Homebound Life Self-Care

Homebound Life Self-Care

We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to shed some light and positivity during this difficult time in the world right now. Sometimes it is referred to as “lockdown,” many of us are experiencing what it means to be homebound. We have been hearing many UCA members ask, “How can we turn this into an opportunity to see the good?” and “How can we practice self-care while being homebound?”

Self-care is crucial.

Self-care requires us to be self-aware, which means being aware of what is going on within inside of ourselves. (A.K.A. checking in with yourself to see how you are doing.)  When we feel like we are going a million miles a minute, it is important to take a moment to pause and reevaluate. Write things down in a journal. Some suggestions on the things to write are: what have you have accomplished and wish to accomplish, and set new goals for yourself. Overall, be proud of yourself. Also, according to article on Taking Good Care of Your Yourself, be kind to yourself.

Meditation is a great tool for self-care. It improves our wellbeing and health. Also, meditation or mindfulness activities helps us get in a calm relaxing psychological state too. We have many mindfulness activities on our website. Here is an example of a guided breath mediation with soft spa music to listen to — Guided breath Meditation-Spa-Music. If you are craving more, we also have many more videos on our YouTube channel!

If you’re ready to start a new exercise routine or a better eating regimen, why not start now?

Yoga is great for the brain, heart and bones. It can also boost your immunity, reduce chronic inflammation, gain more self-control and self-confidence. An additional bonus is it can also help manage stress. All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes a day. We found a great article on Practicing self- care with Yoga that is a quick and interesting read!

One more self-care suggestion…

Salt Baths are very beneficial for self-care. Salt detox baths are usually made of Epsom salt, which allows for minerals to “draw out” toxins from the body. Supporters often claim that soaking in an Epsom salt bath can remove harmful toxins and balance the body. Some claim it can help with weight management as well. The suggestion is to soak in an Epson salt bath for 12-20 minutes per day, 1-2 times per week, for the best results. We love adding essential oils, like lavender, along with Epson salt to baths for an extra boost of relaxation.

Remember all of those little projects that you set aside?

While enjoying the homebound life, we can tackle small projects around the house. For example, that “spring cleaning” of the closets, cabinets, refrigerator, garage (or as some of us call it the storage unit), etc.  How does cleaning and organizing provide self-care? The act of cleaning itself has a positive phycological impact. Cleaning gives us a sense of control and accomplishment, which helps us better manage the ups and downs of life with a sense of resilience and self-confidence. Additionally, the simple activity and repetitive motions of washing dishes, mopping floors, or wiping down surfaces makes it easier for the mind to enter a focused and meditative state, temporarily relieving anxieties. In an October 2018 article published by VICE, Darby Saxbe, assistant professor of psychology at USC, said “[Cleaning] gives people a sense of mastery and control over their environment. Life is full of uncertainty and many situations are out of our hands, but at least we can assert our will on our living space, especially while being homebound.” If cleaning can lead to feeling in control of our personal destiny. Cleaning is Self-Care has an additional article for more information about how cleaning and doing projects around the house is beneficial.

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? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Meditation: A Tool for Self-Care

Life is chaotic and noisy at times, and we all can get stressed out from this. What self-care tool is available to use that can help calm the chaos? Meditation or quiet-reflection. Often times when we quiet our minds we are better able to cope with our everyday lives and during high-stress times, and even improve our health over all.

Stress from everyday life can affect our mental and physical health. It can increase our heart rates, blood pressure, increase our rate of breathing, and more. If the stress is experienced over a longer time period, our adrenal glands become taxed and “…overproduce the hormone cortisol. Overexposure to this hormone can affect the function of your brain, immune system, and other organs.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health-) More recently, health studies have shown that meditation has beneficial effects in combating stress. Meditation is a proactive activity where your attention is focused inwards, inducing more relaxation. “Meditation is thought to work via its effects on the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during times of stress. …’it will help you lower your blood pressure, but so much more: it can help your creativity, your intuition, your connection with your inner self,’ says Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse who teaches meditation at the Harvard University Center for Wellness.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health-)

Results from research on meditation and the brain have been published and reviewed for years now. Benefits of meditation, or quieting the mind, are“…now being confirmed with fMRI and EEG instruments. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#39f4a1431465) This reduced activity allows for creativity and problem solving to dominate without overtaxing the mind. (a.k.a. it basically becomes effortless and allows for new solutions to present themselves.)

