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.

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.

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!

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!

Unified Caring Association

It is Time to Water the Growing Edge

How we focus our energy on what we want to grow

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

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

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

At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge

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

We also have to water our own growing edge

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

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

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

Health, Self-Care

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

One of the most simple and effective things we can do to support the body is drink an abundance of water. This is a fact that most of us are well aware of yet still seem to regularly bypass or struggle to keep up with. By taking command of our hydration we are actively setting our body up for sustained longevity. It’s helpful to first understand the foundational role water plays in our well-being in order to be inspired to hydrate more consistently. This is the nourishing art of hydration.

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

The first thing to note is that you are mostly made of water. Did you know that the human body is made up of about 70% water? Our blood is 90% water, while each major organ has its own unique water composition. For example the brain is about 73% water, the lungs 83%, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even our bones are 31% water.

Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body is dependent on the presence of water. One can even consider water to be the body’s primary building material. From supporting a healthy digestive system to lubricating our joints for fluid mobility, water plays a major role in virtually all bodily functions. A number of common ailments are a direct result of mild to severe water dehydration. They vary from headaches, dry skin, poor sleep, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, among other symptoms that can be prevented by regularly welcoming more water into the system.

What does water do for you (Source: USGS)

We also age ourselves more rapidly when we are not properly hydrated – inviting fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. Plump skin is hydrated skin from the inside out.

It’s also important to note that basic functions such as breathing, digesting, and sweating deplete us of water thus requires consistent replenishing. It’s estimated that we lose about one pound of water while we sleep from breathing alone, hence the importance of hydrating first thing upon waking up.

The amount of water recommended for daily consumption varies from person to person. There are multiple factors that can help determine this, such as the climate you live in, how physically active you are, if any illnesses are present, body size, amongst others. With time and practice, you will figure out the amount of water that feels nourishing to you.

5 healthy habits for hydration

Beyond drinking plenty of clean water, we can also receive hydration from water rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, and lettuces are a few to name. Not only are you offering your body more water by eating these kinds of foods, but you’re also receiving new minerals and electrolytes which we regularly flush out.

Another thing to note is that it’s common for people to confuse thirst for hunger. Next time you decide you’re hungry, ask yourself, “when was the last time I drank water?” So often our body is simply asking for hydration and we deliver it with something else.

Lastly, aim to drink the best quality of water available to you. Quality water should taste sweet, alive, and mineral rich. As we sink into summer, let us practice the nourishing art of hydration.

By Melissa Aparicio, 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!

aromatherapy
Health, Self-Care

Aromatherapy for Self-Care

Aromatherapy is a practice that dates back many thousands of years carrying on from one civilization to another. Ancient Egypt, China, and India being of the first cultures to bring forward and utilize this form of medicine in a visible way. Plant extracts such as essential oils were highly respected and for much time carried a higher value than gold. Chemists would also agree that plant extracts are in fact the predecessors of modern pharmaceutical medicine.

aromatherapy and self-care

Aromatherapy is often seen as a whimsical or novelty approach in contrast to conventional treatments. Nevertheless, the past few years have proven that the use of plant-based therapies continues to gain substantial mainstream interest. This being said, let us look a little closer at the relevance of aromatherapy as a form of self-care.

Aromatherapy as a Form of Self-Care

Aromatherapy is based on the use of plant extracts like essential oils to stimulate both body and mind. The essential oils themselves are derived from plants of all kinds from all over the world. Through the delicate process of steam distillation or cold-pressed expulsion, specific parts of plants such as leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, resins, woods, and rinds are extracted until all that is left is it’s essential oil. These extracted plant oils are as potent as nature can be and are used in a variety of ways to support the physical, mental, and emotional needs of an individual.

In order to understand how aromatherapy actually works with our body, we must first understand our sense of smell.

How Does Sense of Smell Work?

When an odor travels up the nose it comes into contact with a group of nerves that collect and deliver information about the aroma to the olfactory bulb – consider the olfactory bulb to be our brain’s odor processing center. From here sensory information about the odor is sent out to different parts of the brain which will insight various responses. Some parts of the brain will respond by producing new neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), while some will secrete specific hormones. These are responses that will inform your body and mind how to feel.

aromatherapy and your body

When an aroma reaches the Limbic System in our brain it’s of significance because this is the emotional center of the brain. This is why certain smells remind you of your childhood, and can elicit good or bad memories or feelings. Aromatherapy allows us to get very specific about what kind of responses we’d like our brain chemistry to engage with. Certain aromas are very uplifting, some are grounding, while others are highly detoxifying. Depending on what you’re experiencing, the idea here is that there’s an aroma that can deliver information to the body to help remedy it.

