Spring Storm Safety

Just about everyone I’ve talked to lately says how tired they are of our cold weather and that they are ready for spring.  We all look forward to the days of sunshine, warm breezes and fresh air.

We need to remember, though, that the spring season also brings the possibilities of severe weather and take some time to plan ahead to keep ourselves and our families safe.  This is Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week – March 18-24, 2018 and a perfect time to remind ourselves how to keep safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds us that severe thunder storms and tornadoes are much more prevalent at this time of the year and it is important to have a safety plan in place.  Some of their suggestions include:

  • If you are inside your house or other building:
    • Identify shelter locations well before the storm hits.
    • Seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from doors, windows, and outside walls.
    • Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris.
    • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs.
  • If you are outside:
    • Try to seek shelter in a nearby building if you can.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in your car.
    • If there is a low lying area such as a ditch nearby, you can lie down in that area and cover your head with your arms.
  • If you are in your workplace
    • It is a good idea to have a plan that everyone in the building has practiced.
    • Know who is in the office so that everyone can be accounted for before and after the storm.
  • Have an emergency contact plan for your family or coworkers. Designate one number that everyone should call to connect.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has created documents that can help us all better prepare for these severe weather occurrences.  They provide definitions to explain the difference between watches and warnings and appropriate measures to take with each level of warning.

Take the time to make a plan for your family and co-workers as we enter this time of the year when severe weather can strike at a moment’s notice.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu


Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Natural Disasters and Severe Weather. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/prepared.HTML

Federal Emergency Management Agency. How to Prepare for a Tornado. (https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409003506195-52740fd2983079a211d041f7aea6b85d/how_to_prepare_tornado_033014_508.PDF

The American Red Cross . Be Red Cross Ready.



ASMRSince I’ve been a little girl I have occasionally experienced “head tingles.” The sensation is not unpleasant; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s like a low-voltage buzz that starts in the head and then transfers throughout the body. It happens at the most random of times—like when I’m getting my hair cut or watching a sales clerk wrap a package. Just the process of seeing someone doing something mundane in a quiet relaxed manner is a trigger for me to experience the sensation.

I’ve always thought it was something weird that only happened to me until I read an article about ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s essentially a tingling, buzzing, warm, and/or relaxing sensation that runs through the brain and all over your body when triggered by certain stimulus. It is literally a form of a natural high, a feeling of being transported and taken under by your own brain power.

Not all people experience this sensation, so if you try to explain it to a non-tingler they may look at you like you are nuts. One tingler tried to explain the phenomenon to his doctor but stopped when the doctor started asking questions about a family history of epilepsy.  Only a small percentage of people are actually conscious of the sensation. It is akin to a feeling of being hypnotized.

I have been reading articles about ASMR and was surprised and glad to know that others have had the same experience. I’m also surprised that the phenomenon, if it is as widespread as it appears, hasn’t yet yielded multiple research studies.

Some activities that may cause you to experience the sensation include:

  • Watching someone write or sketch
  • Watching someone iron
  • Having someone rub lotion or apply make-up to your skin
  • Watching someone write on a chalkboard or white board
  • Listening to a teacher read a book in a soft, quiet voice
  • Someone brushing or playing with your hair
  • Getting a massage

The ASMR acronym is a nonclinical term coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen. She is a manager for a cyber-security company who has experienced the tingles for years and figured people really couldn’t discuss the phenomenon unless it had a name—ideally, an official-sounding one. So she wrote down words that described the experience and then tried to match them up with a scientific version of that word. Thus evolved the “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”

The science community has finally begun to respond to the anecdotal experiences of the “tinglers.” In 2015, two psychology researchers at Swansea University in Wales published the first peer-reviewed research study on the phenomenon, in which they tried to establish a foundational body of work describing and classifying ASMR.

If you are a fellow “tingler,” know that you are not alone. Share your experiences with others by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu








Did you know your blood pressure reading is affected by many factors, including how you are sitting?  When you have your blood pressure checked, be sure to follow the list below to ensure an accurate reading:

  • Empty your bladder before taking your blood pressure.
  • Avoid caffeine, exercise and smoking for at least 30 minutes before taking a reading.
  • Sit in a back-supported chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Put your arm on a table, desk or some other support, so your arm is supported at heart level.
  • Relax for at least five minutes before your blood pressure is taken.
  • Don’t have a conversation while it is being taken.
  • Use the correct size cuff.
  • Place the cuff on your bare arm.Picture3

Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the new guidelines (listed in the chart below) from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Normal blood pressure 120/80 mmHg or below
Elevated blood pressure 120-129/<80 mmHg
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1 130-139/80-89 mmHg
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2 140 or higher/90 or higher mmHg

People with stage 1 hypertension are at double the risk for a heart attack or a stroke when compared to those with normal blood pressure. This does not mean all of those with stage 1 hypertension need to take blood pressure drugs, though.  It is important to talk with your health care provider as to what may work best for you.  Some life style changes can make a difference in your blood pressure readings.