Once our minds become quieter we are able to become more focused, creative, and resilient. Want to know how to get started? Unified Caring Association has many different meditations tools available for its members for any time of day. Some of these are:

Type of MeditationExample
Uplifting & PositiveAffirmations & Meditations: Healing Body and Mind Spirit
Breathing Makes Everything Better
Relax and Breathe
Relaxation & RejuvenationHealing Spirit: Guided Meditation for Relaxation, Anxiety, Depression, Self Acceptance
Healing
Louise Hay-Assisting in your own healing
Exercise Made Easy
Happier in 5 Minutes- Laughter Yoga
Sleep Better TonightGuided Sleep Meditation for Insomnia (Sleep, Relaxation, Calm you Mind)

If you are looking forward to reading more about Unified Caring Association and other caring acts, check out our other blogs: Caring Connection 24-7, It all Starts with Self-Care, Caring Through the Gift of Time, and Unified Caring Association-Your Life is What We Care About. Or visit our website to check out our Caring News, membership benefits, and other healthcare tools!

It All Starts With Self-Care.

One of the first things we can do to care for others is to care for ourselves. It is really difficult to be of service to others if you are not caring for yourself. This feeling is like standing up with one leg buckling beneath you. Self-care is a pillar we can build upon, and Unified Caring Association has many tools to promote and aid in self-care health.

The UCA website has a section under Member Benefits that has resources for self-care. There is a wonderfully easy and insightful self-assessment tool we created to help you learn where you are strong and where you might need to improve to be healthier and happier. There is also access to the Personal Well Being Survey™ designed by the HeartMath Institute. This survey gives you an idea of your stress management techniques and general level of your well-being at the current moment. Once you have an idea of where you are now, it is easier to decide on tools for where you would like to be heading next.

Our Unified Caring Association website provides links to resources that provide fitness and nutrition tools for our members to enjoy. (Keep an eye open for those membership discounts on these types of products!). Another part of self-care is the the health of your mind. Unified Caring Association has a portion of it’s self-care resource section dedicated to many kinds of meditation and mindfulness activities. These tools help you relax and feel rejuvenated, find inner peace, and support your inner healing. All of these can help inspire and spur you on with your new healthier lifestyle choices and much more! Wheew, so many resources to help you take care of yourself!

Earlier we mentioned it is important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others as well. So why is this so important? “Self-care means paying attention to and supporting one’s own physical and mental health … But, it’s also one of the first things to fall by the wayside in times of stress, especially for those who are primary caregivers.”

(https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/self-care-4-ways-nourish-body-soul-2017111612736) Self-care is important so that you can continue to be effective and energetic in all aspects of your lives, including taking care of your self-esteem, self-efficacy, maintaining and building relationships with friends and family, and so much more.

Once you have taken steps to care for yourself, caring for others becomes easier and more sustainable because you have more band-width, energy, and fortitude to care for others. We love to see people diving into self-care, because it means that there are  more caring acts happening in the world. We can all agree that more caring and positivity in the world is a great thing!

Want to read up on more ideas to promote caring acts? Check out our Caring Challenge Recap and check out our other blogs like Caring Through the Gift of Time.

Silver Linings

silver lining

Silver Linings

Did I brush my teeth this morning?”  Kind of an odd question, but not an infrequent one these days as some of us stumble through our unscripted days.  We may have decided to stay in pajamas – or eat chocolate for breakfast – anything so as not to face the day ‘responsibly’.  

But as the novelty of staying home wears off, the fog can roll in and cloud our focus as well as challenge our brain.  What once seemed like an ongoing pajama party, now feels like zombie shock as reality starts to seep in. If you’re shaking your head trying to release some cobwebs, there is hope – read on.

Here’s the good news — You’re not alone!

It doesn’t matter whether you were a corporate executive, a busy store clerk, a stay-at-home mom or a retiree.  We all had ‘pre-pandemic lives’ that were pretty much on automatic pilot. Now that we’ve had to abruptly re-write our scripts, we must forgive ourselves for our baby steps, and look for the silver linings.

