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Couple talking to doctor about diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a serious and costly chronic disease that affects about 10% of all US adults. What’s often lost in this statistic though, is that they have loved ones who often share the burden of managing diabetes. When a person is diagnosed with diabetes they often have multiple behaviors that they are asked to adopt, including changing eating and physical activity patterns, monitoring blood sugar and taking medication. Loved ones can either help or hurt someone manage diabetes depending on how they communicate and interact.  Poor relationships between family members can lead to poor diabetes self-care, high blood sugars, stress, and many other negative health outcomes.

Family members and loved ones can help a loved one by adopting these strategies:

  • Be aware that behavior change is difficult and can take months to develop a habit. People go through different stages and can even relapse.
  • Nagging doesn’t help people change. They have to be motivated to change themselves. Others in the family can help the person with diabetes discover their own internal motivations. Asking questions that start with “what, why, how” can get loved ones thinking about what they are looking forward to in life and why it might be important to manage diabetes.
    • “What are you looking forward to within the next six months?”
    • “How will diabetes affect your plans?”
  • When it comes to discussing the potential consequences of inaction, use “I” statements and observations versus “you” statements, which can come across as shaming or nagging. For example:
    • “I care about you and I’m worried about the complications that diabetes can cause if we don’t make some changes.”
  • Listen to your loved one’s frustrations, concerns, emotions. Repeat what they say so they know you are listening.
  • Change your own habits and behaviors to support your spouse or family member. If you don’t eat healthy, it won’t be easy for your loved one!
  • Family members need to be on the same page in terms of understanding diabetes management. Visit the doctor together and ask questions or take classes together. Consider taking Dining with Diabetes: Beyond the Kitchen together. The course focuses on carbohydrates, fats, sodium, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This easy to follow three-module course includes interactive presentations, videos, activities, and access to trusted resources and apps.
  • Encourage your family member to set their own goals, and to find someone to hold them accountable.

Sources

American Diabetes Month. American Diabetes Association. (2019). Accessed at http://www.diabetes.org

Dellifield, J., Remley, D., Baker, S., Bates, J. Communication Strategies to Support a Family Member with Diabetes. (2018). Ohioline. Accessed at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5322

Treber, M. Set a Wellness Goal for the New Year. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. (2019). Accessed at https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/01/07/set-a-wellness-goal-for-2013-4/

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, Wellness. OSU Extension.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Ross County.

 

Let it Snow!

Snow is predicted this week by the weather channel. Here in northern Ohio, we have already experienced a few snowflakes. Mother Nature doesn’t care what the calendar says because she has a mind of her own. So we need to get ready for falling temperatures, both mentally and physically.  Being prepared for winter will keep us safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Take these steps to prepare your home for winter:

Winterize your home

  • Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
    • Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
    • Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.

Check your heating systems.

  • Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
    • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
    • Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
    • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
      • Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
      • Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

Get your car ready for cold weather use before winter arrives.

  • Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
  • Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include:
    • cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries;
    • blankets;
    • food and water;
    • booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction);
    • compass and maps;
    • flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries;
    • first-aid kit

Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages.     

  • Ensure your cell phone is fully charged.
  • When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit including;
  • Battery-operated devices – flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra medication
  • Baby items
  • Cat litter or sand for icy sidewalks

Protect your family from carbon monoxide.

  • Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement and garage.
  • Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.


Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; windproof coat, mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.

When You Plan to Travel:

  • Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
  • If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.

Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car.

  • Make your car visible to rescuers. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna, raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing), and turn on the inside overhead lights (when your engine is running).
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area. Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away.
  • Keep your body warm. Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
  • Stay awake and stay moving. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve circulation and stay warmer.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. Have a safe and healthy winter!

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

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

References:

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/winter

Monday I shared that to celebrate my 40th birthday my friends and I joined forces to fill our local communities with random acts of kindness.  We spread our kindness amongst 20 states and 5 countries and we all learned many lessons along the way.

Small Acts Big Changes

One part I enjoyed about this project was the variety of acts that were done. Some acts influenced many people such as a donation to a food bank. Other acts were smaller yet still inspiring.  A simple act can have a large impact on a person when done at the right time with the right intentions. One act of small kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. Any act of kindness can be contagious and inspire others to pass on another kind act. It is hard to measure the impact of one simple act, so never think an act is too simple or small to spend time on.

One of the kindest acts someone ever did for me was to show up at my house with a plate of cookies as I was going through a tough time. She set those cookies on my counter, sat on the floor and played with my eight-month-old baby. She might not remember that day, but I will never forget it.  A plate of cookies and a half-hour of time, something I remember more than ten years later.

