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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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a young child using a laptop

Raising children in this ever-changing digital world can be a challenge. Some articles warn of the dangers of screens, while others urge us to help our kids keep up with technology. Caregivers are often actively encouraging these forms of passive entertainment, and electronic devices are always available as babysitters. Some factors for a child’s excess screen time could be the need for the caregiver to address everyday household activities or an exhausted caretaker who simply needs a break.

Too much screen time can have negative effects on children regardless of the device. So before turning that device over to your child, there are some things that you should consider first. According to Mayo Clinic, too much screen time can have unhealthy effects as a child grows and has been linked to:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Attention deficit
  • Cognitive delays
  • Impaired learning
  • Violence

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages media use by children younger than 24 months. Video chatting with family and friends is an exception which is considered quality time interacting with others. Children between ages 2 and 5 should be limited to one hour or less a day of quality and educational programming. The following is suggested to ensure safe and quality screen time:

  • Do your homework: Research games and apps before getting them for your child. Search for games and apps that educators and doctors suggest. Organizations such as “Common Sense Media” can help you determine what is appropriate.
  • Always be present: Be with young children during screen time and interact with them.  Discuss what you are watching with your child.  
  • Schedule plenty of non-screen playtime:  Family meals and bedtimes are important times to put the screens away and interact with your child. Preschoolers learn by physically interacting with others and their surroundings.
  • Discourage screen use in your child’s bedroom or at bedtime: Screen use in the hour before bed can stimulate your child. The blue light from televisions, computers, tablets and phones might suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness.

You can help ensure a safe and healthy digital atmosphere by developing household rules. As your child ages, you will need to review and adjust the rules by deciding how much media your child should use each day and what is age appropriate.

a young child using a smart phone

As caregivers of young children, it can be hard to maintain a healthy family balance and keep up in these demanding times. Even elementary school-aged children have been completing school work online and participating in Zoom sessions, which has most likely increased their usual screen time. Now that the school year is ending, this could be a great transition opportunity to set device and screen time rules for the summer months.

Many of us can fall short when it comes sticking to device rules. Managing the use of screens and media will be an ongoing challenge as your child grows. You might have a rough day, week or even month, and it’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Today is always a good day to try again.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County and Alonna Hoffman, Agriculture and Natural Resources and 4-H Youth Development Program Assistant, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. (June 20, 2019) Screen time and children: How to guide your child. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952

American Academy of Pediatrics. (November 2016) Media and young minds. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591

Common Sense Media https://www.commonsense.org/

Photo credits

https://pixabay.com/photos/boy-mobile-phone-addiction-phone-3360415/

https://pixabay.com/photos/baby-boy-child-childhood-computer-84626/

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When my March 19th blog Certainty in Uncertain Times posted, I was unsure what was going to happen with my work, my community, our state, or our nation. With so many unknowns, I could not allow myself to go down the road of “what if’s”, so I chose to focus on things I knew were steadfast. Even as I wrote that blog, I realized I have many privileges. I have realized even more over the past several weeks just how fortunate I am.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png

While we have learned a lot about Coronavirus and flattening the curve, there are still many unknowns. When will a vaccine be developed? How long will we have to maintain social distancing? Am I or my family going to contract the virus? How will the economy rebound? All these unknowns and more can cause anxiety and other emotions. It is important to recognize and try to manage these thoughts and feelings if we are to move through these challenges.

My husband and I are fortunate to work for organizations that are supportive of their employees and our overall health and well-being. My supervisor checks in with me regularly. We are encouraged to do things to take care of ourselves and our families. Rearranging our work hours if needed, taking time off, engaging in professional development opportunities (virtually of course), adjusting our workloads, and other reasonable accommodations are all possibilities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png

My children are older and can take care of themselves, do their own homework, and even help around the house, so I have been able work from home with little to no interruptions. Some colleagues and many of you have young children who need more time and attention. My kids understand the reasons for all the changes, though they are not happy about them. We have conversations about the different ramifications of our current situation and what the future might look like.

