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.

Lifetime Membership

Lifetime Membership

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has been sharing caring news and resources with our members since 1987. We love supporting and sponsoring caring projects that reflect values that C.A.R.E. (Children, Animals, Reforestation, and Elderly). As we grow, we add more to our products and services, like our health and fitness tools, Caring Community online store, community resources, and scholarships! We are always  listening to what our members are looking for most to select our next caring addition. This time, the addition is all about flexibility in membership options. We are proud to present the newest membership option: UCA’s Lifetime Membership.

Ask, Listen, and Receive

UCA’s new Lifetime Membership option is a response to our members’ changing needs through their adult life.  When many members needed to reduce their benefit selection, we began asking if each member would prefer to remain a part of the membership community at a base level of benefits. The overwhelming answer was “YES!”  So, we have introduced the new Lifetime Membership option to provide the flexibility to meet life’s needs and be as active as desired without worrying about monthly charges.

A great way to see if being a part of this quietly building caring community of over 150,000 people is with the basic $15 month-to-month membership.  Members sign in to their secure area of UnifiedCaring.org to access a wide array of benefits. These benefits include: self-care, care for family and pets, community connections, savings on a vast array of online purchases, sponsorship of caring impactful projects, positive and inspiring news, and access to a whole bunch more benefits that keeps growing with members’ needs.  

With society’s need to grow caring children, take care of our communities, and equally importantly to take of ourselves over a lifetime, the new Lifetime Membership option of a one-time $99.95 forever purchase. This lifetime membership keeps our members connected to the mission and benefits so needed today and tomorrow.

Our membership is diverse across the U.S.  There is one thing common to the vast majority of those wanting to join and stay a part of the association. Our members want to find ways to live a healthier life and have an impact as a community to put caring into action. If they can do both plus receive assistance in reducing expenses or getting access to products and services with big savings, then “all the better value.”

Stop by UnifiedCaring.org and check out our membership benefits summaries.  We hope to see you join our community soon.

We love sharing UCA caring news and resources, research, and caring acts in our community through our website and blogs. Or would like to receive more Unified Caring Association caring notes throughout the week? Follow us on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter! We are looking forward to sharing more with you, our caring community!

Investing in Green Spaces

Henry David Thoreau

As quoted above, Henry David Thoreau says so much about the caring link between nature and its effects upon us. In previous blogs we we wrote about how connecting with nature can help reduce stress and help us get grounded while helping us promote our happiness. We have recently noticed a green, growing trend of incorporating nature and gardens into city planning. This excites us and we are all for more greenery in our lives!

NYC’s Rain Gardens

New York City has been a leader in ‘going green’ for awhile now. Recently the city has commissioned a major expansion to their official Green Infrastructure Program. This expansion is to include curbside rain gardens in areas like Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. These uniquely designed gardens will “…absorb millions of gallons of stormwater each time it rains, beautifying neighborhoods, improving the health of our waterways and making the city more resilient in the face of global warming.” (https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/406-19/city-doubles-size-largest-green-infrastructure-program-nation-making-nyc-more-resilient-to) More than 9,000 curbside rain gardens are under construction in New York City! This will help prevent flooding when it rains in addition to reducing the Combined Sewer Overflows that often flow into local NYC waterways in upwards numbers of 500 million gallons per year. This reduced overflow will help protect and improve the  health of the local tributaries and that of NY Harbor.

Curb garden
NYC Department of Design and Construction

This is a wonderful idea to help bring green spaces to New York City since more than 70% of the city is paved with impervious surfaces. Often water gets absorbed into the ground and dispersed. But this cannot happen very well if the surfaces are paved. This means that impervious surfaces and massive amounts of water tend to create problems with flooding since the water has very few places to go. (Although it would be fun to race popsicle-stick boats down the full gutters along the street, but it becomes a bit more dangerous when the water goes past our ankles!) “More than 70 percent of New York City’s land mass is covered by an impervious surface… Curbside rain gardens help to soften the city’s landscape and allow the stormwater to be naturally absorbed into the ground, therefore reducing flooding that can impact roadways, homes and businesses.” (https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/406-19/city-doubles-size-largest-green-infrastructure-program-nation-making-nyc-more-resilient-to)

There is an additional benefit to these curbside rain gardens. The areas where these gardens are being created have a smaller tree count and often a higher reported rate of young people with asthma. “The increased tree canopy and vegetation created through the addition of the rain gardens will help to improve air quality, provide shade during hot summer months, and beautify the neighborhoods.” (https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/406-19/city-doubles-size-largest-green-infrastructure-program-nation-making-nyc-more-resilient-to) This is fantastic! But we still have one question that is lingering in our minds… What is a ‘curbside rain garden?’

What is a Curbside Rain Garden?

Curbside Rain Gardens are built along the street in city sidewalks to prevent the loss of street parking. Think a planter box set into the ground, only there is no bottom to the box per-say. The curbside rain gardens in New York City will entail a 5 foot deep hole into the ground. This hole is filled with alternating layers of engineered soil and stones. These layers of stones and soil will contain void spaces that will allow storage of stormwater and the subsequent natural drainage of that water. There are curb cuts to allow for water to flow into the garden to naturally water the plants. These curbside gardens are “…engineered in a way that will allow them to manage up to 2,500 gallons each during a storm… [and] designed so that all the stormwater is absorbed in less than 48 hours.” (https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/406-19/city-doubles-size-largest-green-infrastructure-program-nation-making-nyc-more-resilient-to) The addition of well chosen plants and foliage will assist the drainage and add air purifying beauty to the community!

Curbside Garden infographic

Green Vertical Gardens are a growing trend for cities around the world.

