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Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category

While many of us are just happy to be able to watch the madness of basketball tournaments this March – we know that it will not be like other tournament years. We will not be gathering for parties, many of us are still not eating in restaurants/pubs, and we cannot watch the games live yet (in most cases) – so you will likely be fixing the game day snacks yourself. When you plan your game-day menu, do not throw out your goals of a healthy diet – keep in mind that there are better snack choices.

You may have heard of the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which focus on several messages that you can follow for a great game-day snack plan:fruit tray

  • Limit food and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium
  • Limit alcoholic beverages (eat your calories instead of drinking them)
  • Focus on eating nutrient dense foods which include a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins (including meatless meals, nuts, eggs, and fish)

Looking at those guidelines lets choose a few tourney time snack options that keep us on track for a more healthful diet overall:

  • A vegetable tray with hummus or bean dip instead of high fat (and usually sodium) dip
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers or bread
  • Fresh fruit skewers with yogurt and nut butter dip
  • English muffin mini pizzas with veggies on top (instead of ordering takeout pizza)
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites (instead of wings, I personally LOVE these!!)
  • Homemade Banana Nice Cream
  • Infused water made with fruits the color of your favorite team (mine will be scarlet berries)

Most of these snacks can be made the night before for easy game-time serving, you will just need to make your mini pizzas quickly and heat your buffalo bites. I will share a buffalo bite recipe that I enjoyed recently (and I do not even like cauliflower). If you compare this recipe to many others online, it has no butter and a lot less breadcrumbs – and trust me – it still tastes great! I preferred the oven-baked to air-fryer, but air-fryer was super quick.

I cannot wait to hear your favorite healthy versions of tourney time snacks. Comment below to let us know what you serve.

Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe

 

Source: Start Simple with MyPlate Today, file:///C:/Users/barlage.7/Documents/Dietary%20Guidelines%202010/2021%20-%202025/DGA_2020-2025_StartSimple_withMyPlate_English_color.pdf

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

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County.

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It has been almost a year working from home. I look back on the year and have realized how much I have grown practicing self-care. I am going to be honest I can promote and share self-care practices, but it doesn’t come easy for this mom of four! Looking back on the first few weeks working from home learning all the technology, transitioning the kids to virtual schooling, I remember feeling scattered, unable to focus, nervous, and completely overwhelmed! These feelings made me even more frustrated because I am a working mother of four, and an educator. I take pride in my ability to be flexible and adaptable in any given situation. They now have a term for this feeling, pandemic paralysis, a loss of function or movement of your limbs or an emotional way, where you procrastinate, you can’t move, you can’t act, and you’re not doing the tasks that you need or have to do.

One day in the afternoon when I was feeling overwhelmed, all I could think of was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In our house a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not the literal sandwich that you may be thinking of! I have 12 yr. old triplets and at one time I could hold all three of them in my lap. Since they have outgrown my lap we have come up with a ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich’. I am the sticky peanut butter and two of them are the slices of bread and then we have the jelly on top! Feeling anxious, I stopped everything I was doing went and laid on my bed and said, “I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, and they came running and we laid there with our legs and arms all intermingled. We giggled, smiled, and talked as we laid there all snuggled together. Afterward I felt so much better. I no longer felt anxious and was able to go back to working.

Did you know when you are hugged it relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and releases endorphins.  This can reduce tension and soothe aches and pains. Hugging increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These are the happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure and happiness which boost our mood and relieves stress and anxiety. Research has shown that hugs can boost immunity, lower stress, increase self-esteem, and reduce depression.

The day I was feeling the need for a hug I had my children. But if you are feeling the need for a hug and have no one to hug, you can trick your brain and give yourself a hug.  By hugging yourself your brain will release the same hormones and you will have the benefits of a warm hug.

How To Hug Yourself:

  1. Wrap your arms around yourself. Bring your left arm across your chest and place your left hand on your right shoulder or upper arm. Bring your right arm across your chest, placing your hand on your left shoulder or upper arm. You can reverse the order, just find a position that is most comfortable for you.
  2. Give yourself a nice big squeeze. Press both arms into your body. Mimic the pressure that you feel when you get a reassuring bear hug.
  3. Hold for as long as necessary. Sometimes a quick hug is all you need, while other times you might want a lingering, gentle hug.

