Feel Good News

The Science of Kindness

The Science of Kindness

Wednesday was a day filled with kindness as people shared caring acts and messages around the world in honor of World Kindness Day. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are drawing inspiration from all of these kind acts and keeping the momentum up. We recently read an article on the Good News Network that informs us about a new institute whose primary directive is to research kindness.

A New “Kind” of School

Kindness has been shown to be beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as promote a fulfilling and long life. Since kindness is such a large and important topic, the University of California Los Angeles decided to open a school just for researching kindness. “There are countless other ways that different compassionate acts and lifestyle changes can affect one person, let alone society…[UCLA] has just announced that they will be launching the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness.” This is all made possible by The Bedari Foundation. This private family foundation aims “…to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation.” They offered the gift of $20 million to help establish this school at UCLA.

Kindness Studies

This institute will begin operating immediately. It will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness. These researchers will do this by using biological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural and sociological, as well as economic perspectives. Some of the focuses for researchers from many disciplines and external organizations who are gathering at the institute will be researching “…the actions, thoughts, feelings and social institutions associated with kindness.”

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. Some of the focus will be on creating opportunities to apply the kindness research to the real-world. Also, the institute will serve as a global platform for communicating findings, helping educate the world on the science of kindness. The institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. This caring research is a wonderful way to promote caring around the world. Additionally, the research is helping set in motion acts of kindness that can help make the world a better place. UCLA chancellor Gene Block comments that “universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree.” It is Chancellor Block’s hopes that the new institute will gather some of the best minds and hearts to bring forth top ideas on the vital issue of kindness. The sciences of kindness and how we apply that knowledge to government, economics, and general welfare of our communities gives us real hope for a solid social impact, now and for future generations. 

What Have Researchers Already Begun Studying?

In previous blogs we have mentioned how kindness and caring acts are contagious, in a good way. UCLA anthropologists are examining this phenomena of kindness that spreads from person to person and group to group. One study underway is the study of “…how people who regularly act unkind might be encouraged to engage in kind acts instead.” Also, UCLA psychologists are conducting studies on how kindness can improve our moods and reduce symptoms of depression. “Others are pursuing research on changes in neurobiology and behavior resulting from mindfulness, and how those changes can influence kindness and people’s mental, physical and social well-being.” 

But Wait, There’s MORE!

There is more for those of us who are looking for more excitement. The Kindness Institute will provide seed funding for projects that research and examine the mechanics of kindness, both social and physical. This could give us insight on how people and their communities can harness kindness to create more humane, caring societies. The Good News Network also reports that “It also will provide mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities.” Matthew Harris, one of the The Bedari Foundation’s co-founders and UCLA alumni,  states, “Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us … Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek at Bedari to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, through the establishment of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”

We are so excited to hear about all of the kindness being brought into our caring communities. We thank every person who participates in caring acts to help make our world a better place for us all!

Craving more kindness? Read more blogs about acts of kindness in our communities, teaching caring kids, and caring for others. If you would like some more caring in your week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Scholarships, Unified Caring Association

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open!

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open

Unified Caring Association (UCA) upholds the philosophy that education is one of the important ways to help bring more caring into the world. To see this happen we hold scholarship contests throughout the year. We are excited to say that we have one currently open and have so much excitement as the essay applications are arriving in our mail. We have been seeing requests from our caring community asking us to tell you more about our scholarships. 

CLICK HERE for information about our current fall 2019 scholarship for high school juniors/seniors.

Prompt:

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?

Entrants:

US High School Juniors and Seniors

Essay Requirement:

We require an original essay answering the prompt “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” Each submission must clearly explain why they feel this change would make a caring impact in the world.  Essays must be at least 500 words.

Fall Scholarship Awards:

First Place:

The top 10 winners will receive a scholarship award of $350.00

Honorable Mentions:

The next 10 best caring essays will receive scholarship awards of $100.

Deadlines:

Opens: 10/1/19

Closes: 11/29/19

Winners Announced: 12/13/19 

Essays arrive by the day and we are bursting with joy to read each fall scholarship. Often we have a buzz of excitement in the office with each one! Thank you to all of the teenagers who enter their essays. We are celebrating each of you and will be hard-pressed to pick out the winners! Best of luck!… and we are looking forward to reading your essays.

