Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

Christmas Tree

My Christmas Tree

I love the holiday season. The hustle, the bustle, the decorations and most importantly spending time with my family, friends and loved ones. I enjoy making home decor and gifts for others. But….. sometimes I take on a little more than I should and find myself stressed out. I bet I am not the only one who is over-committed.

It can also be common for our health goals to take a backseat to the celebrations and obligations of the season. Do you want some tips and ideas to relax and enjoy the holidays in a healthier way this year? Join the CALM Down for the Holidays email wellness challenge for healthy living tips and encouragement to help you make the most of this holiday season.

The “CALM Down for the Holidays Challenge is an on-line challenge designed to help you explore ways to simplify the upcoming holiday season. Messages will include tips to help you:

  • Find your Quiet Place
  • Reduce Stress
  • Move More
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Explore Gratitude
  • Feather Your Nest
  • Eat Healthy Meals
  • Reflect on Wellness/Self Care
  • Simplify Holiday Routine
  • Improve Sleep Habits

Do you need a little extra motivation to help you get started? Are you stressed for time and need ideas to help you fit activity into your day? If so, join me for this Challenge!

Each week you will receive two free e-communications, containing wellness and reflection tips. In addition, a checklist will be available for download to help participants track their progress. Pre- and post- online surveys collect comments to improve future challenges and track participant progress. You will also have access to additional information on Blogs, Facebook and Wellness Text Messages.

Interested in participating in this on-line challenge? 

Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/calmpick18You will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of November 19th. While Facebook™ will be utilized; participants only need to have an email address.

Sample of Challenge Check Off

Challenge Check Off

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

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu


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While scanning the paper recently, an obituary caught my eye:

“After 96 years of vigorous living, Ralph passed peacefully. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He made friends easily wherever he went.  He made a difference in people’s lives, challenging people to do their best in business, sports, in their families and even in their fun.   He mentored many associates both young and old.  Believing in the rights and dignity of all, he organized an open housing committee at the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His family was the most important part of his life, especially his wife with whom everyday was a party. Their life together was fun. Join us to celebrate his life at the 18th green with a reception to follow in the clubhouse.”

After reading this, I wondered.  Are we living our best life? We all want to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives. Are we taking the time and necessary steps to achieve these goals?

Start today:

  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend more time with loved ones
  • Smile more
  • Forgive
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Spread positive energy
  • Get more sleep
  • Get fresh air
  • Volunteer
  • Enjoy a part of everyday

We only get one life. Forget about what other people are doing and focus on your life and your path to happiness.  At the end of the day and at the end of your life, that is all that matters.

I wish I had known Ralph.   He has inspired me to live my best life.  Thank you Ralph.

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








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Most parents need ways of staying organized that are tailored to the specific needs of their family. The Bullet Journal®, an analog system designed by Ryder Carroll “to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future” has gained much interest from people who seek a better way to log their schedules, tasks, and events. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you can watch a short video that explains the idea here:


This revolutionary (and yet, brilliantly simple) way of tracking life and to-do lists, has inspired some rather artistic approaches (Google it, you’ll see!) and has people creating systems with good old-fashioned pen and paper to manage their chores, goals, and schedules.Journal pages

Some users also implement the system to go beyond their schedules & to-do lists by creating logs of important reminders for themselves such as charting their daily water intake, physical activity tracking, and progress toward personal goals.  Examples are shown on this post about Self-Care and Bullet Journaling.

Research tells us that writing down our goals helps us achieve them, and we see in our Live Healthy Live Well challenges that tracking your progress keeps you motivated along the way.

Consider creating logs for yourself and your family to stay on-track with the things you want or need to accomplish.  Some ideas are:

  • Daily water intake
  • Exercise
  • Daily mindfulness practices or daily “unplugged” time
  • Minutes spent reading (especially great for children)
  • Weekly family meals, aiming for 3 per week
  • Daily fruit & vegetable intake, aiming for 5 servings per day
  • Meal planning
  • Scheduling annual checkups, dental cleanings, etc.Reading calendar log example

Some people are motivated and inspired by creating colorful and visually appealing logs, like the ones in the post linked above, but simple, clean ones work best for others.

Journals don’t have to be organized daily. You can create different logs for the frequency that is most appropriate. I have several tasks that are best tracked monthly, so for those, I have created a simple table for the whole year, organized by month. I found it made the most sense to combine my work and personal monthly tasks into one list. At the end of each month, or the start of a new one, I go down and make sure all of my monthly tasks are complete.

