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excited kids looking at a computer

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog titled Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. I was tired of feeling like I was so busy at times, yet not feeling like I accomplished as much as I could or should. I wanted to make some changes to my schedule and my work habits. I started researching proven strategies for increasing productivity. I am going to review my progress and provide some additional information about productivity.

Since I denounced the concept of multitasking in my last blog, I have reduced the amount of time I spend trying to multitask. I check my email in batches: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before and after lunch, and later in the afternoon. Logging out of email has helped reduce disruptions in my work flow. The downside is that I have been late getting on to Zoom meetings because my calendar did not give me the 15 minute warning. So, I have learned to set the alarm on my phone for these times. This allows me to keep email closed, yet not miss other obligations.

Another thing I have been doing, is avoiding ‘visiting’ with my co-workers first thing in the morning. More people tend to be productive and creative in the morning, rather than later in the day. This one has been challenging since I am a people person. At first I felt like I was not being friendly, so I explained my rationale to my co-workers so they would not think I am just being antisocial. This has been helpful for my own productivity. I have intentionally been designating morning time to work on projects like blog articles, webinars, and other “thinking” work and saving my socializing for the afternoon, unless my co-workers initiate a conversation.

While, I have been doing things that I learned from my research on productivity, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I want to get better at taking breaks from my work. I have a treadmill desk, so I often think I don’t really need to go outside or for a walk since I am able to walk anytime I want to right at my desk. This could not be further from the truth. According to MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen people who take regular breaks FROM their work are more productive. He suggests the question to ask yourself is not how many breaks you should take in a day, but “what is the appropriate time period of concentrated work you can do before taking break?” Pozen suggests between 75-90 minutes of work followed by a 15 minute break is a good ratio.

I am going to be more intentional about taking breaks FROM my workempty officein the next couple months. I have used socializing with my co-workers as one of my breaks from work, but I have not incorporated many other breaks aside from the occasional web-surfing in to my day. I want to incorporate LEAVING my office and/or building for at least a short walk or just to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors as my next goal for increased productivity.

I welcome any tips, tricks, or suggestions you have for increasing productivity since this is a journey for me. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/photos/children-win-success-video-game-593313/

https://pixabay.com/photos/simpolo-india-morbi-tiles-ceramics-2020200/

Sources:

Griffin, J. (2017) 4 Ways Multi-Tasking Decreases Productivity (And How to Avoid It). Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/why-you-shouldnt-multitask/

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

MIT Sloan Executive Education. (2017). Want to be more productive in 2018? Take more breaks. MIT Management Executive Education. Found at: https://executive.mit.edu/blog/want-to-be-more-productive-in-2018-take-more-breaks#.XOL8RSB7lhE

Wharton School. (2013). Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/productivity-in-the-modern-office-a-matter-of-impact/

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

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield@osu.edu

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One of my goals for this year is to explore mindfulness. In this blog, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned about this life changing topic.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in American mindfulness,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Path in forest I enjoy being outside in nature. I have often wondered why this is relaxing for me. Why is it that I breathe deeper and feel a sense of calmness come over me while enjoying the beauty of nature?

I have learned that it has to do with the focus on my surroundings and mental relaxation that I experience from being in nature. Moving mindfully provides us with several benefits and can help increase the awareness of our bodies and the surroundings around us. According to the American Heart Association, some benefits of mindful movement may include:

  • Manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • Motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

One reason that I enjoy exploring mindfulness in nature is that I am paying attention to my surroundings and experiencing several senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Watching the way that a blade of grass blows in the wind, feeling wind in your face, hearing the rustle of leaves, watching clouds drift across the sky are all examples of ways that we can pay attention to the details in nature. You can also enjoy these visual cues while looking out your window.picture of woods with trees, wildflowers

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Integrative and Complementary Medicine website offers several Mindfulness practices for you to explore. Click on the link and check out their resources.

Take time during your busy life to check out nature as I did this past weekend. I visited one of my favorite spots in the town where I live. A 90-year-old man has 4 acres of paths and trails through his back yard. You can walk and explore the Hosta plants and wildflowers he has planted over the years. One year he shared with me he planted 3,000 daffodil bulbs!  Imagine all those beautiful flowers!