Want to read more about UCA scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections, Feel Good News

One Tree Planted

Twitter 1 Tree Planted

Thomas S. Monson is often quoted saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We have come across a wonderful interpretation of this by One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focusing on global reforestation. This is something to celebrate as others are spreading C.A.R.E. around the world! Trees are important for so much in the world. Trees help filter water to make it drinkable. They clean the air to make it more breathable for us. And trees provide habitats for 80% or more of land-living creatures. If we go beyond the natural caring that trees provide us, we find that they go further. In the book The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein shares that trees provide jobs for billions of people, as well as medicines that help us care for those we care about and ourselves.

The Giving Tree

Who is One Tree Planted?

One Tree Panted is making it easier for businesses and people around the world to “…give back to the environment, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts around the world.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us)  This charity began in 2014 and is going strong to this day. Through their efforts the amount of trees planted each year has grown 50% or more! Currently One Tree Planted works with amazing reforestation partners in North and South America, Africa, and Asia who help rebuild forests after natural disasters literally from the ground up! These forests not only restore the natural beauty of the regions they are in, but help create jobs and communities.

We pool the donations for each project and send the funds to our reforestation partners. We vet our partners to ensure that we maintain a tree survival rate of 80-90%.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) A big part of why this organization has a huge success rate is due to their careful monitoring of the plants after planting. This works well with their strategy and planning before planting the trees. Below is a chart from the One Tree Planted website explaining a breakdown of their successful strategy.

one tree success strat
One Tree Planted About Us
one tree chart
One Tree Planted – Trees Planted 2105-2019

The process One Tree Planted uses for reforestation is unique and interesting. Those that One Tree Planted partners with choose the most appropriate tree species to plant that works with the local community and environment. Planting begins during the rainy season when the soil is easier to dig up and allows for the newly planted tree to have the best chances of success after it is planted in the ground. Upon completion, they send out a highlights report that reflects the impact of the trees and has pictures of the projects’ success!

Trees are Important for Six Reasons

One Tree Planted has six pillars that outlines why they do what they do. These six pillars are: air, water, biodiversity, social impact, health and climate. Take a look at these short descriptions to expand upon each of the six reasons.

AIR

Trees are like nature’s scrubbing bubbles or vacuum cleaners. “Through their leaves and bark, they suck up harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen for us to breathe.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We can see this embraced in urban environments with the implementation of curbside rain gardens and parks. Trees absorb gases like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and other pollutants such as smoke and dust which helps us all breath a little bit better! 

WATER

Have you ever seen pictures or hiked through a redwood forest in the early morning and seen the fog being captured under the little green cupped needles? This is a great example of how trees play a big and important role in capturing water in the atmosphere. The second role that trees play in nature is below the ground where their roots help by anchoring the soil and rocks, reducing the frequency and risks of  natural disasters. Much like above the ground the often intricate root systems filter out pollutants in the ground. “According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, a mature evergreen tree can intercept more than 15,000 litres of water every year.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/)

BIODIVERSITY

Each tree young to old can be a home to dozens upon dozens of insects, fungi, animals, and other plants. For example in North American Young, Open Forests we can see animals like a hopefully napping black bears and chirping birds like the American goldfinch, and bluebirds calling these trees home. In Middle-Aged Forests we see taller trees that outgrow less substantial vegetation. This allows for an open canopy and the growth of different plants that are lower to the ground. It is in thee forests that we see animals like the salamander and tree frogs as well as the mighty elk. Lastly we have Older Forests. These have substantial and large trees, complex canopies, and a highly developed levels of vegetation. Old forests provide habitat for a wide and diverse array of animals. We might see bats at night flying around eating bugs, squirrels during the day gathering and storing food for the cold months, and so on. Next time you go on a walk in nature you might just notice something about the biodiversity in your local forest!

SOCIAL IMPACT

Trees are more than just homes to the local flora and fauna. They provide jobs for us people too! “…Sustainable tree farming provides timber to build homes and shelter, and wood to burn for cooking and heating. Food-producing trees provide fruit, nuts, berries, and leaves for consumption by both humans and animals, and guarantee health and nutrition.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We bet that you can come up with more than a few ways that trees impact you life. Just think about apples, pinecones, and paper products; they all come from trees!