Curbside Rain Gardens are just one way that cities are embracing the use of greenery in their city planning. Another trend that seems to be sprouting up around the world is vertical gardens. A vertical garden is where the plants and flowers are growing in a planter on the wall that often spanse most if not the whole wall space. Engineers and architects have been using this concept to create beautiful and lush cities and neighborhoods.

Most consider the Italian architect Stfano Boeri to be one of the fathers of green high-rises. In 2014 the Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy won the International Highrise Award. And he is currently working on a “Forest City” in Liuzhou, China near the banks of the Liuyang River. Upon completion in 2020 this 175-hectare city with 300,000 residents will have homes, shops, offices, etc. that echo the hillsides near it to be a lush and green thriving city. “At the same time, this green metropolis will be home to at least 40,000 trees, shrubs, flowers, and hundreds of different plant species, soon becoming a vibrant, wild oasis for insects, bees, and birds.” (https://www.smart-magazine.com/vertical-gardens/) With the prevalent greenery in the city, air quality will increase and the overall noise of the city will be reduced.

plans for vert garden
Designs for Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy.
Milan Vert Garden
Bosco Verticale

Other ways we see vertical gardens is in Mexico City, USA. In Mexico City there are vertical gardens in the forms of pillars along the highways. These “…gardens are an innovative way of beautifying urban spaces, and absorbing CO2, heat, and city noise.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/city-is-converting-highway-pillars-into-vertical-gardens-to-clean-the-air/) The garden’s irrigation system is self-sufficient by collecting rainwater, ensuring that the plants are well maintained. Additionally, the plants that grow on the pillars are chosen for their urban benefit of having low water consumption and high resilience. This process and selection is similar to those in other regions and cities. What is unique in the case of Mexico City is that the materials that make up the planters for the vertical gardens are made entirely out of recycled plastics. This makes this vertical garden sustainable and green in more than one way! 

CLICK HERE to check out the short video on Mexico City’s vertical gardens!

We at UCA are happy to see these green trends sprouting up around the world! Whether you are gardening in your backyard or driving down the street, having plants around helps reduce stress, anxiety and promotes productivity. All of these are good things to help us become more successful people that can help fill the world with more caring.

If you would like to read more blogs, Unified Caring Association has more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, A UCA Member’s Personal Well-Being Journey, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Or if you would like a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Mobile Apps for Caring Children

Mobile Apps and Games

Even more than before we see kids and teens with their faces glued to their phones either texting, playing games, or any variety of things. (Ok, maybe we can include some adults in this as well.) With this technology literally at our fingertips, we at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have great news! We have sourced amazing apps and games for ages 2 and up to play on a tech device of your choice. These apps and games are in line with our caring values, and are verified with Common Sense Media, a company that reviews , monitors and rates a wide variety of apps. Check out the variety of caring and educational apps we have found for our members that are available on iTunes, Google Play, or the Amazon Appstore!

Ages 2-5 Years Old

wheels-on-the-bus

Wheels on the Bus

Do you remember the classic kids song that is often sung on field trips? This app has it in sweet and interactive ways. Parents and kids will probably giggle with delight while singing along with this newest version of “Wheels on the Bus!”  You can even record your own voice singing the very memorable tune.

crayola

Crayola Color, Draw & Sing

Take some time to fuel you artsy side by being creative with this app! Kids choose a song to listen to while they create their masterpieces. Each and every action unlocks a new instrument or feature, even scribbling or changing colors! Your young artist will have a beautiful piece of art accompanied with a song in no time flat!

Ages 4-8 Years Old

intro-to-math

Intro to Math, by Montessorium

It’s never too early to start learning new skills! This app helps teach kids an early education in math through a game. In this game the ‘student’ will manipulate objects on the screen to achieve the end goal. There are several approaches to numbers that this app presents to the kids using this app. Who knows, your child might soon be giving you advice on stocks and investments?!

Intro-to-letters

Intro to Letters, by Montessorium

This is another educational app that we have sourced to help children recognize, pronounce and write letters! This includes lowercase and capital letters as well as phonograms to help sound out new or unfamiliar words.

khan-academy

Khan Academy

Creativity and learning are connected at the hip, especially when they are paired up with interesting characters and engaging activities! With this app, there are many ways for self-expression. It covers important topics like phonics, storytelling, mathematics, problem-solving and more! Through this app parents can view and track the progress their kids are making which enables them to help their children set goals and celebrate achievements upon completion!

Ages 6-8 Years Old

Winky-think

Winky Think Logic Puzzles

Puzzles are one of the most endearing games on the market. They touch a place of nostalgia in our hearts. With Winky Think Logic Puzzles your kids will feel the joy in a new techno way! This app has 180 logic puzzles in a wide range of difficulties! Kids will mull over complex games with obstacles, mazes and multi-touch action while strengthening their minds. 

toki-tori

Toki Tori

This is an adorable family-friendly puzzle adventure requiring analytical thinking that can be fun for younger kids, teens and adults alike! Parents and kids play cooperatively to solve puzzles by talking it out to decide the best strategy to win the game!

beyond-ynth

Beyond Ynth

This app is a strategic adventure that is a unique and fun way to travel. It is challenging, by not too hard for those kids that are on the younger side of the age bracket. The game plays the role of a little bug named Kribl. Kribl must traverse harsh landscapes inside the safety of a box.