Missed Opportunities

 Often I find myself second-guessing a kind idea or intention I have. I will overthink something so long that an opportunity passes me by and I promptly switch to beating myself up for missing an opportunity. I was so inspired by my friends and what they were accomplishing that acting on a kind deed became easier for me to do. It became more second nature and I was more confident offering to help someone or pass on a compliment.

More Gratitude

Kindness promotes gratitude. Being kind to others encourages one to consider what is positive in their own life. As we went through forty days I noticed this happening in our group. We started posting about how others were being kind to us and the deeds that made our days a little better. Some of these acts happen so frequently or regularly we forget to show gratitude for them. For example, I noticed the bus drivers who get my children to school safely every day, the mailwoman who reliably delivers my mail, the people at the gym whose positivity make working out fun, and drivers on the road who let me over or wave me on at a stop sign.

According to Psychology Today, Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s interests. In performing the selfless act, a person may undercut their selfish interests. This process can lead to more gratitude.

 Did we change the world? No. This reminds me of the song lyric; I can’t change the world but I can change yours. I don’t know if we permanently changed anyone’s world. I like to think we lightened a few loads, and added some extra smiles to our communities and that is enough. It is enough because it changed us.

When you can, hold the door, let someone over on the freeway, smile at a stranger. Do what you can where you can to make your corner of the world a little kinder- it is enough!

Sources:

I Can’t Change the World, but I Can Change Yours. (2019, November 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/11/04/i-cant-change-the-world-but-i-can-change-yours/.

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

I turned forty this year. That is a big milestone to celebrate and yet I did nothing except manage to stay alive 14,600 days in a row. Nevertheless, the fact that forty came for me and I am somewhat excited means that this milestone deserves a celebration. I grew up with a dad in the Air Force, and we moved every four years or less. My spouse is an Air Force civilian and we’ve spent his career calling different places in the US and around the world home. This means that my friends are scattered all over the world. Gathering them together for a celebration would have been impossible.

 Last year I took on the “Kindness Boomerang” book as my resolution. It may be the only resolution I have kept my entire life. The book supplies an idea for a kind act and a quote for every day of the year. Even if I was unable to complete the suggested act, I still found inspiration in the daily quotes such as:

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions.” Amelia Earhart

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can so something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

I combined social media and the book and found a way to celebrate with my friends all over for forty days! I asked all my Facebook friends to sign up for a day to share a small act of kindness for 40 days leading up to my birthday. The response was overwhelming. Many friends responded, and for those 40 days shared their kind act on our Facebook group. We covered some distance. We had participants in all corners of Ohio, 19 other states and covering the globe in Germany, Japan, Italy, Finland, and Spain. We had a lot of fun, strengthened connections and learned a few things along the way.

Health benefits from being kind?

Do you want more energy or to feel happier? Raise your hand if you want to live longer! Are you looking to decrease feelings of depression or anxiety? Be kind!!

Research proves kindness is good for health. About half of the participants in a research study reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.

People who practice kindness regularly have 23% less cortisol, (the stress hormone) than the average population. A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that generous people are happiest overall. There are many other health benefits of being kind; lower blood pressure, reduced pain and increased positivity.

Next post we cover lessons learned about opportunities for kindness, the impact of small acts and my final thoughts on the project.

Sources:

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

small child staring at a smartphone

As a mom with three little children, I find it easy at times to use my smartphone or tablet to help entertain my children while I am trying to accomplish specific tasks. It is very convenient when we are standing in line somewhere or I need to distract them for a few minutes.  However, I know that I should have screen time limits for my kids. How much is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends preschoolers use screens no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. In today’s tech world that includes watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games, or streaming videos, games, apps or websites on smartphones or tablets.

Screen Time Effect

  • Harder to fall asleep at night
  • Raise risk for attention problems, anxiety and depression
  • Raise risk for gaining too much weight

Not all screen time is bad. Good screen time would be playing an interactive educational game together or watching educational programming where you are talking and reflecting with your child on what you are watching.

General Tips

  • Sit with your child during screen time and interact with them
  • Do your research before you allow them to play a game or download an app
  • Have plenty of non-screen time scheduled throughout the day
  • Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom especially at bedtime

Screen time rules will be similar to other parenting rules you might have – set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.

As your child grows and technology changes you will need to change your approach and rules in regards to screen time, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work well.