HEALTH

We review a lot of caring research and information. During this time we have found that people recovering from illness bounce back faster when they see greenery like trees.  Getting grounded in nature gives you a sense of calm, helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improves thinking clarity. Additionally, walking in a shady forest provides skin protection for harsh UV rays and nasty sunburns. 

CLIMATE

Lastly, but certainly not least, trees help the planet stay cool by eliminating nasty greenhouse gases and pollutants. They do this by storing these toxins in their trunks, branches and leaves. An additional bonus is that this process is coupled with the releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. There’s an increase in architects designing cities to have trees and forests included, much like Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. When cities are designed with forests in mind the overall temperature is often reduced by up to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). “With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities—a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050—pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, a mature tree can absorb an average of 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.“ (https://onetreeplanted.org/) This is something we can give three cheers to! We can relate to the desire to live comfortably with lasting health benefits!

since viewing...
The number of benefits accrued while viewing the One Tree Planted website. Watch the numbers grow when you visit One Tree Planted website!

Thank you to One Tree Planted for all of your efforts and contributions to the reforestation of our planet! We at Unified Caring Association love what you are doing, and celebrate your caring actions!

Would you like to read more blogs form Unified Caring Association? We have more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, A UCA Member’s Personal Well-Being Journey, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Or how about a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Caring Connections, Connecting, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

BlueUp

In most communities there are times when we are faced with challenges, negativity or bullying. The internet has not been spared from this, especially on social media platforms. This newest form of internet harassment is often referred to as cyberbullying. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to help source tools and share resources to help others and our children learn the skills needed to stop current forms of bullying and prevent any future bullying from happening.

Cyberbullying History

Bullying and forms of hate or discrimination have been around for most, if not all of human history. With the advent of the internet in the 1990’s there came a new form of bullying: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to harass, trash talk, or bully a person. Often times this is typically done by sending messages that can be intimidating or threatening in nature. One of the first pervasive examples of this is seen through Monica Lewinski’s experiences. At this time her private life became public, and people began to ridicule her as fast as a wildfire in dry grass. Since then she has become a prominent anti-bullying advocate, even giving a strong TedTalk on the subject.

Cyberbullying has become a more common issue in households and schools, especially for children and teens. Often we hear about messages that are hurtful or degrading left on one or more kid’s social media account from their peers. This begs the question: what tools and organizations can we turn to to help our children dispel cyberbullying?

Stomp Out Bullying

UCA has aligned itself with Stomp Out Bullying, a leading national nonprofit that dedicates itself to changing to a caring culture for all children. This organization works to prevent and reduce bullying/cyberbullying. Also Stomp Out Bullying educates people against LGBTQ discrimination and racism in an effort to deter violence in schools and in communities (online and offline) across the U.S. This organization teaches effective responses and solutions to bullying, cyberbullying, etc. They do this using in-school and online education programs for kids and teens. In addition to their education programs, Stomp Out Bullying provides help for people in need or at-risk of suicide. They raise awareness through public service announcements, peer mentoring programs in schools, and social media campaigns.

#BlueUp

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Every year the first Monday of October is World Day of Bullying Prevention™ where students, communities, and schools raise awareness by wearing the color blue. Stomp Out Bullying has unique blue shirts to commemorate this day and further bring this national challenge into the spotlight. But, we can all just unify under the color blue to show support as well. This strong unified voice will help the world hear and see that our culture needs to change to be more caring. This is the 12th year that Stomp Out Bullying has began this quest and they have a wonderful slogan for their shirts: ‘Make Bullying History.’ This event will help “…speak for all of our youth who are tormented by bullying, cyberbullying, cruelty, hatred, racism, homophobia and LGBTQ discrimination…[we] stand together to MAKE BULLYING HISTORY!” (Stomp Out Bullying)

Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information and resources on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week. 

Healthcare, Self Care, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Getting Better at What We Care About

getting better care about

Getting-Better-at-What-We-Care-About

There are many things as aspects of our lives that we care about: caring for our family, our performance at work, or even our physical fitness and health. But we can often find ourselves with little desire or in a struggle to improve. There are many ways we can strive to be better at what we care about. One of the best ways to begin a self-care or self-improvement journey is with mind, then follow with action.