References:

Dunfee, L. (2019). Am I in Control or is My Stress? Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/01/am-i-in-control-or-is-my-stress/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Lamburg, E., (2020). Health Benefits of Hugging, Backed By Science.  The Healthy. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/benefits-of-hugging/

Ocklenburg Ph.D., S., (2018). 3 Surprising Ways Hugging Benefits Your Well-Being, Psychology Today.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-asymmetric-brain/201812/3-surprising-ways-hugging-benefits-your-well-being

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MEd, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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Are you still wearing your mask?  Do they really work?  Do you still have to wear one after getting the vaccine? 

a woman wearing a cloth face mask

We all want to get rid of these masks. So, do they really help? Sanja IIic, OSU Associate Professor and food safety state specialist, did some research with Case Western Reserve University to see if mask wearing made a difference.  IIic said the research was done to “demonstrate the droplet transmission and serve as an educational tool on how the viruses are transmitted and how we can prevent them in the community.”  

They tested single-layer and double-layer masks made of different materials. 

  • Most effective masks –  double-layer cotton, which was similar in effectiveness to surgical masks
  • Least effective – single layered polyester masks

These experiments showed that wearing a face mask is an effective way to prevent the transmission of droplets. But, masks need to be worn correctly to be effective.  Masks must:

  • Completely cover the nose and mouth
  • Fit snuggly against the sides of your face without gaps
  • Be two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Ideally have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask

Masks help people not to touch their nose or mouth, limiting the spread of the virus. But it is also important to follow social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart, so droplet transmission is less likely if someone sneezes or coughs. Be sure to wash your masks after use and wash your hands before and after putting on or removing a mask. 

Do you need to wear a mask if you have had the vaccine?  Yes, experts recommend you wear a mask after you have had the vaccine. 

  • The pandemic is not controlled until around 50%-70% of the population become immune due to the vaccine or having the virus. 
  • The vaccine was tested on preventing COVID-19 but not on whether a person could be a carrier of the virus. 

Thus, to help keep everyone safe, please wear a mask and practice social distancing until many more people have been vaccinated. Please consider getting the vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

Infographic available from cdc.gov/coronavirus.  "It's a two-way street. Masks protect you & me. When we all wear masks, we take care of each other.  Wear masks, avoid crowds, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands. Take all four steps for the most protection.

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

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

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021).  Your Guide to Masks https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html   

Landino, K. (2021). Dispelling the myths:  Face Masks Work to Prevent COVID-19. College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences News, The Ohio State University,  https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/dispelling-the-myths-face-masks-work-prevent-covid-19

Ohio State Insights. (2021).  Are These Coronavirus Vaccines Safe?  An Expert Weighs in”  https://insights.osu.edu/health/covid-19-vaccine-safety

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Throughout the years, plastics have made our lives easier and more convenient, goods and services cheaper. We use them and dispose of them easily. I’m in debt to King Plastic. Having type 1 diabetes, plastics basically keep me alive; my insulin pump uses disposable plastic supplies that I throw away every three days. The car I drive and some of the clothes I wear have plastic which I dispose of eventually too. My keyboard and computer is made up of plastic, of which I have to trade in periodically. I’m not sure what becomes of them. My kids have benefited from plastics- they have had probably three times as many Legos, dolls, and electronics than I had growing up. We’ve been getting rid of these too recently. My dog chews on a plastic bone. The many choices of food I have at the store are thanks to plastic packaging. Hail to King Plastic!

You may have heard that there are three giant patches of plastics floating in the Pacific Ocean. You may have noticed more litter in state and national parks or in streams, rivers, beaches and lakes. Landfills are getting larger and larger. The uncomfortable truth of our convenient throw-away culture is that plastics are everywhere and we are starting to drown in them- literally. Plastics are showing up in our foods and the air we breath. Research suggests that we consume about 5 grams a year- the equivalent of credit card’s worth of plastics! Seafood often has small amounts of plastic because of all the ocean trash that they consume. If we prepare food with plastics, it can leach into our food. We breath plastic especially if we use a clothes dryer. We don’t know all of the health implications but some studies are raising some red flags. Plastic consumption is associated with reproductive, behavioral problems in children, and a host of endocrine problems.