Ages 6-12 Years Old

mindful-powers

Mindful Powers

One of the most valuable skills kids can learn early on is mindfulness. This will set them up for success by giving them the ability to cope with stressful situations that pop up as they grow. This app helps learn mindfulness by providing the tools and practice with Flibbertigibbet, an animated representation of emotions that your child feels.

dexteria-dots

Dexteria Dots2

Your kids will have a grand time while improving their fine motor skills and practicing math! Each dot represents a number, players combine and divide them to solve math problems. This easy to use app is attention grabbing for all ages with fun animations and bright colors.

plants-by-tinybop

Plants by Tinybop

Virtually explore wildlife with this app. Learn about nature by crashing clouds together, or how the seasons change by speeding up time! This app has eye catching illustrations that are filled with details. With open play capabilities and every season is a new adventure, we cannot wait to see what our kids discover next!

Teenagers

magisto

Magisto Video Editor

For the older kids in our lives who enjoy video making, we have an app for you! This is a powerful and easy to use video editing app. It can add music to existing video, stitch together footage, create show stopping slide shows, and more! Let your teens’ inner filmmaker thrive and see what they create! 

vocabulary

Vocabulary.com

Your teen can explore language by choosing different categories based on their grade level. A couple of examples of the categories are: soundslike and compound words. Add on the fun by picking what challenges to do in the app. Unscramble letters to make words, practice spelling by testing, alphabetize words, or use them in a game setting! Tons of fun your your teen!

high-school-story

High School Story

Teen players set up their own version of high school. Try to win the game by surviving teendom trappings like dating, bullying and cyberbullying, self-esteem, and other social interactions that cause stress. Just like the messages in this app, learn to gear your outlook and actions to be positive, filled with your teens authenticity, kindness and more to help support digital friends. This app contains some challenging topics and quests that help instigate teens using it to think and practice caring actions. 

words-with-friends

Words With Friends

Do you and your teens like to play word games like Scrabble? This app is for you! Words With Friends is a Scrabble-look-a-like game that is more for teens and adults. It has fast match ups to challenge friends and other people online, and an open chat (which is unfiltered) to catch up with friends and family members as your play!

sims-free-play

Sims FreePlay

This is a full Sims game to build your dream house, get that highly sought after job and have your dream relationship. The Fremium version is fun, enjoyable and can be easily played without spending money on in-app purchases. How will your teen plan out their lives in this game? Maybe they will have that mansion with a pool, or that fun, fast-paced career that brings in the dough while caring for the environment! The options are endless. The sky’s the limit!

Whatever games and apps your children choose to play, we at UCA value that they are filled with C.A.R.E., and help your children grow into caring ambassadors. Have fun and enjoy the apps!

Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information and resources on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week. 

Your Words Help Create a More Caring World

words

Your Words Help Create a More Caring World
communication-and-caring-understanding

Communication is always evolving. With the newest technologies available to us, we are modifying how we talk and understand communication. (Do we all remember the #hashtag phase? If not Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did a comedy skit that sums it up perfectly!) One thing is true, we love to communicate with each other. If we are striving to be authentic and impeccable during this communication, we can continue to create a more caring and positive world.

Your Brain

Everyone has a slightly different way of thinking, and thus a different way of interpreting what is being said. If we break down the process of communication we have two parts of the brain that are performing tasks simultaneously. First we have listening and then talking. In his TedTalk neuroscientist Uri Hasson goes through a research study he helped perform. During this study, people were placed in an MRI machine to record which areas of the brain light up while being told/telling a story. What was observed was the areas of the brain that light up during these tasks and the wave patterns that are another depiction of the brains activity. At first the people that were in the MRI machines had irractive results (a.k.a. their minds were thinking about all different things). But when the story began, all of the brains synced up to display almost the same results. These results are an example of neural entrainment. “…we believe that these responses … become similar across listeners because of the meaning conveyed by the speaker, and not by words or sound. ” (Uri Hasson) Uri might be onto something when he comments that this alignment that we are seeing is vital for communication. This communication is stronger when the speaker and the listener are communicating in the same/familiar language. For example, if you have a strong grasp on English, a story told to you in English will be better comprehended verses a story told in an unfamiliar language. It is important to note that retelling a story or memory results in the same activities in the brains of the speaker and listener.Think about the warm fuzzy feeling that you get when telling someone your favorite memory.

Ok, when we both listen and talk our brains have the same activity. But what about truly understanding and the different perspectives people have? Misunderstandings happen all the time in our lives because we often understand the same occurrence in different ways. Uri had another phase in this experiment. He recounts the results on how a story is interpreted by two groups of listeners, where each group had a different framing as a preface to the story. “This one sentence before the story started was enough to make the brain responses of all the people …be very similar [within each group] in these high-order areas and different than the other group. And if one sentence is enough to make your brain similar to people that think like you and very different than people that think differently than you, think how this effect is going to be amplified in real life… that give us very different perspectives on reality.”

Click Here if you would like to watch the full TedTalk by Uri Hasson.

Be Thoughtful and Deliberate- Reaction vs Interaction

Now that we understand a bit more about the science side of talking and listening, how can we use this knowledge to be authentic with our communication? A lot of this deals with being present, thoughtful and deliberate with our words when communicating with others and yourself. (Remember, self talk is super important too!) When reading a Harvard Business Review article by Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines titled Great Leaders Are Thoughtful and Deliberate, Not Impulsive and Reactive, we come to the two-fold idea once again. The part of us that is what we are most familiar with and use day-to-day for scheduling, working, etc. This part is  “…run by our pre-frontal [sic.] cortex and mediated through our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the self we prefer to present to the world. It’s calm, measured, rational, and capable of making deliberate choices.” The second part is operated by a small cluster of nuclei in the midbrain called the amygdala. The amygdala “…is mediated by our sympathetic nervous system. Our second self seizes control any time we begin to perceive threat or danger. It’s reactive, impulsive, and operates largely outside our conscious control.”

