Self-Care

New Year, New Commitments

We all know the story. We make grandiose plans to change our lives and achieve new goals when the ball drops on the New Year and despite our best efforts these New Year’s dreams go unrealized. According to the University of Scranton around 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to achieve them.

Imagine year after year, making a commitment to ourselves just to break it. Year after year, we lie to ourselves. Year after year, we stay the same in the areas we’d most like to change.

new year's commitments

Why Don’t We Keep Those Commitments?

When people sit down and envision their future, their next adventure, or their next version of self – it’s exciting. No one sets out with the intention to lie to themselves. The thing is, most people lose that excitement to make progress towards their goals as time edges further away from January 1st.  This happens for 2 key reasons:

  1. Most people don’t keep their goals somewhere they can see every day or are reminded of them constantly.
  2. Most people don’t break down their resolutions into bite size chucks for weekly, monthly, and quarterly achievement.

These simple steps are critical to our success when it comes to making good on our New Year’s goals.

So What Can Be Done About It?

To give ourselves the best chance of getting what we want, the first step is to write the goals down everywhere! On average we are 42% more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.

Placing the goals in places we will see them daily like on Post-Its on our bathroom mirror, on the dash of the our car, or as the backgrounds of our phones will make sure they are at the forefront of our minds. When we think about them daily, we tell our reticular activating system (part of brain that filters the information we take in) that they are important. By doing so, our brain becomes focused on recognizing the opportunities to achieve these goals.

Goal achievement is a series of decisions we make and the outcomes they produce. When our goals are imprinted in our minds, daily, it’s easier to make decisions towards their attainment.

Break It Down

New Year’s resolutions can seem daunting and begin to become overwhelming. The best gift we can give ourselves is to think of the smallest steps we can take, that will build upon each other to get the goal.

Map out the weekly objectives that lead to milestones that eventually compound into the complete goal. For example, if you aim to lose 50lbs start with the goal of 5lbs a month and break that down weekly. Then think of the smallest life changes you can make to ensure you lose the weekly objective and do them. They say you eat an elephant one bite at a time and that is how you achieve your goals.

We now have everything we need to go to make the most out of our New Year. Now, we just think of what it is we want to do… and go do it!

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.

fingers counting 1,2,3,4,5
Caring Action, Self-Care

Holidays in Full Measure

Kids are so great at counting.  They still tell you their age in fractions.  “I’ll be 5-and-a-half tomorrow,” you’ll hear them say.  They are masters of anticipation.  “Christmas will be here in only six more sleeps.” Some even “track” Santa on the Radar.  Somewhere along the line, we lose this notion as we get older (and stop counting birthdays all together).  But taking the full measure of things is essential this holiday.

Have you ever seen someone at a fitness center jump from one piece of equipment to the next? A little elliptical.  A bit of treadmill. A row or two.  Some weightlifting.  Good for them, they’re working out. It might have even been a great workout.  But they aren’t measuring anything.  Nothing is tracked. Reps weren’t counted.  Time elapsed was ignored.  The metrics were missing.  So, there’s no real basis for knowing if progress is happening or not.  This can happen during the holiday season, too.

holidays in full measure; counting fingers

Making It Count

Taking stock during the holidays before the start of a New Year is a wonderful idea.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.  The simple notion is that when we’re measuring, we can show improvement.  Just count something.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s something you find interesting. 

Our lives are shaped by how we choose to spend our time and energy each day. Measuring can help us spend that time in better ways, more consistently.  But like most things, there’s a secret to doing it best.

Measure Backward Not Forward

With all of this counting, measuring, and tracking, there’s a trap to avoid.  Don’t make it about the results.  Instead, measure to discover something about yourself and you’ll get to know (and understand) yourself better.

It’s been said that 90% of life is showing up.  That’s a measure we should all be curious about.  Are you showing up? And if you are, is it to expend energy on the things that actually matter to you?  We’re all anxious for 2020 to be over and 2021 to begin.  But take a quick break from looking forward.  Be in the moment.  And try looking back as the year winds down. Now is the perfect time to take the full measure of 2020.  The good, the bad, and yes . . . even the “fugly.”

