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COVID-19 is the largest global disruption since World War II.  Sudden illness, disability, death, financial insecurity, virtual graduations and postponed weddings are all traumatic events that some have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trauma is experienced in many forms. Personal tragedy, violent crime, job loss, bullying, abuse, divorce, and natural disasters are just a few examples of trauma. Any traumatic event can take an emotional toll on an individual with the feelings of shock, confusion and fear it may bring. In addition, continuous news coverage and social media provide constant images of tragedy, suffering and loss. This repeated exposure may create traumatic stress for many individuals who did not experience the trauma themselves.

People respond to trauma in various ways.  Many show resilience while others are affected with a loss of security leaving them vulnerable.  Often, the response is physically and emotionally draining.  Many are overcome with grief and struggle to focus, sleep or control anger. 

Here are tips to help overcome trauma and begin the recovery process:

  1. Speak up.  Many have difficulty talking about trauma.  Consider reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, someone from your church or anyone you are close to and trust.  Start slowly.  Not all details of the trauma need to be shared. 
  • Do not blame yourself.  Self-blame is a common effect of trauma.  Work to accept that most traumas are out of your control.
  • Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Engage in activities that keep your mind occupied. You might choose to read, watch a movie, cook or take a walk in nature.
  • Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. After a disaster, getting back to a routine that includes normal eating, sleeping and exercising habits will help you minimize traumatic stress and anxiety.
  • Get connected.  Look for a support group in your area.  Often these groups meet weekly and discuss coping strategies and ways to become resilient.
  • Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while traumatized will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you have regained your emotional balance, and you are better able to think clearly.
  • Eat well.  Choose a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids which can help you better cope with the ups and downs that follow a tragic event.
  • Limit your media exposure to the traumatic event. Do not watch the news or check social media just before bed, and refrain from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.

Learning healthy and effective coping skills can help you live a fuller life and manage symptoms you may be experiencing with trauma.  Start today living your best life.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

National Institute of Mental Health (2020). Coping with Traumatic Events. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/coping-with-traumatic-events/index.shtml U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019). Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence

Stand Up Paddle, Sup, Water Sport, Modern, Paddling

In 2018, 768 million vacation days went unused in the United States. As someone who has never lost a day of vacation (I have carried days over from one year to another), I do not understand not using vacation time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job, in fact, I LOVE my job; however, I also love my time away. When this blog posts, I will be taking vacation. Though we do not have any plans, just having some time away from work will be nice.

COVID-19 has blurred the line between work and personal life for many. Millions have been teleworking since the epidemic started, where they were given little time to prepare for this new “normal”. Some people found themselves teaching and/or caring for younger children while trying to navigate this new work environment. I have older children who can care of themselves, but working from home has still been and continues to be an adjustment. I find myself working longer than usual on occasion since my office is now in my basement. When my schedule allows, I try to balance this with taking time during the day to get away from work. Maintaining balance and a separation of work and personal life is one thing that has enabled me to adjust to and to deal with some of the other stress related to COVID-19.

Even with the day-to-day balancing of work and personal life, it is important that we take time off to enjoy some “down time.” According to a report from the U.S. Travel Association, more than 55% of American workers indicated they had not used their allotted time off in 2017. When I first heard this statistic, I was amazed, but I was also curious as to why so many people do not use their vacation time. Here are some of the reasons:

Fear –No one else at their company can do the work and they will fall behind. They will miss out on important projects, decisions, or meetings. Pending layoffs, so they bank their vacation time to cash out should they lose their job. Can’t afford to pay for a vacation, so why even plan one?

Guilt–They feel badly about leaving the office for too long because their team might feel lost or overwhelmed. They feel badly that they can afford to pay for a vacation when others cannot.

Workplace Pressures–They aren’t sure or don’t think their company wants them to use their vacation time. Those who worried that taking vacation would make them appear less dedicated or replaceable were much less likely to use all their vacation time (61 percent left vacation time unused, compared with 52 percent who didn’t worry about this). Even when physically away from the office, they are expected to check and reply to e-mail, participate virtually in meetings and check voice messages. So why use vacation time?