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is an idea where a person can adopt a practice where their most basic abilities can be continually developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talents are just a starting point, continually learning and growing is the ‘maintenance’ so to speak. This perspective often fosters resilience and a love of learning which can lead to success. This means that the brain is always growing, building new neural pathways, more resilient, as well as getting stronger.

A Tale of Two Zones… 

In his TedTalk Eduardo Briceño breaks down how to get better at what we care about. He begins talking about two zones that we must go through to get better at one or more skills. The first phase, the learning zone is the desire for improvement and is where the growth mindset lies. To do this “… we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven’t mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about)This is in contrast to the second zone called the performance zone. The performance zone is where we execute our task, exercise our skills, “…do something as best as we can…[and] concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) Briceño mentions that often those who are perceived as highly effect and successful deliberately set the intention to alternate between these two zones. The goal for getting better at what we care about is to be clear about what we want in each of these two zones: learning and growth followed by the maximum benefit and success during implementation. Rinse and repeat.

Seems simple, right? The struggle is that many of us don’t improve even if we work really hard. According to Briceño this is because most societies have the mindset that we must stay in the ‘performance zone.” We can see this in many companies where results are the way to be successful, or in classrooms where getting the ‘A’ or ‘100%’ is all that seems to matter. We seem to be missing the learning and experience of failure that makes it possible to get better at what we care about; “…this hinders our growth, and ironically, over the long term, also our performance.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) The learning zone consists of what “…Dr. Anders Ericsson calls deliberate practice. This involves breaking down abilities into component skills, being clear about what subskill we’re working to improve, …giving full concentration to a high level of challenge outside our comfort zone, just beyond what we can currently do, using frequent feedback with repetition and adjustments, and ideally engaging the guidance of a skilled coach, because activities designed for improvement are domain-specific, and great teachers and coaches know what those activities are and can also give us expert feedback. It is this type of practice in the learning zone which leads to substantial improvement, not just time on task performing.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about)

Often we see a trend of our abilities plateauing during our first five years of an activity. This happens when we think and feel we have become ‘good enough’ and stop spending time in the first zone — the learning zone. We move on to the second zone — the performance zone — where we often remain. While in this second zone we are just doing to get things done as best as we can. If we are practicing mindfulness and taking notes (literally or mentally) we can then go back to the first zone and work on learning and strengthening in the areas that did not work out as well as we had hoped during the performance zone.

To set ourselves up for success we need to do four things according to Briceño: 1) adopt a growth mindset, 2) want to improve a specific skill, 3) have an idea or plan on how to improve said skill, and 4) “…we must be in a low-stakes situation, because if mistakes are to be expected, then the consequence of making them must not be catastrophic, or even very significant. “ (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) If we are able to keep the stress and stakes low for a good amount of the time, we can develop an environment that allows for nurturing a growth mindset. A good take-away from the two zones and how they interact to help us get better at what we care about is to think about it like washing your hair: wash-rinse-repeat. (Click here to watch the full TedTalk video.)

Brain Chemistry 

Ok so we have a good idea about growth mindset and how to continue getting better at what we care about. But what is actually happening with the brain? The key is in how our brain has been evolving from the purely animalistic, instinctive and reactionary wiring that focuses mostly on survival even if our nobel goal is to emphasize the positive and intentional things today. How the brain remembers negative experiences is often through the body producing cortisol during a stressful event. (That T-Rex ate Bob, it was scary, and I remember that! I also remember my friend Bob. He was a cool dude.) “The bad feeling of cortisol has its own survival purpose. It alerts you to an obstacle on the path to meeting your needs so you can navigate your way to good feelings. But once you do that, your brain finds the next obstacle. You will feel bad a lot if you follow your survival brain wherever it leads.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#66ccd9005a58) Fast forward to 2020 and we have a brain that is tuned into looking out for obstacles, and has become very skilled in remembering negative experiences.