Silver Lining 1

It is better to be dealing with boredom, daily sacrifices and financial challenges than being sick with the virus.  We are in this together, and federal and local governing forces, employers and other Samaritans are figuring out ways to help us all get through this.

Silver Lining 2

What a great opportunity to reach out to others and offer verbal support or assistance if you are in a position to do so.  You never know how one small act of caring can make a huge difference in someone’s life. The bonus here is that an act of caring releases serotonin – a natural antidepressant – for you and the other person.

Silver Lining 3

Much to be grateful for.  Our nation’s gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores are bending over backwards to accommodate those who need to be out and about ,or shop for necessities.  These folks put themselves on the line every day to make the basics available and keep us going. Our postal carriers – firefighters – law enforcers – truck drivers – medical personnel – all are sacrificing for the good of the whole. Saying THANKS to them not only acknowledges their efforts, it reminds us how lucky we are.

Silver Lining 4

You now have the opportunity to deepen bonds by sharing your feelings with someone close to you.  It not only provides a safe platform for your personal expression, but you may also have the chance to validate what someone else might be feeling.  A win-win bonding experience created out of hidden feelings we may not ordinarily think about. 

Silver Lining 5

Take time to ‘play’.  Whatever that looks like to you.  Want to stay in your pajamas – fine!  But maybe you want to put on sunglasses and a straw hat and have a picnic on the floor.  Or make some magic in the kitchen and create a totally absurd but tasty treat. Have a pillow-duel with your spouse or fly paper airplanes.   There really is no script… just play… and have some fun!

Silver Lining 6

Perfect time to reconnect with friends or acquaintances you haven’t been in touch with.  A simple “how are you doing” can rekindle some fond memories. You might even want to resurrect the art of letter-writing.   Words formed with a pen are more connected to the heart. 

Silver Lining 7

Look at what’s going on around the earth.  Atmospheres are clearing, animals are reappearing, nature is stretching in a way she hasn’t been able to in years.  What a blessing for this planet and our future well-being. It is wise to take note of how rapidly this is occurring.  The damage caused by years and years of pollution is reversing itself at warp-speed. We are being given a second chance, and there is renewed hope that people everywhere will become more respectful of our host planet.

Silver Lining 8

Whoever thought that Israel and Palestine would come together for the sake of helping their people?  Officials from both countries are working together to coordinate efforts against COVID-19. Now ambulances from Israel are traveling to the West Bank to transport patients.  Medical workshops are being offered to the Palestinians to facilitate best practices in keeping the virus at bay. These steps of cooperation for the common good are a global miracle – a HUGE step toward peace, and a testament to the humanity in man.  

Silver Lining 9

Your fellow men and women are AWESOME!  Look how this country is pulling together – small-time manufactures retooling in record time to make respirators – homemakers making masks – restaurants staying open for take-out – distributors working night and day to keep the supply chain going.  Everyone seems to be on the same page and the compelling mindset is “we’re all in this together”.  If that isn’t an exquisite example of love for our fellow man, I don’t know what is.  As the Beatles so simply stated: 

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game

It’s easy

All you need is love

All you need is love

All you need is love, love

Love is all you need

Silver Lining 10

Now it’s your turn. Here’s where you get to choose what your silver-lining is!

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? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Let’s Be Loving and Kind

Let’s Be Loving and Kind

We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) feel that nothing helps a community come together like love and kindness. These forms of caring are something we all need in the world today. A community that cares comes together to help people in need.

Let’s be loving and kind.

Loving kindness can go so far right now. It can be a small act of kindness that makes a big impact.  Think about kindness when we have to go out for supplies. Like, if you see there are only two items on the shelf of what you need, ask yourself, do you really need both?  Or can you just take one and let someone else take the other? Perhaps someone else truly needs it, and having it makes their lives easier. Let’s face it, any bit that we can ease each other’s difficulty right now can make a huge difference.  In a time when people are uncertain about major life issues, making it so someone does not have to worry about having needed supplies is a major act of kindness.

Let’s be loving and kind when we are home with our family.

