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simplify

2019 is here. January is the perfect time to focus on the creation of a simpler life. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, there are no outdoor chores such as yard work to worry about yet, and the cold weather allows us the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Imagine having more time to do the things you enjoy with less stress!  Simplifying allows you to have more control of your life, reduces wasted time, incurs less stress, and increases opportunities for more happiness.

Learning to simplify your life can completely change your life for the better. We are all trying to manage life, work, finances, family, etc.  This can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Why not create a plan to simplify this year by choosing one or more of the following suggestions to begin with:

  • Simplify your Commitments
    • Look at your calendar. Is there an activity every single day? Reevaluate these activities, based on their value and reduce them.
  • Simplify your Shopping
    • If you are overspending due to impulse shopping, create a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Simplify your Entertainment
    • There are hundreds of channels to choose from as well as websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, and video games. Make it a priority to spend at least some of your time detached from technology. Do you really want to look back on 2019 and know that your biggest accomplishment for the year was how many shows you binge-watched??
  • Simplify your gadgets
    • We all have an abundance of gadgets, cleaning supplies and digital services. Downsize and use what you determine is absolutely needed. Only use one type of calendar for schedules.
  • Simplify your budget
    • Reduce expenses, create a spending plan, and stop unnecessary spending.
  • Simplify your health
    • Eat healthy food
    • Get enough sleep
    • Exercise
    • Get outside every day
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Reduce intake of sugar/junk food
    • Reduce stress
  • Organize one section of your home
    • Choose one area of your home or workspace to organize. It will make a huge impact on your peace of mind every time you enter it to see the clutter and possessions reduced.

Enjoy 2019!

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

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

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201807/5-ways-simplify-your-life

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/change-your-life-pick-one-thing-and-do-it

 

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feet

I don’t know about you, but 2018 was a whirlwind of a year for me! It was full of exciting events, like my younger son’s high school graduation, my daughter’s first year of high school and marching band, and several concerts that my husband and I attended. Professionally, I participated in a leadership program with extension colleagues from Ohio and 11 other states. I presented at two national conferences and a few here in Ohio as well. I attended numerous trainings in order to stay up-to-date on the latest information to better help meet the needs of the state. Finally, I taught numerous classes including parenting, fall prevention, food safety, mental health, nutrition, substance use prevention, and activity/exercise. All in all, it was an busy and exciting year.

Each year I am required to enter information and data about the programs, presentations, classes, etc. that I have instructed or presented during that year. Being the procrastinator that I am, I usually wait until December OR January to start entering this required (by January 15th) information in to our tracking system. While every year I tell myself I am going to enter the data on a more regular basis, somehow December rolls around and I find the stack of papers and files still waiting for me. Putting this dreaded task off (yes, I dread entering data) until the end of the year or the beginning of the next year adds stress to my workload, but it also allows me to reflect back over the past year and to remember and think about those programs and classes that I might have forgotten. photography

The leadership program that I participated in for about 10 months, incorporated reflection in to every session. This was not something I was accustomed to doing regularly, so it was a little awkward for me at first. I quickly realized the benefits of both individual and group reflection. Reflection is a very important component for success and growth, which is why the majority of us were participating in the program to begin with. In order to grow in our leadership abilities and competencies we had to be more self-aware and reflection certainly helps you become more aware.

Reflection serves many purposes and can be used for a variety of reasons including:

  1. Help create confidence.
  2. Make you responsible for yourself.
  3. Encourage innovation.
  4. Encourage engagement.
  5. Create an environment centered around learning.
  6. Increased self-awareness and character development.
  7. Increased diversity and relationships.
  8. Dialogue.
  9. Tools for growth.

So, if you atransformationre not accustomed to reflecting, start small. Perhaps set aside 5-15 minutes each day on your calendar to think about and reflect upon your day. Some people prefer to jot down some thoughts, others prefer to discuss their thoughts with someone. Think of some important questions that will help you process your day or to gain new insight, like, “What am I proud of?” or “If I lived today over again, what would I have done differently?”