Khobar, Fishing, Cycle, Alone, Saudi, Saudi Arabia

This same research shows that paid vacation is the most important benefit, besides health care to workers. So, why don’t people take their vacation? When the culture of a company does not encourage people to use vacation, they are much less likely to do so, compared to companies that foster a culture of taking time off. This lack of communication from the company combined with the above reasons, leads to employees not using their vacation time. I work for an organization that supports employees taking time off from work. My direct supervisor is on vacation this week and she lets us know ahead of time that she will not be available during this time and who we can contact should we need anything while she is off. Our Director also has told us about taking vacation time and not being available. Having people in leadership positions who encourage and support time off helps to reinforce my desire for time off.

Research shows that time away from work has numerous benefits for the person as well as the organization. These include:

Vacation is relaxing.

Breaks make you more productive.

A change of pace boosts creativity.

Even though the recent events and the current situation may have caused people to change plans, cancel gatherings, or postpone trips, we still need time away from work. The infographic below provides some insight as to people’s ideas about vacation this summer.

While we are not traveling any kind of distance due to COVID-19, we will be taking a few day trips and getting outside to enjoy some of the many benefits of being in nature. How are you spending your vacation time?

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Perry County

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Hardin County

Pictures:

https://pixabay.com/photos/stand-up-paddle-sup-water-sport-1545481/

https://pixabay.com/photos/khobar-fishing-cycle-alone-saudi-2234307/

Sources:

Frye, L. (2018). More People Are Taking Time Off, and That’s Good for Business. SHRM. Found on 6/26/2020 at:  https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/workers-taking-more-vacation-.aspx

Robert Half. (2020). The State of Summer Vacations. Found on 6/26/2020 at: https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/the-state-of-summer-vacations?utm_campaign=Press_Release&utm_medium=Link&utm_source=Press_Release

Seppala, E. (2017). Why You Should Take More Time Off from Work. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved on 6/26/2020 from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_should_take_more_time_off_from_work

Timo E Strandberg, Veikko Salomaa, Arto Y Strandberg, Hannu Vanhanen, Seppo Sarna, Kaisu Pitkälä, Kirsi Rantanen, Salla Savela, Tuula Pienimäki, Emmi Huohvanainen, Sari Stenholm, Katri Räikkönen, Reijo S Tilvis, Pentti J Tienari, Jussi Huttunen, Cohort Profile: The Helsinki Businessmen Study (HBS), International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 45, Issue 4, August 2016, Pages 1074–1074h, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv310 U.S. Travel Association. (2019). Study: A Record 768 Million U.S. Vacation Days Went Unused in ‘18, Opportunity Cost in the Billions. Retrieved on 6/26/2020 from: https://www.ustravel.org/press/study-record-768-million-us-vacation-days-went-unused-18-opportunity-cost-billions

As I recently reminisced with a group of friends, interwoven in our conversation were comments about our use of technology when we were teens. We wrote letters to one another instead of sending emails. We made very short long-distance calls rather than texting. We even took photos on a camera with film that had to be developed!

In the last week I have become the parent of a teenager. This is a time of transition in my parenting style. We want to raise young people who can not only function on their own but make good and wise choices and be of benefit to others and society. Therefore, we should be well-informed parents on the topics below when it comes to teens and screens.

Cyberbullying: Bullying is a tale as old as time, but technology allows for increased opportunities to harass others without limitations of time and space. This often leads to silent and continued suffering for teens. One of the best resources that I have found on this topic is from the Cyberbullying Research Center. This is co-directed by two professors of criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic University.

They define cyberbullying as: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. This includes incidents where adolescents use technology to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.” According to their research over the past 13 years, 28 percent of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.

Online predators: A 2014 Oklahoma State University study explored teacher and counselors’ perceptions of preventing sexual assault from online predators. They identified five themes that contribute to this problem including lack of parental supervision, social networking websites and chat rooms, teenagers need for relationships, instant gratification among teenagers, and lack of education for parents. A Cornell University study from 2013 showed that many parents were underestimating risky online behavior of their children.

One idea I find particularly interesting is creating a family online safety contract with expectations for both child/teen and parents. There are lots of examples to set the stage for some great discussions about boundaries. Having “parental controls” turned on is not the same as having conversations with your tweens and teens about expectations while online.