Maybe you are able to work from home, and your kids are being tasked with distance learning.  Also, maybe you are cooking three times a day and keeping up with cleaning up a well-lived-in house.  So much to do! You may find you are not getting a lot of alone time or time for self-care.  Stress of money or worry over the current state of things may be taking a toll.  Kids may be crabby, and any structure you had is non-existent. Stress can put us in a position where it is easy to take out our frustrations with our loved ones. 

Pause for Kindness

It may take some practice, but we can put a pause in.  A pause to choose to be kind, even when we are at our wits end.  No, it doesn’t mean let your kids stay up as late as they want, or let them eat ice cream for breakfast (I mean if you want to do that, go ahead!)… It just means, take a breath, pause, and remember you may not ever get this chance to be home and enjoy your family like this again.  Prioritize kindness over demands. Prioritize love over productivity. Then, build in your new structure, new demands, your new normal. Build your life anew, and build it on love and kindness… The rewards will last long after the stress of this pandemic has faded from daily life.

Connection, Kindness, and Love

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? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Give Yourself a Break with Compassion

Give Yourself a Break

Many of us are sheltering at home, and taking time to re-find a natural balance in our lives. While we are setting up new routines for our week, working from home, and even possibly teaching our children at home, we are feeling a bit more tired. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are searching for caring resources, tools and tips to help people in our caring community to be successful. One thing we want to make sure to touch on is that it is more than ok to give yourself a break! What does that mean? It means holding a compassionate space for yourself.

Compassion

There are many ways to show compassion for others, but we often forget to show ourselves the same compassion. Doctor Shauna Shapiro, PhD, talks about “…three components that make self-compassion put forth by her colleague Kristin Neff.  Number one is to simply to witness what we are feeling and seeing in ourselves; this requires mindfulness. We suggest taking time when you are feeling stress or fear building to meditate. “The second is to be kind to ourselves, approaching that pain with the intention to actively soothe and support ourselves as we would a friend.”

Last, but not least, is to recognize that we are all in this together. Each person needs compassion from others, and needs compassion from themselves when they are giving their all. Shapiro calls this common humanity, and thinks that this is the most important element to hold in our minds and hearts. “When we acknowledge our common humanity… we feel a sense of connection that allows us to practice kindness not only for ourselves but also for all the other people who are in similar situations. …And that in itself is healing.”

Self-Compassion is Born of Mindfulness

As mentioned above that starting a journey into self-compassion requires mindfulness. We can continue the cycle and strengthen our self-compassion when we are mindful. With this positive cycle we continue to discover reserves of strength, wisdom, and resilience. “This is one of the alchemical powers of self-compassion: It simultaneously soothes the negative and grows the positive.”

Kinnell Quote

If mindfulness activities or meditation are not your cup of tea, we have another suggestion for our caring community. Try journaling your thoughts and feelings. Once you have those emotions out, you can better understand actions, like increasing self-compassion, that need to be taken. A tip from Shapiro that we agree with is free-writing. This is a writing technique where we try not to think too much about organizing our words or thoughts while writing. “Simply write from your heart.” It will amaze and possibly shock you when going back over what you wrote. 

We can all take a break to recharge.

We want to celebrate self-care through self-compassion. Compassion is something we all need more than ever today. 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? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Working from Home- Tips for Success

Working from Home-  Tips for Success

Recently people and businesses all around the world have been restructuring their lives with the recent quick shifts to maintain the health of people and communities. Many of us are all settling into new routines while being homebound. One of the new challenges most of us are facing is how to set ourselves up for balance and success while working from home? We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are sharing caring information to help people who are working from home.

Create the Environment

The first step on this new journey is to create a productive and comfortable environment at home to work in. While working from home you will need a space to call an office. Set up a desk or office space to be your zone for work. Set up all of the technology and tools you will need. Some of these tools, like a laptop or printer, you might have at home or brought to us from our office. If you have a window, try opening it up for fresh air to keep you alert. A bonus to having a window is that you can look outside. Greenery helps us feel more relaxed and stay healthy. Lastly, when setting up your work environment, limit any distractions. This means turning off unnecessary technology, such as the television or silencing notifications for social media, keeping your work space clutter free, and letting your family and roommates know that you are working. Limiting the interruptions can help boost your productivity.

