showing love holding a heart
Caring Action, Sharing Caring

5 Ways to Show Love All Year Round

February is the month that reminds us to love one another and express that love. It invites to show others we love and appreciate them, in our personal/professional lives, but also to the community at large. The only question that remains is how we will answer the call?

5 ways to show love all year round

Why Answer the Call

Adoration and gratitude are powerful emotions to express. In fact, according to research from Arizona State University: “Communicating our positive feelings for others through words or actions offers a wide range of health benefits. These include lower stress hormones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.” The research goes on to say that “these benefits happen when affection is expressed, not merely felt.”

When we cultivate a habit of constantly expressing these emotions and positive thoughts with one another, we benefit but it also helps to boost relations, make others feel good, and spread benevolence. Arguably that last point is reason enough to answer the call, especially in a world where many of us are feeling isolated and hatred is on the rise.

Answering the Call 365

Now that we are pumped and ready to answer the call all year long, how do we do it? Before we dive into 5 key ways in which we can make the spirit of Valentine’s day live within us, let’s go over a few key pieces of information to keep in mind.

  • We can show love and appreciation to anyone, even strangers
  • Words are great but actions are better
  • Schedule time in to express these emotions regularly, and intentionally

Top 5 Ways to Keep the Love Alive 365

red number 1Write gratitude letters and send them to the people we are grateful for. These letters can go to veterans in a homeless shelter reminding them they have worth, to an author whose book changed our life, or family/friends who are there for us, and everyone in between.

red number 2Commit a random act of kindness. Some examples of these acts include paying for coffee for the person behind us line, giving out flowers at a nursing home, volunteering at a onetime event, and offering a massage to a loved one.

red number 3Hug more and longer! We can make an intentional effort to hug the ones we love and care for more often. Science also suggests that we will see health benefits and that humans need “4 hugs a day for survival” and “12 hugs a day for growth.”

red number 4Handwritten love letters to ourselves and others. Self-love and the expression of it is just as important as reminding those we care about why we do and how much they mean to us. Writing these letters when we feel down about ourselves or anger with the people we love are an amazing time to write such letter; it will help lower to cortisol levels and change our emotional state.

red number 5Use words as a tool to uplift others. Communication is key. When someone does something nice for us, when we admire a trait, when we love someone, and any fill in the blank… express it. By doing this we make sure those around us know exactly how we feel.

Showing love all year long is pretty easy once you get started.  And it sparks more sharing and gets even easier as you keep it going.  Pick one of the five ways to answer to call to share love and try it out!

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.

harmony heart
Self-Care

Harmony Over Balance

We all know someone who actively seeks more balance in their life. Whether it be a work-life-balance or just a balanced diet. No matter the type of balance one seeks to find, the motive behind it remains similar; we want outcomes that leave us with the feelings of well-being and a sense of peace. It’s important to us because living out of equilibrium can make us feel edgy, overwhelmed, and stressed.

The Hard Truth

According to a survey done by Gallup, the United States is among the top 10 most stressed out countries in the world. Is it any surprise when we juggle so much in our lives? The definition of balance is an equal distribution of weight or an amount. Trying to equally distribute our time between work, home life, friends, family, entertainment, self-care, and so-on is ludicrous!

The cold facts are that finding a balance between it all is a myth for many of us. It’s something that is a fairy tale unless we have complete time freedom or are retired. So the real question is… if living a balanced life is unattainable for most of us, then what actually is attainable?

harmony over balance

The Light at The End of the Tunnel

The great news is we can seek and obtain harmony in our lives, no matter at what stage we find ourselves. A pleasing arrangement of parts defines harmony. When we focus on arranging the moving parts of our lives into a sequence that feels good to us, that is harmony.

The disconcerting aspect of harmony is that it forces us to question if the time we spend doing something is in alignment. For example, if we hate our jobs and spend the majority of our time there, the time we do have off, we’ll spend thinking about how much we dread going back. That will eat up the quality time to have for things we love or people we love. It will cause us to not fully be in the moments as they occur. This is why many people who seek a work life balance fail.

Sometimes changes need to be made so we can experience harmony. It’s not about equally spreading our time; it’s about creating a life we are more aligned with. This way no matter what we are doing or how much time we spend doing it, it doesn’t feel draining.

We all are invited to think of the areas of our lives that bring the most disharmony. Then ask ourselves, what can we do to get back on track? Remember, its’ all about harmony over balance.

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.

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.

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.

an eye in the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Becoming the Eye of the Storm

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

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

Fighting Fire with Fire?

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

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

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

Attitude is Key 

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

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

Stay Grounded

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

3 elements to becoming the eye of the storm

In a Nutshell

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

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

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

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

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

Self-Care

How to Gain Confidence Even If We Never Had It

how to gain confidence

There is a truth weaved in the famous quote from Marcus Garvey that states “with confidence, you have won before you have started,” that many of us can relate to. Despite that resonance and countless examples of how even in failure a confident person’s confidence doesn’t diminish, the number one regret among the dying remains a wish for the courage to have lived a life true to their selves, and not the life expected of them. It takes true confidence to run towards our dreams, unapologetically, and live a life true to who we really are.

If we are to change that end of life narrative for ourselves and reap the wins Garvey talks about because even when we lose we still are whole and our self-worth isn’t tainted.  We must cultivate confidence. Here’s a simple road map for how to do that.

Confidence is a Seed

Every one of us is born with a seed of confidence. Some of us are lucky to be born in an environment that nurtures and waters the kernel inside of us regularly; giving birth to courageous and bold individuals. For those of us who didn’t grow up in environments like that, it can seem as if those traits are not present in us at all or will never be. The truth is, confidence is something that can be cultivated and grown no matter what. Knowing this fact serves as the first step in letting this plant blossom inside of us.

Growing the Confidence Seed

Many of us believe we are not this bold, self-assured person who can show up in any circumstance as such. These beliefs are exactly why we feel insecure or doubtful in our abilities. In human psychology, self-signaling refers to the truth that our actions reveal to us who we are. Those of us who lack confidence simply do not take the actions of a confident person. These actions may seem impossible at first but that is just a mental barrier. The only way to grow into a courageous person is to take the actions – we believe – courageous individuals take.

This is why practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming say that modeling behaviors, thoughts, and patterns is the most important aspect of changing ourselves. To grow this seed of confidence all one must do is define the actions they associate with a confident person (this is already the belief). No matter how uncomfortable it feels, take those actions daily. Not only does this process rewire our neural pathways and stretch the limits of our comfort zone, it changes the way we see ourselves. It changes the narrative around who we are and when that changes, the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible for our lives change.

Let’s Get Confidence Going

Take these words and transform them into the action steps needed to not have that number one regret of dying humans be ours. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. What does confidence look like to us?
  2. What do all the confident people we admire do to make us admire them?
  3. What can we model from this behavior?
  4. What actions can we take every day over the next 3 months to mimic these behaviors?

Once we answer those questions and devise that 3-month action plan, the only thing stopping us from being the powerhouse of confidence we truly are is ourselves.

by Mona Nyree Stephens, 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!