It was no surprise when our governor announced that schools will not resume this year. My high school sophomore daughter is not happy, but she is a high-performing student, so completing school on-line is not really an issue. This is not the case for many. The adjustment for her and my college sophomore son has been the hardest part for me. Neither of them expected to end the year this way, but at least they have two more. For the seniors and their parents, it’s a different story. They have not had the celebrations and the closure that comes from all the “lasts”.

As restrictions are starting to lift in several areas, many people may be anxious about transitioning back to work and back to the usual routines of daily life. I am co-chair of the Work/Life/HR sub-committee of the COVID-19 Transition Team for our college. The concerns of faculty, staff, and students about returning to work or school is critical to our planning. NAMI Ohio gives these tips to help with the transition back to work:

  1. IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
  2. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
  3. EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
  4. GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG

As our team and thousands of similar groups across the state and the nation begin to plan for a return to work, the health and safety of employees is at the forefront. Many organizations are considering the physical safety of their buildings, as well as the cultural and social aspects of returning to “business as usual.” These are just a few of the things our team will be considering as we provide recommendations to our Dean. While I must consider many unknowns as part of this team, I remain focused on the present and on the things I can do right now to help myself, my family, my colleagues, and my community to continue to be resilient in the face of the challenges we still face.

What have you found effective in coping with the COVID-19 changes?

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Reviewer: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). How to Improve Mental Health https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=april_22_2020

Grabmeier, J. (2020). Survey shows how Ohioans’ views on COVID-19 have evolved. Ohio State News. https://news.osu.edu/survey-shows-how-ohioans-views-on-covid-19-have-evolved/

Harmon, M. (2020). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Johnson, A. (2020). Tips to Manage Anxiety When Returning to Work. NAMI Ohio. https://mailchi.mp/namiohio/helpathome-1389521?e=93084d4f8d

O’Neill, S. (2020). Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Allen, J. & Macomber, J. (2020). What Makes an Office Building “Healthy.” Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-makes-an-office-building-healthy

Scammahorn, R. (2020). A Time to Build Resilience. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/04/27/a-time-to-build-resilience/

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How are you feeling today?  Are you overwhelmed, anxious or even feeling lost?   

You are not alone…

Try not to think about events of today, or tomorrow or the next month…only focus on this moment, right now. And in this moment, YOU have the power within to calm yourself with one small thought, touch, or breath. 

There are techniques you can use when you need a moment of calm that you can do anytime, anywhere with no special tools required. Two of my favorites include:

A Simple Touch

Human touch matters. Research shows that our body releases a hormone called, oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, when the skin is touched. Have you ever heard about the “20 Second Hug?” When hugged, the body releases oxytocin which provides us with a sense of security, soothes stressful emotions, and sends calm to our body. 

But what if you do not have someone near to hug? Then you can hug your dog or animal! Yes…oxytocin is produced from hugging and petting our animals too! And if you still don’t have anyone to hug there is more good news! Our body does not recognize if someone else is hugging you or you are hugging yourself!  Here’s how:

  • Cup your hands in your face and say “It’s going to be ok” or
  • Cross your arms and give yourself a hug and say “May I be strong.”
  • Put your hand over your heart and say “May I be safe.”

This may feel awkward at first, but the body responds to our self-compassion by physical touch from ourselves or others!  So… hug away when stressed

2. Just Breathing

The “4,7,8 Breath” also known as the tranquilizer or relaxing breath is one of my favorites, because it works! This is the “perfect, portable stress” reliever and can also be done anywhere, anytime, and no equipment needed.  Here’s how:

Steps to the 4, 7, 8 Breath:

  1. Completely exhale through your mouth making a WHOOSH noise.
  2. INHALE through your nose for a count of 4.
  3. HOLD your breath for a count of 7.
  4. EXHALE through your mouth making a WHOOSH sound, for a count of 8.

These 4 steps are considered one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. It is a simple as that…and you are on your way to calm.  By practicing these remarkably simple and easy tools, you will learn to quickly and easily comfort yourself during times to stress.

Here is a fact sheet with these techniques all on one sheet which I hope you will use. Which technique do you think you will try when you need a moment of calm? Do you have any other favorite techniques to share?” I would love to hear from you.