Scheduling Your Week and Day

Now that you have space to work and be productive in, it is time to set yourself up for success. Setting goals and scheduling your time becomes very important. (Trust us, it is easy to bake cookies while answering work emails!) Think about what days of the week you will be working; many of us it is Monday-Friday from about 9 am to 5 pm. Be sure to include untouchable days or days off to recharge and spend quality time socializing with loved ones. Goals help us plan our lives, and setting good goals throughout the week help us with our success. Goals also help us build habits. For example, setting a goal of taking a lunch break each work day to clear your mind, and say hi to your family. Each day’s schedule should include a healthy chunk of time around lunch where you are away from your office/desk and your computer. During this time you can do anything else, like go on a virtual museum tour with your kids!

An interesting thing that can be carried into each day is setting up a morning routine. Get yourself up at a decent hour, brush your teeth, eat, and get dressed in something other than pj’s to rev up your mind and get those brain cells going. Healthy habits help us feel in control and less stress over time.When you review your schedule for the day, tackle big tasks first thing in the morning. Maybe that big task is writing annual reviews for your team, or an important meeting with board members for a new project. Once that daunting task is over, the rest of the day will feel like a snap. The rest of the day’s schedule should be set up by grouping related tasks together. One example is to have the hour between 2 pm and 3 pm for responding to emails. Or 10 am to 11 am checking in with your team for the day. Overall, know your productive times of the day. Each person is unique, and setting a schedule should reflect that. One key is to adjust your schedule as needed; especially these days, we might need to adjust our schedule midday due to telecommuting or global events.

Caring together

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 homebound 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? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Schooling at Home; Practical Tips for Stressed out Families

Schooling at Home; Practical Tips for Stressed out Families
Lebowitz quote

We have officially begun the first week of homeschool for our kids as many of us are homebound and practicing health and safety routines for ourselves and our communities. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have been receiving questions about how to set up a routine for schooling at home. With some research we have come up with a few ideas that can help grow caring children and create a thriving educational environment at home.

Two Tips for Getting Set Up

Two Tips for Getting Set Up

One of the first challenges that can occur is the task of explaining to our kids about the coronavirus pandemic. This can be a bit difficult at times because there is some uncertainty about how long each school district is closing. It is important that we practice taking a  deep breath to help us be center while calmly speaking with our kids. “The easiest rule of thumb is to try to be direct and honest and brief.” (Mathew Cruger) 

The second tip is to set up new routines and goals. These routines do not have to be perfect off the bat. An example of a good place to start isa morning routine. In the morning, everyone wakes up at a reasonable hour, eats nutritious breakfast, brushes their hair and teeth, and gets dressed for the day. Another idea is to block out time for physical activity in the day, like a mock-recess. (Bonus points for joining in on the physical activity to help reduce your stress and boost your physical health!) If you need an example, check out fitness instructor Joe Wicks video series, P.E. with Joe. Each video is a daily 30-minute workout that kids can do at home.

Also, when setting up your new daily routine, it is important to set aside quality time with your family. This time requires you to put away other responsibilities in an effort to focus on playing with members of your family. A suggestion on LiveScience for “when you need to do another task, [is to] stay nearby and tell the child to play by themselves, but to let you know if they need help.” Sometimes we can have family bonding time through doing chores. Most of us have that moment of groaning when we think about dusting and mopping, but it can become a fun family activity. Try cranking up the tunes to boogie as you clean. Or have a relay race for who can fold the most laundry in 2 minutes!

Schedules are important to help kids understand what life will look like day-to-day, reducing stress and confusion. Additionally, a routine helps with student success for kids that still have school work to turn into their teachers remotely during the school closure.

Educational Materials For Homebound Kids

Educational Materials For Homebound Kids

There are so many resources for keeping your kids’ education at its top game. Recently, many educational foundations and organizations have released tools and activities that are great for the brain while we are schooling our children at home. Some of these resources are available for free. K- 12 kids activities can be found on Kids Activities Blog where dozens of activities and educational materials.Other educational resources for schooling at home, such as audiobooks, e-books, videos, multimedia materials, are also available on the Open Culture website, like Google Learn at Home for example.

Scholastic Learn at Home has daily lessons in a variety of formats: videos, stories and prompts for drawing and writing activities. These are lessons that are great for grade levels pre-K to 6th grade and up.

