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Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category

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No it won’t, but it might help if you get infected, and over time might help your overall quality of life. I saw an interesting post on social media suggesting that following a healthy diet might protect us from coronavirus in addition to social distancing, wearing masks, etc. Science right now doesn’t support the idea that there is one “super-food” or special diet that can protect us from viruses, bacteria, and or other pathogens. Rather, having good dietary patterns, in addition to other healthy habits gives us better chances for positive health outcomes if we do get infected.

At the heart of immunity is the chemical process of inflammation that occurs in the body after exposure to a foreign pathogen. The response is complex involving white blood cells, antibody and antigens, clotting factors, and chemical signals that increase blood flow and blood vessel permeability. Nutrients we get from foods that are critical to this process include Vitamins C, D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein. Following the dietary guidelines and eating a variety of nutrient dense plants, meats, and fish ensures that you would get enough of these vitamins and minerals to support the immune response.

The gut microbiome is also important to the immune system. Bacteria in the colon break down fiber into substances that are helpful to your immune system. These bacteria are supported by prebiotic foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Probiotic foods such as yogurt can also be helpful. Alcohol, highly processed and fatty foods like sweets, chips, fried foods, and red meats aren’t helpful to colon bacteria thus weakening the immune system.

Following the dietary guidelines is one of the best ways to ensure that your immune system can succeed. Some high-risk groups though, such as the elderly, pregnant women, the critically ill, and low-come households may be at risk for dietary deficiencies and therefore should consider vitamin supplements in consultation with a physician. Multi-vitamins have not been proven to be effective in otherwise healthy individuals and are not a substitute for healthy eating. There is some evidence however that Vitamin D supplements might be especially helpful to many to promote immunity and protect against chronic disease.

Other factors that can improve your immune system include:

  • Avoiding too much alcohol
  • Getting 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Getting 150 of moderate physical activity every week
  • Quitting tobacco products
  • Practicing mindfulness techniques when stressed

Wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands frequently as recommended might prevent the coronavirus. Adopting one or two new healthy habits will also give you better chances of positive health outcomes in case you get sick, as well as give you a higher quality of life.  Consider setting a SMART goal to improve your health. Now is the time to get healthy!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Fairfield County, OSU Extension

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health. Nutrition and Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity

United States Department of Agriculture. Choose Myplate. Retrieved on 8/3/20 from https://www.chooseMyplate.gov

Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin D. Retrieved on 7/30/2020 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

BeWell Stanford. Setting A SMART goal. Retrieved on 7/30/2020 from https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

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The pandemic prompted many more people to plant vegetable gardens this year. Both seed companies and Extension Master Gardener programs have noticed this increase between purchases and visits to online courses and resources.  Some people had the time to plant because they were off work or working at home, others planted as a way to relieve their stress, and many planted to ensure they would have fresh produce for the summer (and maybe longer if they preserved by canning, drying, or freezing). In Ohio, these gardens are now yielding green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumbers, onions, sweet corn, and much more. When the first vegetables ripen everyone is excited to fix them for lunch or dinner, but after a few weeks you may be wondering “Why did I plant so much?” or “What can I do with the rest of this, because my kids won’t eat corn again this week?” If this is you – Ohio State University Extension (and other Land Grant Universities, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and the USDA) are here to help.home canned foods

There are several key points to keep in mind when you decide you want to preserve produce for the future, here are the top three:

  1. Always use reliable, approved guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, or Cooperative Extension. You may ask “Why can’t I just use anything I see on the Internet or make my pepper relish the way my Great Grandma did?” The main reason is because especially low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, or seafood) have to be pressure canned to prevent botulism, which is serious stuff. By using resources from the above sources, you ensure that you are using safe, tested procedures that will provide high quality results. Check the date too, are you using a source from the last couple years? New research and procedures come out all the time. Make sure you are using materials dated in the last 5 years (even though it may be fun to look at a cookbook from 50 years ago, canning isn’t when you want to follow that recipe). Remember that canning is a science, not an art.
  2. Decide if are you are canning, freezing, or drying the produce based on your plans for future use and the foods your family will eat. It does not benefit your family to spend lots of time and purchase the supplies needed if they will not eat the final product you preserve. For example, there are many things you can do with tomatoes – salsa, canned whole tomatoes, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, dried vegetable leather, and even spiced tomato jam. Consider the foods your family enjoys before you can 50 jars something that only one person likes.
  3. Ensure you have the proper supplies to make the product. Do you need a pressure canner, or can you use a hot water bath canner? Do you have enough Mason style canning jars or freezer quality containers? Do you need a food dehydrator, or can you use your oven or other drying racks? Here is a quick reference chart if you aren’t sure if you need to use a hot water bath or pressure canner.

