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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

In the near future, your doctor may prescribe getting outside and embracing nature. Your doctor may suggest that you participate in green exercise, or they may write a nature prescription.

Green exercise includes any physical activity that takes place outdoors. Think about taking a walk in nature, exploring a park, or discovering a new forest area.

Michigan State University Extension has an interesting article about the benefits of green exercise. Some of these benefits may include:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

According to research from the University of Washington, exposure to trees and other natural features provide positive changes to our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Driftwood

While visiting Whidbey Island, Washington, I enjoyed finding this artistic piece of driftwood and rocks. Someone left this “gift of nature” for anyone who came upon it to enjoy. If we take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature, we may find that our stress levels are reduced, our mind calms and we feel more positive.

I love being outdoors – it is good for me both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature helps me slow down the pace and embrace the beauty of nature.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you need a little more motivation to get started? Join Ohio State University Extension for their free October webinar series on Hiking and Health. Register by September 24th at go.osu.edu/HikingHealth . You will enjoy learning about topics such as food safety on the trail, proper gear selection, plant identification, tick prevention and proper hydration techniques.

Sources:

American Heart Association (2018). Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety.

Fogel, A. (2010). Green Exercise. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201009/green-exercise

Green Cities, Good Health. University of Washington. https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/

BBC News (2018). ‘Nature’ being prescribed by GPs in Shetland. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-45758016

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

Tiret, H. June, 2017. Green exercise can improve physical and mental health. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@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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girl with leaf

Is Your Child’s Preschool Program Up to Quality?

SUTQ (Step Up To Quality) is Ohio’s quality rating and improvement system for early care and education.  It was implemented statewide in 2006 by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), the two entities who oversee the program.

SUTQ was designed to increase the number of highly qualified child care programs and help families identify programs that go beyond minimum state standards.

Providers may earn star ratings (up to 5 stars) as they meet criteria in each of the 5 levels.  Providers who achieve a 3-5 star designation are considered “highly rated” meaning they have met additional performance goals such as:

  • lower staff:child ratios
  • higher levels of education and training for staff
  • increased family engagement

As part of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, Ohio must meet the goal of having all licensed childcare providers who receive publicly funded child care subsidies to be star rated by 2020 and highly rated (3-5 stars) by 2025.  Providers who do not receive subsidies are not required to participate in SUTQ.

Current estimates report between 50-70% of all child care programs in Ohio are rated.  Many programs who have earned the “highly rated” status are part of larger school systems who have designated resources out of a district budget to assist with meeting the additional financial costs with earning star ratings.

Some private and home care providers are fearful that if they are financially unable to meet the requirements, they will lose funding and be forced to close their doors.  Unfortunately, private providers are typically the only option for parents who need evening, overnight or weekend care for their children.

Is my provider rated?

Ask your provider if they are star rated.  If they are, ask when they will be applying for their next rating.  If not, ask if they have a plan in place if their funding is not renewed.

Shop around for star rated programs.  Do some online searching and view inspection reports of child care providers through the ODJFS or ODE websites. Schedule visits and meet the staff – not just your child’s teacher! Remember that your child will have contact with other teachers throughout their day or week.

Ask the site about family engagement. Consider what that means to you, and to them. You should be invited to visit your child’s school often and feel welcome anytime.

If applying for a spot in a star-rated program, be prepared and know the deadlines for enrollment. Some sites will have open registrations and some charge fees to apply.  Have a backup plan if your provider closes or if something changes and you have to pay tuition.

Programs like SUTQ hold childcare providers accountable by ensuring that they hire well qualified and trained teachers, and that they engage families and build strong foundations for all children.

Look for the best childcare provider for your young learner – it will be worth it!

 

Sources:

Ohio Department of Education (2019). Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Step-Up-To-Quality-SUTQ

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017). Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/early-learning/race-to-the-top

 

Written by: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Butler County, reister.6@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

 

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I admit I am a book addict, and reading is by far my favorite hobby. If I miss more than one day of reading, I start to get grouchy. Reading relieves my stress. When I heard there was a “National Book Lovers Day”, I felt I had to share a few of the benefits that I find, and that research also supports.