“Khan Academy, a free online learning resource offering lessons, exercises and quizzes, has daily schedules for organizing at-home learning for students ages 4 to 18 years.” (LiveScience Kids Activities) On weekdays, this academy offers livestreams on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to help parents and educators best utilize the website’s tools and resources while schooling at home.

Speaking of Youtube, there is a channel called Crash Course that offers engaging educational videos on a wide range of subjects that are great for high school students.

PBS KIDS and PBS LearningMedia are showing their support as well by offering tools to help support learning at home. Some of these tools include educational videos and games from favorite series, as well as related skill-building offline activities that will help us grow caring children while running their education home. 

Virtual Museums

Virtual Museums- Penguins at Shedd Aquarioum

We are completely into this next topic; virtual field trips! Recently penguins touring Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium took Twitter by storm! Now we can join in on the fun by taking a virtual tour of more than 2,500 museums around the world. These museums have made their collections accessible online through Google Arts and Culture. Additionally, we can get an outdoors feel by accessing virtual tours of national parks in the U.S. 

If we are looking at specific museums, The American Museum of Natural History in New York City offers all ages online learning materials that are perfect for schooling at home. We took a look at their Ology science website, and it has games and activities in a range of science topics like archaeology, astronomy, and marine biology. 

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has a tour too! The Air and Space Anywhere webpage provides virtual tours of the museum, educational podcasts, games and activities that are all about aircraft and spacecraft. This is a great way to get some STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) lessons, activities and videos on topics, like flight and space.

Science!

Craving more science in your family’s life? (Bill Nye the Science Guy would be pleased as punch!) We found out that the California Science Center is livestreaming “Stuck at Home Science”  Every weekday at 10 a.m. PDT. This is a new video series of science activities you can do at home.

Stuck at Home Science

Miami’s Frost Science Museum is helping out with remote science activities as well. Frost Science@Home helps curious and inquisitive minds plenty to do with fun science activities and DIY science experiments.

Nova Labs at PBS has sciences for teens! These virtual science educational experiences come together through multimedia experiences that combine video, animation and games to delve into fascinating scientific topics. Teens learn about hot topics like polar ecosystems, solar storms and renewable energy to get your teens brains engaged and ready to help bring more caring into our communities.

NASA also has Teachable Moments  for K-12th grade. This brings NASA to your home by connecting homes with resources for investigating the latest discoveries about our universe.  To add to this, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is another source of free online content. When visiting the website, digital educators share live videos that pair with hands-on activities. These activities use materials that can be found at almost any  home. Two examples of topics are living in space and on Mars, as well as basic rocketry.

For our kids that are ready for more and complex sciences, Physics Classroom is a great resource for beginning physics students. There are teacher toolkits for parents who are now learning how to be teachers. These toolkits supplement the site’s online lessons with videos, animations, simulations and exercises to give a full classroom experience.

Want to have a family Q&A with a scientist? Sign up at Skype a Scientist and get matched with an expert. This expert will live Skype chat with your family about real scientific research. 

With all of the remote education and being homebound, we are craving some connection! stemCONNECT is a great answer that uses video conferencing to bring together students and experts in STEM industries. Also, the site has a free video library. This library contains Florida-based STEM experts to help with your child’s understanding of practical applications of a STEM career.

Creative & Fun

Creative & Fun

We have talked a lot about sciences and logical education resources. Now we get to flip to the other side of the brain. Ready to run some fun and creative activities at home?  Creativity is a huge part of learning and having a fulfilling life adventure. Much like our Caring Coloring Contest, organizations are bringing to homes creative education as well!

Teaching the value of mindfulness to your kids can be a creative and interactive activity too! Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts “MeditOcean.” Help build your kids resiliency with a soothing guided meditation video featuring several aquarium jellyfish. 

If your children need a more hands-on activity, they can hone their artistic side with artist and writer Mo Willems. Williams is hosting Lunch Doodles video sessions weekdays at 1 pm EDT. These sessions have an activity page reflecting the doodle session. If you happen to have a 3D printer, access to blueprints of digital 3D models from NASA. It can be fun and educational to print and construct miniature models of satellites, asteroids, spacecraft, and more!