Share in the comments how you enjoy mindfulness in nature.

Sources:

Dreskin, M., Smith, S. & Kane, D., Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors. Retrieved from: https://m.kp.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Powers-Barker, P., 2106. Introduction to Mindfulness. Ohioline Factsheet number HYG-5243. Ohio State University. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Suttie, J., 2018. Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for your Health. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health

Hostas courtesy of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, Chillicothe, Ohio.

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

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

Scary Food?

Food looks different when you suffer from Celiac disease. Seemingly normal food can have frightening ingredients, causing serious pain for someone with Celiac.

"Scary" picture of pasta salad with thumbtacks

Photo credit: knowCeliac.org

A cupcake isn’t simply a cupcake. Neither is a piece of pizza or bread or pasta. It’s severe abdominal pain or 300 other symptoms. This video shows how “normal” food appears to those who suffer from Celiac disease.

May is Celiac Awareness month, and here are some facts from knowceliac.org to help us learn more:

Celiac disease is NOT the latest diet fad.

While some people eat a gluten free diet as a choice. Celiac disease isn’t a choice. It’s a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming even the smallest amounts of a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. The only treatment: a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Source: Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac disease is more than watching what you eat. Far more.

Celiac disease can lead to a host of additional health problems like infertility, neurological disorders, heart disease, and some cancers.

Source: Celiac Disease Foundation

Social isolation is one of the most common issues for people with Celiac disease.

Food is at the heart of most social gatherings. Food that usually has gluten in it. That can make a person feel alone. You can read more about my daughter’s personal journey with Celiac on Nationwide Children’s Hospital Flutter page.

Source: Beyond Celiac

There are over 300 symptoms of Celiac disease which can make it difficult to diagnose.

It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have Celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Source: Beyond Celiac

There is no cure for Celiac disease.

It can only be effectively treated with a gluten-free diet.

Source: Celiac Disease Foundation

If you don’t suffer from Celiac disease, how can you help? Be supportive and compassionate.

What if everyone you know took 60 seconds to learn more about Celiac disease? And what if that 1 minute was enough to help others see that Celiac disease is real, even if its effects can’t always be seen on the surface? Watch this 1 minute video on Celiac Disease.

Many people simply don’t know about Celiac disease. You can help spread the word. Sufferers need our support and help to find a cure.

For more information, visit these sites:

Beyond Celiac, Canadian Celiac Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group, National Celiac Association

This material was adapted from knowceliac.org by Shannon Carter, MS, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Christine Kendle, MS, RDN, LD, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Tuscarawas County

 

Heavenly Hummus

traditional chickpea hummus

Hummus is a chickpea-based dip and spread that is a staple food and popular appetizer in many Middle Eastern nations such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Today, according to the USDA, hummus is growing in popularity in the United States, too! This trend is driven by consumer demand for healthier snacks and gluten-free products.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are naturally gluten-free; high in fiber, folate and protein; and they contain nutrients such as iron, calcium and magnesium.  Consequently, hummus provides more nutrients, more healthy fat and less unhealthy fat than many traditional American dips and spreads. The protein, healthy fat and fiber it contains can help you feel full, which can help with weight control. These nutrients can also help prevent heart disease and stabilize blood sugar. However, portion control is important with hummus, as the calories from the healthy fat it contains may add up quickly. A two-tablespoon portion of hummus contains about 70 calories. Hummus sold at the grocery store may contain large quantities of added sodium, too.

Luckily, hummus is not difficult to make at home. Classic hummus contains chickpeas, olive oil, tahini (a sesame paste), lemon juice and spices. For additional flavor or color, try including fresh herbs or vegetables such as roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, beets, edamame or artichoke hearts in your own personal recipe. Mash the ingredients with a fork or puree them in a food processor to obtain a dip-like or spreadable consistency. hummus plate with celery sticks and crackers

If you don’t have tahini at home, can’t find it in your local grocery store or simply don’t like its flavor, try this easy hummus recipe that utilizes plain, non-fat yogurt in its place.

Serve hummus with whole grain pita chips, wedges or crackers, or fresh cut vegetables like cucumber slices, carrot and celery sticks, bell pepper spears, grape tomatoes, or broccoli and cauliflower florets. You can also spread hummus on your favorite sandwich or wrap, or use it in place of mayonnaise in making a tasty tuna salad. Need more inspiration? Check out this list of 10 Ways to Enjoy Hummus!

