude.

Attitude is Key 

Attitude is defined as ”a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this.” Note that attitude can be a “feeling” which is our mental opinion or meaning we give an emotion that comes up. With that in mind, our attitudes have the power to shape how we perceive reality, how we see people, and even how we show up. To be the eye of the storm, it’s vital that we keep a positive mental attitude. According to Positive Psychology the characteristics of a positive mental attitude we must cultivate are:

  • Optimism: Being hopeful and confident about the future even when things seem bleak
  • Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how we want them to, but we can learn from everything.
  • Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure.
  • Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in our lives
  • Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
  • Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving

Stay Grounded

The third and final element we get to master as we become a calming force in chaotic times is staying grounded. This simply means we find a way to free our mind of thoughts and be still. This can be done through mediation, visualization, and other breathing practices. There are a plethora of ways to do these practices and the key is finding a practice that fits us personally.

3 elements to becoming the eye of the storm

In a Nutshell

Turbulent times are bound to happen at some point in our lives. Right now, it seems as though the whole world is experiencing subtle and not-so-subtle chaos. In these times, the only thing we can control is ourselves. Becoming the eye of the storm helps us bring a peacefulness to our inner state and allows us to show up as a calming force for others. We become that force by remembering the following:

  1. Don’t fight fire with fire: We get to feel our emotions as they come up and remember the moment we give a mental meaning to them or lament over them, we feel it internally.
  2. Attitude is key: It’s important we cultivate and keep a positive mental attitude if we want to remain calm in turbulent times.
  3. Stay grounded: When we stay grounded through meditation, breathwork, or visualizations we keep a peaceful inner state.

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

a hurricane and comfort from the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Comfort from the Storm

In these turbulent times, you’ve probably observed that just about every news story is overwhelmingly about things we can’t influence or control, and ultimately this leaves us feeling unable to help, or make a change. It’s easy to get hooked on this headline distress – there’s even a new name for the excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news: “Doom-Scrolling” or “Doom-Surfing.” Where’s the comfort needed from the storm?

If you find yourself continuing to scroll or surf through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing, you need to stop or step back – you need to re-balance with something comforting. That’s because simply hearing bad news can feel like an attack on the comfortable worlds we have built around us. Consuming too much makes us feel bombarded, increases our stress levels, and leads to rising feelings of anxiety.

In fact, that sense of unease is the origin of the word “dis-ease.” So it’s no wonder that feeling low, helpless and stressed are common side effects of the perpetual news cycle we’re all living in.

If you’re anxious, sad or overwhelmed, it’s time to make a change and trade the news for some soothes. To do so, it helps to have a collection of comforting — and healthy — tools you can turn to.

Self-Care vs. Self-Comfort

Much has been said and written about self-care, because it’s so important.  But we don’t hear as much about its fraternal twin . . . self-comfort – the ability to truly soothe your mind and body. And here’s some good news you can use: self-comfort doesn’t require more money or more time – just healthy strategies.

For example, we store anxiety in our body, so the simple act of standing up and doing a full-body stretch is an easy way to comfort yourself anytime.

Speaking compassionately to yourself with consideration and care – by extending the same kindness to your inner-self as you would to a good friend is another form of effective self-comfort.

See if you can introduce more compassion into your internal dialogue in response to unkind self-talk.

Offer yourself encouragement and support when you can. Speak to yourself gently, as you would to a loved one, with phrases such as: “You’re doing the best that you can,” “You’re allowed to make mistakes,” You’re allowed to feel disappointed, and that’s okay,” “Your best is good enough,” “Your feelings are real, and really important.” The key to self-comfort is making sure that you really believe the caring things that you say to yourself.

If you’re not quite yet in a place where you believe that you’re allowed to make mistakes, at the very least, you can compassionately acknowledge your reality at the moment with constructively comforting self-talk like this instead: “You find it really painful when you make a mistake – it’s understandable.”

The opposite approach of self-talk works too, when we reach out to people we trust to support us. We’re all wired to connect with others and to comfort each other emotionally and physically, so don’t be shy about seeking that connection.

Music Has Charms

One of the most mis-quoted phrases is: “Music calms the savage beast.” The phrase actually comes to us from a poem written by William Congreve in 1697: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”  As you can see, no “beast” involved, but rather the “breast,” which in 1697 meant the heart, or emotions.

More than 400 years later, it’s still true. The benefits of listening to calming music – pairing soothing tunes with deep breathing can even lower your blood pressure. So give the Netflix binging a break and instead create your own playlist of comforting songs that help you to slow down or connect with positive memories and experiences.