For the sake of our health and the environment- we should quit worshipping King Plastic so much. But how? Consider these small behavior changes to keep plastic out of your body and out of the natural environment. Most plastics aren’t recycled either- so focus on reducing or reusing plastics. Although small, they really add up over a month, year, etc. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Limit single use plastics in the kitchen such as sandwich bags, wrap, etc. Use beeswax and reusable storage containers.

Avoid heating your food or beverages up in plastic storage containers or styrofoam.

Use reusable water bottles- avoid single use bottles.

Bring your own cotton reusable bags to the grocery or recycle your plastic bags.

Use laundry tabs or soap berries instead of laundry detergent in a plastic jug or better yet make your own!

Use wool balls for static reduction instead of dryer sheets.

Install a microfiber filter on your washing machine.

Shop for reused cloths.

Check the ingredients for all body care products to see if they have polyethylene or polypropylene in them. Avoid products with these two ingredients.

Use a bar of soap instead of body wash in plastic bottles.

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

Reviewer: Susan Zies, M.Ed, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

Sources

Jill Bartolotta. The Toll of Plastics. OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Inservice. February 18,2021. Zoom recording at https://osu.zoom.us/rec/share/CHNxkTyjQcymON8oUe_WN0MQHsln1KI3AzxbHbmNIeQIuM8N2-sT0CLyl12FO06c.hN44c5jppCbXdmw1

National Public Radio. Plastics- What’s Recycled, What Becomes Trash and Why? Access on 2/26/21 at Plastics: What’s Recyclable, What Becomes Trash — And Why (npr.org)

OSU Extension. Sustainable Action Through Video Engagement. Single Use Plastics. Accessed on 2/26/21 at Sustainability in the Kitchen: Single Use Plastics – YouTube

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Lately I have been feeling even more isolated and alone than I did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found myself retreating and not reaching out to others in the same ways that I did a year ago. But a couple weeks ago, some friends called and asked me to join them for a small girls’ night out dinner. We safely socially distanced from others, and the four of us enjoyed an evening at a hotel together. THAT event has changed my train of thought. I was feeling bad for myself and feeling very lonely, which is not easy as an extroverted person. But what I realized was that even if I cannot spend time with people physically, I do not have to wait for them to contact me. Connection is a two-way street. I can reach out even while staying “safe”.

Connection looks different in every relationship. Sometimes you have a connection because of chemistry with another. Sometimes it is a “forced” interaction because you are colleagues, in class together, or share a common interest. We communicate through verbal and non-verbal signals that can drive connection or cause disconnection. Social media is also a major form of connection for many of us.

YOU WERE MADE FOR CONNECTION. Even if you are an introverted person, I am sure you still have a small circle of people you trust and who are important to you. Interactions drive our daily lives. Connecting with others helps us remember that we matter. Our brains thrive from connection. 

We were also made to show connection through safe, physical touch. Hugging releases oxytocin* and dopamine* and directly impacts cortisol* levels. It is recommended that we should receive 10 second hugs– 8 a day for maintenance, 12 a day for growth, and upwards of 18 for optimal mental health.

  • Oxytocin promotes feeling of contentment, reduces stress, and promotes bonding.
  • Dopamine is linked to Parkinson’s disease (low levels) and Schizophrenia (high levels). Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. Lack of dopamine can lead to procrastination, self doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood and motivation.

In high stress states it feels like our body cannot contain emotion without someone to hold us. Touch is not a single sense. Having your back rubbed stimulates neurons that release oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol. Vicarious touch can help us to soothe ourselves. A hunger for touch means a need is not met.

We are also our own biggest barrier to connection. We tell ourselves we are okay. We tell ourselves that we can handle it. We tell ourselves we don’t want to bother anyone. I encourage you to please stop doing that to yourself. Think about how you feel when someone reaches out to you and wants to spend time with you. It makes you feel wanted and needed and important. 

Take control of your own well-being. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Send a text. Make a list of who you miss and start putting “Connect with _____________________” on your to-do list every day. It will make a difference. I know it has for me.

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

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

RESOURCES

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In our family we joke about our 2-year-old son having two belly buttons, when he has a feeding tube. When he was born, he struggled to learn how to breath, suck, and swallow a bottle due to a medical condition, and has had some sort of feeding tube since birth, and two years later he has what is called a G-Tube that is placed in his stomach to help supply him with nutritional foods.