Add a little ancient history and anthropology to the schooling at home curriculum with the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. Kids in 3rd-12th grade can learn to write their names in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs with a step-by-step guide. If they get really good they can write a whole story for you!

Is reading and storytime built into your kids’ education at home? There are  variety of videos where celebrities and professionals in multiple industries read books aloud. It can be a thrill to watch and listen to Story Time from Space. Listen to stories sent to the International Space Station (ISS). These stories are read aloud by astronauts as they orbit far above Earth.

Caring for the World

It is during this time that we come together with our families to help each other learn more. Setting up new goals and routines so that our children can do their schooling at home can be confusing. UCA is here to help and share caring resources. 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.

Want to read more about Unified Caring Association and UCA benefits? We have other blogs on caring topics like: ‘R’ is for Reforestation, Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying, and Is My Child Resilient? Or follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter to receive caring updates during the week!

Taking a Break to Recharge

Taking a Break to Recharge

In a world where many of us are running around and working hard, we are more prone to being burned out. What can we do to prevent this from happening? Well, Unified Caring Association (UCA) is here to share caring resources to help out our members and community. One way we have found that helps us become more resilient is taking a break to recharge our batteries.

Work to the bone no more!

Most of us learned that the harder we work the more success we have. The secret is, that this is not the best way to travel our life’s journey. What we tend to do after working this hard is shutdown when we get home. However, when getting home after work, many of us want to soak in time with family, friends, and hobbies. Not to mention, when we are burned out we are far less productive. This feels like running harder up a slippery hill and getting nowhere fast. For Harvard Business Review’s Neil Pasricha, what most people “…needed was a practical way to get more work done without taking more time.”

“Untouchable Days”

Enter a revolutionary self-care concept, untouchable days. “These are days when I am literally 100% unreachable in any way…by anyone…I look at my calendar sixteen weeks ahead of time, and for each week, I block out an entire day as UNTOUCHABLE.” This gives us time to unplug, journal, and recharge to be better able to tackle our work, and be more present in our lives.

Pasricha comments on his ‘untouchable days’ and what he gets from them. “I think of them as having two components. There is the deep creative work. When you’re in the zone, you’re in a state of flow, and the big project you’re working on is getting accomplished step by step by step. And then there are the nitros — little blasts of fuel you can use to prime your own pump if you hit a wall. These unproductive moments of frustration happen to all of us, and it’s less important to avoid them than to simply have a mental toolkit you can whip out when they happen.” 

Being 100% out of reach is not for everyone. However, the concept of getting up and taking a break from work or a frustrating situation holds true. We often can compose ourselves with deep breaths or mindfulness activities. Then we can return to our day with new eyes and a can-do attitude. Ultimately, taking time to unwind is key for achieving self-care and success in all areas of life!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

How to Have Better Conversations

How to have better conversations.

Each day we interact with friends, family, and many other people. During these interactions we often strive to make meaningful connections. There are so many ways we can connect, and one is the most prominent: talking with each other. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have recently seen a wonderful TedTalk by Celeste Headlee about 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. This is a wonderful speech that helps us understand different ways to connect with others through conversation.

The World We Live In

Celeste begins her speech talking about the shift in how we hold conversations with each other due to the integration of technology. Many people spend most of their time communicating through emails and texts. Celeste makes a good point: this world we live in has great potential but can quickly devolve into arguments. Think about how a text that is misread triggers us to feel a wide range of negative emotions. This communication trend is especially prominent in children and teens. “Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re not listening to each other. And we make decisions … based on what we already believe.” If we are not holding balanced conversations and listening to each other, we are losing out.

A VIP Skill-Communication

A high school teacher, named Paul Barnwell, gave his students a communication project to teach them how to speak on a specific topic without notes. It became apparent that conversational competence might be one of the most underdeveloped skills for students. This difficulty is partly due to kids spending hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens. Rarely do these kids have an opportunity to develop interpersonal communications skills. Barnwell asks, “Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?” 

How to Have a Great Conversation

Most of us have an idea of how to actively listen and participate in a conversation. Some of these tips are: look the person in the eye, think of interesting topics before you meet, smile, and repeat back a summary of what you heard for further clarification. Celeste Headlee argues that we should forget all or most of this in an effort to have not just good conversations, but great conversations. We all have had interactions that we walk away from craving more. This drive to have a longer interaction is a sign of a great conversation. These connections allow us to feel engaged and inspired, and that we are perfectly understood.Headlee has ten great tips to achieve this result almost every time you hold a conversation.

