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 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.
You just ate a bowl of pasta and feel tired. Or you ate a tuna salad and feel ready to tackle the day. Ever wondered why you feel differently after eating? We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have been curious about this as well. After doing some research on nutrition, we now have a better understanding of why food affects us so much. For example, recent studies show that a healthy diet may not only prevent depression but could effectively treat it once it’s started.
An evolving body of research on nutrition shows that a healthy diet can help prevent depression. The field of research on how food affects us psychologically is called nutritional psychiatry. Nutritional psychiatry is relatively new and it is not limited to one place or group. Nutritional psychiatry observes data regarding the association between diet quality and mental health across cultures, countries and age groups. One topic within these groups is depression and how the food we eat contributes, fixes or prevents depression.
An example of this research in action is a study mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Researchers took a look at whether improving the diets of people with major depression would help reduce or eliminate their depression symptoms. Half of these people were coached on their nutrition by a dietitian. The other half were given one-on-one social support, a common technique for reducing depression. “After 12 weeks, the people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support. And the people who improved their diets the most improved the most.” (Wall Street Journal) Other subsequent studies have found similar results: Eating a balanced diet that has fewer processed sugars, grains, etc. will help with depression.
In 2013, Dr. Jacka helped to found the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. This Society held its first conference in the summer of 2017. Dr. Jacka also launched Deakin University’s Food & Mood Centre. This is an institute that focuses on researching and developing nutrition-based strategies for brain disorders, such as depression. With new and evolving research on how food affects us, other conferences and universities are including these findings in their lectures. An example of how this information applies is by the production of serotonin, which regulates mood and sleep. Not enough serotonin can result in depression.
Eating a ton of high-processed foods and refined sugars often increases the risk of mental and physical health issues at any age. If we think about our heart or other muscles in the body, we take extra effort to condition them and keep them healthy. The brain is not much different. Our lifestyle choices reflect our brain’s health. Mental health should be just as important as physical health. A healthy brain is more resilient in difficult times, like while when we feel depressed. “A bad diet makes depression worse, failing to provide the brain with a variety of nutrients it needs… And processed or deep-fried foods often contain trans fats that promote inflammation, believed to be a cause of depression.” (Dr. Ramsey)
A bad diet also affects our microbiome, A.K.A., your gut bacteria. The bacteria in our guts have complex ways of communicating with our brain by signaling the body to produce different chemicals and hormones. This communication changes our mood. Think about when we get “hangry” from not eating, or the opposite, happy when we eat strawberries. To maintain a healthy and stable mood, we need to maximize the good bacteria and minimize the bad.
It is not to say that a good diet can replace medicine or therapy. However, it can serve as a supplemental treatment. The added bonus is that it can prevent other health problems, like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and more!
Be open to the cornucopia of food.
There are so many different diets and articles out in the world for “healthy eating.” The main point is to eat in a way that your body responds best to. As some might say, “hacking” your body. A diet made up primarily of fruits and vegetables, good fats and proteins, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, seafood, whole grains and small portions of red meat can provide nutrition our brain needs. It can also regulate our inflammatory response and support the good bacteria in our gut.
If we take everything in moderation and monitor our health, we can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The critical point is to listen to our bodies so we can understand what we need. Is it sleep? An activity like hiking? Or do we need to eat more berries and yogurt because we are feeling down? If we begin making small changes based on these observations, we can bring more caring into our bodies and lives.
Most of us love to cook with care. We gently wash the produce, plucking leaves off mint for tea, or even the act of folding whipped cream into a rich chocolate mousse bring joy into the world. With the holiday season in full swing, most of us are taking up our spatulas and pans to create scrumptious meals for ourselves and those we love. Just one trick to overcome… when will we have the time to cook a feast?! Unified Caring Association (UCA) has a solution for you! We have just put together a cookbook titledCare to Cook: Casually & Quickly. This cookbook is filled with caring recipes that are simple to make and delicious to eat!
Nutrition is important for everyone, and can be overlooked in our busy lives. We want to help people in our caring community plan meals to be healthier. This cookbook was created with those of us who are strapped for time. (Think about people who work two to three jobs, have families and have no time to dilly dally. Yet, they love home cooked food that is flavorful and a delight to the pallet.) This cookbook is designed to provide recipes that are uncomplicated, yet delicious. Unified Caring Association members have access to this cookbook under the benefits tab for nutrition. AND soon to come, UCA will have a printed copy available for purchase in the Caring Community Store for all who visit to buy!
At the beginning of the cookbook there is a short introduction and index. It is here that we can find suggestions for substitute for butter, salt, and more. Also there are suggestions for appreciation and gratitude for the food we eat. Following this is a nifty cheat-sheet for cooking times that are needed for produce, meat, poultry, etc. This sheet comes in handy at any point during a cooking adventure! Now we get into the index proper. We see a list of a variety of entrees, appetizers, desserts, and more. We just start to practically drool when we read over these recipes, and know that our caring cooks will too!
Taking a Sweet Sneak Peek
Below is a preview of one of the recipes that is in our caring cookbook, Care to Cook: Casually & Quickly. Try these candied pecans as a fun thank you holiday gift for those you care about. Whether they are your family, friends, or coworkers, they are sure to enjoy the gift given with kindness.
Whether you are heading to a party or just getting home from a long day at work, these recipes are a great way to take care of yourself and the ones you care for. We are glad to have this caring cookbook to help fuel our caring community. With the nutrition and TLC that comes from our food, we can continue sharing caring around the world.