Water intake log exampleThe Bullet Journal® is an actual product that uses dots  instead of lines that you traditionally see on the pages of a journal. But the Bullet Journal creator says that the concept can be used with any journal of your choice – lines, dots, grids or blank pages.

What do you log or journal to keep you & your family healthy, organized, and happy?





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

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Photo of children playing soccerGood sportsmanship is an important skill to learn.  However, as with most values, our children do not usually learn it by just talking about it.  Usually they “catch it by our actions or the actions of others.”  Thus, we as parents and adults need to model the good sportsmanship behavior we want our children to show.

With many children playing fall sports, it is important they learn the basics of good sportsmanship.  Parents can best teach their children to be good sports by:

  • Modeling good behavior. This means showing respect to others on and off the field, including members of the other team. You can applaud the efforts of all players on both teams. If other parents are showing unsportsmanlike behavior, explain to your child what is happening and help them understand what appropriate sportsmanship is.
  • Praising your child for what they did right.  Even if they did not do well, find something they did better than last time and praise them for it, or say “You’ll do better next time.”  College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great during or after a game, and  “I love to watch you play!” had the most responses.  This is something everyone can say.
  • Explaining to your child what they should have done when you notice your child displaying unsportsmanlike behavior. Watch to see if they correct themselves in the same or similar situation in the future.  If they do, commend them.
  • Avoiding the use of negative words or inappropriate language when the other team makes a good play or comes on the field. And, not making fun of any child.
  • Respecting authority figures including the coach and umpire or referee. If you disagree with a call or something happens that is unfair, work through official channels.  Always act in a respectful and noncritical manner.  Model self-control and help your children learn self-control.  Many children have been embarrassed by the actions of their parent.
  • Encouraging fair competition. Competition can make us want to do our best.  Everyone on the team should get a chance to play. Parents should not encourage, Photo of children sport teams handshaking after a sports game.support or condone cheating or dishonesty – especially for the sake of winning.  A team should win due to hard work and good performance. Ensure your child      understands that losing does not mean “bad” and winning does not always mean “good.”  Games should end with a handshake between the teams.

Be sure your child knows you love them, no matter how they performed on the field.  Most children will not become professional players.  Children should have fun playing their sports, not feel pressured or so focused on winning they don’t enjoy the game.  Team sports help a child learn sportsmanship and how to be a team member.  Having a positive attitude, appreciating the contributions of others, and working as part of a team are characteristics that will help your child now and in the future.

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

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


Stanford Children’s Health.  (2018). Teaching Children Good Sportsmanship  Available at https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teaching-children-good-sportsmanship-1-4524

TeensHealth from Nemours.  (2014).   Sportsmanship.  Available at  https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/sportsmanship.html

Trautner.  (2016). Good Sportsmanship is Important to Youth Development – Part 1.  Available at  http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/good_sportsmanship_is_important_in_youth_development_part_1

Trautner. (2016).  Good Sportsmanship is Important in Youth Development- Part 2 .  Available at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/good_sportsmanship_is_important_in_youth_development_part_2



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Happy BirthdayWhen it comes to birthdays, people seem to have mixed emotions.  Kids look forward to turning a year older, counting down the days until their next birthday and often saying their age with the “and a half” added to it.  Children also look forward to their milestones – becoming a teenager, turning 16, then 18, then 21 – for various reasons.  Eventually, though, the years begin to pass more quickly and the birthdays seem to just keep coming.  As adults, some of us are happy to have our birthday come around again while many would prefer not to think about it.

When a birthday arrives, it may seem like any other day; you have to keep stopping to remember that the day is extra special.  Sometimes you might forget, remembering only when someone walks by you and says “Happy Birthday!”  Because I personally am prone to this tendency, years ago I started observing the week of my birthday and celebrating all week long.  By doing so, I am not forcing myself to cram all my excitement, thoughts, and feelings into a 24-hour period in which eight hours are spent sleeping.

I like my birthday and look forward to it every year. I always have!  How about you? How do you feel about your birthday?  If you’re in the camp that doesn’t like having a birthday and turning a year older, it may be helpful to focus on your birthday as a celebration of another year of life.  The American Cancer Society once had a campaign called “More Birthdays” in which they observed and celebrated years lived well to see a world with more birthdays.

youth-570881_640Taking a positive approach to birthdays in which you express gratitude for your health and life may actually improve your overall attitude and outlook in the days to come!  My close and oldest friend (not oldest in age, but the one I have known since first grade!) and I celebrated our 40th birthdays at a “getaway spa” in another state.  Since the “big ones” get fewer as we get older, we decided to celebrate the decade ones in style, or at least in our own style.  This year my friend and I have planned another “birthday trip” to celebrate turning “50”.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states highlighting time-based landmarks – such as birthdays – may help to motivate positive behavior change and promote success in future-oriented goals.  I started planning my “turning 50 years old” celebration when I was 47 “and a half”.  My plan was to be physically the strongest I have ever been come age 50, even stronger than when I played sports in high school.  I got myself a personal Pilate’s instructor who provided me with a mix of cardio and strength training, and thus I began my journey toward my 50th birthday.  When the day arrived, I had met my goal and made turning 50 years “old” feel like 50 years “young”.