The Value of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is used to treat a wide range of common symptoms and conditions. Popular treatments include:

  • treating insomnia
  • supporting concentration and focus
  • managing indigestion or bloating
  • supporting mental health conditions like anxiety and depression
  • alleviating headaches and migraine
  • soothing muscle aches, soreness, poor circulation
  • steadying energy-levels
  • managing hormonal imbalances
  • supporting mood
  • and countless other everyday ailments.

Every essential oil has its own unique characteristics based on its structural identity. A single oil will have a number of medicinal compounds that ultimately work together to make each other stronger. This is why an essential oil can have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties all at the same time while co-existing and working in harmony.

2 Key Ways to Use Aromatherapy

Two simple ways to incorporate aromatherapy into our daily routines are through aromatic and topical use.

The most common way to use essential oils aromatically is through a diffuser. Diffusers are easily found online or at your local health food store.  Just a few drops of the essential oil into water and soon the entire room will be draped in the aroma. Not only does this help clean the air of your home, but also supports the function of your body.

If choosing to apply essential oils topically, it’s advised to dilute them with a carrier oil first to not irritate the skin– almond oil, sesame oil, and jojoba oil being a few examples of carrier oils. Topical use is helpful for treating ailments directly due to the skin’s rapid absorption qualities. For example, you can apply a few drops of peppermint to the temples when experiencing a headache, or massage over the belly to support indigestion. Massaging essential oils into the bottoms of the feet is also an incredibly effective method for full body support, since we have access to nearly every body system through the soles of the feet themselves.

Other ways to enjoy aromatherapy from home: 

Baths – apply a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your bath salts for therapeutic effect

Aromatic Spritzers – make a DIY home spray using non-toxic ingredients and essential oils

Body Care – add essential oils to your body lotions, serums, and creams

Shower – add a drop of eucalyptus or peppermint to your shower while it steams to open up respiratory airways

Cleaning Products – make non-toxic cleaning products with essential oils

Quality and Compatibility

Keep in mind that whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into the bloodstream affecting all body systems, so always aim for quality. The reality is that essential oils are not properly regulated, so it will take some discernment in choosing a reputable source. Labels simply do not offer enough trustworthy information, so we suggest looking into the sourcing methods and value systems of the companies themselves. Once you have essential oils that you can trust with your body and mind, the aromatherapy self-care can really begin.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

energy levels scale
Health, Self-Care

Maintaining Healthy Energy Levels

Part of choosing a healthy lifestyle is recognizing which behaviors and habits leave us feeling fatigued, or drained. Without even knowing it, many of us participate in actions that end up robbing us of more energy than it’s worth. We don’t maintain healthy energy levels. By noticing how we invest our time and mental resources, we can begin to set firmer boundaries that will ultimately feel supportive, and nourishing. Becoming selective in this way allows us to have more energy to spend on the people, and things we wholeheartedly care about. 

Feelings of depletion are easy to sneak up on us when we remain unaware of how we’re choosing to spend our energy in the most basic of interactions. Feelings of anxiousness, frustration, short-temperedness, panic, lethargy, fatigue, are just a few symptoms that would benefit from shifting our vitality expenditure. 

Saying “Yes” When We Mean “No”

One major source of exhaustion is commonly found in agreeing to do things that we don’t wish to do – saying yes when we really want to say no. There are countless reasons we do this. From cultivated habits of ‘people pleasing’, to matching our sense of self-worth to how much we ‘do’, to fearing conflict, or not exercising the word no. We end up draining our battery from perpetually bending towards the likes and needs of others, while suppressing our own. 

Not Keeping Our Word

We also lose energy from not keeping our word – from not doing what we say we’re going to do. Think about how good it feels the moment you complete an assignment, or follow through on a promise you made to yourself or someone else. This is because the moment we agree or speak something into existence it’s officially taking up space in our lives until it meets it’s finish. By being clear and intentional with when and how we plan on keeping our word, we will more likely not face depletion. 

Not Enough Personal Boundaries

Another source of fatigue is often found in the quality of conversations we choose to engage with. It’s all too common for people to speak to one another as if they are soundboards, dumping an excess of information or words onto someone else without any awareness if they are even available to receive them. This is especially true with close friends and family members who may feel comfortable enough to unload an entire stream of thoughts or concerns without hesitation. While this kind of trust and intimacy can be appreciated, it’s important to not become too entangled in the ‘problems’ or ‘complaints’ of others if to honor your own energy reserves. Without this kind of personal boundary, fatigue can set in from spending our time worrying about circumstances completely out of our circle of control.

feeling drained?