In addition to the sources listed about for food preservation here are a few others:

Enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long by using safe preservation methods.

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

Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.

Sources:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/

University of Minnesota Extension, https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/canning-quick-reference-chart

Utah State University Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/news_sections/home_family_and_food/food-preservation-tips.

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Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on Pexels.com

Over the last few weeks I have been pondering a difficult decision. With all the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, I honestly do not know how I feel about my children returning to school – whether that means virtual learning or in the classroom.  

Many of these feeling came when our school district distributed a survey regarding back to school. I assumed it would be a survey with many questions regarding the return to school with several questions regarding virtual and classroom attendance. I was surprised the survey was one question: Are you sending your child to school or will they be doing virtual learning? This left me with racing questions! How can they have 75 students on a bus and social distance? How can they logistically serve the whole school lunch and maintain social distancing and food safety? If one student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 are they going to quarantine that class or the whole school? If I choose virtual learning, how engaging will it be?  

The decision of sending my children to school or learning virtually has been difficult. My husband and I are not alone. Parents across the world will make this decision, and even if it is different than ours, I am sure that this has been difficult for all parents! As parents navigating in an uncertain world, we need to support each other and our children. Here are some tips to help support your child going back to school whether they are returning to school or learning virtually:

  •  Empathize with your child(ren) and understand they may be feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19. Remind them that there are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and other safe such as washing our hands, not touching our face, and social distancing. 
  • Children do better with structure. Routine gives children a sense of security so even when there are abrupt changes, they know some things in their day will be the same. Allow your children to help design the schedule.  
  • Encourage your child(ren) to feel their emotions. Just like us they are missing out on events that are important to them. Acknowledge their feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness when they have missed out on ball games, dances, sleepovers with friends, etc. In a child’s eyes these are major losses. Tell them it is ok to feel the way they do. 
  • Find distractions and balance. Kids need relief from feeling frustrated. Be creative with your distractions. You can have a family game night, picnic supper outside, virtual play date with friends, or listen to music and dance!

As parents we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious too. Make sure you exercise self-care, so your children can rely on you to provide safety and security. 

Written by: Kellie Lemly, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Resources:

Bailey, B. (2020, March 18).  COVID-19:  Five Helpful Responses for families.  Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://consciousdiscipline.com/covid-19-five-helpful-responses-for-families/?mc_cid=2df75cbd90&mc_eid=ca6418d16f

UNICEF, (2020). Supporting your child’s mental health as they return to school during COVID-19. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, (2020). Schedules and Routines. On Our Sleeves. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves/find-help/tools-for-you/coronavirus/schedules

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Child is drinking water out of a plastic container.  Child is outside in the heat.

If you’ve been outside in the heat lately, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated. Water is essential to our bodies to live. As a matter of fact, we are made up of nearly 60% water! With so many ways to get water it doesn’t have to be boring! According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the average male needs 12 cups of water and the average female needs 9 cups of water per day.

            Flavor your Water. There are many ready-to-drink options available for flavored water, regular or sparkling. To save cash, you can flavor it yourself. Try slicing up your favorite fruit and adding it to a pitcher of ice-cold water. This is a great way to get a tasty and refreshing treat of hydration! You can also find sugar-free drink mixes at the grocery store to add a nice touch to your water and give it some pizazz! This is another great way to make drinking water less boring and help you be more apt to drink it!

            Hydration from Foods. Some foods contain very high amounts of water naturally. Some good water-containing foods are:

Who doesn’t love some watermelon on a hot summer day? And to think you could also be hydrating while you’re at it!

            Track It! It really does seem like there is an app for everything these days. One helpful app you might want to download is one to help you track your water intake! There are many choices available, which allow you to set goals and make it a game or challenge to reach your intake recommendations for the day. The app can send you reminders if you are having a difficult time reaching your water intake goals.  A few other water-drinking apps are: My Water, Water Reminder, and WaterLama.

            Find What Works Best for You. To really reach your goals, you may have to perform some trial and error. The most important tip is: it must work best for YOU! You might even try marking on your water bottles by tallying how many times you’ve filled up your bottle. If you love flavored water, go for it. If you’re savvy with technology, maybe the app would work best. I encourage you to try out a few different ways of getting your water intake up. Stay hydrated, my friends!

Try this recipe for Strawberry-lemon infused Water!

Ingredients:

½ of a lemon, squeezed and 3 strawberries, sliced

Directions:

Add ingredients to 16 ounces of water and allow to refrigerate for up to two hours for maximum flavor. Sip and enjoy!