Prefrontal-Cortex & Amygdala

(A.K.A. the lizard brain, great for surviving an attack by a t-rex or bear, less great for current day issues like when to do the laundry or talk with our partner about an issue.) Most conflicts from triggering the ‘lizard brain’ today are a result of our self value and worth being threatened. You can feel your face get hot, muscles get tense, and breathing can become irregular at these moments. “…but the danger we experience isn’t truly life-threatening. Responding to them as if they are only make things worse.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) We can do a number of things to remain conscious of these dueling ‘selfs’ as Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines dub them. Some examples that help us check in with our brains and what they are doing/deciding are meditation, journaling, taking a breather, etc.

If this sounds familiar, you would be correct. Taking the time to self-reflect on your thoughts before speaking is a part of self-care, understanding who you are, and how you would like to conduct yourself. This takes a lot to recognise your internal experience. “You can’t change what you don’t notice, but noticing can be a powerful tool for shifting from defending our value to creating value.” Self observe or a stoic stance helps to recognise the emotions and thoughts. Then we are able to interact with the situation/problem/feeling to promote a positive outcome. One way to improve your capacity to self-observe is to begin with a strong emotion such as impatience, frustration, or anger. When you feel it arising, it’s a flashing red light that you’re sliding into the “second self”. If all you can do is just name the emotion, you have made a huge first step to being able to transform them to a positive. 

Unified Caring Association has a tool that we love to use and share to help with this. We have a deck of cards and accompanying book called Moonbeam Feeling Pack. With these we can pull a card that has an emotion depicted, read the description, and then decide on what to do with that emotion.  If it is a heavy or depleting emotion, we can choose the opposite lighter and renewing emotion Moonbeam identifies which we might just prefer.

Moonbeam-deck-of-cards

What are other red flags for us? “…watch out for times when you feel you’re digging in your heels. The absolute conviction that you’re right and the compulsion to take action are both strong indicators that you‘re feeling a sense of threat and danger.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) At these times it can be helpful to ask yourself questions like, ‘Is there a different perspective here?’ or ‘What part of this is my responsibility?’ These regular inquiries on your thoughts and feelings help to offset “… your confirmation bias — the instinct to look for evidence that supports what you already believe. By always looking for your own responsibility, you’re resisting the instinct to blame others and play victim and focusing instead on what you have the greatest ability to influence — your own behavior.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) With practice these new skills will allow us to better interact with others while communication, not just react to the other person’s words. This interaction often promotes more creativity, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Know thyself can become a lasting mantra. Knowing our truth/authentic self/who we are is a core foundation to being impeccable with our words. Without our self-awareness and inner confidence we often struggle with actually knowing what to say.

What we say matters as much as how we say it.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice…being kind, being compassionate, being inclusive and straight up and just being good to people is what matters.” [Dwayne Johnson]

Yes this is a quote from ‘The Rock’ and it holds a ton of truth to it. Being nice goes a long way. We are now having a better grasp on what to do, now we need to practice how to interact. There is a bit of an art to this interaction while stating your new found, productive truth. We want to stand up for ourselves while maintaining a nice and positive attitude. This is not always easy to do, especially during an argument or giving bad news to another person. Joyce E. A. Russell talks about this a bit in her article on Forbes.com titled Being Honest And Nice At Work Actually Works: “…you do have to stand up for yourself and you have to give honest feedback to people who are not doing what they should be doing, but you can still do this in a kind, compassionate, nice and firm way.” This returns us to the original idea that we should be impeccable with our words. Have you ever received a bad review at work is such a nice way that you really heard the feedback? It not only leaves you feeling motivated, but you then have a better comprehension of what you should improve. 

understanding

Our brains love stories. We see through studies like Uri Hasson’s where we can map and measure how active and where the activity occurs. But the stories and words we hear often are not exactly what the speaker/teller means. It is important to be  thoughtful and deliberate when speaking and listening. This helps us ensure we are fully communicating and comprehending what is being said. This takes a bit of work, but being authentic, thoughtful, and deliberate helps with our caring communication. This all builds to the belief that  what we say and how we say it matters. We all want to help make the world a more caring and thriving place to live. We can do this by being impeccable with your caring words.

Works Cited

  • Hasson, U. (2016, February). This is your brain on communication. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.ted.com/talks/uri_hasson_this_is_your_brain_on_communication
  • Pines, T. S. (2019, April 18). Great Leaders Are Thoughtful and Deliberate, Not Impulsive and Reactive. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://hbr.org/2019/04/great-leaders-are-thoughtful-and-deliberate-not-impulsive-and-reactive
  • Russell, J. E. (2019, June 25). Being Honest And Nice At Work Actually Works. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/joyceearussell/2019/06/24/being-honest-and-nice-at-work-actually-works/#2cf744106d46

Want to read more about UCA and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other blogs on caringmember benefits, and or follow us on social media: PinterestTumblrTwitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Themes from Essays – Gratitude, The Little Things Count

gratitude

Themes-gratitude

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has multiple scholarships available during the year to help children with funds for schooling. Each time we read these submissions we are moved and excited, especially when we notice themes in the submissions. Recently we wrote a blog about one theme, empathy. We want to celebrate the other themes these essays touch upon, such as gratitude.

Gratitude is as gratitude does…

Gratitude is a topic we touch on often. Such as our other blogs titled Wired for Gratitude and Caring Through The Gift of Time.  In these topics we have compiled and shared information about how acts of gratitude promote self-care and caring for others. Adopting a mindset of gratitude ultimately promotes health and healthy lifestyles while encouraging others to do the same. We are bursting with joy to see that the upcoming generations are taking steps to promote gratitude in their lives and the lives they touch as well.