It probably takes about three times repeating most positive experiences to make as deep of an impression in the mind as one negative experience. This is based on practices for building self-esteem and self-confidence such as through pep talks like repeating positive sayings to yourself multiple times while looking in the mirror. Doing this will ingrain a pathway and memory in the mind based on positivity, effectively training your brain to look for the positives and not the negatives. A suggestion is to “…spend one minute looking for positives, three times a day for forty five days…Any positives, no matter how small, will build the pathway that seeks and expects positives.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#66ccd9005a58) This will create a healthy habit, and promote the development of a healthy brain.

…And Heart Happenings

Having healthy and learning minds helps us cultivate strong emotional bonds with others and ourselves. It feels good to be successful in endeavors we care about. Previous blogs we have written talk a lot about how positive feelings are good for our us, such as Caring Through the Gift of Time and Volunteering for Health. We see this when we achieve a goal — we and those who support us often are smiling.  We feel the positivity. When a positive outlook is adopted a higher frequency of success is achieved. This in turn creates a positive circuit the feeds itself, and generates more connections during our learning time. An example of this is the saying ‘you’re on fire!’ when someone is just having successful achievement after successful achievement. The excitement is palpable and the momentum is fast.

From what we have been reading and blogging about, this is the ongoing goal of a growth mindset. Most of the time we are happy when we are learning and growing. And one thing is for certain: change is inevitable. This means that it is important to continue to get better at what we care about.

Enjoy what you have been reading? Unified Caring Association has more blogs with caring UCA topics, 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!

Charity Work, Feel Good News, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Being in Service

lunches

Being-In-Service-lunches

Unified Caring Association (UCA) strives to continue promoting caring around the world. But how can someone start performing caring acts? One of the best ways is to start close to home. Help out at a local food bank or shelter or donate clothing or personal care items to those in need. UCA did just this in our local community where our headquarters are located.

UCA jumped into action when we learned about an urgent need for supplies at Great Northern Services (GNS). GNS serves about 10,000 lunches over the summer months to school aged children up to the age of 18 years old. GNS sponsors the USDA Summer Food Service Program donates bag lunches during the work week (Monday-Friday) in the summer months of June, July and August with no cost to the children’s families that receive the lunches.

Supplies that were needed included kitchen utensils, pots, food containers and lunch bags for every child and every lunch all summer long. These supplies were needed by the teams to put the lunches together and deliver them to the kids. We are happy to report that smiles were on everyone’s faces as the lunches were served up. It was a huge pleasure to help support the caring efforts provided by GNS and the USDA Food Service Program to serve up nutritious meals in the community of Siskiyou county. We continue sending our best wishes to all of the teams and every child they serve!

food-fun-lunches

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, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Benefits, Caring Connections, Connecting, health care, Self Care, Unified Caring Association

Volunteering for Health

volunteering

Volunteer-health

Have you ever felt so good after helping someone else? If so you are not alone! There are so many ways to volunteer your time and skills to help others while giving yourself the gift of self-care. Unified Caring Association (UCA) gives more than three cheers for volunteers. 

Volunteering does more than we often think!

When we give our time and knowledge through volunteering we feel a ‘helper’s high’. This phrase was coined by Allen Luks. He defines this as “…the sense of euphoria that can be experienced soon after helping someone else.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) During this ‘high’ there are two phases. The strongest is the first phase. This phase is characterized by an uplifting and euphoric mood. This is followed by phase two where there is a longer lasting sense of calm. This is almost like taking three big, quick breaths for the mind! What is most interesting is that “..the greatest effect (the high) was observed in helping strangers.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) As when we talk about meditation and or mindfulness activities we see a reduced risk in depression. We infer that the same positive effects happen during volunteering activities as those of meditation and or grounding yourself in nature.

How else can volunteering help us?

Along with creating a healthy, caring social network “…volunteerism was associated with a markedly lower risk of dying. Depending on the study, the decrease in death rates ranged between 20 to 60%.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) This lower risk of dying can be linked to how those who volunteer take care of their own personal health. Often times those who volunteer make a larger effort to take care of their well-being. An example is regular preventive care visits to their doctor.