If you’ve ever ended a conversation feeling completely drained, this is partially why. It’s important to raise our own standards in terms of the conversations we’re choosing to have. By practicing healthy communication skills with one another we become energized from the mutual exchange happening, and we elevate the experience for all people involved. 

Pause to Choose

Lastly, we encourage you to take more pauses throughout the day to anchor and to get clear with how you wish to spend your inner resources from one moment to the next. This way we can prevent ourselves from feeling any unnecessary fatigue or exhaustion, living the day feeling energized. When deciding how to effectively move forward, consider asking yourself this question: Will this give me energy or will this leave me feeling depleted? Then you will be maintaining healthy energy levels.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

Health, Self-Care

Returning To The Senses

It’s said that the average human being experiences anywhere between 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. With so much mental stimulus filtering through our minds every hour by the thousands, it’s advantageous to our overall well-being to manage some of this excess noise. Returning to the senses, our body’s five senses, helps manage through the noise.

Observe Your Body’s Senses

With Covid-19 currently in the picture, the majority of us are spending a lot more time at home. This global event has also opened up an ongoing stream of new information that may be contributing to the overactive mind. As countless people have lost their routines, and their sense of contact with other human beings, we can leverage this as an opportunity to begin observing our own relationship with our senses.

The simplest and most effective way to manage the overactive thinking mind is by returning to the senses. We all know of the five senses – there is sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

When we are stuck in the mind, it is often an indication that we are disconnected from what’s happening in the body. It’s in these moments that it’s useful to remember that the clearest path out of the mind is back into the body.

This matters because the state of our health is deeply rooted in how we are engaging with our senses. Overthinking is affiliated with numerous physical and psychological symptoms, and conditions. From headaches, depression, anxiety, stomach issues, and more, there is a direct link between the activities of the mind and those of the body.

This all being said, the environments we spend the most time in contribute to how we feel. While the majority of people today are staying home, it’s a good opportunity to start taking inventory of our sensory experiences.

Returning to your senses

SOUND

Start by considering what kind of sounds you welcome into your space. What ambient sounds are most often lingering in the background? Is the television broadcasting news for most of the day? Can you hear any sounds of nature? The sounds that we allow to project in and around our bodies and homes are not benign. They have impact and ultimately give us energy, or take energy from us. The practice here is to be mindful of the quality of sounds we welcome into our space.

SIGHT

Another practice to evoke the senses is by noticing what is directly in sight. Often much of our lingering anxiety and over stimulation is due to excess screen time, use of bright lights at night, and simply being surrounded around too much stuff. Micro-actions such as minimizing artificial light with candles, organizing our homes, and creating boundaries with technology offers our sense of sight more harmony.

TOUCH

Human contact and our touch sense is also essential to our well-being. This is because our body’s chemistry receives bountiful reward through these kinds of interactions. While physical touch in the days of COVID-19 have shifted momentarily, we still have access to the medicine of touch with loved ones we are cohabitating with, with pets, and of course with ourselves. The skin is our largest organ system in the body, and simple acts of kindness towards it supports optimal function. If you don’t know where to start try massaging your favorite oil to the bottoms of your feet every night for 3 nights, and see if you notice a difference. The feet are gateways to all of our body systems, and a simple massage like this will relax the nervous system.

SMELL

Our sense of smell is also an effective way to influence how we feel on a moment to moment basis. This is because the chemistry of our brain literally changes with the information received from the aroma. Keeping this in mind, consider how you feel when you enter a room and smell fresh citrus, versus the smell of stale dust. We can design our moods and our attitudes with something as simple as adding freshness to the home.

TASTE

Lastly, we have our sense of taste. Although we have to eat for nourishment, we often forget that eating can be a vivid experience that connects us to our aliveness. In times of stress or anxiousness, many also have a tendency to turn to food for comfort – it’s in this way that food is a very emotional telltale subject. This being said, paying attention to how we eat is just as important to our health as what we eat. While many of us are accustomed to tuning out from the food in front of us, we can use eating as an opportunity to further explore with the senses. To do this, we must first slow down and create more space between each bite. Only then will we begin to better listen to the body’s messages. 

Now that we’ve traveled through our five senses, we invite you to put some of these considerations into practice. In a world where we exist so predominantly in our minds, let us return to the body by returning to the senses.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author