As you practice reflection, you will gain more self-awareness. This can lead to more personal and professional satisfaction and success. Give yourself a break if reflection does not come easily. Keep looking for ways to incorporate reflection in to your personal and professional life to help keep you engaged and happy. I would love to hear what have reflected on in 2018 or what you will be reflecting on in 2019.

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

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

Photo:

https://pixabay.com/en/feet-footwear-man-outdoors-person-1845598/

https://pixabay.com/en/photography-balls-mirroring-586888/

https://pixabay.com/en/transformation-awareness-awakening-2937517/

Sources:

Harmon, M. (2018). Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Off to School They Go. Live Smart Ohio Retrieved from: https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/uncategorized/harmon-416osu-edu/hi-ho-hi-ho-its-off-to-school-they-go/

Porter, J. (March 2017).  Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved at: https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-you-should-make-time-for-self-reflection-even-if-you-hate-doing-it

Eisenbach, B. (Feb. 2016). Student Reflection: A Tool for Growth and Development, Weekly Reflections Guide Teaching and Learning. Association for Middle Level Education. Retrieved from: https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/586/Student-Reflection-A-Tool-for-Growth-and-Development.aspx

Walsh, D. (Dec. 2016). How Self-Reflection Can Make You a Better Leader. Kellogg Insight. Retrieved from: https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/how-self-reflection-can-make-you-a-better-leader

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Do you need to purchase a gift for the person who has it all? Are you trying to avoid the crush of busy stores? Or maybe you aren’t great at cyber shopping? If one of these describes you or you’re just intrigued, let’s look at a list of “Outside the Box” ideas for gifts this year.

  • Custom Photo Book – Put photos from the past year, a vacation, family events, or even family pictures over time in a custom book you design. These are available online or from pharmacy photo departments. This is a great gift for older family members who don’t really need anything and who perhaps aren’t as involved with social media. ($10 – $25)Bag of gifts
  • Make a Donation in their Name – Think about what really matters to your friend or family member – shelter pets, the local school, their church, the pee wee football program, cancer prevention/treatment, or a youth organization like 4-H or Scouts. Make a donation in their honor to sponsor a future event.
  • Pass on a Family Heirloom – Do you have cookbooks that belonged to Grandma or Grandpa’s military records? Often family or friends would like to have gifts of these items – and you as the giver can make sure they go to someone who really appreciates them.
  • Give the Gift of a Special Day – Present a certificate describing a day at the beach, zoo, water park, Geocaching, or learning to make their favorite cookies. You can pay the fee for you both to attend a sip and paint night at a craft center or some other activity they will enjoy.
  • Make Your Own Coupon Book – Present a coupon book with things your spouse, child, friend, or parent will like. It might include: a lawn mowing, a favorite meal, a back rub, control of the radio station in the car for the weekend, a trip to the ice cream shop, free babysitting or dog walking, a car wash, movie night, game night, nature walk, or a date night (even children enjoy this with just mom or dad).
  • Give a Game – Give the gift of a new game (or classic) with a package of local popcorn or some mini prizes. Play the game together over the holiday. (Both sides of my family do this and it is a great way to cut the kids’ screen time and it promises lots of laughs).

We can’t wait to hear unique gift ideas you have tried, so be sure to comment below with ideas you would like to share. While you try to think of an “Outside the Box” gift idea this year – remember that the gift of our presence just might mean more to your family and friends than the gift of presents.

Sources:

University of Arkansas Research and Extension – https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/personal-finance/Think%20Outside%20the%20Gift%20Box.pdf.

Iowa State University, Extension and Outreach – https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/tag/traditions/.

 

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

Reviewer: Misty Harmon. Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

 

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christmas tree with decorations during nighttime

Photo by Sebi Pintilie on Pexels.com

Here it is–December 2018. Another year is ending!  It is a wonderful time of year to celebrate with family and friends.  A time to share joy and kindness.

