Benefits, health care, Self Care, Unified Caring Association

Moonbeam for Emotions

Moonbeam for Emotions

Moonbeam for Emotions

On the adventure of life, we have a slew of emotions that can be difficult to understand. Unified Caring Association (UCA) has a tool to help us all out: Moonbeam Feeling Pack. Moonbeam is a way for us to begin understanding and harnessing emotions, to reach goals, and to connect with others in new and enlightening ways that can fill out hearts with joy!

Moonbeam Feeling Pack

UCA has a wonderful and caring tool to help us identify feelings. Creative cards depict a range of emotions from sadness to happiness and stressed to enlightened. Moonbeam, the easy-to-remember name of the character, helps illuminate connections between emotions we are having. The deck of cards includes 144 emotion cards with Moonbeam images. This deck has 72 heavy emotions and the corresponding positive emotions to help the user learn how to transmute our emotions. To further assist the user, there is a feeling dictionary with definitions of all the emotions in this deck of cards. When we “face” our feelings, we can use them for good. We can find our way to better self-care, wellness, happiness, and wisdom.

Moonbeam
Moonbeam cards and book

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (E.Q.) is a field of study that can be thought of a lot like intelligence quota (I.Q.) in the sense that we can develop and train our minds to become increasingly smarter and our hearts to recognize emotions. One example  of E.Q. in action is through the ability to keep emotions, like stress, from overtaking or disrupting our lives. With clear understanding of what E.Q. is, we are better equipped to manage life and all stressors it can contain. There are many different models designed by psychologists for emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman’s is the one that is most often referenced. Five key areas of emotional intelligence are outlined as: self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Understanding our emotions ties into self-management. This skill involves the ability to reflect upon your emotions and better make choices. 

Developing E.Q. Through Moonbeam

To help grow caring children, teens, and skills sets like E.Q., UCA’s Moonbeam Feeling Pack is a key resource. This pack is available online in our Caring Community Store. This tool will help develop life skills in communication with others and ourselves. Once we can own and harness these feelings, we can promote healing, authenticity and positivity in ourselves and our caring communities. “Being emotionally smart means being able to feel and deal with emotions [yours and other people’s].” (Unified Caring Association

Developing E.Q. is a lot like meditation, gratitude journaling, or other healthy habits. They all take conscious practice with the intention to better our lives.  Try these steps for 21 days to develop a habit of strengthening your emotional intelligence skills.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

OR at the start of each morning….

Daily Development of Emotional Intelligence

Emotions can be confusing for us in the moment, but with time and practice we can better navigate them. One resource that we can use is the Moonbeam Feeling Pack and Dictionary found on Unified Caring Association’s website. With this tool, we can practice identifying and transmuting emotions while strengthening our emotional Intelligence. Once we begin to understand emotions (ours and those of others) we can more fully and honestly communicate with others, our caring communities, and the world. 

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on Shaping Your Heart, Monitoring Health with Biofeedback, and Appreciation Techniques: Heart-Focused Breathing & Heart-Lock In! 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

Mid-Life Adventures

Mid-Life Adventures
Mid-Life Quote

First we see the world; then we crawl to explore; next we walk to share how much we care; then we run, experiencing all we can. But what happens after we run? Mid-life brings up a slew of new questions. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrate each stage of life, the adventure that can happen, and strive to have caring tools and resources for our UCA members. During the stage of mid-life, we can have a very different adventure than running head-long into crisis.

A majority of UCA’s members are entering or in this time of life.

Often when we arrive to ages 45-65, we can enter a “mid-life crisis.” So much research has gone into this phenomena, and this mid-life time has become much better understood. There are ways to thrive during this time. What an exciting thought to have a mid-life NO crisis! We can by learning our needs at this very stage in life. We developed a simple tool called “Mid-Life NO Crisis” that helps people focus on being strong and powerful in their Mid-Life stages. This is a time of changing needs, and attitude plays a big role. Choosing to be vital and thrive makes all the difference to emerge strong into the next stage of life.

The 5 Areas

Five areas demand our attention when we are entering or going through mid-life. These focus on nutrition, caring for our minds, our relationships, and more

5 Areas During Mid-Life

Mid-Life NO Crisis 

UCA’s Mid-Life NO Crisis is a kit of 4 x 6” high-quality cards. These cards cover the five areas listed in the infographic above that demand our attention in mid-life. Accompanying this deck of cards are instructions and suggestions for their use. This is a caring resource for UCA members at no cost! What a great deal and addition to all of our caring tools and resources that our members have access too!