Face Unafraid The Plans That We Made

You can’t measure the spirit of the season, or goodwill.  But you can track different ways that you are showing up with grateful appreciation in your life.  Make a conscious effort to smile at someone every day.  Send a “thank you” text or email to someone every day of the month.  Make it part of the “to-do list” on your calendar, so you can keep track.

Measuring your personal value system may seem impossible, but it’s invaluable.  And it can be easy if you simply make a mental check list.  In fact, if you are thinking about something, then you can be tracking it, too.  If your mind is crowded with distraction, ditch the mental checklist and write things down instead. 

journaling

And To All A Good Write

The holiday season tends to be filled with lists.  Lists of gifts.  Lists of ingredients.  Lists of groceries. Even seating charts.  But those are for other people.  Consider a list that just for you.  An act of care for self.  Write down three principles, or morals, or ideals that are dear to you each morning before the hustle-bustle begins.  Make it a Decision Journal to track which choices you make and whether or not they align with your ethics.  A perfect gift of self… to self.  In this way we can ultimately do a better job of helping others. 

Believing Is Receiving

Remember, the things we measure in life are the things we can improve. As we inch our way toward 2021, what are you measuring in your life?  If there is something that you believe you would love to have — such as a more fulfilling relationship, a dream job, or a better local community — receiving it may very well come down to valuing it enough.

As for holiday wishes, here’s the best part: The moment you realize you already have everything you’re looking for, the universe gives it to you. In other words, it’s actually better to give and receive… if you’re open enough to accept it. 

You made it through the year.  And what a year it was, by any measure.  But soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.

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.

love letter in motion
Caring Action, Elderly, Unified Caring Association

How to Breathe Life into Someone Over the Holidays

Imagine being isolated and feeling a great sense of abandonment from loved ones. Imagine the despair and helplessness we’d feel. While this is simply a visualization, it’s also the reality for many of our elderly during this pandemic in nursing homes. The same is true for US Veterans in VA Hospitals.

Mrs. Rona has made many VA Hospitals and nursing homes close their doors to visitors. These visitors are the life line for many of those in long term care. It’s often the highlight of their days and whispers felicity into their souls. With everything being shut down, their joy is being shut down.

Hellen’s Loss

An extreme example of what can happen during these times comes from Hellen P. Here’s what happened in her own words: “My mother was in a facility in another state…with the close-down, she didn’t understand why we couldn’t visit her or drop off things (especially her favorite foods). Mom didn’t recognize the personnel in all the protective gear (they changed their policy to identify themselves every time they entered a room). Mom did what we used to call, “Turned her face to the wall”. She passed away on Mother’s Day from Failure to Thrive. She felt abandoned.”

This is just one story of the pain that this pandemic has caused our elder population. The great news is we can help!

We are the Solution

With the Holidays upon us, we have a huge opportunity to be a gift to those who may feel forgotten. The best part is this gift doesn’t cost much and benefits our well-being!

breathe life into someone by sending a letter

We are all invited to contact local nursing homes, VA hospitals, and other long term care facilities to see if they have any one in their care who could use a holiday card. Those of us who can afford to take it further are encouraged to ask about “adopting” a patient and providing them with holiday gifts.

These random acts of kindness can lift the spirits of those who may feel forgotten (especially during this time). At the end of the day, we will benefit from the small gesture as well. According to researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire “engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller! Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.” Performing kind acts also:

  • Gives us energy
  • Increases our own happiness
  • Releases oxytocin which lowers our blood pressure
  • Helps to reduce anxiety

The Choice is Ours

Let us not forget the truth in the words spoken by Robert Ingersoll; “we rise by lifting others.” Now that we know an extreme example of how this pandemic is hurting members of our own communities and how easy it is to help, it’s up to us to decide if we are willing to be the gift this holiday season. The choice is ours!