The lingo: I laughed at a t-shirt I saw the other day that said, “No one prepares you for the transition from Ma-ma to Mommy to Mom to Bruh.” Teens have always had their own language. One way to decode or to better understand abbreviations and acronyms is through the Common Sense Education Digital Glossary or Cyberbullying Research Center Glossary. They can help you understand vamping and doxing, the difference between TikTok and Yik Yak, YOLO, FOMO, PAP and POS.

All in all, the worst thing we can do as parents is hand youth a tablet, phone or laptop and just hope they will be safe. We wouldn’t say, “Here’s a car. Drive it whenever you want, however you want, anywhere you want.” The most important thing we can do is to talk with our tweens and teens about the good and the bad and set clear expectations. Adolescents don’t think about the future or consequences the same way that adults do. That is why they have us in their lives. It is both a great privilege and challenge to be in this interdependent coaching phase of parenting a teen.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Summary of Our Cyberbullying Research (2007-2019) https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research

Baghurst, T., Alexander, R., Tapps, T. (2014) Academic Exchange Quarterly Winter Volume 18, Issue 1 Ways To Protect Students From Online Predators. http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/t5414v4.pdf

Segelken, H.R. Cornell Chronicle (October 202, 2013) Parents could be clueless about risky online behavior. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/10/parents-could-be-clueless-about-risky-online-behavior

PureSight Online Child Safety (2020) Family online safety contract. https://puresight.com/Useful-tools/family-online-safety-contract.html

Common Sense Education (2020) Digital Glossary. https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-glossary

Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J.W. Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Glossary: Social Media, Cyberbullying, & Online Safety Terms To Know https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-online-safety-glossary.pdf

Secondhand Screen Time

As the parent of a one-year old, I sometimes feel like my husband and I find ourselves playing a game of “hide the smart phone” with our son. We try to keep our phones out of sight because the moment he sees one, he grabs for it and wants to play with it. I’m sure many parents of young children can relate!

Earlier this year, a colleague of mine sent me an article titled “Is Secondhand Screen Time the New Secondhand Smoking?” This article certainly has an eye-catching title that may seem extreme to some. While I think this article has some valid points, I want to acknowledge up front that screens are not inherently evil, and the author of this article is not saying that a parent’s use of a screen is the same as a parent’s choice to smoke. Unlike smoking, screens have many useful and necessary functions in our world today, and it would be unreasonable to stop using them altogether.

What is concerning about parents’ screen use is that – like smoking – screens can be addictive.

When parents “read the news, check email, text friends or scan social media parenting groups… kids, even babies, notice these habits. They see parents reach again and again for a seemingly magical object that glints and flashes, makes sounds and shows moving images. Who wouldn’t want such a wonderful plaything? Trouble is, if the desire for a phone builds in infancy, it can become second nature.”

As I watch my own son grow and develop, I am becoming ever more aware of how I am always on stage for him. He is constantly watching what I say and do and learning how to interact with the world through me. Consequently, I have become much more mindful about how, when and where I use my smart phone. I have made a conscious effort to refrain from checking email or social media at times when I could be interacting or engaging in unplugged playtime with him, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This effort has necessitated a shift in my media use habits. I check apps less often and only during certain times of the day. To help lessen the temptation to pick up my phone while with my son, I also turned off all non-essential notifications such as those for email and social media. Currently, the only notifications I receive are for phone calls and text messages.

Still, there are times when my husband or I need to use a smart phone in the presence of our son. In these occasions, some experts suggest narrating your actions to your children, whether you are ordering diapers or checking the weather. When parents take time to explain how they use their screens, and when they mindfully consider their use of screens in the first place, they help children learn to interact with technology in a healthy way.

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Children and Media Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx

Caron, C. (2019). Ask NYT Parenting: I use my phone for everything. Is that harming my kids? https://parenting.nytimes.com/culture/phones-parents

Powers-Barker, P. (2019). Congratulations! You are a role model. Live Smart Ohio. https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/family-and-relationships/powers-barker-1osu-edu/congratulations-you-are-a-role-model/ Renstrom, J. (2020).