Nadia Finley-Gratitude -Strength From Challenges

We all have many challenges we face in our lives. How we respond during and after these challenges make a difference. UCA loves to hear when the response is with care, positivity, and gratitude. Nadia wrote a unique essay on how she is grateful for all of the challenges that have made her who she is today. Stronger, empowered, and more grateful for all that happens in her life. She shares her journey with us by speaking with emotion to someone who bullied her, moving through levels of gratitude: “Thank you! Because I realize the discrimination I suffered only made me stronger. Thank you! I learned where there is adversity, there is an opportunity to show unconditional love. Thank you! For not realizing my worth, it forced me to value my own unique beauty, without your approval. Thank you! I own this experience in pain, which in turn is more powerful than living in the illusion where you tried to keep me… Now I am grateful for my challenges.” Thank you for sharing with us Nadia, we are grateful for you, and all you do!

Faith Lovato- Gratitude, A New Perspective

“If I could change one thing in this world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way people view their lives.” This is the topic of Faith’s essay. She remarks about how most people are ‘normally’ “…ungrateful, unsatisfied, undetermined, content and unaware of how blessed they are.” Faith wants to change this and promote a new perspective on life. This is a perspective of gratitude, positivity and realizing that the little things add up. “Focus your attention to the little things in life. Because the little things are what matter in life.” Faith would like for us to stop spending time on what we lack. Exchanging that time for appreciating what we have. She echoes other comments we have read that time spent on technological devices can promote a view of lacking and unappreciation. Spending time with others, sharing your gratitude, and striving for a positive perspective on life makes all of the small things we experience add up to the larger good in our lives.

Allison Jarman- The Little Things Can Make the Biggest Impacts

Remember Faith’s essay mentions how all of the little things in life add up? Allison wrote a moving essay with the focus on “…helping people to see that we change the world by doing small things.” She tells us about her life experiences through her interactions and time spent with a friend who has down syndrome. “It always made me so happy when I would come over. My friend showed her happiness by waiting for me outside and being very grateful. With very minimal effort, I was able to show my friend that I cared and help bring her some happiness.” Allison shares that her friend’s mother too is grateful for the friendship and time spent with her daughter. This makes three direct moments of gratitude and joy. We can picture them spending time together, laughing and playing.

Allison states, “I would like to help others experience the joy and happiness I have experienced through small acts. It does not take giant acts of kindness to make the world a better place, small acts of kindness and love will make it a more caring place.”  This is wonderful to read because there is more impact when real actions support our words; a.k.a. actions can speak louder than words. Allison wants to lead by example by teaching “…others that simple things such as checking up on a friend, giving compliments and using patience while driving are all simple acts of service.” In her finishing comments she states that  “if we all worked on at least these three areas the world would be a much better place.”

quote...-sm-things

We have been so excited to share themes from our scholarships, that we wanted to take the time to say thank you to all of the applicants. We are filled with joy when we read all of your caring essays. Without a doubt gratitude is a strong way to go forward to help create a more caring world.

Want to read more about UCA and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other blogs on caring, member benefits, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Wired for Gratitude

positive positive

Wired-for-Gratitude

We have been writing a lot about gratitude in the past month. And we wanted to continue sharing the research we have found on why gratitude is so good for our well-being. Gratitude is universal, spanning across cultures and history. We see many forms of gratitude such as giving gifts, time and status to honor to those around us.  To our surprise there was a study in 2012 by the John Templeton Foundation. It concludes “While 90% of respondents consider themselves grateful, only 52 percent of women and 44 percent of the men surveyed express gratitude on a regular basis.” These results are an eye opener to us. Based on the recent research that has been published gratitude is a key to success. Gratitude is a foundation for many other areas of our well-being. 

Positive Mind Makes for a Positive Body

When we embody gratitude we feel better and more energetic. This means that we are more likely to go out for hikes or other physical activities. We also are more likely to interact with those we love and be present throughout the day. Geoffery James comments on this in his article, Neuroscience Says Your Body and Mind Get Stronger When You Focus on This 1 Thing, “According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who keep gratitude journals ‘reported fewer health complaints, more time exercising, and fewer symptoms of physical illness.’” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) With this increase activity we see healthier and better sleep patterns, and reduced stress levels in those who practice more gratitude. According to a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information“cultivating appreciation and other positive emotions showed lower levels of stress hormones [specifically] a 23 percent reduction in cortisol and 100 percent increase in DHEA/DHEAS levels.” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) Both of these allow for a better mental capacity for handling the day and all of its challenges, as well as being key components to help heal the brain.

While we are on the subject of healthy bodies, it is important to note that having more gratitude leads to a healthier and stronger heart. Some of this can be from the increase in exercise and reduced stress levels we mention above. “A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association found that patients who kept gratitude journals for eight weeks showed reductions in levels of several inflammatory biomarkers while they wrote.” (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health)

A part of a healthy body is a healthy mind. In her article, Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude, Linda Roszak Burton mentions three studies on how gratitude helps keep the mind healthy and promotes overall well-being. “A 2006 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found Vietnam War veterans with high levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder…Stats Show Improved Mental Health – Recently published, the Journal of Research in Personality examined gratitude and grit to confer resiliency to suicide by increasing meaning in life…Emotional Well-Being – A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found the relationship between gratitude and well-being leads to lower stress and depression and higher levels of social support.”  (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health

Gratitude and the Effects on Health at Work

One aspect of life that greatly affects gratitude and acts of gratitude is work. We can see that a leader who expresses how grateful they are will yield more productive output with happier employees. A study reported by Harvard Medical School and done by researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that “employees who were thanked by their managers made 50% more fund-raising calls than their counterparts who hadn’t heard the same token of appreciation.” We can be apply this to other industries. Just think of how wonderful the world would be in we heard more thank yous at work! This increase in productivity accompanies the idea that gratitude and appreciation creates feelings of being valued. Often when we feel valued we are in productive, healthy relationships. We also tend to have high job satisfaction, and motivation to do our best, working towards achieving the company’s goals. 