Soon, the Mid-Life NO Crisis kit will also be made available for purchase to the public.  Watch for it in the Caring Community Store.

We at UCA are always looking for new ways to share caring with our UCA members and caring community. Whether it is caring apps for growing caring children and teens, self-care tools to energize our minds, or resources for caregivers who help care for seniors we are growing and love sharing it all with ur caring community! With caring tools, tips and tricks, and resources we can travel our life’s journey with little or not crises.

Would you like to read more about Unified Caring Association? Caring Connection 24-7, UCA & Scholarships, How to Improve the World By Caring, and It All Starts With Self-Care are just some of our other blogs that are wonderful, quick reads. Or, check out our website to read more about Unified Caring Association memberships, caring communities, our Caring Challenge and more!

Self Care, Sharing

Letting Go of Being Good

Letting Go of Being  Good

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” (Tony Schwartz) There are many things that we all have in common. One thing which we have in common is that we all want to be good people. Our efforts can be seen through reforestation efforts, caring for the elderly, or other self-care techniques like meditation. Recently, we at Unified Caring Association (UCA) watched an interesting TedTalk by Dolly Chugh. A woman who enlightens us to the self-inquiry about what it means to be a “good person,” and how letting go of that restrictive definition can help us grow to become a better person.

The Perception of a “Good Person”

Dolly Chugh mentions at the beginning of her TedTalk that she studies the psychology of “good people.” Dolly says, “Research in my field says many of us care deeply about feeling like a good person and being seen as a good person. The problem is that we may not all have the same definition. Whatever our definition is, that moral identity is important to many of us. Meaning that our perception of ourselves is often differs from that of others. We can have a communication breakdown when there is a misalignment. This misalignment can cause us discomfort. Many of us can get stuck in a rut with this awkward, uncomfortable uneasiness. We want to remain attached to our concept of what a good person is and how we fit that definition. 

Dolly poses a great question, “What if I told you that our attachment to being good people is getting in the way of us being better people?” Woah!  Our definition of a good person often is narrow and impossible to meet. This doesn’t seem fair to others or ourselves. What do we do then? Let go of being this idealistic good person to become a better person. 

Bounded Rationality

The definition of bounded rationality is when our decision-making processes in our minds is limited by sets of information. In addition to this, we have a finite amount of time to process this information to make a decision. Kind of like a shortcut, we can quickly access these concepts and make a decision without even taking time to think about it.  People often hold fast to these parameters and definitions. Sometimes bounded rationality is referred to as a fixed-mindset. The opposite of this is a growth mindset. A growth mindset is where we are open to new parameters, ideas, and concepts in an effort to expand our information and make better decisions.  

Dolly Chugh and her associates took the concept of bounded rationality to define a new stance that they call  bounded ethicality. “We have a human mind that is bounded in some sort of way and relying on shortcuts, and that those shortcuts can sometimes lead us astray … With bounded ethicality, the human mind, the same human mind, is making decisions.” Dolly makes a good point when she continues on to remark, “unconscious bias is one place where we see the effects of bounded ethicality. So unconscious bias refers to associations we have in our mind, the shortcuts your brain is using to organize information, very likely outside of your awareness, not necessarily lining up with your conscious beliefs.”

OK, So Example Time! 

Dolly gives us multiple examples of letting go in her TedTalk, but one stands out to us. If we think about it, we can see the effects of bounded ethicality when we experience conflicts of interest. “We tend to underestimate how much a small gift … can affect our decision making. We don’t realize that our mind is unconsciously lining up evidence to support the point of view of the gift-giver, no matter how hard we’re consciously trying to be objective and professional.” If you accept that small gift that can sway your decision making, you are possibly placing yourself into being less than a good person. Despite all of our efforts to be a good person, we can make mistakes that cause us much strife. “…despite our best attempts, and we explain away our mistakes rather than learning from them.” (Chugh)

Once we make a mistake, we can become defensive because we are uncomfortable with violating our own image of being a good person. We fight to maintain the notion that we are a good person, rationalizing and giving excuses as to why we chose an action that made us less than a good person. “…the latest work that I’ve been doing on bounded ethicality with Mary Kern says that we’re not only prone to mistakes — that tendency towards mistakes depends on how close we are to that red zone [being defensive or angry]. So most of the time, nobody’s challenging our good person identity, and so we’re not thinking too much about the ethical implications of our decisions, and our model shows that we’re then spiraling towards less and less ethical behavior most of the time.” We can see this when we tell ourselves it is ok to have another cookie, it is small, and we have already eaten more than we should have. 