If you are reading this you likely won’t say, “Why should I read?” You realize that while your brain is technically an organ, you can think of it like a muscle and if you don’t use it – you will lose it. This is important for all ages. The mental stimulation of reading prevents or slows the progression of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Research supports that reading just six minutes a day can reduce a person’s stress level by up to 68% (more than listening to music, playing video games, or going for a walk). Baby sitting on an adult's lap is looking at a book

Reading aloud to children, and even prenatally, can improve their language skills, build vocabulary, and prepare them to learn. There is strong research that shows children who read independently score higher on achievements tests and display more empathy. Remember that reading is contagious, if children see you reading books they are more likely to read books as well.

How to celebrate Book Lovers Day:

  • Visit the library – renew your library card, sign out regular books or e-books, or take part in a program.
  • Attend a book or author festival – while you probably won’t be able to do it this week, it may be an idea for your next vacation or girl’s trip. Several years ago I took a road trip with my daughter to Kentucky to an author event so she could meet a favorite author. It was interesting to meet the authors and we stocked up on books. There are all types of themes – children’s, romance, teens, or authors from a specific state, for example.
  • Give the gift of books – baby shower, birthday, secret pal, or even your parents. Books are a loved gift for people of all ages. You may need to do a little research to find out what they like before you shop or order.
  • Host or join a book club – but make sure you actually read at least some of the books.
  • Follow your favorite authors on social media – they often give books away and may actually be signing at a book store or library in your area. Birdhouse shaped book exchange cabinet
  • Reread a favorite book or read a classic you may have missed – reading it again may bring back memories from your youth. Look at a listing of classic (nonfiction, children’s, religious, historical, etc) books that everyone should read? How many have you read?
  • Donate books – donate used books to a non-profit, the hospital waiting room, the local book sale for scholarships, or an elementary school. Several teachers I know have asked for friends and family to sponsor a child in their class the last few years by giving the child their own new book for the start of the year.
  • Make sure you read the book before you watch the move – many movies are based on books, why not read it before you watch to see how close they are to the original.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas for ways to celebrate “National Book Lovers Day” or discover the benefits you experience from reading. I know my husband would probably comment that I read enough to have no stress at all.

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.

Sources:

University of California, Santa Barbara, https://geog.ucsb.edu/10-benefits-of-reading-why-you-should-read-every-day/.

Rasmussen College, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/.

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“A friend asked me for a nude photo,” my fifteen-year-old daughter told me one night.

“He what?!” I whispered struggling to grasp onto a rational thought.

I knew this friend.  In this case, it was a boy who had been in my home. The realization that my daughter had a friend that would make such a request of her was shocking to me! I had heard these stories from friends or read about them on the internet. I naively tucked myself into a false reality where these “friends” did not exist in our lives.  Yet they did.

A study done in 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that sexting behavior (both photo and text messages) was not uncommon among middle school youth.  According to the Law Enforcement Bulletin, juvenile sexting is increasing in frequency with 20 percent of teenagers (22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys) admitting to sending naked or seminude images of themselves or posting them online. A survey done amongst teens indicated that nearly one in six teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who own cell phones has received naked or nearly nude pictures via text message from someone they know.

The impacts of sexting can be lasting and far-reaching.  Instances of sexting have ended in youth suicide, juvenile court charges, or harassment among peers. Sometimes charges or sex offender registration requirements will follow youth into their adult years.  Even employers and colleges have reversed decisions due to pictures posted by candidates.

To help youth understand the impacts of sexting parents and caregivers should discuss sexting with early adolescents.  This can be an uncomfortable topic to approach with your teens.  Let me be blunt in saying- get over it! This is a conversation that parents must have with their kids. Approach it honestly and openly with your youth.  Ask them what their experience or friends experiences have been with sexting.  We can learn so much from just listening to our kids, and as we listen, teaching opportunities present themselves. 

Remind your teens that not everyone is sexting! The pressure to send a flirty text may be increased if they feel like they are the only one not sending nude pictures.  The statistics say 20 percent of teens, while that statistic may be higher than we want as parents, it is not every teen.  Let your teen know that 80 percent of their peers are not engaging in this behavior, and they are not alone when they say no. 

Make your teens aware of the consequences of sending these types of photos. They could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law. If a picture is forwarded to someone underage, the original sender is responsible for the image.  The sender may face child pornography charges, jail time, or have to register as a sex offender. 