Our Bodies are Wired to be at Their Best When We Are Grateful

If we pull this all together we can see that our bodies and minds are at their best when we are maintaining gratitude throughout the day. We see an increase in healing in the mind and body. This in turn creates more energy and a drive for interaction with others. All of this leads to an increase in productivity with success shared by all. As the quote from Cicero states, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” We have access to a strong foundation of gratitude within ourselves. It is from this which all other aspects of our lives grow and thrive.

Read more UCA articles on gratitude, self-care, and well-being on our other blogs. Some examples are: Caring Through the Gift of Time, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Thank you for reading our blog, and for being a part of a caring community! 

Letting Go for Better Health

letting go

Letting-Go

How often do we feel like we need to control something — everything — that is happening? And how often do we feel stressed during these times? Imagine a state of being that is relaxed where you are able to ‘go with the flow.’ Wouldn’t that be nice?! It is possible for all of us by practicing LETTING GO. It not only helps us feel better but has a strong correlation with being healthy on multiple levels. Letting go is simply a great way to care for the well-being for yourself and others.

Control = Stress, Flexibility = Calm

Insisting on controlling situations promotes a high level of stress. There are many studies that show this correlation. The inverse is true as well. When we adopt a flexible mental state, we feel more calm. We can all agree that less stress is good for our health. Letting go is a healthy thing to do. 

An example of letting go to promote better health is forgiveness. When we are in an unforgiving state of mind, we might be prone to more anger. This can color our perception of the world with bitterness. “ [We] become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present…Become depressed or anxious…Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692) If we begin to embrace forgiveness in our lives we begin to have healthier relationships with ourselves and others.  The physical health benefits are incredible as well! Our physical health improves by lower blood pressure, improved heart health and an overall stronger immune system. All of these and more help improve our self-esteem. 

Tips and Tricks for Letting Go

How can we begin a self-care journey with letting go? Of the many ways we can begin to learn about letting go we can look at practices like yoga or meditation. In short, during these activities your mind is allowed to relax and let go of thoughts, which then promotes a sense of calm. (To read more about meditation to improve your well-being, read our blog: Meditation: A Tool for Self-Care.) Unified Caring Association has some additional tools to help learn about what to let go in your life. There are Self Assessments on UCA site that help members sort through and make a self-care plan which can help us decide on what habits to let go of. If we get stuck or lost, there is a 24-hour counseling hotline available. Sometimes we just need to talk it out with an unbiased person.

Another tip is to use imagery. “When you notice yourself in the [sic.] control mindset imagine trying to climb the steepest mountain there is. Think about the amount of energy, time, and headspace that is consumed with trying to climb this mountain. This is control. Embrace the freedom that comes with letting go and not having the need to climb this mountain.” (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-ways-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-control_b_7305102)

This imagery can be in your mind or written down in different forms such as free-writing or lists. These writings can be about what you feel you need to control. Once the thing that you feel you must control is named, it can be let go. If the writing happens more frequently, this could become a form of journaling filled with affirmations to promote well-being, and become a form of grounding. “You are living in the future with the control mindset. You are already attaching yourself to expectations and setting yourself up for disappointments. So focus on grounding yourself. Maybe this means taking a walk in nature, calling a friend, or getting out of your home or office.” (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-ways-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-control_b_7305102) After grounding ourselves we find that we are more present. When the mind is present, it has the ability to embrace and promote gratitude; these help promote our well-being and a better life.

If a person begins to feel that a situation needs to be controlled, a suggestion is to take a pause. Check yourself. Ask yourself if the situation is worth the stress? Will my thoughts and feelings promote happiness, gratitude or help the well-being of others and myself? “… Forgive…do something kind for that person or friend. Kindness surprises and illuminates the heart…Build a mental picture of joy re-entering your mind and body… let go…[and] do something that makes you smile or laugh.” (https://thekindnesschange.com/2019/03/02/9-ways-to-choose-joy-over-anger/)

Releasing

Forgive and Grow

An overarching theme that we are seeing as we go through this blog is forgiveness. Ok, so forgiveness is a big part of letting go. Why not follow the old adage, “Forgive and forget?” But this might not be the best path for truly letting go. As we can see through studying almost any history forgetting leads to repeating. It would be better to forgive, remember and grow. According to Alex Pattakos, Ph.D. in his article titled, Why Letting Go is Good for Your Health, “Forgiveness means ‘letting go’ of our suffering. In effect, it has much more to do with our own well-being than that of the person or persons we forgive…Like any muscle, however, it has to be exercised to work well. Forgiveness can be very complicated. Sometimes we think that it equates forgetting, diminishing, or condoning the misdeed, but it really doesn’t. It has much more to do with freeing ourselves from its hold. Our ability to live our lives with love, understanding, and generosity is impeded when we don’t forgive.” (https://medium.com/thrive-global/why-letting-go-is-good-for-your-health-669c42eaaf27) This growing after letting go allows us to improve our lives by not repeating old controlling patterns and strengthening understanding, gratitude, and flexibility. With flexibility we become more able to remain calm and promote overall well-being.