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

Support Love for Our Elders

love for our elders

Unified Caring Association (UCA) sponsors projects to provide care for the elderly as a part of the C.A.R.E. Program by UCA.  Love for Our Elders is a nonprofit sponsored by UCA to provide a vehicle for receiving and delivering love letters to seniors in care facilities.  It’s so simple to write a letter or record a brief video message to be delivered to our elders in their greatest hours of need.  The choice is ours to take action!

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.

Thanksgiving Table
Self-Care, Sharing Caring

Thanks for… NOTHING?!

Every year around Thanksgiving time, most folks stay busy preparing their home to celebrate. Whether the gathering is large, or a low-key event, the day is set aside to call to mind the good fortune and blessings we enjoy in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving Every Day

It’s easy to think of a long list. A roof over our head. Food in the fridge. Nature. A gentle breeze. A baby’s laugh. A good book, and so many other small things that are a part of everyday life.

But are we thankful for all that has been given to us… not just the joys, but also the hardships?

Finding The Hidden Joys

The wisdom of the ancients tells us in song:  “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

But what if a particular day is difficult and filled with trials? Are we still called to “rejoice” in a spirit of gratitude?  A question worth considering in the arms of caring.

It can be very hard to see the blessings all around us when we feel like we are surrounded by pain and suffering. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the hidden blessing of a problem or challenge we face.  But they are there.

When our hearts are broken, and our spirit is weak, how can we be thankful? Where can we find joy?

In Everything Give Thanks

One of the easiest ways to live a thankful life is to consider that this day is what the universe wants for you. It’s not that the world wants you to hurt or wants you to suffer. Instead, it’s placing before you the opportunity to overcome, to grow stronger, to improve, and to learn.

In spite of the difficulties before us, to live a life of gratitude we must know that even within our hardships there are opportunities to be thankful. Yet, how do we do this on a daily basis, especially when there seems to be so little for which to be thankful?

A Dickens Of A Tough Time

The story goes that no sooner had 47-year old Charles Dickens put his ink and quill down after finishing “A Tale Of Two Cities” in 1859, that it was consumed in a house fire.  Over 135,000 words lost.  No computers or back-up hard drives.  It was gone.  He would certainly have permission to be devastated. Incredibly, he was thankful… at least in the long run.  He set about re-writing it and began: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Now considered one of the best openings to a novel ever created. He would write in the book’s dedication: “I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages, as that I have certainly done and suffered it all myself.”

Smile, Though Your Heart Is Breaking

Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Often it only takes smiling to change our attitude and to change our outlook on life. Smiling can bring us joy and joy can help us remember that we have so much to be thankful for.  Back to the ancients for this wonderful Proverb: “A joyful heart is a good medicine.”

Positive People Are More Thankful People

Those who constantly speak or think negatively are shown to have negative personalities.  They often struggle to find the good in life. But here’s the good news.  Science shows us that when we habitually think and speak positively, we have the ability to change our brains (rewire them in fact!).  That’s a great incentive to stimulate the areas of our brain that produces positive feelings. When faced with a challenge, find at least one or two positive things that are hiding within the negatives. By focusing on the positive instead of the negative you will find more reasons to be thankful.  Hopeful people can find reasons to be thankful much easier than those who feel desperate, alone, and out of control.

Giving and Receiving

If we’ve been consistent with our self-care, an amazing opportunity arises.  The ability to better put others before ourselves.  And when we perform acts of kindness for others it becomes easy to see the good in our own lives. When we help the less fortunate, we suddenly see how abundantly blessed we are. When we do something nice just to make someone smile, we realize how much we have to smile about ourselves. When we give of ourselves just to show how much we care for those around us, we begin to see just how much the universe cares for us as well. Doing for others encourages us to be thankful for what we have, and for those who have played a part in helping us get to where we are today.