Right off the get-go, Headlee hits the ground running! We all should avoid multitasking. Juggling your “to-do” list with the argument you had with your significant other three days ago while talking with your best friend is not devoting caring time with your best friend. When we do not multitask, we are present and in the moment with the person(s) we are having a conversation with.

Next, Celeste strongly recommends not pontificating. When we pontificate we become predictable and have a harder time keeping an open mind. “You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.” This can mean setting aside your personal opinion for the time being, allowing the speaker to have room and encouragement to open up.

Bill Nye

Thirdly, when asking questions, use open-ended questions. Part of this technique is psychological. When we have a strong word prompt, such as terrifying, we respond to it and formulate a comment that reflects the same intensity and mood. To hold a better conversation let the speaker identify the thought and feeling. “Let them describe it. They’re the ones that know. Try asking them things like, ‘What was that like?’ ‘How did that feel?’ Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you’re going to get a much more interesting response.”

Number four: Try to let go or go with the flow. Thoughts will appear; even if these thoughts do not relate to the conversation, let them go out of your mind. Sometimes these thoughts are lists of groceries, or a really great question we DO want to ask the person we are talking with. The issue can be that we are not actually listening, and maybe that really great question was already answered.

Five: If you don’t know an answer, admit it, and move forward. This surrender to not knowing everything helps us become more relatable to the other person we are talking with. Also, it can help us build or maintain our credibility, and hopefully strengthen our relationships. So, say that you don’t know in an effort to err on the side of caution. 

Next, is an important note to remember. We do not want to equate our experience with the other person’s. Each experience and feeling is unique to the person it pertains to. We can never feel exactly the same. Think about the proverb: You can never step in the same river twice. This is true because the water is constantly flowing, and therefore never the same in any spot. “More importantly, it is not about you. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered.”

Stephan Hawking

Number seven: Try our hardest to not repeat yourself. The repetition can become boring to the listener, and possible condescending. Take a moment during your next conversation to count how many times you repeat yourself, and you might realize that we tend to repeat ourselves a lot. 

We are coming to the home stretch of Headlee’s list. Eighth in line is advice for many situations outside and inside of conversations: try to avoid using too many facts. Most people are less interested in how many years you did “such-and-such” or the names and dates of your 20 second cousins twice removed. What truly matters to others is the genuine you; what you are like and have in common.

Ninth in line is VIP: LISTEN. Most of us equate active listening with holding a great conversation, and truly listening takes many of the state steps into account. Many successful people believe and share that listening is perhaps the most important skill that you can develop. Headlee paraphrases Buddha with pizzazz. “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” Why is listening so hard when it is so important? Well, it can come down to controlling the conversation through talking, especially if we are afraid. There is an additional reason: We have short attention spans (a.k.a. we get distracted, easily). On average a person talks at a rate of about 225 words per minute. However, our brains can listen to 500+ words per minute. In the 275 gaps between we tend to fill in or lose focus on the conversation. As another example, think about how quickly we lose interest in a video on Facebook or YouTube? If the content doesn’t grab us within the first 20-30 seconds, we move on. It takes a great amount of energy and effort to pay attention to someone while holding a conversation with them. Otherwise, you are just shouting monologues that might overlap with each other. 

Last but not least, number 10. Celeste Headlee keeps it simple as she shares a quote from her sister: Be brief. “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

10 ways to hold a better conversation.

What is the basic concept?

What is the common thread we find in all ten of Headlee’s tips? The answer: “Be interested in other people. …assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them.” We can be amazed at all our caring community has to offer when holding truly great conversations with each other. We encourage our caring community to share the caring by connecting through conversations. And remember, caring conversations with ourselves can be a form of self-care!

Celeste Headlee TedTalk

Watch the full TedTalk by clicking HERE!

Would you like to read more caring blogs? We have other blogs on topics on UCA benefits: Medical Bill Negotiation, Nutrition to Help Prevent Depression, and Gut-Brain Connection! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!

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