Sources:

Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Nutrition, Selection & Storage. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/chickpeas-garbanzo-beans

Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Hummus. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-hummus/

Goldstein, J. Hummus. The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/hummus/

Gottfried, S. (2018). Is Hummus Actually Healthy? Here’s What the Experts Say. Time Health. http://time.com/5331376/is-hummus-actually-healthy-heres-what-the-experts-say/

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. After-School Hummus. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/after-school-hummus/

USDA Economic Research Service (2017). Pulses Production Expanding as Consumers Cultivate a Taste for U.S. Lentils and Chickpeas. https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2017/januaryfebruary/pulses-production-expanding-as-consumers-cultivate-a-taste-for-us-lentils-and-chickpeas/

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

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

Ohio AgrAbility is part of a national program dedicated to “cultivating accessible agriculture” by “helping injured or disabled famers.” Ohio AgrAbility and the OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences have partnered for many years at the Farm Science Review to show how Universal Design concepts from the home can also be used in the garage, shop, barn and garden. While farming is very different from gardening, the Ohio AgrAbility program generously shares relevant information and resources to make gardening easier and more accessible to all people. This article contains ideas of resources and information that can help may gardening and yard work easier for many of us.

red wooden table with herbs growing on the top

One of many benefits of raised beds and container gardens is that they can be easier to use for individuals who have a hard time reaching to the ground. A raised bed might be designed with a wide edge to allow someone to sit while they work. Another type of raised gardening space is a garden table.  The University of Maryland Extension shares instructions for building and growing a Salad Table.

garden gloves with velcro , holding a garden hand toolErgonomic tools are designed to help people work and live better and to prevent injury. An example of an ergonomic tool is a heavy-duty work glove that has a wide strip of Velcro to attach the handle of the tool to fit inside the grip of the gloved hand. This is helpful to those who might not have a strong grip or full use of their hand. Interested in more details about tips and tools for making the garden more accessible? Read the factsheet, Gardening with a Physical Limitation.

Safety is another important feature of Universal Design and can be addressed in many ways from bright enough lighting, handrails along steps and stairs and clear wide walkways.  In the yard and garden, make sure the edges between lawns, garden beds and walkways are level and easy to see. Here is one basic example of making a minor change in the yard in order to increase the level of safety.

garden hose on walk, dog running, child on stairs

Notice the long, heavy hose? It moved with the owner to this new home from a much, much larger yard. It is laying in the walkway because that is the location of the water spigot. Humans are probably at more risk than the dog at tripping over this hose. One simple, quick solution was to design a place to “store” the hose when not in use. It could have been a hose reel or hose cart but the owner already owned a large, blue empty planter. Not pictured here is that the owner eventually purchased a shorter, light-weight expandable hose that was not only easier to store when not in use but also easier and safer to use around the yard to reach the garden beds.

photo of porch and sidewalk and hose contained in a large blue planterOne description of the elements of universal design, “is a home that fits everyone’s needs, whether they are young or old, short or tall, with physical limitations or without”. In a similar way, gardens can be designed to meet the needs of all ages and physical differences to make it a safe and enjoyable hobby for all.

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, powers-barker.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Sources:

Ohio AgrAbility, (2019) Ohio State University Extension https://agrability.osu.edu/universal-design/recommendations

Farm Science Review (2019), Ohio State University https://fsr.osu.edu/

Universal Design (2019) Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/major-program-areas/healthy-relationships/universal-design

Salad Tables (2019), The University of Maryland Extension, https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/salad-tables%E2%84%A2

Jepsen, D. (2013) Gardening with a Physical Limitation, Ohio State University Extension https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AEX-983.3

 

telomere

When my sister-in-law turned 50, my family flew out to Arizona to help her celebrate. She warned us when we took our suitcases into the bedrooms to not leave our tennis shoes out in the open because her cat liked to chew on shoelaces. I forgot after the first couple of days and left my shoes on the floor. The next time I put them on, the laces snapped in half where they had been chewed and I had to tie my shoes with about one inch of shoelace.