Sources:

Kids Health. (2019). Screen Time Guidelines for Preschoolers. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-preschool.html

MedlinePlus. (2019, May 17). Screen time and children. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000355.htm

Thompson, D. (2019, January 28). Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/features/limiting-tv-preschoolers#1

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

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Woman holding head
Do you ever feel like a hamster in the wheel just spinning around and around? Or like the world around you is always demanding something more from you? Life has a way of swallowing us up if we don’t manage our schedules. As I look at my monthly calendar, I feel overwhelmed by doctor’s appointments, volleyball games, meetings and more meetings, evening work programs, my daughter’s high school homecoming, house repairs, conference presentations, deadlines, webinars, family obligations, and traveling out of town for work 15 out of 26 days. 

As part of my job, I encourage people to practice healthy time management and stress management. Clearly, I have fallen victim to NOT practicing what I preach. I would like to say without hesitation, that I have not experienced first-hand how life responsibilities and demands can quickly create feelings of stress. That would be a lie. I am keenly aware of the warning signs and symptoms related to increased stress in my life. Like many people, I sometimes choose not to listen to my body’s cues.

Headaches and muscle tension are symptoms I experience when I am overwhelmed. The Cleveland Clinic identifies these other physical symptoms related to stress:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it.”
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face, or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach and/or diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Do you know how stress affects you? I encourage you to take some time to identify the signs and symptoms you experience related to stress. Once you know your own warning signs, it will be easier to manage stress. There are a variety of ways to cope with stress.  The key is choosing what works for you and what fits your lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic offers these stress management tips:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Set aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

If you practice healthy stress management techniques but your symptoms continue or worsen, please seek assistance from a healthcare professional. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available to anyone. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all calls are confidential.

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

References:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/clause-law-flood-stress-burnout-3213670/

It wasn’t until recently that I came to realize that I most likely experience the winter blues, which is more mild than Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I have never been a fan of fall (I know all of you fall-lovers just took a collective gasp) or winter. In fact, it is more accurate to say I despise them. Up until a few years ago, I never really connected the dots of my dislike of fall and winter to the possibility that I have the winter blues, or perhaps SAD.

In 2017 I became a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor. MHFA is designed to help regular people be able to recognize and better understand if someone they know is developing a mental health issue and how to help them. MHFA also teaches how to respond to someone having a mental health crisis. It wasn’t until I started teaching MHFA that I realized that the symptoms of SAD are similar to things I experience as fall approaches.

While I experience many of the symptoms of SAD, I am still able to enjoy my life and carry out my daily activities. The milder form of SAD is often called the winter blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms someone with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may experience include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

While fall and winter SAD are the most common, some people have symptoms during spring and summer. According to the Mayo Clinic the symptoms related specifically to fall and winter SAD , also known as winter depression, are:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

The symptoms most often associated with spring and summer SAD, also known as summer depression, are:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

While the exact cause of SAD is not known, there are some factors that may come in to play. According to an article by Rush University Medical Center, these are some of the possible mechanisms:

  • Dips in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.
  • Disruptions in circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which help control sleep-wake cycles.
  • Alterations in melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep.

Some risk factors for SAD include:

  • Family history.
  • Having major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Living far from the equator.

Some treatments for SAD include:

  • Exposure to sunlight.
  • Light therapy.
  • Psychotherapy.
  • Antidepressants.

In addition to these treatments, a University of Rochester Medical Center article gives these steps you can take to help ease symptoms:

  • Get help.
  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression.
  • Try to be with other people and confide in someone.
  • Do things that make you feel better.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Expect your mood to get better slowly, not right away.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs.
  • Delay big decisions until the depression has lifted.
  • Realize that people don’t often snap out of a depression.
  • Try to be patient and focus on the positives.
  • Let your family and friends help you.

So, if you or someone you know experiences either the winter blues or SAD, there is hope beyond the longer, sunny days of spring and summer. Anyone who has severe symptoms should seek professional help, especially if there are ever any thoughts of suicide or harm. I have not sought professional help, as I do not have any severe symptoms. My symptoms mainly involve lack of energy, sluggishness, mild agitation, and cravings. I have made it a point to get more exposure to light, especially earlier in the day, and I try to eat as healthy as possible and be as active as possible. Being proactive in these ways is enough to help ease my symptoms.

Written by:

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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

Photo Sources:

https://pixabay.com/photos/man-face-confused-head-depression-416473/

https://pixabay.com/photos/desperate-sad-depressed-hopeless-2100307/

References:

More Than Just the Winter Blues? Rush University Medical Center. Retrieved on 10/20/19 from: https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/more-just-winter-blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). (2017). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Found on 10/20/19 at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved 10/20/19 from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00755

National Council for Behavioral Health. (2019). Retrieved on 10/20/19 from: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/