Open Your Heart to Gratitude

When we say thank you, we make a conscious effort to acknowledge those who have done something for us. That small thank you not only changes our attitude, but can change theirs as well. The more often we say thank you, the more opportunities we have to make a positive difference in our lives.  So starting today, make a habit of saying thank you to those who hold the elevator, who stock the shelves, who deliver your order, who ask how you’re doing, and to those who do countless other little things each day that make your life a little better.

Make Every Day Thanksgiving

We don’t have to wait until November to celebrate “Thanksgiving.”  There’s no need to set aside just one day on the calendar to do so. Living a life of gratitude can be easy – simply practice being grateful and choose to be happy. It’s the key to being able to give thanks “in everything,” just as our caring spirit calls each of us to do.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but 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 in our communities. Life now demands caringresilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

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!

upside down man
Caring Action, Self-Care

The World is Crazy; So Here’s the Plan

Remember “normalcy?” It’s been a while. But before this current version of “crazy,” you probably thought elements of your “way back then” life were pretty crazy too.

upside down man

It didn’t require the first worldwide pandemic in 100 years to hear people saying things like:

  • “I’m not cut out for this.”
  • “I’m getting too old for this.”
  • “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s good to recall the words of Mrs. Nussbaum from the old neighborhood: “Always be prepared for crazy.”

It was her simple way of saying: “I don’t want to hear about things not being perfect. I want to hear that you are better prepared to handle it next time.”

She was tough, but fair.  But most of all, she was wise.

That’s because “being prepared for crazy” is a state of mind.  And it’s incredibly useful when it comes to sticking to goals and living a healthy, caring life.  Take comfort in this. Especially when the world goes crazy. Or stays crazy.

Bake In The Crazy

If you have a goal of lifting weights three times a week, you want to stick to it, right? Same thing if the goal is to sleep eight hours a night.

When everything hums along without any hiccups, it’s easy to stick to your goal. If traffic is light, or the boss doesn’t make you stay late, you’ve got time to lift.  If you go to bed on time, you’ll get the eight hours.

But what about when the crazy happens?  Isn’t that the catalyst for making excuses?

The goals are still important, but you didn’t expect the traffic jam.  So you give yourself permission to skip the weights. You didn’t expect the Peterson’s to over-stay their welcome last night. So it’s not your fault your sleep schedule becomes a nightmare.

Okay.  Fair enough. But the only predictable thing about life is how unpredictable it is.  So how can you stay on-track when day-to-day life is so dynamic?  How can you plan and anticipate for the crazy?

If Zig Happens, Then Zag

The Zig/Zag Technique is the ultimate way to plan for crazy and stay on schedule even when life goes bananas. Why? Because it forces you to create a strategy for dealing with chaos before you need to.

If you don’t get home in time to lift weights, then you’ll lift weights in the morning before work.

If you didn’t get eight hours of sleep last night, maybe you’ll work in a “power nap” during lunch.

The Zig/Zag Technique helps you to consider the unpredictable craziness that so often enters our daily lives. And it provides more options for sticking to your goals.  Life is a crooked line, after all.

Do Something vs. Nothing

Maybe the world is crazier than it used to be.  Or maybe it’s always been crazy, but we talk about it more now.  Either way, you can be sure of countless mini-emergencies every day.  Each one designed to re-route you from your goals. But you can do something about it.  And that’s the key. Something is always better than nothing. 

If you choose to plan for the crazy and use the Zig/Zag Technique to find options for staying on-track, then your day will stay on-course.

One other thing Mrs. Nussbaum used to say:  “Look, dearie.  Maybe you can’t always do it all. But you can always do something small.”

She’s right.

Forget the crazy.

It will always be with us in one form or another.

Doing something (however small) is at least a start. From maintaining goals, to pursuing a caring life – it all comes down to a willingness to start. Or get started over and over again. Comforting to know, isn’t it? And there’s nothing crazy about that.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but 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 in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

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!

Unified Caring Association

It is Time to Water the Growing Edge

How we focus our energy on what we want to grow

As our world continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically, it may be easy to pine over what we have lost, and what we may not get back. It is natural to miss what was once normal. However, it is time that we look to the growing edge. We can focus our energy on what we want to grow: it is time to water the growing edge.