Author: My name is Mackenzie Boyett and I am a senior dietetics student at Middle Tennessee State University. I will be completing my dietetic internship at Texas A&M University beginning in August, 2020. My passions lie in both nutrition and exercise, and my career interests include clinical nutrition and sports nutrition.

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

References:

Gordon, B. (2020).  How Much Water Do You Need.  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Available at https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need

Let’s Move Pittsburgh. (2019). Foods High in Water, Available at https://www.phipps.conservatory.org/assets/documents/Foods_High_in_Water.pdf

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I am amid a downsizing phase of life. Typically, when we think of downsizing, we think of empty nesters or older adults.  However, for me, I am downsizing simply because I am moving from a two-story home to a one-story home.   As I began to sort through my possessions, it became overwhelming.  What do I keep, toss, or donate? I had feelings of sadness for what I thought I would lose and anxiety over the idea of just where to start.

Downsizing Tool Kit

Did I mention I was also trying to do this all in one weekend…by myself?  That was my first mistake.  It is best to approach it one space at a time, starting with the space you use the least often. For me that was the kitchen. There were fewer items with sentimental attachments in my kitchen, so I was able to look at thing pragmatically to decide what to keep and what not to.  Also, I had to get my downsizing “tools” ready.  Items such as labels and markers, boxes to sort for sell, donate, gift, discard, and keep, and packing supplies such as paper, plastic bags, and tape were great to have on hand.  My tool kit kept me from becoming frustrated and kept me from burying myself into a corner where I would have to climb my way out.  

Keeping the flow organized (doing one space at a time) helped me to have a positive attitude and think of downsizing as an adventure.  According to researchers at Kansas State Extension, “a positive attitude allows you to meet challenges with less resistance.” Accepting change rather than resisting it while keeping a positive attitude helped me be more successful in achieving my downsizing goal, made me a harder worker, and helped me feel confident that I would continue to be successful.

When I had moments of anxiety or frustration, I gave myself permission to walk away for a moment.  Shutting the door behind me and taking a moment to just breathe helped.  I had to make a conscious effort to keep the big picture in mind of what I was going to gain rather than focus on what I would have to part with.  Acknowledging my feelings, the good and the bad, helped me to accept change and continue moving forward.

Yard Sales are a great way to sell your extra household goods.

With my change of attitude, surprisingly, downsizing was not so sad anymore.  It was actually a time to remember some great moments in my life.  Walking down memory lane was fun, but also made me realize that some of my stuff did not have any value to me, emotionally or physically. I wondered why I was even holding on to it. As I accepted change and learned to let go, I felt like a weight had been lifted from me as each unneeded item was gifted, sold, or donated.

My takeaways from this downsizing adventure were:

  1. Give myself time and the tools needed. Downsizing was not going to happen over a weekend and by having my tools available to me I was less stressed and not easily frustrated.
  2. Start in the space that is least emotional.  Successfully completing one room made me feel accomplished.
  3. Keep a positive attitude.  Accepting change and keeping tabs on my attitude made the downsizing process easier.
  4. Acknowledge my feelings. Emotions are a part of the downsizing process. I had to acknowledge that it was a hard process and give myself time to step away when needed.
  5. Find the happiness.  Letting go emotionally and physically helped lighten my load.
Remember to try to keep it organized.

Downsizing can be overwhelming, emotionally taxing, riddled with anxiety and stress, but it does not have to be.  When the thought of downsizing is brought into a optimistic prospective, focusing on the positive changes, and taking the opportunity to literally lighten your load there are many benefits to a downsizing phase of life.

Sources:

Bernhard, T. (2019). Discover the Joys of Downsizing. Psychology Today. Retrieved on July 8, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/turning-straw-gold/201901/discover-the-joys-downsizing

Hunter, J. & Jackson, K. (2016). Downsizing Your Home: A Guide for Older Adults. University of Kentucky Extension. Retrieved on July 8, 2020 from https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1100&context=fcs_reports

Toler, N. (2020). The Emotional Power of Tidying Up. University of Rhode Island. Retrieved on July 8, 2020 from https://www.uri.edu/magazine/issues/spring-2020/the-emotional-power-of-tidying-up/

Yelland, E., Hosier, A. & Traywick, L. (2015). Keys to Embracing Aging: Positive Attitude. Kansas State University Extension. Retrieved on July 8, 2020 from https://www.aging.k-state.edu/programs/embracing-aging/docs/kea1positiveattitudemf3256.pdf

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Champaign County

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I feel like I have a lot on my plate right now, maybe more than that jam packed month of May.  Which in May of 2019 that was saying a lot. . .