Self-Comfort to soothe your mind and body

Unicorns & Cotton Candy

When considering self-comfort, it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to fix your feelings right away.  So, don’t find fault in yourself if you aren’t seeing unicorns and cotton candy skies within the first 10 minutes.  The important thing is that you’re building a self-comfort toolbox of healthy strategies to turn to any time you need it.  Sometimes the most comforting thing is to just simply say you’re having a really crappy day.

Every feeling has a purpose, because feelings send important messages that tell us something isn’t quite right, and it’s time to re-balance.  With healthy habits to choose from, you can reach for some self-comfort when you’re ready to feel better.

Now isn’t that a comforting thought?

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

helping hand for community
Caring, Caring Action, Unified Caring Association

Putting a Community into Caring Action

A simple social media post from a UCA member put a community into caring action that changed the lives of an entire family in need.

putting a community into caring action

Last December the member posted in one of her local Facebook mom groups to see if anyone knew of a local family in need of baby boy clothing. She had just cleaned out the closet of her nine-month-old and had a TON of baby boy clothes to donate. “Rather than just dropping it off at the local Salvation Army, I hoped to find a family I could help out and continue to help as my little boy grows up and we clear out his closet,” she said. Almost immediately she received a direct message from someone.

The Need that Propelled Action

Hi… i commented on your post i dont really feel comfortable putting our family business on fb so i thought I’d message you my daughter just had a little boy December 4th my 16 yr old was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma a form of bone cancer last month we are going through alot and really strapped tight on money we are actually being evicted due to not being able to pay our rent this month due to my husband taking off of work to be with our 4 other children while me and my daughter in the hospital doing chemo my oldest daughter and my grandson live with us we could really use and appreciate the things you are giving away it would mean the world to us

Initially, the UCA member didn’t know what to think. It all sounded like too many bad things happening to one family. She started communicating with the person who replied right-away and immediately felt a connection.  This family needed SO much help. She started gathering every baby item she had and posted on Facebook to try to get more help from the local mom community.

Rallying the Local Community

Note to Facebook Moms Group:
I need your help! I’m pulling together baby boy items for a local family in need. They have recently fallen into a VERY bad situation financially and have a newborn baby boy. He was born in December and is only 7lbs right now. I already donated ALL of my newborn clothing. Does anyone have any 0-6mo clothes they would be willing to donate? I could come pick them up from you! Also, he’s on Similac Pro Advance if anyone has any formula they’d like to donate. Any other baby items would be appreciated. They literally need everything. I have bottles, lots of clothes (all 6mo +) and an infant car seat covered.

There was an incredible outpouring of support. We were literally able to gather everything anyone could ever want or need for a baby (pack-n-plays, clothing, bottles, formula, diapers, toys, high-chair, car seats, etc.). Over the course of a week people dropped things off at the UCA member’s house (and her parent’s house too) so they all could make deliveries to the family.

In the meantime, she wanted to help this family even more and decided to start raising money to make sure they weren’t evicted. Unfortunately, everything the family in need had been telling her turned out to be an understatement. Their power was scheduled to be turned off the day before Christmas, most of them were sleeping on the floor. They didn’t have a kitchen table or chairs, or couch because they had been renting virtually all their furniture and could no longer make the payments.

An Outpouring from the Caring Community

She was able to secure beds, a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, a desk, a desk top computer, a laptop along with a ton of other necessities. It was truly amazing to see how much people were willing to help an unknown family.  She even convinced Lowe’s to donate and deliver a brand-new washer and dryer to this family.

Ultimately, the community ended up raising over $6,000 in less than a week.  They worked with the landlord and paid the family’s rent for both December and January.  They then called all utilities and got them current on all past due bills.  With the remaining money, gift cards were purchased as well as giving the mother cash to buy Christmas presents for their kids.

It was a remarkable example of a community that truly CARES.  In the end, the UCA member summed up her caring community best: “One social media post kick-started an expression of genuine love.  Now, more than ever, we need to continue to care for one another.  Even those we don’t know.”

We all can easily take a moment to be kind to others, to help when a need shows itself to us, and give to others with urgent needs. Beyond that moment of caring action, our communities desperately need Caring Ambassadors to catalyze a caring movement needed more than ever.

Share Your Caring Story

As the majority of us have had our daily lives altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to share your personal story. Have you discovered silver-linings in your life or around you? Has something funny inspired you to carry on? Have you learned something great about yourself, family or community that you would not otherwise have discovered? We’d love to hear from you – we encourage the idea of a Caring Community through the tradition of story-telling. As we go through this epic event, it is the perfect time to share experiences that reinforce resilience, demonstrate creative coping and lighten our hearts with humor. After all, sharing IS caring.

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!

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, 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/