As people continue to seek new ways to live fulfilling lives, they are coming up against challenges.

Challenges like meeting basic needs. These are challenges that UCA has the capacity to help with. Like providing food and needed supplies for children and families. In a pilot project to meet critical needs for children in foster care, UCA provided warm winter clothes, under garments, feminine care supplies, shoes, toiletries and warm accessories.  UCA also provided bicycles to middle school and high school students who would otherwise miss school due to lacking transportation options.

At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge

We are delighted when we see organizations like One Tree Planted doing their part to restore salmon habitat. This is to grow an increase in the local salmon population to feed a suffering pod of Orca whales! UCA had to step in and do our part to support these endeavors. You can read more about that here.

We also have to water our own growing edge

That is why at UCA, we prioritize self-care for our members and provide articles like this or these. Some members want step-by-step how-to’s of self-care, while others thrive with our updates on inspiration for small acts of self-care that give a big impact. You can’t water from an empty cup, so make sure yours gets refilled regularly!

We hope to help you do your best to water your own growing edge, by staying healthy and active

We also want to know if you have any growing edges that need watering in your community. Reach out to us through access on your Membership Dashboard. We want to hear your ideas as well, and if your Share Your Caring Story about how you watered a growing edge in someone’s life or in your community, we will share it with our members on our website!

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!

sunlight for self-care
Health, Nature, Self-Care

Sunlight for Self-Care

It’s an understatement to say that the human body appreciates receiving a healthy dose of sunlight within the first few hours of the day. Sunlight for self-care is possible now that we’ve entered warmer months. Consider taking advantage of the abundance of sunlight by harnessing it as a form of personal care.

By simply offering your body a few minutes of sunlight in the morning, you are inviting a sequence of biological occurrences to unfold. This will ultimately result in more stabilized energy levels, steadier moods, deeper sleep, and stronger bones.

Lack of sunlight has been linked to a number of disorders including infertility, insomnia, anxiety, depression, among countless other conditions that yield poor health. Though it’s wise to be prudent about the amount of sun one is exposing themselves to, healthy doses of sunlight supports the production of Vitamin D, Serotonin, and Melatonin – thus becoming the foundation of our waking and sleeping lives.

How Sunlight Interacts with the Body

When sunlight penetrates into our vision, the information of the light travels through the optic nerve all the way into the brain, and throughout its numerous glands. It is here where the pituitary gland takes the information from the sunlight and begins to produce Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with states of wakefulness and joy.

When sunlight touches our skin, the body begins to generate a supply of Vitamin D – this is essential for calcium absorption, bone growth, and maintaining Serotonin supplies. Without proper Vitamin D levels, the body becomes ill-equipped to collect the sunlight’s information to convert into Serotonin. This can mean bad news for emotional health. As the lack of sunlight is directly linked to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a general lackluster for life. There is also a wealth of clinical research linking the proportion of sunlight to cases of suicide.

From a biological standpoint, healthy Serotonin production is important because it’s the precursor to the production of Melatonin – the hormone responsible for nourishing sleep. While natural sunlight stimulates Serotonin, the darkness of night stimulates Melatonin. As the sun begins to rise again, the brain gives orders to halt Melatonin production, and so continues this very synergistic process that is completely commanded by the body’s perception of light.

It’s for this reason that keeping artificial light to a minimum after sunset is important to ensure the body has a chance to generate sufficient sleep hormone. It’s also relevant to note that sunlight filtered through windows does not count as a natural sunlight. This is because the technology in windows blocks UV light from coming in, meaning it’s no longer full spectrum light and behaves differently in the body than direct sunlight would. True unadulterated sunlight is what stimulates these supportive biological responses.

Trust Sunlight for Self-Care

Though there’s a lot of reluctance to trust the sun these days, the evidence in its favor is staggering. From treating physical ailments to addressing emotional well-being, studies are pointing towards sunlight as a supplementary solution. Ample research has indicated that anywhere between 5-15 minutes of sunlight a few days a week is all that’s needed for noticeable improvement.