Sharing caring through connection

When we are volunteering we are likely exerting “…its positive health effects by connecting people to others and to an activity that they find meaningful. Achieving connection, purpose, and meaning is critical to attenuating stressors of life—particularly loneliness. Since stress is a major cause of disease, especially heart disease, the ability to quench the need for connection, purpose, and meaning can bring about beneficial and salutary changes for people. And when there is [a] purpose and we are connected to others, we take care of ourselves.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM)

When UCA held a recent scholarship contest. One of the questions asked was in regards to if there is one thing you would change in the world, what would it be? We are still moved by one response written. This was by TiAnna Olivas. She writes, “Volunteering not only has a positive impact on the people and organization, it reshapes the way you view life as well. Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet new people, gain new experiences, and make a productive influence on the world around you…I have gained so much from my personal experiences with volunteering. I volunteer with the local pantry and the people there are so kind and have taught me so much. Volunteering with them, I have witnessed how they live an abundant life, filled with making the people around them happy. I strive to be like them, being a light in this dark world. (https://www.unifiedcaring.org/tianna-olivas/)

Let us at UCA help you with ways to volunteer!

Unified Caring Association has suggested resources to begin, continue or expand volunteering. One resource is the National Volunteering Caregiving Alliance. Through this network members can connect to about 700 communities throughout the U.S. This network is to help provide volunteer caregivers by connecting community programs and organizations to those in need.

A second resource available for UCA members is access to The Corporation for National and Community Service. This organization plays a key role in supporting the culture of service in the U.S.A. It is here that you can find a volunteering opportunity. There are so many volunteer categories, the sky’s the limit! For example we could search for volunteer opportunities in food banks and soup kitchens, collecting clothing and items in need for the homeless, or spending time assisting the elderly.

Volunteering word cloud, heart concept

In short, volunteering is not only helpful to those you are spending time with, but helpful in our own self-care journey as well. Let’s give many cheers for those of us that spend time volunteering. Thank you for all you do!

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!

Benefits, Self Care, Unified Caring Association

Starting Steps to Self-Care

steps-to-self-care

At Unified Caring Association (UCA), we value taking care of each other. But where does this all start? We once blogged about how “It All Starts With Self-Care.” And UCA members have access to many tools that help with just this! One of these tools is the Self-Care Assessment! This is an easy, quick assessment that you take at any time anywhere as often as you want to check in with how you are doing.

What to expect while taking this assessment?

After making sure you have 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time, you will see five charts that cover the key areas to score yourself on self-care: Body, Mind, Emotion, Work, Social/Family. Each of the sections has five questions that you rate your own activity levels from 1 to 5, one being “it never occured to me” and five being “frequently.” Just like the example from the body section of the assessment below.

self-assessment example

Once you have your ‘score’ you can see the areas that would help you improve your self-care, starting you on a path to self-care success!

The next section asks you to “choose the 3 most important statements to improve right now. What is you plan to improve each?” And finally a spot to name a friend, family member, or someone you trust to be your accountability partner. This allows for a well formed plan of action to assist in holding you responsible for your self-care plan. 

Should the assessment be retaken?

Yes is the simplest answer. Because we are always growing, changing and life around us is ever shifting, this assessment can apply at most times of our lives. We recently were told about a member’s journey. This member had an initial low score, then retook her assessment two months later, and had a score that was 4x times better! The main thing to remember is to continue to move forward with your self-care, even if there are areas that you are taking baby-steps in. Once we heard a saying, “Progress, not perfection.” This is so true for self-care. The goal is the progress in improving and maintaining your self-care.

Will I struggle?

There are many times we struggle with our goals. This is why there is plan and someone your trust to help hold you accountable. UCA also has tools to help! Unified Caring Association has Nutrition and Fitness tools, Meditation and Mindfulness recordings and videos, as well as a 24 hour counseling hotline!

Results will show as you grow!

As you continue on your self-care journey you will begin to see results. The consistency in practicing your personal well-being plan will yield results that grow just like when we nurture a seed.

Self-care is like nurturing a seed and watching it grow.
Self-care is like nurturing a seed and watching it grow.

We are excited to see and hear about our UCA members success. We are happy to be able to provide tools and resources like the self assessment to do so! If you would like to read more blogs on caring action, caring the UCA way, or about UCA we have more information available. Also, we can be found on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for a bit of caring sprinkled in your day!