Let go and grow.

If you would like to read more blogs about UCA, Unified Caring Association has more blogs like It All Starts With Self-Care, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Or if you would like a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Grounding With Nature

Nature

So much of our world is filled with the hustle and bustle of work and socialization. Many of us live in cities, where in place of lush trees with dancing leaves we see gleaming towers reach into the sky. Cites often have only small pockets of greenery. These often come in the forms of a park or school yard, small trees dotting the streets, or even the occasional community garden. Our bodies and minds crave nature and greenery. We see this craving through the effects of nature on our health. Exposure to nature throughout our days helps our minds and bodies de-stress, thus making us more grounded.

How is being in nature more healthy?

For starters being outdoors usually is coupled with physical activity. Playing sports on a field, horseback riding on a trail, or hiking are all activities that are often performed outside where we see a mixture of plants and trees. Most of the time we hear that physical activity is excellent for your health. For example, “…a 160-pound adult burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. Contrast that with 550 calories burned per hour for someone who weighs 200 pounds, and you can see that the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll ultimately burn.” (Google, Jul 23, 2018) The good exercise that comes from the physical activity is coupled with another interesting effect of nature on our well-being. We also see healing in the brain as well. “Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70.”  (2) Outdoor exercises like hiking not only prevents memory loss but improves the mind where memory loss has occurred. Researchers also discovered that it can reduce mental fatigue, boost self esteem, as well as release endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and help us feel less stressed. An example is what is often referred to as a ‘runner’s high’ or ‘hiker’s high.’ This is the feeling we feel that follows a run, hike or other workout that’s often described as euphoric. This feeling is accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

The effects of nature and our emotional health…

Simply put when we interact with, see images or hear sounds from nature we feel less stressed and become more grounded. This creates a variety of positive outcomes, one of which is stress reduction. ’Nature’ experienced in any form including wilderness backpacking, gardening, viewing images of nature, restoring ecosystems, and simply having greenery outside your home has been linked to superior attention, effectiveness and outcomes of decisions. An article published by Sage Articles titled Healthy Workplaces: The Effects of Nature Contact at Work on Employee Stress and Health, the authors found that connecting with nature was beneficial even in an office setting. “Adding indoor plants, opening blinds or going outside for a work break instead of to the break room, for example, are straightforward ways to increase healthy exposures… to combat stress and promote health.” (5) This is why we see plants (real or fake) in offices, hospital rooms, restaurants, etc. 

The form of interaction with nature matters too. “The most direct nature contact—outdoor nature contact—had the strongest association with stress reduction and health.” (5) The more employees had exposure to nature at work (i.e. office plants, pictures, and or sounds on nature) the less stress symptoms they exhibited. Whereas the most direct form of contact with nature, like taking a break or lunch in the park, resulted in the most improvement in emotional fortitude.

Mental fortitude

When we mention mental fortitude, de-stressing or grounding we mean that the mind actually stops negative and or obsessive thoughts and opens up bandwidth for creative problem solving. “A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin…To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.” (2) In the article titled Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings, Ruth Ann Atchley, David L. Strayer, and Paul Atchley agree with this statement: “One suggestion is that natural environments, like the environment that we evolved in, are associated with exposure to stimuli that elicit a kind of gentle, soft fascination, and are both emotionally positive and low-arousing. It is also worth noting that with exposure to nature in decline, there is a reciprocal increase in the adoption of, use, and dependency upon technology. Thus, the effects observed here could represent either removal of the costs associated with over-connection or a benefit associated with a return to a more positive/low-arousing restorative environment.” (1)

Remember the opening imagery we talked about at the beginning of this blog? Tall buildings versus trees is different according to our brain chemistry. This makes sense since most of human existence has been in a more rural setting. So our brains recognise nature and greenery as familiar and thus is calming to our minds and bodies. The introduction of urban scenery is new. Therefore this is foreign to our ‘lizard brains,’ which causes a boost in our stress hormones like adrenaline. An article by Ian Johnston titled, Human brain hard-wired for rural tranquillity. This study of brain activity shows the struggle to process complex urban landscapes. The article talks about this mental process. “The study, which used an MRI scanner to monitor brain activity, adds to a growing body of evidence that natural environments are good for humans, affecting mental and physical health and even levels of aggression.” (3) While studying these MRI images it can be seen that areas of the brain where we see calm, meditative states lite up when subjects see pictures of rural settings. The inverse happens when images of urban environments are shown to the people, which “…resulted [sic.] in a significant delay in reaction, before a part of the brain involved in processing visual complexity swung into action as the viewer tried to work out what they were seeing.” (3) With the delay in recognition and increase in activity to resolve the dissonance we can deduce that the stress was not reduced in these people. But let’s turn back to the matter at hand. Seeing and interacting with nature is calming, healthy, and allows for the mind to be more productive.

Natural Love

A calm minds makes for a more productive mind…

Let’s take hiking as an example of connecting and being immersed in nature. While hiking, we usually don’t focus on daily tasks, future work meetings, or are fully conscious of our thoughts. This can be a form of moving meditation. This meditation allows for your mind to recover and de-stress while your body is getting a good workout as well as pumping the ‘feel good’ hormones through your system. As in other blogs we have posted, like Meditation: A Tool for Self-Care, meditation is a great tool for self-care. This tool allows for the mind to create space to solve problems creatively and with less effort. Specifically doing physical activities like hiking while disconnected from technology boosts our ability for creative problem solving. “A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that …participants in this study [who] went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever… preformed better at tasks that require creative thinking and complex problem solving…by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.” (2) These results could be due to the fact that most people find technology and urban noise disruptive. The beeps of our tech-savvy lives constantly demand our attention. This prevents us from focusing and can be taxing to our cognitive functions. How many times do we reach for our phones when they beep for whatever messages have arrived? This noise breaks our attention, which is already taxed as it is.