Is secondhand screen time the new secondhand smoking? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/is-secondhand-screen-time-the-new-secondhand-smoking-129500

For this blog, I’m going to focus on de-cluttering paper. Paper is one of my favorite mediums. I like magazines, books, vintage paper, and paper ephemera. I enjoy notebooks, journals, and lovely paper. I like cookbooks and recipes which I have collected for years. I take my time selecting my calendar for the year being mindful that I will have this paper document for a year. Personal disclaimer: I know that I have an abundance of paper. I am a work in progress. I am making strides in this area but it is still a challenge for me.

How do you Tame the Paper Monster? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

Read your magazines. Are there articles you must keep? If so, take a picture or tear out and file. Really look at the article or recipe and consider whether it really fits your needs right now. Can you find this on-line so that you are not keeping the paper copy? Once you have read them, either pass them on or recycle them. Don’t let them pile up and clutter your space. If you don’t enjoy them anymore, don’t renew your subscription. Even if they send you the best deal ever! IF you don’t renew, and you miss the magazine, be patient, you will probably get an invitation back at a deep discount.

Sorting recipes - messy papers

Sorting recipes

Recipes & Cookbooks: I recently went through two notebooks full of recipes and a box of clipped recipes. Over the years, I had fun collecting these recipes. I had good intentions that I’d fix all of these foods for my family but honestly, I didn’t fix many of them. I gave away many cookbooks, recycled the recipes I won’t fix and streamlined this into one notebook.

Clean table - after sorting through recipes

After – Clean table after sorting recipes

Bills: An easy way to decrease bill clutter is to go online and pay the bill immediately. I pay most of my bills online so that I can schedule the payment before the due date. When you receive the bill, go online to pay or schedule it. Then, file the bill, recycle the envelope, and shred any paper with identifying information. Remember that you can also set automatic payments or e-bills to decrease paper bills even more. Did you know that some companies charge $1 or more per month for a paper bill? Read the fine print on your bill and you might notice this. If so, consider getting e-bills to reduce paper clutter, help the environment and save money.

Coupons: Will you save money by using your coupons? If so, organize them in a way that works for you. It might be an envelope, small file folder or coupon holder. Carry fast food coupons in your car – so they are handy and ready to use. Figure out what works for you and make it happen.

Financial papers, tax returns: Shred any papers with identifying information. Credit card applications, bills, receipts or other mail that contains personal information. For specifics about how long you should keep certain papers, talk to your accountant or check out these suggestions from University of Illinois Extension.

Start small this summer to De-clutter – take steps to tame the paper monster, clear out a closet, photograph your special items and move them out of your life. Remember that it takes time and it may not be easy. Set a timer and go! Clear out an area – you will feel great about the progress you made. Need more inspiration? Check out the blog posted on Monday about De-cluttering your space.

Do you have an idea that works for you? If so, share it in the comments below.

Sources:

Dealing with Clutter. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/dealing.html 

Kennedy, S. (2018). Keeping Important Papers and Documents. University of Florida/IFAS Extension Wakulla County, Retrieved from http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/2018/04/01/keeping-important-papers-and-documents/

What Do I Do With. . . Financial and Tax Records.  Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/financial_tax.html

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

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

It seems that everyone is posting on social media how they are de-cluttering, cleaning out, donating, or giving away items. Have you joined this effort? If not – check out these easy ideas to help you get started.

When you see the perfect space – neat and orderly, how do you feel? Take a moment to think about your style of cleaning and de-cluttering. Do you tackle the entire job? Do you take it a small section at a time? Do you avoid it at all costs? Let’s think about your closet and how you might tackle it.

I like to de-clutter at the beginning of each season. It is the perfect time to look at clothes, pick the favorites and get rid of things you do not enjoy wearing. If they don’t fit, are torn, or just don’t work anymore, get rid of them! As you select what you are going to Card with questions about keeping or tossing an itemwear for the day, inspect an item or two in your closet and decide – do you want to keep or give them away? If you don’t want it anymore, put it in a give-away bag. Take it to your car or garage so that it is out of sight and ready to donate. This quick strategy can help you clear out your closet. Many people suggest taking everything out of your closet and purging – this works great, but you may feel overwhelmed with this approach to clear out your closet. Up front I want to acknowledge that I am a work in progress. I will not profess to having a neat and orderly home, but I am making strides in this area.