The reason I’m sharing this story is because it’s a metaphor for what happens when we don’t follow exercise guideline advice. Have you heard the term “telomeres” before? Ten years ago, three American scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for their discoveries about telomeres. Telomeres are caps on the ends of our DNA strands (chromosomes).

Chromosomes hold our DNA, and the ends of them, called telomeres, help keep the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. Chromosomes are like our shoelaces, and telomeres are like the plastic tips on the end. Every time one of your cells divides, the telomere gets shorter. When telomeres get too short and cannot be repaired (like my shoelaces), chromosomes fray and the cells can no longer divide.

This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death. However, it turns out that we may have more control over our telomeres than we think. Lifestyle is an important determinant of telomere length and telomerase activity. The more exercise people get, the less their cells seem to age.

How to keep your telomeres lengthened.

Simple answer? Exercise regularly. Spring is the perfect time to refresh your exercise routine. You don’t have to worry about extreme cold, snow or ice. 30 minutes daily will provide you with younger looking telomeres. It’s still not clear what level of exercise intensity is required to yield the best results.

Recent studies show that higher levels of physical activity or exercise are related to longer telomere length. This relationship is particularly evident in older individuals, which suggests the role physical activity can play in combating the aging process.

Bottom line.

This complex field is still in its infancy, with more unknowns than knowns. So far, the findings reinforce commonsense advice about a healthy lifestyle— not smoking, exercising regularly, controlling stress, and having a healthy diet.

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

Sources:

https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/09/108886/lifestyle-changes-may-lengthen-telomeres-measure-cell-aging

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/article/aging-what-telomeres-can-tell

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5546536/

https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/telomeres/

 

 

Picture of phone screen, tablet screen, computer screen and television screenCan you and your family go a week without looking at screens when you’re not at work or school?

This is National Screen-Free Week. Most of us have our cell phones handy at all times.  We text, email or connect to social media without thinking about it.  Our children are playing games, watching videos and messaging others on their phones or tablets.  Plus the television blares in the background whether anyone is watching or not.  In fact, 52% of moms think they check their phones too often with 45% of children saying their parent checks their phone too often.

Can’t go screen-free for the week?  How about cutting back? The average child watches more than 2,300 hours of television each year, but only spends about 1,200 hours in school.  “We Can!” has a nice chart to print off to record the amount of time or times different screens are used.  Try these to limit screen time:

  • No screen zones in the bedrooms, only allow televisions and computers in the family room.  Park cell phones for the night in the family room before going to bed.
  • Set limits for watching television, playing video games, and using the computer, tablet, or cell phone.
  • No television or other screens during dinner. Talk to each other.
  • When watching television don’t just sit there, get up and move, at least during commercials.
  • Don’t use the television or other screens as a punishment or reward.

Screen time often limits the time children play creatively or communicate with the people around them.  Children need to explore their world through play using their imagination and curiosity.  This helps them gain skills of creativity which helps with problem-solving.  Communication skills suffer due to too much time spent watching screens and not interacting face-to-face with others.  Too much screen time has also been linked to an increase in obesity.

Try some of these 101 Screen-Free Activities:Picture of little girl blowing bubbles outside

  • Play outside – play a game of catch or Frisbee, jump rope, blow bubbles, sidewalk chalk
  • Paint a picture
  • Clean up or redecorate your room
  • Read a book
  • Learn a skill – cooking, change the oil in a car, craftingPicture of boys jumping in the air outside
  • Make dinner together
  • Play cards, charades or board games
  • Go for a walk or ride bikes
  • Study sign language
  • Put together puzzles, legos
  • Go bird watching
  • Plant a gardenPicture of two girls playing in the sand
  • Go through closets and donate items not used or have a garage sale
  • Listen to the radio and dance to the music
  • Sing songs together

Enjoy time together! Have some fun!

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

Reviewer:Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University

References:

Action for Healthy Kids. (2019). Skip the Screen.  Available at http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/storage/documents/pdfs/tipsheets-may-2018/ght-skip-screen-eng-span-bleedsfixed-091117.pdf

National Institutes of Health.  (2018). We Can!  Available at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/screen-time-log.pdf

Screen Free.  (2018). 101 Screen Free Activities. Available at https://www.screenfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/101-Screen-Free-Activities.pdf