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.

ready, set, stop!
Self-Care

Ready… Set… Stop?

ready, set, stop!

Most of us have grown up being taught that the proper formula is “Ready, Set, GO!”  But in almost every case, we actually need to “GO” before we feel ready.

In fact, starting before feeling ready is often cited as one of the chief habits of successful people.  Why is that?  Aren’t we supposed to have all of our proverbial ducks in a row first? Or is that just ducking commitment?

It turns out that committing to something is far more important than being ready for something.  You probably know of people in your own life that finally quit smoking – not because they were ready to – but because they were committed to it.  Throughout history, how many soldiers were ready to take a hill, versus being committed to taking it, when it was “go” time?

The very act of starting something and committing to it forces us to focus better.  Think of those moments in your own life when you were thinking about starting a new project. You probably had less trouble with focus, and more trouble simply deciding.  Recall the things you absolutely had to get done – even if you put it off for a bit – once you committed to doing it, you got it done, right?  If you want to make meaningful progress in your life, or your job, or your own health, it’s not so much about being ready, it’s more about making the decision to commit, and the needed focus will be there.

Work Begun is Half Done

Want to lose the extra pounds from the COVID quarantine? Great! You don’t need to do a ton of research. You don’t need more information to get “ready.” Just commit to the fundamentals of eating real food and exercising more, and commit to making it happen.  If it’s important to you, you’ll take the first step and trust that you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

The Only Wrong Choice is NO Choice at All

Whether you ever spent time in a high school drama class or not, you’ve probably been reminded on more than one occasion of the old axiom: “Life Isn’t A Dress Rehearsal.”  That’s because this is your life, right now! It’s happening whether you sit quietly or whether you actively participate in it.

If you want to lose weight, or you want to quit smoking, or you want to be more kind, or change jobs, then make the choice to begin – ready or not! If you know where you are going, the universe will help you get there, or at the very least clear a path for you.  A willingness to start is the littlest thing in your life that can make the biggest difference.

Good Enough is Plenty Enough

Allow yourself to be propelled forward by the excitement of doing something challenging.  Naturally, you’ll feel unsure, unrehearsed, and unskilled.  That’s a given.  So if you use that as an excuse to do more planning and more prep work, that’s all it is – an excuse.  You have a choice, though. You can get going right now, if you want to.

Remember the expression some people will say before embarking on a new goal: “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!”  It’s a wonderful way of admitting that who you are, what you have, and what you know in this very moment is all you really need to start. 

Take a chance, and contribute something – anything – to your partner, to your workplace, to your community. If you need more incentive, keep in mind: the people who get started are the only ones who end up finishing.

Begin today. Stand up, step up, rise up, and raise a hand.  Everything from a meaningful existence to a vibrant relationship requires a willingness to get started.  As the old saying goes: “You can’t plan for everything, or you’ll never get started in the first place.” So just get set . . . and GO . . . ready or not!

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.

Everybody's on the Run
Health, Self-Care

Everybody’s on the Run: The Question is “To” or “From”?

You’ve been hearing it more than ever before.  “I feel run down.” “I need a change.” “I’m tapping out.”  “I need to get away.”  “I’m on a dead run, and I’m tired.”

Probably sounds familiar.  So we’ll take it as read that everybody is running – not in the physical jogging or power-walking sense, but mentally.  It’s important to understand though, that there is a tremendous distinction between running from something and running to something.

Sometimes, people even run back and forth between the two, but you can probably guess which direction is healthier. 

Embracing Change Can Be Hard

If you’re not sure which direction you’re headed, there are some signposts that help you along the way.  Typically, if you’re running “to” or “toward” something, you’ll feel like you’re embracing a change that is intrinsically good.  If you’re unsure, ask yourself if value is being created from the activity. Perhaps the easiest way to tell if you’re running “to,” is if it feels hard.  In some ways, it is supposed to. There’s a reason it’s called “Growing Pains,” after all.

From creating a new job for yourself, to writing a song, or building a relationship, these valuable pursuits can be tough sledding – but almost always worth the effort – because they are things and causes that are important to you.

Running Away is Easy – That’s Why Everyone Does It

By contrast, running away is much easier – it’s an avoidance maneuver – but ultimately, far less satisfying.

So much of running away is based on fear and a desire to retreat to familiar (if unhappy) surroundings.  The well-worn path of least resistance is backwards. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. So why am I doing it again? Because the “T-Shirt” is comfortable. Trying something new on for the first time can be daring.