While researching information for this blog, I found a great way to help us donate items that have sentimental value to us. What is it? It is simply taking a picture of the item before donating it! Does this sound too simple? Check out this short video shared by Ohio State University Professor Rebecca Reczek for insights into this simple strategy.

What is your next step? Just start! – I like this quick list of 101 items to help jump start your de-cluttering. Can you eliminate any of these from your life? IF you are ready, get rid of the items and move on.

 

 

 

Visit the University of Illinois Extension website for more detailed information on Dealing with Clutter.

Neat and Orderly Living Space

Organized Living Space

Remember, find an organizing style that works for you and get started today! Soon your area will be neat and organized!

Do you have an idea that works for you? If so, share it in the comments below.

 

Sources:

Dealing with Clutter.  https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/dealing.html

Keep or Toss Card. Adapted from University of Illinois, Clear the Clutter: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/clearing.html

Reczek, R. (2017). Scientists find clever way to help you de-clutter your home. Retrieved from: https://news.osu.edu/scientists-find-clever-way-to-help-you-de-clutter-your-home/

Rupp, M. (2020). De-clutter List. Available: go.osu.edu/declutterlist

Photo credit:

Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

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

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

Today’s topic is one that comes up often in discussions on screen time: are video games safe for my children to play? It is a complicated question with no easy answer, but I wanted to share some of the latest research.

It is first helpful to define what we mean by a video game. Games have a wide variety of intended audiences and purposes. They range from education focused (like math or words games) to competitive skills games (like sports and racing) to those that are primarily focused on killing and violence. University of Minnesota Extension offers some positive results from the healthy, balanced use of video games. These include increasing motivation for children, quick and clear feedback about performance, and they can promote a feeling of mastery for their participants.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on research about violent games, because these are usually the games parents and grandparents are most concerned about.

First off be familiar with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings listed on the box. E is appropriate for Everyone, age 6 and up. E+ is appropriate for ages 10 and up. T means appropriate for Teens or youth age 12 and up. M ratings are for mature audiences and are not appropriate for any age youth. Parents are responsible to use these ratings, as most stores do not enforce them.

Over the past few years, there has been conflicting research data presented from media on the actual effects of playing violent video games. For decades, Brad Bushman at The Ohio State University has been studying this topic. In 2012 his study found that people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations from others each day they played. Those who played nonviolent games did not. His more recent study last year found that children who played violent video games were more likely to play with real guns.

However, the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford recently found no relationship between aggressive behavior in teenagers and the amount of time spent playing violent video games. Experts from Common Sense Media cite there are lots of factors that will determine whether kids will become aggressive, antisocial, or apathetic towards others.

The following information from the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Violence Policy is incredibly helpful. “Some research has indicated that the context in which media violence is portrayed and consumed can make the difference between learning about violence and learning to be violent. Plays such as Macbeth and films such as Saving Private Ryan treat violence as what it is—a human behavior that causes suffering, loss, and sadness to victims and perpetrators. In this context, with helpful adult guidance on the real costs and consequences of violence, appropriately mature adolescent viewers can learn the danger and harm of violence by vicariously experiencing its outcomes.”

I have found the most recent research studies focus more on the “loss of good” behavior rather than the “increase of bad” behavior. Research at Loyola University Chicago compared the brains of gamers and non-gamers and results suggest chronic violent gameplay may affect emotional brain processing or ability to show empathy. Additionally, some of the actions players are able to do in the game simulations are concerning; especially with the treatment of women. I am personally surprised there are not more studies examining the potential of violent and sexually suggestive games as a gateway to domestic violence and pornography.

Be very familiar with any game your child is playing. Read up about it. And if you decide to exclude these games from your home, have an honest and open dialogue with your teen about why.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Olson, K.A. University of Minnesota Extension. (2009) Video games: A problem or a blessing? https://extension.umn.edu/communication-and-screen-time/video-games-problem-or-blessing

Entertainment Software Rating Board. (2020) https://www.esrb.org/ratings-guide/

Ohio State News. (December 9, 2012) Violent Video Games: More Playing Time Equals More Aggression. https://news.osu.edu/violent-video-games-more-playing-time-equals-more-aggression/