Following the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure.  The DASH diet was rated by US News and World Reports as the best diet overall for the eighth year.  Other steps to take which may reduce your blood pressure:

  • Lose weight if you need to. Losing 10 pounds often improves blood pressure.
  • Lower your sodium intake.
  • Increase your physical activity. Aim for 90-150 minutes per week of either aerobic activity or resistance training or a combination of both.
  • Use stress coping techniques to reduce your stress levels.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Stop using tobacco.
  • Increase your consumption of potassium containing foods, such as potatoes, banana, almonds, peanuts, avocados, broccoli, carrots, oranges and other citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and milk.
  • Take any blood pressure medications that you are prescribed.

Keeping your blood pressure at the normal level or below reduces your risk of heart disease or stroke.  Since 80% of strokes are preventable, keeping your blood pressure at normal levels or below is very important.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension


American Heart Association. (2018). Understanding Blood Pressure Readings, American Heart Association.  Available at www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/KnowYourNumbers/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WqBVUSVG3cs

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Preventing Stroke Deaths, CDC Vital Signs.  Available at www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2017-09-vitalsigns.pdf

Dow, C. (2018). Pressure Points, More people have hypertension, say new guidelines, Nutrition Action Healthletter, January/February 2018.  45(1) 7-8.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2018). DASH Eating Plan, National Institutes of Health.  Available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan




Why Hobbies are Important!

Did you know it is good for your physical and mental health to have a hobby? Sometimes we get so busy with work or our family that we forget to have time for ourselves, which usually allows the stress in our lives to build. Hobbies provide physical and mental health benefits by giving us an alternative place to focus our time and mental energy, reinvigorating us. Other benefits from hobbies may include:

  • A Sense of Accomplishment – If you are having trouble finishing a difficult task at work, you may find satisfaction by completing a project on your own like a quilt, painting, finishing a book, or a 5K.
  • Social Support System – Often hobbies involve things you can do with others, be it volunteering with Relay for Life or Habitat for Humanity, or joining a just for fun sports league like softball.
  • Preventing Burnout – A hobby may provide fun and something to look forward to after a hard day at work or a stressful time taking care of family members.
  • Improved Physical Health – Studies show that when you engage in enjoyable free time activities you have lower blood pressure and a lower Body Mass Index (or BMI) even if the hobby isn’t necessarily active.
  • Better Work Performance – Studies also have found that employees who have creative hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and are often more creative with work projects.

Children benefit from hobbies by having a higher self-esteem, learning patience and social skills, and developing critical thinking skills and creativity. Encourage 

younger children to try several activities as hobbies – think something physical, creative, and mental (geocaching, crafting, music, cooking, or even magic). While some children may consider gaming to be a hobby, encourage them to have other hobbies that don’t use a computer or TV to limit screen time.

Hobbies provide both physical and mental health benefits to adults and children. A hidden benefit for adults may be that companies report looking for employees who have hobbies. They feel these employees are more balanced, less stressed, and more creative at work. What hobby is your favorite? Comment below. Personally I’m a reader, reading is food for my soul.


United States Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/


Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.

Find Yourself

bar-local-cong-ireland-63633.jpegOn a recent trip to New York City I visited an Irish pub. As I sat and enjoyed the surroundings, I began to realize that when patrons left the pub, they would ring a bell that hung from the ceiling and recite poetry. At first I thought the activity was quirky and fun, but as time passed, I began to realize that every single patron cited poetry before they exited.

I heard Frost, Dickinson, Shakespeare and Whitman; just to name a few.  Each poem was beautiful and given by memory!  As the bell rang, everyone inside the pub stopped what they were doing to listen intently to the poetry and cheer on the reciter.

I began to segue from enjoying the moment to full-blown panic mode. What poems did I know?  Could I remember any from my childhood?  Is Dr. Seuss considered a poet?  Why isn’t my Wi-Fi working on my phone? Why can’t I search the internet for help?

Thankfully, I got a grip on myself, remembered to take a deep breath, and relax. My training in mindfulness kicked in. We’re taught to take time to build a “mindful” activity each and every day. It may be any routine activity you complete daily, such as:

  • Being outside and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine
  • Washing your hands and feeling the warmth of the water on your skin
  • Listening to the birds sing outside your window

Slowing down and giving those tasks your full attention helps you appreciate small moments of stillness.

When we are mindful and pay attention to the details of our experiences, we show up for our lives. We do not miss out by being distracted or wishing things were different.

Find your inner calm by adding these strategies into your daily life:

  • Unplug – turn off the electronics and enjoy the still
  • Declutter – clear out the cupboards and organize your desk to give you a sense of order
  • Breathe – take a moment and just breathe
  • Exercise – find time to exercise and release endorphins
  • Read a poem aloud – your mental “to-do list” melts away and thoughts focus entirely on the lyrical sounds of the words

Incorporate one or more of these strategies into your daily habits and you will be well on your way to increasing your inner calm!