Did you know that February is not only heart health month, but also feeding tube awareness month? There are almost 500,000 people that are on a feeding tube, and almost 200,000 of them are children in the United States. There are many medical complications that can lead to a person requiring a feeding tube, including ones that are often called “invisible illnesses” or ones that people cannot visibly see. In my son’s case it is his heart condition, that from birth caused him to struggle with learning to eat.

Common myths surrounding why children require feeding tubes:

  • They are picky eaters. Most children have had their feeding tube since birth.
  • If you wait long enough your child will eat. Many children will starve themselves due their complex medical condition before they learn to eat.
  • Your child looks too healthy for a feeding tube. The children with feeding tubes are healthy due to having a feeding tube providing them nutrition.

Education is key in raising awareness and support for those with feeding tubes. I often worry about my son’s future when his peers see him being fed through his feeding tube if he has it when he starts school. There are a few things one can do to support others.

  • Ask questions when you see someone using a feeding tube. As a mom to someone whose child has special needs. I wish more people would come up and ask questions instead of staring at us.
  • Research online more about the different types of feeding tubes like G-Tubes, NG Tubes, GJ Tubes, and J-Tubes, and understand how they work.
  • Be supportive and patient with friends and family who may have a tube fed child or family member. Learn more information about feeding tube awareness. It will mean the world to them.
  • Remember how important it is to instill kindness, love and support for others. Especially if someone has a disability or a feeding tube. We want the world to be a place where our child feels accepted in school so when tube fed children go to school, we are not worried about how others will perceive our child.

Written by: Bridget Britton, OSU Extension Educator, Carroll County, britton.191@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

References:

https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-12-21/life-with-a-feeding-tube

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Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Is a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

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

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Most people consume vegetables to reap the nutritional benefits.  While most vegetables are better raw, there are a few you should cook instead. Cooking releases nutrients that your body can more easily absorb.  Here are a few vegetables you may want to cook before you consume them.

  • Asparagus.  This springtime vegetable is full of cancer-fighting vitamins A, C and E.  Cooking asparagus  increases it levels of phenolic acid, which is associated with reduced risk of cancer.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and enjoy!
  • Carrots.  Our bodies seem to use more easily the beta carotene in cooked carrots than in raw ones.  Cut into rounds, steam, and serve with a little honey or cinnamon.
  • Mushrooms.  Microwaving or grilling can increase antioxidant activity.  After heating them up, slice and add to a salad or sauté and add to an omelet.
  • Tomatoes.  Lycopene is better absorbed when the food item is heated up. This may protect against cancer and heart disease.  Slow roasted in the oven at 200 degrees and added to a sandwich sounds delicious.
  • Spinach.  Oxalic acid may block the absorption of calcium and iron from raw spinach.  Heat is known to break it down.  Blanch spinach and served under grilled fish with salsa. 

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

Reviewed by  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30983210/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-raw-cooked-veggie

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When you hear the word caregiver, what image comes to mind? Maybe what you see is someone in your family, someone you work with, a friend, or even you.  The reality is approximately 25% of adults in the United States report being a caregiver to someone with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days. The caregiving role can look different for everyone. Some people feel that being a caregiver makes them feel good about themselves, has taught them new skills, and has strengthened their relationship with their loved one. However, many people find themselves in a caregiving role that has a negative impact on their financial health, physical health, and mental health. In fact, there is such a concern for caregivers that  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to caregiving as a public health priority.

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In addition to the health of the caregiver, these negative impacts can affect the care that is being given as well. Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue can feel hopeless, resentful, less patient, and lose empathy. They develop a negative view of their caregiving role. To be a good caregiver, you first need to care for yourself. One way to take care of yourself is to have a respite plan. The term respite means to have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided by family, friends, or outside agencies, and the services can range widely. In the January episode of the Healthy Aging Network , Dr. Teresa Young shares the following tips to get started with making a respite plan.

  1. Focus on Strengths – What are the things that have helped you make it through to this point. Is it that you are organized? Is it a sense of humor? Are you flexible?
  2. Determine the needs – Once you know your strengths, the next step is to determine what help you really need. Is it transportation? Could you use help with household chores? Do you just need time away?
  3. Be specific – Make sure to be specific when expressing needs.