That’s why, if you’re running “to” something, you will probably notice that you’re actually excited about it, instead of afraid of it.  This is significant, because excitement is a sure-fire foundational proof that you’re feeding the very health and happiness that leads to living a remarkable life vs. a tedious one.  Don’t ask yourself which is harder.  Just ask which sounds more appealing: Adventure or inactivity? Being Enterprising or unimaginative?

Running backwards sends you rewinding into the crowd of already-known experiences – some of which are unhealthy – watching your life from the sidelines (again!).

“New” Can Be Uncomfortable – At First

It’s worth the short-term discomfort to explore the new.  Because it’s better to run toward the things that are important to you even if you feel the frustration of failure once in a while.  There’s very little reward if you always play it safe and never push yourself.

If you’re running “to” something, you will probably notice that you’re actually excited about it.

Take it from the Sharks

We can learn a lesson from our seafaring friends, the sharks.  Some of them must swim forward constantly in order to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills. It’s a literal matter of life and death for them to always move forward to the next thing. 

If you find yourself struggling with your latest project, don’t stand still or run way from it, just make like a shark and go forward to the next thing: even if it’s just meeting up with a trusted confidant for a “socially-distanced” lunch. Failing to get that new job off the ground? Go have a good workout. Keep moving onward (and upward).

Sprints & Marathons

If something isn’t going particularly well, find something that you can get excited about, and run toward it instead.

Success is when you look up to find that you’re spending far more time on things that pull you in vs. activity that just pushes your frustration(s) away.

It can be a subtle shift moving toward the next good exciting thing, instead of away from the last thing… but you’ll find it makes a big difference… in the long run.

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!

Post-It Notes Collage
Self-Care

Are You Living A Busy Life or a Productive One?

bust or productive life?

There has always been a great emphasis on staying “busy” (or at least looking busy). It was once seen as a surefire way to stay employed or to gain admiration from others. But a closer examination reveals that “busy work” has little value in itself.

And value is important.  Just as “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time, busy is falling out of favor while measuring productivity is becoming more vital.

This is certainly true in most professions, but what about in your own personal life?  What do you really care about?

With only a few precious hours in each day, are we using them to catch a glimpse of what we are capable of – who we are destined to be – or are we spending them shuffling papers and alphabetizing the soup cans in the pantry?

Important questions, because important desires are calling us all the time.  The inspiration to write a book or a poem. The yearning to lose the extra weight. The urge to build something of our own versus sticking with a dissatisfying job.

Is the urgency of a busy life getting in the way of a productive one? 

A text comes in. Your tires need air. A client demands an impossible deadline. Real life. But also an excuse to delay dreams one more day for the sake of another fire drill.

How do you make the leap from busy to productive? How do we start living the life that’s important to us instead of just responding to the everyday emergencies?

Think of it this way: you’re going to spend the next decade doing something.

Will you respond to what is urgent, or will you choose to pursue what is important, instead?

Is your craving to be noticed or appreciated (busy) winning out over the ability to be present and satisfied (productive)?

Become Purposeful

Of course handling responsibilities is part of life. But how long will you delay what’s important to you just so that you can handle the Next Urgent Thing in front of you? How long will you put off what productive thing you’re capable of doing, just to maintain what you’re currently doing (staying busy)?

Will you wait 12 months? Ten years? Your entire life?

If you want to start living a productive life, then choose a clear direction for yourself right now.  It takes courage to say, “This is what is important to me and I’m going after it,” but you can do it. 

Otherwise, you’ll only be living the life that other people expect you to live.

You’ll soon find that having a clear purpose and a specific goal prevents you from being sucked into the multiple vortexes of time–consuming, unimportant busy work.

A Specific Goal

A crucial point to understand is that a specific goal is different than a desire.  Wanting to get in shape is a desire, running a marathon is a specific goal. Wanting to start your own daycare center is a desire, securing the first three paying families is a specific goal.

The secret to living an important, productive life is recognizing that it will never demand your attention right now, on its own. You have to cultivate that sense of purpose and prioritize it over the long haul.

There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to normal. Abandon that notion and think more about going forward to new. Start the slow march from busy to productive by picking one thing that you care deeply about, and get started today. 

Trade frantic for focused, and you’ll be surprised how soon perfectionism gives way to purpose. 

Become a purposeful soul, instead of a busy body, and you can celebrate success for a lifetime.

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!