Isn’t that the take away from birthdays – giving thanks and looking forward to celebrating our birth no matter how old we are or where we are in our life journey? Be grateful today for the chance to think about or plan another year. When your next birthday comes around, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the reset button and/or celebrate another year well lived.


American Cancer Society (2008). Official Sponsor of Birthdays. http://relay.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CA_Home_Birthdays

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Peetz, J. & Wilson, A. E. (2013). The post-birthday world: Consequences of temporal landmarks for temporal self-appraisal and motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 249-266. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-27895-001

Written by: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu.

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


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As the first day of school approaches parents often start to think about routines for the new school year.  Routines can change or need to be adjusted with a new school and sometimes reestablished after the lazy days of summer.

Rush Boys Outdoor Human Handsome Backpack

Routines are an important part of a child’s development.  Routines do more than just keep us organized, they help our youth learn life skills, build their self-confidence, and teach team work and much more.  According to Healthy Children, children do best when their routine are regular, predictable and consistent.

Here are a few routines to consider as you head back into a new school year:

Morning Routine: having a routine in the morning can help families get to work and school on time, remember homework, lunches and other important items and be ready to face the day.  If your children struggle to get going in the morning allow them enough time to wake up before starting their morning routine. A morning routine should include time for breakfast.

After School: Routines after school can organize extracurricular and evening activities and still work in other necessary activities like homework and chores. Children that old enough to be home alone after school benefit from a routine and knowing what is expected of them.  Posting routines for all to see and follow may be helpful.  This also encourages autonomy as our children and teens start to move through the routines on their own.

Bedtime: An evening routine can help our children get their recommended amount of sleep.  Bedtimes may be different for our children based upon their needs and ages. A routine before bed can help children be ready. Build quiet time in and avoid screen time, close to bed to help your child be ready for restful sleep.   A night time routine could include reading time, singing together or just some time with each individual child to talk about their day.

Bed Lamp Bedside Pillows Flower Bedroom Ho

Other routines that are important and beneficial to children include meal, weekend and clean up or chore routines.  Routines look different in every family.  It’s important to be flexible when building a new routine for your family.  It make time for family members to adjust and the new routine may need a few changes,  be patient and willing to adapt as needed and soon you will be seeing all the benefits of routines in your home.

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.





Peaceful Parenting, OSU Extension



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When did you last take a vacation day?

I’m not asking when you last took a vacation; instead, when did you take a day off for yourself?

Sadly, over half of Americans end the year with unused vacation days, collectively sacrificing 662 million days off. The Project Time Off report found that compared to employees who use all of their vacation time, employees who end the year with unused vacation time are lower performers: they are less likely to have been promoted within the last year and less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years. Furthermore, those who fail to use their vacation time report feeling more stressed than those who use all of their vacation time.

While I don’t always take vacations, about once a month I take a vacation day to spend time with my nephew. I call these days my mental health days. They provide me with a mental break from my work and allow me to spend time in a low stress environment. My nephew and I almost always spend time together outside, and we sometimes do activities together like coloring or reading story books. I find great joy in watching this little man explore the world around him!

A young boy playing outside in a play house

Playing “house” with my nephew

For me, these days are pre-planned. I believe that it’s important to take time for yourself to do activities that you enjoy to help prevent and cope with stress, and I try to practice that in my personal life. If this is a new concept to you, identify a few stress coping strategies you might use to take time for yourself when you need it, such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Working on a project in your home or yard
  • Doing yoga, tai chi or another physical activity
  • Pursuing a craft or hobby
  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude or meditation

Additionally, you might find that you have days when it makes sense to use a sick day as a mental health day. Just as there are days when you find it better to call in sick to work than attempt to power through the day because you feel lousy physically, we all have days when anxiety and stress are too distracting to perform our best. When this is the case, go ahead and call off – and don’t feel guilty about doing so! If you had the flu, no one would blame you for calling off sick. Learn to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.



Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). Stress Coping Methods. Ohioline. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Morin, A. (2017). How to know when to take a mental health day. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201707/how-know-when-take-mental-health-day

Zillman, C. (2017) Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/


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

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

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