Help your teens understand that after they hit “send” they no longer have control over where their pictures end up. The boyfriend or girlfriend they share it with can easily share it with their friends, and their friends with their friends, and on and on. . .  Encourage your teens to not take images of themselves that they would not want everyone to see.

When teens receive or are shown a nude or inappropriate photo encourage them to tell a parent, teacher or a trusted adult.  Helping them to have a plan when they encounter these situations will help them know how to respond appropriately.

As a parent or caregiver if a teen approaches you with a nude photo they’ve sent themselves or received from someone else, take a deep breath.  It is important to keep lines of communication open. Reacting too harshly or overacting can hinder future communication with your teen about tough subjects.

Although I was concerned about the request my daughter had received after we talked I appreciated the opportunity it created to have a conversation about sexting. The conversation carried over into discussions with my other children, coworkers and friends.  She shared with me what she had done to respond to the request; saying no and blocking the friend from her social media.

For more tips on tackling tough technology conversations with your kids visit The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sources:

Ohio House Updates “Sexting” Law Related To Minors: Majority Caucus: The Ohio House of Representatives. (2018) http://www.ohiohouse.gov/republicans/press/ohio-house-updates-sexting-law-related-to-minors

Sexting: Risky Actions and Overreactions. (2010). https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/sexting-risky-actions-and-overreactions

Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting -Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013)

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Talking-to-Kids-and-Teens-About-Social-Media-and-Sexting.aspx

Sexting and sexual behavior in at-risk adolescents.(2014) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904272/

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County

Dunfee.54@osu.edu

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baby looking into an empty barn

Take a quick minute and think about how you are feeling today. What mood are you projecting to others around you? Are you projecting happiness/unhappiness, joy/depression, or love/anger?

There were times for me this last year where I was projecting worry, fear and nervousness. The beginning of the year I was trying to focus on positive things in my life. I live on a dairy farm and I knew the end was in sight for the farm. Right before Easter all of our milk cows were sold. Watching everything your family has worked for be sold is heartbreaking to live through. Now we have to find a new normal as we grieve the animals we lost. I would not be honest if I told you I was experiencing joy every day. It’s not uncommon for me to experience sadness, depression, or frustration. How do I find joy in the midst of a storm?

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams journals the discussion between the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu answering the question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? Their discussion provides us with their foundation for lasting happiness known as the eight pillars of joy. The pillars are split into two groups of “mind” pillars and “heart” pillars.

Pillars of the Mind

  1. Perspective- look at situations from different perspectives
  2. Humility- we are a small piece of something bigger
  3. Humor- laughter is the best medicine
  4. Acceptance- accept reality so change may begin

Pillars of the Heart

  1. Forgiveness- end the cycle of retaliation
  2. Gratitude- focus on what is good and right and appreciate the precious moments
  3. Compassion- by focusing on others our own problems seem less important
  4. Generosity- we feel happy when we give

Putting these pillars into practice is extremely difficult and often times easier said than done. What I can tell you is that by keeping these pillars in my mind while I go about my daily life makes the tough times a little more bearable. I have them written down and keep them where I can easily reference them when I need to. It’s helped me to project hope and has brought a smile back to my face.

I encourage you to show compassion to your farming community. There are multiple dairy farms across the United States that are closing their barn doors for the last time. There have been at least four in my own county this year. In Ohio, we’ve had historic rainfall this year and many farmers are finding themselves with flooded fields and little to no crops. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, And Environmental Sciences are working tirelessly to address the 2019 agricultural challenges. If you, or someone you know needs farm assistance in getting questions answered or is unware of the resources available to them then I encourage you to check out this specific link https://go.osu.edu/agcrisis and/or pass it along. 

Bohlen, A. (2019, February 14). Staying positive in tough times. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/02/14/staying-positive-in-tough-times/

Lama, D., Tutu, D., & Abrams, D. (2016). The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. New York City, NY: Avery Publishing Group.

Stefura, B. (2014, October 13). Don’t let stress get the best of you! Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/10/13/dont-let-stress-get-the-best-of-you/

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

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cardinal-2524695_1920THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. This has been a constant sound in our house lately.  There is a poor cardinal who sees his reflection in our front window and tries to attack himself.  Upon reflection, I have realized that I am like that cardinal. I repeat the same series of actions over and over and expect a different result and am usually surprised when the results are not different.