Let’s look back for a moment. Did you reach all your goals this year?  Did you keep those New Year Resolutions?  Every year we resolve to make changes and improve ourselves, yet often end up feeling tired and over-extended.  Challenge yourself to end this year, and begin 2019, with being present and living your best life.

Before the end of the year:

  • Create a list of the 15 best things you accomplished
  • Make a list of 5 things you wish you’d done
  • Extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to the people who helped get you thru the year
  • Forgive
  • Be grateful
  • Donate 10 personal items to a good cause
  • Apologize for all of the mistake you made
  • Visit that person you kept saying you would visit
  • Make a list of 10 items that surprised you
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Create an action plan to define your path for 2019

Enjoy December.

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

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

Sources: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/ten_tips_for_enjoying_holidays.html

 

 

 

 

 

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After watching Oprah Winfrey’s report on 60 Minutes about Treating Childhood Trauma, I began seeking out more learning opportunities on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a Trauma Informed Care Approach. I wanted to share with you what I have learned.

Trauma is defined as a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident or an experience that produces psychological injury or pain. Trauma occurs when an individual, family, or community experiences an event or series of events that are harmful, and it affects functioning and well-being. Traumatic events can include abuse, neglect, bullying, terrorism, and war. Trauma does not discriminate. An important point is that what may be traumatic for one person may not affect another person in the same way. For example, being in a car accident may become a traumatic event for one person, and another person may not appear to be affected by it at all.

As a friend, family, or concerned community member, you can help someone who has experienced a trauma by:

  • Asking  “What happened” and “How can how I help?”
  • Allowing the person to express their emotions. Some emotions may be anger, numbness and fear.  There is no one way that individuals express themselves after experiencing a trauma.
  • Listening to someone’s story and showing empathy and concern.
  • Offering practical support.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that happen to children and adolescents, and they are categorized in this infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

infographicResearch has shown that infants, children, and adolescents with ACEs are more likely to experience mental health, physical health, and behavioral health problems.

THERE IS HOPE!  Even if you, a loved one or your community has experienced a traumatic event, it does not mean that all is lost. There are many protective factors that can help to overcome the experience of trauma and build resilience at individual, relational, and community levels. Protective factors will always promote growth, independence, and healing for an individual.

Some protective factors are:

  • Caring adults outside family who can serve as role models or mentors
  • Communities that support parents and take responsibility for preventing abuse
  • Supportive family environment
  • Adequate housing
  • Access to health care and social services

As you live each day, remember that each of us has the chance to make a difference to another person. Trauma can be experienced by anyone. When we begin to recognize the humanity of each person, to not believe that we already know their story based simply on looks or rumor, and to come together as a community of broken people, each person and each community will become stronger.

 

WRITTEN BY: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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

RESOURCES:

Brown, Asa Don. Protective and Risk Factors Associated With Trauma: The process of recovery and resiliency. Psychology Today, 2017.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/towards-recovery/201704/protective-and-risk-factors-associated-trauma

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences? https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/aces.html

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma. https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Types of Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence/types

Victoria State Government Health and Human Services. Trauma – helping family or friends. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/trauma-helping-family-or-friends

Winfrey, Oprah. 60 Minutes News Program. March 11, 2018. Treating Childhood Trauma. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/

Youth.gov. Risk & Protective Factors. https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth 

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Caring for a family member with dementia can be challenging and the holiday season can add more to an already full plate for many caregivers. The holidays are a time for family and friends to come together, share traditions, and make memories, but for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, it may take additional care.

One of the things to consider when planning for the picture of familyholidays with a person with dementia is the stage of the illness. Those family members in the early stages can experience minor changes, and some may go unnoticed. However, the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may repeat himself or herself. They may feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, and might withdraw from the group.  Do not point out errors in their conversations or their difficulty recalling specifics. Periodically checking in with them with a simple “How are you coping with everything?” can help you determine their comfort level with the activities.