Ultimately, our goal here is to create an environment that supports wakefulness during the day, and effective downtime at night. With the influx of sleeping problems, mid-day exhaustion, and disruptions to physical health, we have little to lose by turning to the sunlight for self-care and support. Especially when considering that sunlight is a completely free resource, available to all.

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!

Article by Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

Caring Connections, Resources

Caring for Family in Quarantine Times

 quote-Mike Chen

As a caring community we all are coming together by staying at home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. A big part of being a part of a community is caring for our families. A family can be people you are related to, friends, or even your co-workers. During this time, we can all reach out to ask how they are and share caring ideas when someone needs help. Unified Caring Association (UCA) has a Pinterest board that is filled with ideas for fun family activities, tips and tricks for setting up a new lifestyle while homebound, and even suggestions for schooling! We have been researching all of these and have suggestions to help us all as a family and a community that cares.

Empowerment through Health.

Empower yourself instead of stressing yourself out by getting physically active. Exercise can be in the form of walking, building a gym at home with an obstacle course, or routinely doing yoga and dancing. Self-care is a great foundation to build on while staying healthy and at home.

A big part of empowering yourself is eating healthy. Nutritious meals can boost your immune system and fuel a more resilient mind to work from home or help with your kids schooling while homebound. Eating well includes staying hydrated with water, teas, or other favorite beverages.

Routines

Making a routine is extremely important at this time. We are all learning new boundaries, how to work from home, and how to interact with others while staying 6 feet (or 2 meters) apart. Start with getting some good sleep. Create a schedule for yourself  by first deciding when you want to get up and what time you want to go to bed.

When deciding what you are going to fill your day with, take a look at balancing responsibilities with break times to recharge. When will you have your coffee? What time of day is lunch? Make a set time for the end of the work day when we close the laptop, put away school books, and connect with your caring community. During this time we might check in with the news, and try to keep that time in short stints to not overwhelm our brains. But go ahead and fill up on all the positive news you can take!

Be Kind & Have Fun!

It is becoming more apparent that we are needing to focus on being kind to ourselves and to others. Acts of kindness that we read about or do can help promote happy feelings. How does this look? If we are tired, we can take an extra nap or meditate to refocus our brains and boost our energy. If we want to share caring with others, we can create a fun video chat to hangout with others and celebrate our friendship.

One great way to celebrate kindness is to do something creative. UCA has a great way to connect by coloring the stress away and sharing those pieces of art to create a gallery of kindness. Coloring and being creative is a great way to connect and have fun!

Reassuring Children 

Many of us have younger family members or children who are feeling the strain of being homebound. “Encourage children to express their feelings… Provide them with information. Be honest, but be sure to emphasis the positive. And of course, remember that children may need extra love and attention.” (ParentInfo)

It can be hard to remain socially isolated. The additional kindness and communication can assure kids that everything is being done to help them feel safe and they have a community that cares for them as well as every person. If we all follow the rules to stop transmission of the virus together, there is no reason that we cannot beat this sickness together.

Family is a community that cares!

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, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections, Feel Good News, Sharing Caring

Uplifting Stories from the Frontline of the Pandemic

Uplifting Stories from the Frontline of a Pandemic

There are so many news articles and stories on the internet today that reflect the insanity of the global pandemic. What we at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have seen many beacons of hope, caring, and kindness shining through headlines each day. We decided to compile a few that highlights how business and people are banding together to help support the heroes who are on the frontlines.

Starbucks Partners Bring Coffee & Comfort to COVID-19 Frontline Responders

Cheers to Starbucks

One Starbucks manager’s heart went out to those in his local area, and had inspiration to bring joy and comfort to front line responders. The manager cares for his community, and found ample support in his decision. “Now more than ever, the world needs places to come together with compassion and love…We provide consistency to create a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.” The Starbucks team gathered and filled coffee travelers. Each coffee care package was completed with a personalized note conveying gratitude and encouragement. The manager then delivered these to police officers, City Hall, the fire department, etc. This action inspired Starbucks locations around the world to show their support in the same way. Cheers to all of these Starbucks partners! You all are examples of how a community cares for its heroes.

