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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
With so many emotions and stressors in our day it can be hard to maintain a mental balance. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have a special place in our hearts for mental well-being. To share the caring we have tools and resources, such as a 24 hour counseling hotline, available for our UCA members. In our research online, we have come across a wonderful TedTalk by Sangu Delle championing mental health.
What does the word “Mental” Mean
When defining the word mental, we are referring to the mind or brain. Delle brings up a definition rooted in his culture. “Growing up in West Africa, when people used the term “mental,” what came to mind was a madman with dirty, dread-locked hair, bumbling around half-naked on the streets.” This stigma came from his youth, where “normal” people do not have mental health problems.
What is astonishing is that some of the areas in the world that have the highest need for mental health support and care, have a very thin system in place with few professionals.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is about being able to cope with the normal stressors of life; to work productively and fruitfully; and to be able to make a contribution to your community. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Globally, 75 percent of all mental illness cases can be found in low-income countries. Yet most African governments invest less than one percent of their health care budget in mental health. “Nigeria, for example, is estimated to have 200 — in a country of almost 200 million. In all of Africa, 90 percent of our people lack access to treatment. As a result, we suffer in solitude, silenced by stigma.”
Mental Health Hits Close to Home
As we listen to this TedTalk, we wonder if there is a solution to the lack of care, acceptance and support for those who are affected by mental distress or illness. Delle shares the turning point for him. “For me, the stigma is personal… My best friend in the world — a brilliant, philosophical, charming, hip young man — was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I witnessed some of the friends we’d grown up with recoil. I heard the snickers. I heard the whispers. “Did you hear he has gone mad?” (Kru English) “He has gone crazy!” Derogatory, demeaning commentary about his condition — words we would never say about someone with cancer or someone with malaria. Somehow, when it comes to mental illness, our ignorance eviscerates all empathy. I stood by his side as his community isolated him, but our love never wavered.”
Our ignorance eviscerated all empathy; that phrase really hit home. We have seen and heard about so many ways that people can be bullied. One way that we can begin caring and supporting those who need mental healthcare is to bring awareness to the issue. Delle inspiringly did just that. He helped found the mental health special interest alumni group at his college. “And during my tenure as a resident tutor in graduate school, I supported many undergraduates with their mental health challenges.” Every person needs to be more aware about mental struggles. If we begin to accept mental health as important as physical health, we will become better individuals.
This awareness is not only for others, but for ourselves as well. Delle references his internal struggles, and how he could not bring himself to speak with a counselor, or even a friend. This reluctance was due to the stigma that still resided within himself. This was an eye opener for Delle. “We need to stop suffering in silence. We must stop stigmatizing disease and traumatizing the afflicted.”
Raise Awareness and Champion Mental Health
Delle calls us all to action by encouraging us to talk. “Talk to your friends. Talk to your loved ones. Talk to health professionals.” In communicating how we are feeling, we are allowing ourselves to better connect with others and ourselves. “[When talking] do so with the confidence that you are not alone. Speak up if you’re struggling. Being honest about how we feel does not make us weak; it makes us human.” We can champion others and ourselves through one common thread, we are all human and we all can take charge of having better mental health.
Would you like to watch the full TedTalk? Click HERE!