It is also helpful to inform other family members as to what to expect from their loved one when they arrive. A group text or email explaining changes to memory or behaviors can help the family prepare in advance. In the message, you can explain any unpredictable emotions, memory loss or possible soothing techniques.

As the caregiver, you also need to be good to yourself. The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Some variations might need to be made to your holiday traditions. Some things that may assist in lessening the holiday stress are:

  • Adjust your expectations. Talk to family members about your current caregiving situation and make them aware of what you realistically can and cannot do.
  • Ask for help. No one should expect you to be the sole person responsible for maintain every holiday tradition. Have other family members contribute to the meal or even hosting an event at their home.
  • Set limits. Break large gatherings up into smaller visits. Set time limits for visitors to help the person with dementia and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Make some variations. Sometimes evening is a time of agitation for people with dementia. Move the celebrations to mid-day and have a holiday brunch instead of dinner.
  • Mind Your Mindset. Negative thinking actually activates your body’s stress response, so steer your mind to the positives when you start down that slippery slope. Try to stay mindful, concentrating on the present moment. Think about what you can accomplish instead of what isn’t getting done; revel in the holiday joys you experience instead of focusing on those you bypass; appreciate the help you are receiving rather than resenting those who aren’t supportive.
  • Avoid triggers. Be careful of blinking lights and noisy locations as this might exaggerate confusion and agitation.
  • Maintain a normal routine. Keep routines as normal as possible. This will help keep the holidays from being disruptive or confusing.
  • Plan time for a break or rest period. While your loved one may relish in the company and holiday celebrations, he may need a place to retreat. Arrange for a quiet place for your loved one to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday celebration if needed.

Remember that perfection is not the goal of the holidays. There are many factors we can’t control when it comes to our loved ones’ health and abilities, so adjust your view of a successful holiday. Focus on what feels necessary to produce a holiday feeling and create good memories.

For more ideas and support, join ALZConnected, an online support community where caregivers like you share tips on what has worked for them.

 

Writer: Kathy Goins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

 

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

 

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association, (2017). The Holidays and Alzheimers. Retrieved from: https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2018). Helping Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/alzheimers-caregivers/

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Two snowmen on a sunny day

What comes to mind with the mention of the holidays or holiday season? For me, warm and happy thoughts and feelings fill my mind and my heart as I remember past holidays.  Anticipation for the upcoming festivities and celebrations also prevail. While many of you share my thoughts and feelings, not everyone has the same view of the holidays. For millions of people struggling with loss or some type of mental health challenge, the holidays are anything but jolly.

Since one in four Americans has some type of mental health challenge in any given year, it is very likely that each us knows or will interact with someone who may be struggling. According to a survey from 2014, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness found that the holidays made their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse.” So, just because most people view the holiday season as merry and bright, does not mean everyone shares that sentiment.

The Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions to help reduce stress and depression that can occur with the holiday season:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Here are some ideas:Hands with blue mittens on holding a snow flake
    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Don’t forget to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions:
    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include:
    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage.
    • Reading a book.
  10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

The holiday season can be stressful, but with some thoughtful planning and by using some of these suggestions, it doesn’t have to be.

 

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

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

Photo:

https://pixabay.com/en/snowman-winter-snowmen-holiday-640366/

https://pixabay.com/en/snow-winter-mittens-snowflake-cold-1918794/

Sources:

National Alliance on Mental Health, (2017). Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2017/Managing-Your-Mental-Health-During-the-Holidays

National Alliance on Mental Health, (2014). Mental Health and the Holiday Blues. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2014/Mental-health-and-the-holiday-blues

Mayo Clinic, (2017). Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

National Alliance on Mental Health, (2015). Tips for Managing the Holiday Blues. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2015/Tips-for-Managing-the-Holiday-Blues

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