Tesla is using its logistic network to deliver ventilators to hospitals.

Telsa

With the need for medical supplies, we have been seeing calls for help from those on the frontlines. We are excited to read that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced that the automaker has ventilators. Additionally, Tesla will be using its logistic network to deliver them to hospitals for free. This is just in time, because several hospitals in the US are in need of ventilators to help save patients! Many of these patients are badly affected by the virus, and in need of that support. Tesla cares, thank you!

Officer Gives a Face Masks Instead of a Ticket.

frontlines supporting each other

Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua was pulled over for speeding, and was surprised to receive a facemask instead of the expected ticket. “He went back to his patrol car to look up my license, and when he returned, quite firmly told me it was very irresponsible of me to be speeding, especially since I would not only take up resources if I got into an accident, but would also not be in a position to help patients.” (Janjua) The doctor was let off with a warning. “As I sputtered to apologize and say thank you, he reached in to hand me what I assumed was my license back.” This officer, Brian J. Schwartz, cares for fellow frontline heroes as well as others in the community. To show this support he handed Dr Janjua five new N95 face masks from his personal state-supplied stash. “[He] shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking…The veil of civilization may be thin, but … we are going to be ok.”

Tavern Owner Sets Up Virtual Pub.

Virtual pub, Cheers!

An English lady set up a virtual pub to entertain local townspeople while they are practicing self-isolation to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the regular events are live music, quizzes, DJ sets, open mic, and comedy nights. The virtual pub had been a hit, and she now employs bar staffers to cope with her 14,500 online customers. She has a team of 10  “bar staffers.” This team works together to talk with customers; there are even “bouncers”, who act as moderators and allow people into the virtual pub. ““It’s really nice to be able to bring people together in these difficult times in the most British way possible. It is pretty much like going to a pub, but doing it from your living room or back garden.” (Bowtell) We love the idea of getting together virtually and sharing support in a fun and family friendly environment. And as always, “we’re encouraging people to drink responsibly though. We have coffee mornings as well.”

Restaurants Giving Free Food to Hospital Staff Fighting on the Frontline.

Feeding the Frontlines

Like the Starbucks story above, many companies are helping support frontline heroes with free goodies. “Starbucks will be providing the free coffees to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and hospital employees until May 3rd.” Additionally, on National Doctors’ Day, Krispy Kreme is also offering boxes of donuts to health care workers each Monday. To help protect the frontline heroes feet, Crocs is also giving doctors, nurses, etc. free pairs of shoes through their online site. A fourth company mentioned in the Good News Network’s article is Tropical Smoothie. This smoothie drink eatery has locations giving away 100,000 smoothies to US healthcare workers. We agree with Tropical Smoothie’s comment that, “The 100K smoothie giveaway is a simple, but impactful example of one way we can show our gratitude and bring a smile to their face—one sip at a time.” 

Parents Pooled Money as Thank You Gifts to Janitorial Staff Who Sanitize Schools.

Safe and Clean

Often when we talk about frontline heroes we are talking about doctors, emergency responders, and teachers. There are many more people whose profession and jobs are necessary to support the community and put them on the frontline. The janitorial and sanitation workers have been tirelessly cleaning and sterilizing offices, homes, and facilities so that people can remain healthy. This particular article celebrates the janitors who are making sure school facilities are kept clean and sanitary during the COVID-19 outbreaks. We are moved to hear that appreciative parents have raised thousands of dollars for their district janitors. These parents and communities care for their school custodians who are going the extra mile with each cleaning. “I said we need to recognize that these staff members who are going into potential contamination and a disaster zone, really, and putting themselves at risk… It’s already an under-appreciated job as it is, and not one that gets a lot of respect. It was a feel-good way to get people to recognize that.” (Thomas)

Support from a community the cares!

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!