Improving attention through connecting with nature.

A prime example of reduced attention can be seen in the epidemic of diagnoses of ADHD in children. “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood. It manifests as an unusually high and chronic level of inattention, impulsivity/hyperactivity, or both, and it may affect more than 2 million school-aged children.” (4) But there is good news we would like to share with you! When it comes to grounding yourself and your kids in nature, nature helps calm the mind and allow for better focus and attention. Sara Burrows writes in her article, Study: Kids Who Grow Up Surrounded By Nature Become Happier Adults, “Children who grew up with the lowest levels of residential “green space” had up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder…The results were also “dosage dependent” — the more of one’s childhood spent close to greenery, the lower the risk of mental health problems.” (6) An article published by Collective Evolution echoes this when they write about how the outdoors, specifically hiking can improve ADHD in kids. “A study conducted by Frances E Kup, PhD, and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, found that exposing children with ADHD to “green outdoor activities” reduces symptoms significantly. The results of this study suggest nature exposure can benefit anyone who has a difficult time paying attention and/or exhibits impulsive behavior.” (2)

The article by Frances E. Kuo, PhD and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, reports the results of a study exploring a possible new treatment for ADHD. The findings suggest that common weekend and after-school outdoor activities in relatively natural environments may be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. “Indeed, the symptoms of ADHD and “attention fatigue” so closely mirror each other that the Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale has been used as a measure of attention fatigue. However, unlike ADHD, attention fatigue is proposed to be a temporary condition; when the deliberate attention mechanism has an opportunity to rest, fatigue dissipates and behavior and performance improve.”  (4) We can attribute the improvement and recovery from the attention/mind fatigue to the amount of time spent in nature because the mind is engaged more effortlessly. This also “…may in part reflect a systematic restorative effect on directed attention.” (4) When researchers observe the brain in non-ADHD populations, the right prefrontal cortex is where we see both attention fatigue. This is also where the capacity to deliberately direct attention exists. Multiple studies have provided evidence of a right frontal–cortical locus of attention control, and/or that the right prefrontal cortex is subject to fatigue after sustained demands on directed attention. “Correspondingly, the right prefrontal cortex has been implicated in ADHD. The right prefrontal cortex has been found to be smaller and less active among children with ADHD than among same-aged peers, and severity of ADHD symptoms has been shown to be proportional to the degree of asymmetry between left and right prefrontal cortex regional cerebral blood flow.” (4) Here we can see that the two issues, ADHD and attention fatigue may lie in the same underlying mechanism.

brain-right frontal cortex

Studies focusing on kids professionally diagnosed with ADHD ages 7 to 12 years to date have examined the impact of exposure to nature. In one study, parents rated  leisure activities as to whether their child’s symptoms were better, worse, or no change after engaging in outdoor activities, as well as “…the general severity of their child’s symptoms and provided information on the “greenness” of the child’s typical play settings.” (4) Results from this study indicate that ADHD symptoms were less or better than usual after being outdoors. Moreover, these after-effects from green/outdoor activities were in direct proportion with the form of nature. (i.e. the greener and closer to nature, the better.) This seems to be in line results in regards to grounding and de-stressing in adults after interacting with nature. The correlation between this data precludes a strong connection between the role of nature and reducing attention deficit symptoms.

Overall, grounding while in nature is good for everyone!

We can see how good it is to surround ourselves and interacting with nature on a daily basis. We improve not only physical health, but mental and emotional health as well as our ability to focus and solve problems creatively. It is also good to know that the form and degree of closeness to nature that helps amplify these benefits. If we set more time aside to care for plants, eating lunch in the park, or go on hikes we will see increases to our health.

If you would like to read more blogs, Unified Caring Association has more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, A UCA Member’s Personal Well-Being Journey, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Or if you would like a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Works Cited:

  1. Atchley, R. A., Strayer, D. L., & Atchley, P. (2012, December 12). Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051474
  2. C. E. (2017, February 11). Doctors Explain How Hiking Can Actually Change Our Brains. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://wisemindhealthybody.com/collective-evolution/doctors-explain-hiking-can-actually-change-brains/?fbclid=IwAR2kpdtR-qECT8-fxRkY8wdB5N8QM6qZ-EGZ99FeSzZp2zaV7agPLI-lc5s
  3. I. J. (2013, December 11). Human brain hard-wired for rural tranquillity. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/human-brain-hard-wired-for-rural-tranquillity-8996368.html?fbclid=IwAR3DBJ-Zo1e6e2wRFTGBhN01XoH9OyTVWyx0V6_Pzf_9UzjqPrppXiAm1Fg
  4. Kuo, F. E., & Taylor, A. F. (2004, September). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Evidence from a national study. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448497/
  5. Largo-Wight, E., Chen, W. W., & Weiler, R. (2011, May 1). Healthy Workplaces: The Effects of Nature Contact at Work on Employee Stress and Health – Erin Largo-Wight, W. William Chen, Virginia Dodd, Robert Weiler, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00333549111260S116
  6. S. B. (2019, March 22). Study: Kids Who Grow Up Surrounded By Nature Become Happier Adults. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://returntonow.net/2019/03/22/study-kids-who-grow-up-surrounded-by-nature-become-happier-adults/?fbclid=IwAR2aJAtu1JXpbxe9miYzTeG6-IYpeAeJgYiFMTaviCgaYp5PVDepFAvfXok

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