Now my plate is full! Full of balancing home and work, bored kids, canceled activities, trying to socialize, staying involved with social issues, questioning my already made decisions, checking in on the mental health of my family, finding time for hobbies, and more.  This list could go on!

Life is hectic right now in a way it never has been before. 

I’ve learned in my (more than a) few years as an adult that I can’t control what is swirling around me but I can control my response to it.  My favorite new series of words to string together to help me with this mindset: and that’s ok!

 

Today was a hard day being a parent. . . and that’s ok!

I completely dropped the ball on that. . . and that’s ok!

I didn’t cross anything off on my list today. . . and that’s ok!

I feel sad today. . .and that’s ok!

I’m having a hard time processing all the events right now. . . and that’s ok!

The dishes are piled all over the kitchen. . . and that’s ok!!

 When we tell ourselves and those around us that we love that it’s going to be ok we are creating HOPE.  We don’t know how long it will be ok.   We don’t have to commit to how it will be ok, but we can create HOPE and we all need that hope right now. 

With just a few changes in our words and thoughts, we can build HOPE right now in our families and community:

  • Join with others in your community who can provide emotional support and encouragement by texting, calling, or by dropping a letter in the mail.  We had some friends drop by some simple treats one evening.  We had an enjoyable visit with them at a safe distance while wearing masks.
  • Reach out and ask a good friend or a family member how they have maintained hope in troubled times. They may offer some helpful suggestions.
  • Make a list of your strengths and talents, and then list your options and resources. Help family members do the same. Ever heard of count your blessings?  You’ll be surprised and grateful when you start to add them up.
  • Learn the true facts about the crisis or economic situation, so you don’t just act on people’s opinions. Look for reliable and unbiased sources of information. 
  • If you are feeling suicidal, get help. Reach out to your family or call SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Holding on to some HOPE right now might be just what we need to make it through tough times, exist together, and pull ourselves from so much uncertainty.  Or maybe you need something completely different right now. . . .and that’s ok too.

Written by:  Alisha Barton, OSU Extension Educator, Miami County barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, PhD, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents. (2007). Retrieved from https://www.maine.gov/ems/sites/maine.gov.ems/files/inline-files/coping_in_hard_times_parents.pdf

Marrison, E. (2020, May 20). It’s Time to Unplug. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/05/21/its-time-to-unplug/

 

(2020). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/location/ohio

GALILEO@UGA Subject Guides: Finding Reliable Sources: What is a Reliable Source? Retrieved 2020, from https://guides.libs.uga.edu/reliability

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As parents, we want to know that our kids are going to be able to function without us.  We send them to school to learn all the academic essentials and we stress the importance of good grades.  However, are they really prepared for adulthood?  Do they have the skills to navigate life effectively?  Can they survive on their own?  A study published in the Child Development journal, revealed “youth are taking longer to engage in both the pleasures and the responsibilities of adulthood compared to teens from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s”.  Jean Twenge, leading author of the study, found youth often arrive at colleges and jobs unprepared for independence.  Sarah Clark, is an associate research scientist with the University of Michigan and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.  In a recent poll she asked parents how confident they were in their child’s ability to perform different life skills.  She found:

  • 8% could make an appointment with a doctor on their own.
  • 25% could dole out the correct dose of an over-the-counter medication.
  • 41% expected their kid to eat healthy foods.
  • 46% would save money for the future.
  • 50% could handle a minor injury with first aid.

It seems our youth are not as prepared as we would like them to be entering adulthood.  Where do we go from here?  How can we produce young adults who can function and thrive independently?  I believe we need to go back to the basics and provide them opportunities to learn practical life skills.  GreatSchools.org suggests teaching your teen the following:Family doing laundry

Starting at a young age, my daughter had chores to complete, was given choices to make, and was provided opportunities to develop basic life skills.  It was not always welcomed with open arms.  In fact, the older she grew the more it was met with resistance and often anger.  I am proud of the strong, independent 16-year-old daughter I have raised but was reminded the other day she still has life skills to learn.  She completed an application for summer employment and struggled to answer the questions.  I was surprised she could not complete this seemingly simple task.  She is an honors student and loves to read and write.  After I reflected on the situation, it validated that learning life skills is just as important as learning to read, write, and do math.  It takes both academics and life skills to produce quality, motivated, contributing members of society.

Note: A team of Ohio State University Extension professionals have been developing short videos with a number of these basic life skills in them – check them out here. Topics include: interview skills, basic first aid, how to change a flat tire, how to make a healthy smoothie, how to develop cultural intelligence, how to measure ingredients, and much more.

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

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, OSU Extension Educator, Ross County barlage.7@osu.edu

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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