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Embrace the 20 Second Hug for Better Health – https://enell.com/blogs/blog/embrace-the-20-second-hug-for-better-health

Hugs Heartfelt in More Ways Than One: Harvard Health – https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_brief_Hugs_heartfelt_in_more_ways_than_one

Neff, Kristen – Self-Compassion – https://self-compassion.org/

Learning to Keep Calm fact sheet – https://licking.osu.edu/covid-19-resources

Video: Breathing 4,7,8 Breath – https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

 

 

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pinwheel

COVID 19 has added stress to our lives in a way that just a few month’s ago was unimaginable. Now more than ever, it is important for parents to take care of themselves so they can take care of their children. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We know that when families are experiencing stress, children are more likely to be abused or neglected.

Protective Factors are “conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities”. Strengthening Families identifies 5 Protective Factors to help families build resiliency and support:

  1. Parent Resilience: No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but building parental resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress.
  2. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Having accurate information about raising young children and appropriate expectations for their behavior help parents better understand and care for children.
  3. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: A child’s ability to interact positively with others, to self-regulate, and to effectively communicate his or her emotions has a great impact on the parent-child relationship.
  4. Social Connections: Friends, family members, neighbors, and other members of a community provide emotional support and concrete assistance to parents. Social connections help parents build networks of support.
  5. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Parents need access to the types of concrete supports and services that can minimize the stress of difficult situations, such as a family crisis, a condition such as substance abuse, or stress associated with lack of resources.

We all face challenging times in our lives, but when we have supports in place, we have the tools we need to accept, adapt or overcome them.  Building your own resilience is one way to support your child because it gives them stability and confidence in knowing that they can rely on you. Creating this type of environment for your child makes them feel safe and builds self-reliance, problem solving and self-regulation which are skills they will use throughout their lives. For more about resilience check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r8hj72bfGo.

For ideas and strategies to maintain your sanity and support your children during the pandemic, check out this Parent’s Guide to Surviving COVID-19 from the Brookings Institute or these resources from our co-workers at Iowa State University Extension https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/disaster-recovery.

Writer: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

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

Sources:

Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families (2018). About Strengthening Families and the Protective Factors Framework. https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/About-Strengthening-Families.pdf

Gail Innis, Protective Factors: What are they and how can they help families? February 17, 2014, Michigan State University Extension, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/protective_factors_what_are_they_and_how_can_they_help_families

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A toddler sitting in the grass with plastic Easter eggs

Yesterday was Easter. Under normal circumstances, my family would gather at my grandparents house in observance of the holiday for an after-church lunch, and then an egg hunt for the little ones. This year was noticeably different. My husband and I watched a live-streaming church service from home and then ate lunch in our kitchen with our 1 year-old son. We did, however, take our son out for his first egg hunt! My grandparents watched from their porch while my husband and I helped our son find eggs they “hid” in their yard.

Reflecting on Easter 2020, I found the activity of naming gratitude and loss to be a helpful way to identify and process the various emotions I have experienced this season. We all have experienced loss this season, with some losses being bigger than others. Many have felt the impact of canceled vacations, sports seasons, concerts and other events. Some have lost loved ones. Family traditions and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, weddings and other events have been modified. It is normal and natural to experience grief associated with these losses. Naming your losses is a way to identify and validate the emotions you feel as you grieve.

Don’t stop with naming losses, however; take time to make a list of things for which you are grateful as well! Pairing a list of gratitude with your list of losses does not minimize the impact of your loss, and it can help you remain hopeful and optimistic during difficult times. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of gratitude practice on overall health, ability to cope with stress and outlook in general.

In my reflection regarding this holiday weekend, I took time to appreciate the opportunity I had to visit with my grandparents, even though it was a non-traditional visit. My son is happy and healthy, which is a true blessing.

What are you grateful for this season?

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

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

Sources:

Griffin, B.R. (2020). Naming loss and gratitude with young people in these uncertain days. Fuller Youth Institute. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/naming-loss-and-gratitude-with-young-people

Miller, K.D. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

 

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