What About if Someone Else Calls Us Out?

Somebody else might challenge our identity as a “good person.” Upon reflection, we can find that we may be challenging this view ourselves. “So the ethical implications of our decisions become really [important], and in those cases, we spiral towards more and more good person behavior, or, to be more precise, towards more and more behavior that makes us feel like a good person.” (Chugh)

Letting Go = Learning

Dolly’s idea when dealing with being bounded ethicality is that we sometimes can overestimate the importance our inner compass when it comes to making ethical decisions. “We perhaps are overestimating how much our self-interest is driving our decisions, and perhaps we don’t realize how much our self-view as a good person is affecting our behavior, that in fact, we’re working so hard to protect that good person identity, to keep out of that red zone, that we’re not actually giving ourselves space to learn from our mistakes and actually be better people.” 

We might expect this to be easy, but often letting go is hard. The definition most of us have for a good person is an either-or. You are either a good person or not, you have integrity or you do not.

To learn and update our knowledge, we often have to go through processes like reading or talking to experts. One process is by learning from our mistakes, and getting better with each iteration. “But when it comes to being a good person, we think it’s something we’re just supposed to know, we’re just supposed to do, without the benefit of effort or growth.”

A Good-ish Person

Dolly Chugh proposes a concept that meets in the middle of the two concepts of a good person and a bad person. This concept is a “good-ish person.” She says, “…everyone just forget about being good people, just let it go, and instead, set a higher standard, a higher standard of being a good-ish person? A good-ish person absolutely still makes mistakes.” This middle ground of a good-ish person allows for a second something we all share, being human, making mistakes, and learning from them. “… as a good-ish person, I’m trying to learn from [mistakes], own them. I expect them and I go after them…As a good-ish person, in fact, I become better at noticing my own mistakes.”

Admitting that you are flawed or made a mistake can place us in a vulnerable position. But it is through reflection during the vulnerability that we can assess our definition of being a good person, the consequences of our decisions, and grow. Eventually we will see progress, growth, and begin to develop a new concept that allows us to get better. 

letting-go-of-being-good-video

We at UCA are always trying to share caring information, resources, and news to our caring community. If you would like to read more about letting go, problem solving, and engaging with our emotions. Or we have daily caring notes on social media (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter). We are looking forward to sharing the caring post with you!

Self Care

The Gift of Engaging with our Grief

pier over water indicating grief  - Gift of Engaging with our Grief
Looking over a desolate peer and a boat

What does it mean to engage with our grief?

The way we engage with our grief is a good way to measure if we are grieving in a healthy way, according to Hanna Helms, Hospice Social Worker. Helms explains that a lot of unhealthy grieving habits arise from trying to escape grief, and the pain that comes with it.

But still, why is grief a gift?

Grief can become a gift when we actively chose to engage with it. For example, when we make the choice to sit quietly and just let ourselves cry, we get the relief of noticing our feelings. If we don’t allow ourselves to be aware of how we are feeling, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to heal.

Grief is the forerunner of healing

We can think of our emotions as messengers, just like physical pain is a messenger of something wrong physically. Imagine the pain of loss to be compared to the pain of a broken bone. The pain of the broken bone is saying “hey, there is something wrong here, and your attention is needed!” Well, our minds and psyche are not so different. When we experience loss, it can trigger an emotional response that says “Hey, there is something missing that I care about! Can I have your attention please?”

The problem is, sometimes the pain messenger is so great, we can’t bear to engage with it, to fully experience it. When that is the case, says Helms, we can break our grieving up into bite sized pieces, while also focusing on self-care. We can also use a dual process model.

What is a duel process model?

A dual process model is one that allows for us to engage with their grief, even if only briefly, while getting support to live day to day life. According to Helms, this can be especially important for caregivers, who are experiencing a secondary loss of grief.