There are many situations in life where I seem to follow the same patterns—in relationships, at work, as a caregiver, trying to get healthier, and at the grocery store where I wander endlessly trying to make sure I have everything I need in my cart.  Do you find yourself in a similar situation as me and the cardinal? THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

The Stages of Change Model, developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, helps us to understand that we can make changes to our behavior patterns when we are able to recognize that it is a cyclical pattern and that there is just not a beginning and an end.  Some people are able to “stop cold turkey” when making behavior changes, but for most of us, we are like that cardinal and return again and again, hoping for different results or we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

The 6 stages of change that we move through are:

  • Pre-contemplation: no desire to change behavior, we don’t see it as a problem.
  • Contemplation: aware of the problem but still is not committed or motivated to change.
  • Preparation: wants to change, but has not yet started.
  • Action: change has begun and behavior has been maintained for fewer than six months.
  • Maintenance: behavior change has gone six months and beyond, and the adopted behavior has become a habit.
  • Relapse: we returns to previous behavior(s).

Changing our outlook can be difficult, but it can also be very rewarding and beneficial to not repeating the same behaviors over and over.  As I work towards my own personal growth, I sometimes find that I have to “step outside of myself”. It is important to look at how my behavior affects others. I have also found that it is helpful to have a friend be my accountability partner and share with me where they see that I am stuck in the cycle of change.

Sometimes you will also find yourself in the role as an accountability partner for another OR you may find yourself helplessly watching as someone hits the glass over and over.  I have watched the poor cardinal for months hit the window again and again.  I tried to look up ways to stop his behavior on the internet.  Nothing worked.  I feel bad for the poor little bird, and sometimes I feel frustrated that I cannot help. If you are a caregiver, you may yourself in a similar situation. As an accountability partner, it is key to recognize the person you care for must take charge of making their own behavior change. Being able to step back and offer support without getting too emotionally involved can be hard to do.  I cannot change what another does but I can change my approach to my friend or family member as I support them as they work through the stages of change cycle.

As I write this, the cardinal is going at his reflection in the window again. Thank goodness, I do not have to be like the cardinal and can take small steps each day in  a variety of situations to change the outcome of whatever I am currently facing.  Even though there may be days where I am like the bird and hit the window, I do not have to stay stuck in the THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Belmont County

References:

Cherry, Kendra, The 6 Stages of Behavior Change: The Transtheoretical or Stages of Change Model, Very  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-2794868

Behavioral Change Models, The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories6.html

Dellifield, J. Remley, D., Baker, S.Bates, J.S., Communication Strategies to Support a Family Member with Diabetes, 2019, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5322

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/cardinal-bird-teacup-trees-red-2524695/ 

 

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beach

As school districts close down the 18-19 school year, I’m reminded of the joy I felt as a kid on the last day of school. The euphoria of knowing I had the whole summer to do whatever I wanted. Weeks of independence, sunshine and no schedules to follow!

It’s easy to forget those feelings as an adult with our heavy workloads, commitments, and stresses of life, but that doesn’t lessen the need for downtime. We all need to step away from our heavy schedules and hit the pause button.

According to 2018 research in the US, 51% of Americans did not take all of their vacation time and 21% “left” more than five vacation days on the table. Many stated they were worried about falling behind in their work, others indicated concerns such as losing their edge competitively in the job site, especially when it involved the potential for a promotion.

Vacations are important and provide multiple benefits:

  • Reduction of stress
  • Increase of productivity at work
  • Fostering creativity
  • Improving relationships
  • Improving focus
  • Allowing us the opportunity to digitally detox

Vacations allow us to explore new places, engage in adventures, spend time with family and friends and unplug. Imagine a calmer, energized, refocused self!  Take your vacation time this year and enjoy the freedom of summer days.  Where will you go?

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.forbes.com/sites/reneemorad/2018/06/30/the-benefits-of-vacation-diminish-after-just-a-few-days-back-at-work-survey-says/#5df603bc3872

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20180828/take-a-vacation-your-heart-will-thank-you#1

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