For some who are already overwhelmed with responsibilities, the idea of seeking respite or creating a plan can feel like one more task that is added to their plate. Caregivers often lack a respite plan because they simply don’t know where to start. The Ohio State University Extension’s Caregiver Support Network is offering two free webinars on February 17th, 2021. The workshops are open to anyone and will focus on creating a respite plan, sharing caregiving experiences, and sharing resources. To register for the workshop, go to go.osu.edu/caregiver2021. To learn more about the Caregiver Support Network, please contact Laura Akgerman at akgerman.4@osu.edu.

Writer: Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Coshocton County, marrison.12@osu.edu

References:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) Caregiving for Family and Friends -A Public Health Issue https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html accessed January 2021

Day, J., Anderson, R. Davis, L. (2014) Compassion Fatigue in Adult Daughter Caregivers of a Parent with Dementia, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol 35, Issue 10

Schulz, R., Sherwood, P. (2008) Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving. American Journal of Nursing, Sep: Vol 108, Issue 9, pgs. 23-27

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I sat for what seemed like a frustrating amount of hours and minutes every day… zooming, teleworking, watching television, healing from back pain (exacerbated by long hours on the computer)… almost immobilized by fear, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation… and I felt guilty… why wasn’t I connecting more with my teen children, who are struggling through this pandemic with their own issues; connecting more with my husband who is a teacher and so exhausted from teaching all day, trying to motivate his students to hold it together, that he is crashed out napping in the other room? Why wasn’t I more effective with supervising my work teams? Is this all that life has right now? Is this what the next several months will be like? Maybe.

Young woman sitting looking out window

Have you been here? When there are things you must do, but you just can’t move? This phenomena has been termed “pandemic paralysis” recently by psychologists and popular press. This paralysis can leave us feeling defeated, deflated and depressed.

And then one evening that just seemed to drag on endlessly, I got up and cleaned the bathroom in my home. That felt motivating in and of itself, as it had been too long-neglected. So I cleaned another bathroom, then the kitchen. I asked my husband for help on a project I couldn’t do by myself. Then my kids came home and my daughter asked for help with studying, and my son needed to talk through an issue that was bothering him. And I had energy and desire to assist. I re-connected with a sense of purpose even in my own home. With the next work day, I was re-committed to the teams and staff I support and supervise. I want to help others be their best self, contributing to the best team. I reached out to a couple friends and acquaintances to check on how they were doing.

How can we switch from that time paralyzed on the couch to feeling productive and worthwhile? Sometimes, we just need to do something. Living with the uncertainty of so many issues in this pandemic can be exhausting and paralyzing. But take heart, there are some things we can do.

Start with what you CAN do. Try to impact some things you can control.

Shift from worry and problem-focused thinking to solution-focused thinking. Focus on aspects of a problem that you can do something about, and you’ll enter a mode of active problem-solving.

Chunk your time – This term is used by mental health professionals to help people understand how to break tasks into smaller, more do-able segments. Creating just the right size chunk of a task helps you feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps us not to feel so overwhelmed, which can snuff out any degree of motivation. This is a good approach to ‘one day at a time’ or ‘one moment at a time.’

Deal with your emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Try to deal with those negative emotions instead of ignoring them. Allow yourself to experience these emotions during times of uncertainty, and they will eventually pass.

If you struggle greatly with the need for control and certainty, perhaps that is something to learn to let go of. Helpguide.org has lots of practical tips and a meditation.

If you literally don’t have the strength to get up, get some help. Call your doctor, talk to a licensed mental health practitioner. Please reach out to someone!

If you can impact your immediate environment enough to make a small, motivating change, you can create that power in your own life. The power of now. The power of the positive. The power of finding purpose. What if the ‘something’ you do is so much greater than cleaning a bathroom? What if what you decide to do is help someone beyond your family, reaching out to those in need. How much more will that help you feel empowered to do something? Do anything!

Other Live Healthy Live Well Blogs to help on this topic:

Sources:

Cloyd, S. “Productivity: The Time Chunking Method.” Rhodes College Academic and Learning Resources. https://sites.rhodes.edu/academic-and-learning-resources/news/productivity-time-chunking-method

Robinson, L and Smith, M. 2020. “Dealing with Uncertainty During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/dealing-with-uncertainty.htm

“Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” 2021. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/brycelab/covid-19-guidance-for-our-spinal-cord-injury-community/your-mental-health-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

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

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