What is a secondary loss of grief?

A secondary loss of grief is when a person has not only lost a person they care about, but they also have lost the purpose they had for their life. Caregivers can often experience a secondary loss of grief. Caregivers may ask themselves “Who am I now that the loved one I cared for is gone?” A person who has spent years of their life revolving around taking care of a loved one will often be left wondering what meaning their life now holds.

Self-care and grief

Self -care during a grieving period may not look like what you think it ought to. Our cultural narrative is often to be tough, if you are a man, and to be selfless, if you are a woman. How can we fulfill these expectations and still practice self-care? Especially when self-care looks like taking more time to grieve than what society’s standard’s expectations allow? There are no time limits or expectations to grief; however, when it comes to our culture, there most certainly are. That’s why self-care is so important. And so is building a caring community.

Caring Community

Having a caring community around you can give you the strength or support to get through difficult times, like grieving. A caring community can be a local support or bereavement group, it can be a prayer group, a group of friends and neighbors, family, and even us here at Unified Caring Association. We are also here to help.

What ever kind of support you choose to surround yourself with, The American Psychological Association recommends talking with others, as it can help you process your grief. Remember that denying your grief only further creates a sense of isolation. So, give yourself the gift of engaging with your grief. It’s not an easy journey, but it leads to healing.

Like what you read? Check out more UCA blog posts:

Giving Helps Promote Happiness https://unifiedcaringcommunity.com/category/connecting/

Caring Connections, Charity Work

Caring Acts of Kindness Help Lift Us Up

Caring Acts of Kindness Can Help Lift Us Up

There are many ways that we can stay healthy, such as eat right and exercise. One thing we don’t often hear about is caring acts of kindness. When we do kind things for others, we feel better and become healthier people. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to share just why caring acts of kindness lifts us up.

Giving back has an effect on your body. 

In and article on Huffington Post titled we are able to read about how helping others promotes health. In the article the authors comment on studies that show the effects of donating to charity has on the body. The area of the brain responsible for feelings of reward is triggered. Feel-good chemicals release and often spur you to do more kind acts. This is what psychologists often call “helper’s high.” 

There is more than just a physical feel-good sensation that we experience when performing acts of kindness; our minds get a boost too! If we donate to charity or volunteer to help the elderly at a senior center we get a boost to our self-esteem. Ultimately we can become more optimistic and positive people. The more regularly that we do kind acts the stronger social connectedness becomes, and the more confident we can become. “Being a force for good in a friend’s life can help build a lasting bond. When you help others, you give off positive vibes, which can rub off on your peers and improve your friendships,” according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. “Both parties will contribute to maintaining a mutually beneficial dynamic. Having a positive impact on someone else could help you change your own outlook and attitude.”

With a positive outlook and better physical health we begin to have a clearer head. UnitedHealth Group found that  78% of volunteers reported that they felt less stress after charitable activities. Also they were calmer and more peaceful than people who don’t volunteer.

A clear head gives us a clear perspective on our own situation. This often allows us to be more appreciative of what we have. The Global One Foundation describes volunteering as a way to “promote a deeper sense of gratitude as we recognize more of what is already a blessing/gift/positive in our life.“ 

Empowered to do good.

When we volunteer or perform acts of kindness, we feel more empowered, rewarded and fulfilled.  According to a survey by the UnitedHealth Group, 96% of people who volunteered over the last 12 months said volunteering enriches their sense of purpose.

Whether with a large group of people in a volunteer organization, or just between two friends exchanging words of advice, helping people creates a feeling of community. “Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a drop-in center can help reduce loneliness and isolation,” according to the Mental Health Foundation.

Caring Acts of Kindness are Contagious.

According to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Cambridge and University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, acts of kindness, giving of our time, and volunteering are contagious. “When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling,” the study states, “Which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves.“ So, it begins to spread from one person to the next, and hopefully across the world, to create a more caring place for all of us to live in.

We are happy to celebrate the positive effects of caring acts of kindness on the body which also helps us feel more empowered. With all of the people we come into contact with while sharing our acts of kindness, the “caring cooty” becomes contagious, spreading throughout our caring communities.

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!

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!

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!

Connecting, Self Care, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Energy Follows Intention – Be Focused!

Think abundantly. Energy follows intention.