The Ohio State University School of Communication. (October 4, 2017) Bushman co-authors study on violent media and children’s interest in guns. https://comm.osu.edu/news/bushman-co-authors-study-violent-media-and-children%E2%80%99s-interest-guns

Przybylski, A.K. and Weinstein, N. Royal Society Open Science. Volume 6, Issue 2 (February 2019) Oxford Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.171474

Common Sense Media. (2014) Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive?  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/violence-in-the-media/does-exposure-to-violent-movies-or-video-games-make-kids-more-aggressive

Pediatrics Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001) Media Violence. (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/108/5/1222.full.pdf

Stockdale, L. Loyola University Chicago. (2015) The Influence of Media Violence on the Neural Correlates of Empathic Emotional Response https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_diss/1495/

Photo: https://www.pickpik.com/video-controller-video-game-controller-remote-control-gaming-console-game-43645

When I asked if your home office is killing you – I’m not asking if your dog drives you nuts because he barks at every delivery truck going down the street, or your children need food/homework help/or fight every time you get on a Zoom. I’m asking if you need a better desk, computer set up, chair, or lighting?

I’m sure many of you are like me – your work told you a couple days ahead that you would be working from home – you needed to gather your laptop, monitor, key board, cords, mouse, any files, resources — and take them home. At the time you probably thought you would be working from home for a couple weeks – maybe a month? Now approximately 12 weeks later – they are still encouraging work from home and are suggesting that it will likely continue in part for at least the next several months.  At this point you may start to think a little more about what you need to make this home-office a little more ergonomic if you haven’t already.

To make your home office more ergonomic:

  • Use a separate key board, monitor, and mouse – not just your laptop. The top of your monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. If you need to, raise your laptop screen with a box or books.standing desk with raised monitor
  • Use an actual office chair or make your chair more comfortable by adding a cushion on the seat and rolling a towel or pillow to create lower-back support.
  • Use the 20-20-20 Rule to prevent digital eye strain. This is good at your home or work office. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a computer monitor, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. Locate your monitor about an arm’s length away to help as well. Consider adjusting brightness and using night light settings to reduce exposure to blue lights.
  • While it is fun to sit on the porch in a lounger on a beautiful day with your laptop or curl up on the couch with a blanket on a rainy day – limit the time that you do this. Having your legs in a horizontal position for an extended period of time can lead to muscle numbness.
  • Take breaks – just like you do at your regular office. Get up every 30 minutes and walk to get a drink, take a bathroom break, or just do a lap down the hall.
  • Find time to stand up – stand when talking on the phone, for part of your daily Zoom, or when listening to the next training you need to complete. Consider moving your laptop to the kitchen counter (and raise it with a box) so you can stand for a bit each day.
  • Support your feet with a box or books if they do not touch the ground when working. This will reduce stress on your spine.

Many things you can do to make your home office better use objects you already have around the house. If you need to ask for approval to purchase an external keyboard, go ahead, it is important to your health. Check to see if your workplace has an ergonomics department – many companies do, where they can provide products and even funds to improve your office. Take advantage of the good things about working in a home office too. After all you can throw a great lunch in the slow cooker in the morning, walk the dog during your break, wear flip-flops every day, and even open the window for fresh air and sunshine.

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

Reviewer:  Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Photo credit: Misty Harmon

COVID-19, social distancing and recent stay at home orders have impacted all aspects of life, including our finances. Protecting health has been a top priority in recent times.  We all need to be following guidelines and making our best efforts to stay physically and mentally healthy to prevent disease. Maintaining financial health during these times is also critically important. Financial wellness is an aspect of wellness that focuses on the successful management of finances. Improve your financial wellness today with these tips:

  • Create a budget. Take a close look at your spending and adjust your budget accordingly.  Saving wherever possible will help your budget in the future.
  • Establish an emergency fund. If you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. If you have money set aside for non-essential spending or travel, consider using these monies for emergencies instead. Any amount you can put aside to help support you and your household during an emergency will make an impact on your finances.
  • Pay down high-interest debt. If you have any high-interest debt (besides credit card debt) a personal loan or similar and your income has not yet decreased, consider paying off that debt now. The benefits of reducing debt are immense as this provides financial freedom.
  • Consider a balance transfer. Transferring any credit card balances to a 0% for 12-18 months is an option.  Look for no- or low-fee transfers and do your research on any new credit cards before committing. This will give you time to pay down the balance interest free which will free up more cash on hand for the unexpected and add to an emergency fund.
  • Look at your investments. Fight the urge to take a loss and withdraw all your money from the market. For mid-long-term time, it is important to stay the course.  No one can predict what will happen short term, yet over the long run, the economy and markets will come back.
  • Consider insurance options. Some insurance rates may have dropped offering discounted rates. Contact your insurance providers to see if you are eligible for a discount or lower rate. Compare rates with different providers.
  • Talk with your family about money. Discuss how market fluctuations are normal and be open about any negative impacts on your finances. Discuss ways you can save money as a family.
  • Get your credit reports.  AnnualCreditReport.com provides a yearly free credit report.  Read over your reports carefully for any suspicious activity.  If your reports reveal negative borrowing habits from your past, brainstorm ideas to correct them and improve your score.

Practicing financial wellness can have positive mental health benefits, including boosted self-confidence. Take charge of your finances today and be prepared for the future.

For free financial assistance, contact us at:  go.osu.edu/FinancialAssistance

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Preparing a Net Worth Statement. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5245

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Some Options for Resourceful Living. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5248

 

3 milk in glass containers with a blue background

What were once considered to be novelty products, plant-based milk alternatives are now a norm in the grocery store. Whether you choose to consume plant-based milk alternatives due to health complications, personal beliefs, or purely based on preference, deciding on the best plant-based beverage for you or your family can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to consider  such as  protein and calorie content.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the main contenders: rice, soy, oat, and almond milk. Furthermore, we will only be focusing on the nutritional components of these products. Please keep in mind that taste and price are factors to consider when choosing a plant-based beverage.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is commonly sought out by consumers who are allergic to both soy and nuts. Rice milk is relatively comparable to cow’s milk in terms of calories, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.1 Rice milk is actually higher than cow’s milk in terms of iron content.1 However, one drawback of rice milk is that it lacks an adequate amount of protein. Rice milk contains 1 gram of protein per 8 oz serving.1

Soy Milk

Soy milk compares to cow’s milk in terms of the amount of protein found in soy milk. An 8 oz. serving of soy milk offers 7-8 grams of protein.1 Soy milk is also rich in calcium, vitamin D, and iron.1 Soy milk also contains vitamin B12,2 a vitamin often under consumed in vegans and vegetarians.

Oat Milk

If iron is of main concern to you, then consider oat milk. Oat milk (1.8 mg) is higher in iron compared to cow’s milk (0.05 mg) and other plant-based beverages. When comparing calcium content, oat milk contains more calcium (350 mg) than cow’s milk (293). Oat milk is also rich in vitamin’s A and D, but is lacking in terms of vitamin B12. Lastly, oat milk is low in the category of protein content (4 g/ 8 oz. serving)

Almond Milk

bowl of milk with almonds next the bowl and a yellow napkin with various almonds

If you are looking for a low calorie plant-based milk alternative, almond milk is the option for you.1 Almond milk is also a good source of calcium (450 mg) compared to cow’s milk (293 mg).1 Almond milk is also a comparable option in terms of vitamins A and D. However, if you are looking for a beverage that is a good source of protein, almond milk is not the product for you (1 gram protein/8 oz. serving).

Bottom Line

Plant-based beverages are not a “one size fits all” for consumers. There is not one plant-based beverage that will meet will every consumer’s needs. It’s important to do your research on plant-based milk alternatives in order to ensure that your beverage of choice meets your personal nutritional needs because not all plant-based milk alternatives are created equal.

Figure 1. Comparison of plant-based beverages to 2% cow’s milk.1

Note– 2% milk was used as the cow’s milk comparison

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Brittany Kralik, BGSU Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension Office.

Reviewer: Margaret Jenkins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clermont County

Sources:

  1. Bridges M. Moo-ove over cow’s milk: the rise of plant-based dairy alternatives. Practical Gastroenterology. https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/06/January-18-Milk-Alternatives.pdf. 2018 Jan. Accessed: 2019 Jan 28.
  2. Wright KC. The coupe in the diary aisle. Today’s Dietitian. 2018 Sept;20(9):28. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0918p28.shtml