By the way, after allowing my mind to clear from it’s panic stricken state, I finally recalled the poem The Dust of Snow by Robert Frost:

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued


Thanks to my eighth grade English teacher for requiring us to memorize a poem!

What poem would you recite?

Written by: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Erie County




myplate_yellowHow many vegetables did you eat yesterday?

MyPlate recommends that adults consume at least 2-3 cups of vegetables each day, making half your plate fruits and vegetables at each meal. Breakfast is a meal where fruit often makes an appearance, but it is also a great opportunity to kick-off your vegetable consumption for the day!

Below are five delicious breakfast ideas that include vegetables:

  1. Zucchini bread oatmeal. You can make a batch of the baked oatmeal that the recipe linked to here instructs, or simply add shredded zucchini to overnight oats in place of part of the liquid. Zucchini bread oatmeal is a great high fiber, low fat alternative to zucchini bread. Alternatively, if you’re a fan of pumpkin bread, consider stirring canned pumpkin into your oatmeal for another nutritious breakfast.
  2. Frittata. Combine your favorite chopped veggies (mushroom, bell pepper, tomato, onion, etc.) with a mixture of egg, herbs and cheese for a delicious breakfast casserole. For added convenience, bake in a muffin tin for single-serve portions! muffin tin fritattas
  3. Breakfast sandwiches or wraps (burritos). Start with a whole wheat English muffin, tortilla or slice of toast, then add scrambled eggs, cheese, and your favorite veggies (spinach, mushroom, tomato, avocado, etc.) for a hearty breakfast sandwich. You could also fold your stuffed tortilla in half and cook it in the skillet for a quesadilla!
  4. Made-over muffins. If you enjoy eating muffins at breakfast, prepare varieties at home that include whole wheat flour and shredded veggies to ramp up the fiber content. Shredded zucchini and carrots make tasty muffins! Pineapple carrot muffins are one of my favorites.
  5. Power smoothies. If you enjoy whipping up a morning smoothie, try adding spinach or kale to the mix! These leafy greens are rich in nutrients, and chances are you’ll hardly notice that they’re there!

How do you add veggies to your breakfast? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


Author: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu



Mullen, M. & Shield, J.E. (2017). Veggies for Breakfast? Yes! Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. eatright.org

USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov (2017). All About the Vegetable Group. choosemyplate.gov/vegetables.

Healthy Snacks

At the beginning of this year, I wrote Baby-steps To A Healthier You. I shared how I was going to make smaller weekly goals to help me reach my overall goal of losing weight and becoming healthier. Last month I shared my reflection about my progress in My Healthy Breakfast Evaluation. Just a quick recap, I am giving myself time to put my goal into action and then additional time to reflect on how things are going and what adjustments I need to make to continue progress toward my goal. I want to make sure that I feel successful so I do not get discouraged and lose momentum. The last thing I want is to revert to old habits. I was going to start with breakfasts first and then move onto snacks.

My breakfasts took a little longer to accomplish than I had anticipated. We all know that life can throw you curve balls and sometimes things can get a little chaotic. For the past two months, my life has been a whirlwind, so I have been living one day at a time. However, I am happy to report that I have lost 5 pounds! Could I have lost more? Certainly. However, I shared that this is a complete lifestyle change for me as I am trying to break old habits. I continue to remind myself that even if I cannot physically see the results, this does not mean that my body is not changing on the inside. After all, slow progress is still progress.

I have officially graduated myself to snacks this week. In preparation, I have done some research to help set myself up for success. If you suffer from Snack Attacks like myself, then I have great news for you! The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has fantastic handouts for healthy snacks. They even have handouts broken down into specific categories. Maybe you are looking for snacks to control your blood sugar, snacks under 100 calories or just a list of healthy snacks in general. You can find all of these handouts, plus more on their patient education health information website.

A snack helps control your appetite.

apples and peanut butter

Think of it as a mini meal to help your body get the nutrients it needs. Make sure your snack has a balance of carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. 1 small apple with 1 piece of light string cheese
  2. 1 cup of carrots with 1/3 cup hummus
  3. 6 ounces Greek yogurt with ½ a large banana
  4. ¾ cup blueberries and ¼ cup almonds


I encourage you to print off one of the snack handouts from the Wexner Medical Center and tape it to the inside of one of your kitchen cabinets. This way if you’re stuck on what to eat you have a quick reference!

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu


Brinkman, P. (2011). Snack Attacks!. Live Healthy, Live Well. livehealthyosu.com/2011/11/23/snack-attacks/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Losing Weight: Getting Started. cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/getting_started.html

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (2018). Patient Education. patienteducation.osumc.edu/Pages/Home.aspx