Our thinking habits can be very predictive of our outcomes.
Training our minds to see the positive, focusing on abundance and investing our energy into the manifestation of good outcomes can help to make our goals more achievable. In order to see the positive – we must be the positive! It has been said that we become what we think, and there is certainly some truth to that! Positive thoughts definitely help to create positive results. Remember: energy follows intention, so if we desire something positive in life, we cannot be distracted by the negative!

Break the habit of negativity!

How do I break the habit of negativity? It’s true that old habits are heard to break! But, a simple shift and re-framing of our language can be a big help. How we talk about our life experiences makes a difference. Rather than referring to a disappointing situation as a failure, we can shift our thinking and language to describe it as an opportunity for improvement. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, we find ourselves looking forward to the changes we can make to improve our future experiences. In this way, small shifts in perspective can make great incremental changes in our perception. Change your perspective – change your reality!

Start the day off right!

It’s so exciting to realize that we can create a more positive world today just by sprucing up our own thinking! We can go forward into each day with a positive mindset and actually create a better world! Starting off the day with a positive affirmation or two can help us to climb out of a negative mindset and harness our positive energy. In addition, they are a powerful self-esteem booster! When we point our “inner voice” in a more positive direction more positive results become possible. By reducing negative comments about ourselves and the world around us, our opportunities open up. We stop talking ourselves down into believing that we are not good enough, and instead start driving positive change into our lives.

What if I get stuck?

Look, everyone gets stuck from time to time. As we grow, we change, and the same things that used to fit into our lives nicely may feel out of place to you now. If you find yourself feeling negative about a situation despite your best efforts, that’s a clue to re-evaluate. It may be that the situation as you are experiencing it, no longer serves you. Meaning, you have grown past it’s purpose in your life and are ready for something new!

Self care is the way to go!

Taking time to re-calibrate and focus the direction your life is going in is essential to happiness. Checking in with yourself to see how you are really feeling about a situation, rather than just pushing through it, can make all the difference in the world! True self-care requires that we create a regular routine of de-stressing, accessing and assessing. People who have great self-care practices often use relaxation techniques and have someone to talk to when they are feeling stressed. Employing these two self-care practices alone can make a huge difference in our quality of life. Self-care is not selfish … it is necessary!

release what no longer serves you
Benefits, Connecting, Self Care, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Release what no longer serves you

Release what no longer serves you. Take a self assessment.

Release what no longer serves you to move forward in your life

To move forward in life, you must un-anchor from practices you have outgrown and let go of what no longer serves you. Staying stuck in old habits and patterns will keep you stuck with old results and disappointments. Moving forward depends on your ability to let go of and release what no longer serves you. Therefore, to create a new result you must define a new approach.

Do you ever feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you run from the moment you wake up until the day is done? These feelings are clues that it may be time to re-evaluate what occupies your time and see what you can let go of. As you re-evaluate what’s important, you may find that some things you previously felt were important to have in your life, are now only holding you back. Because we are creatures of habit, changing this can be difficult. However, it’s totally worth the effort! Taking time for personal reflection is a great investment in your happiness. So, reflect, rethink and reinvent often!

Move forward by looking inward

To move on to greater happiness you are called to release old habits and patterns and bravely travel a new path. When you’ve learned all you can learn from a situation, it is time to evolve! By letting go of what no longer serves us we make room for in our life for more that DOES! We cannot fill what is already full, so we must make room for the new!

Move forward by looking inward. Release was no longer serves you.

You may be thinking, “This all makes sense on the surface, but how exactly do I do this?” Self assessment tools are a great place to start. Through a series of specially chosen questions a good self assessment test can identify opportunities for improvement in your life. Your review of the areas needing attention may even identify a core issue you can improve upon. For example, if time management is problem, the underlying issue may be that you have a hard time asking others for help. Similarly, if you are feeling dissatisfied at work, the underlying issue could be that you are in the wrong profession. Self assessment tools can help us to see our life in a different light and guide us toward the answers we are searching for.

Self-assessment tools are one of the many self-care benefits that Unified Caring Association members enjoy. UCA created their user friendly self-assessment test to help their members along their journey of self-improvement. They routinely encourage their members through social media posts to slow down and take a look inward to create a more caring lifestyle. The reviews are in, if you are looking for caring support, self assessments and caring resources, Unified Caring Association can help!