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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”   Winston Churchill

As we move into the new year let’s think about the “Power of Positivity” and the role that it can have for a potentially wonderful 2020.

smiling woman

Did you know that positive people are more resilient, adaptive, innovative, healthy and engaged in their work? They have more successful relationships too. Positive people also have fewer colds, longer lives, more successful marriages, have fewer heart attacks, a higher pain tolerance, and even have more friends. Makes sense, who wants to spend hours with people who grouch and complain all the time? Of course, if the negative person is your mother, you can’t say I’m never spending time with you again.

A study from Michigan State University found that negative workers become more mentally fatigued and defensive. They are also less productive. Several studies have found that those negative workers may cost the US Economy $250 to $300 million per year in lost productivity. Research also finds that positive teams are more effective, efficient, and successful. They outperform other teams in work speed and quality.

My personal favorite positivity author is Jon Gordon. He combines research with messages that are easy to understand and make me think. He has a number of books that you can borrow from your local library, download on an e-reader, or purchase if you really like them. He also has free online video’s and newsletters. In one of his more recent newsletters he challenged readers to “Be Positively Contagious”. He states that emotions are contagious – so sincere smiles, kind words, and encouragement will spread through your home, workplace, school, or organization. While negativity can infect others. If you are having a negative day, think about taking a sick day for an attitude adjustment. In the same way you don’t want to infect others with the flu, why infect them with your negative attitude?

I challenge you as we move into 2020 to find ways to build your own positivity and encourage others to be more positive too. Possible tools include:

  • Accepting that change is part of life.
  • Trying the “No Complaining Rule” – Can you avoid complaining for even a day? Build to a week?
  • Use the “Tell Me Something Good” Technique – When family or friends are sharing, encourage them to tell you something good that happened and not focus on the negative.
  • Watching positive/humorous shows, movies, or videos that make you laugh.
  • Use affirming/positive self-talk.
  • Let go of things you can’t control.
  • Smile more, even a fake smile will reduce your heart rate and blood pressure!

“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Tom Schulman

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

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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Inhale. It means to breathe in. Slow or controlled breathing is often used to reduce heart rate, calm emotions, and lower stress. This controlled breathing technique has been around thousands of years in yoga, meditation, and other health practices. I saw this advice recently reminding me to inhale during this holiday season, and I loved it.

When I saw the admonition to inhale, I took it as a reminder to take it all in. That is the inhale; be purposeful in choosing what to take in and what to pass on. Our holiday schedule looked extra hectic this year with one daughter dancing in a professional nutcracker production, a new college student rejoining our family for her extended break, travel for work and a visit from my parents. I knew with all this I had to be extra careful about what I inhaled.

Taking that same definition of inhaling and applying it to our holiday busyness can be difficult. We are often rushing from event to event, and tackling a never-ending list of holiday fun. Advice is always easier to give than take in and follow. Several friends shared with me what they do to inhale the holidays. These can be simple, such as:

Spending a quiet morning before everyone is up, enjoying coffee and the Christmas tree and remembering why we celebrate the holiday. ~ Sarah

Making an effort to turn off the TV and put away phones so that family time can be enjoyed. ~ Amanda R.

Spending some quiet time and making sure to get quality sleep. ~ Jessica

Making an effort to start each day with an intention and not rushing out the door. ~ Amanda W.

Admiring a Christmas tree in the darkness and taking a moment to be grateful. ~ Lorrissa

Taking a few minutes after work to take some deep breaths, and reflect and center before joining family and evening activities. ~ Amanda B.

Other ideas included some simple planning to emphasize the events and traditions that matter most, such as:

Making a December bucket list of the most important activities and traditions and hanging it up for the family to see. This makes it easy to say, “This isn’t a priority for us” when things come up. ~ Becky

Make an effort and a plan to focus on small acts of kindness and simple holiday experiences.  Leaving treats for a mail carrier, dancing to Christmas music, or driving around to look at lights, have these things planned out so they can be included and enjoyed. ~ Amber

Besides having a plan and making simple changes, prioritizing and self-care can help with your holiday inhale. Other ways to inhale include:

Reflect on what is important to your holiday celebrations. Realize that this may change over time. Thinking about what is most important will help you to be intentional when choosing how and who to spend your time with. It is hard to make your holiday meaningful if you don’t decide before the rush starts what gives it meaning.

Ask for help. Let your family know how they can support or help with holiday tasks and plans. Accept their offers to contribute. This will help involve them, as well as lighten your workload. This can also be a way to share traditions or teach skills with children and other family members.

Keep in mind the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, pace yourself. If adding an extra party or gift to your schedule causes you stress, then don’t. The parties, events, gifts that you do choose to participate in- inhale! Be present as you experience and participate in them.

Take care of yourself. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Extra social gatherings can be fun, but do not compromise your physical, mental or financial wellness by doing too much. Acknowledge that you cannot do everything for everyone. Practice saying “no” without guilt.

Do not throw out your routine. Do your best to make healthy food choices, relax, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Sticking to your routines will help with your endurance and patience as you manage the holiday.

Most importantly, whatever you do this holiday season, enjoy the inhale!

Writer: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

Sources:

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Butanis, B. (2014, June 9). Ten Tips for Enjoying the Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/ten_tips_for_enjoying_holidays.html.

Keep it Real This Season. (2019, December 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/05/keep-it-real-this-season/.

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017, December 1). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Retrieved from https://breathe.ersjournals.com/content/13/4/298.

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Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day
Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day

It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing. For many, the holidays are a time of joy and excitement, but for others, the holidays are filled with sorrow and grief. While many of us look forward to get-togethers and celebrations with family and friends, others may dread these occasions because they are reminded of the losses they have experienced.

When we talk about loss and grief, most people think of the loss of a loved one, which is certainly a common reason for grief. However, there are many reasons people may feel loss or grief. I teach Successful Co-Parenting and we explain how going through a divorce may cause similar feelings due to the loss of all the things/ideas/plans/people the couple had together that are not going to happen now. When someone retires, they may have mixed emotions of happiness that they have more time to do the things they want and/or sorrow about feeling that they have no purpose or meaning anymore. With all the weather issues of the past couple years and with fluctuating commodity prices, many farmers/farm families have been forced to give up their way of life. Some have had to sell their farms and/or animals in order to survive the uncertainty that mother nature and the future brings. Loss of a job or unemployment can also trigger feelings of grief.

flooded farm field
Flooded farm field

According to the HelpGuide article, Coping with Grief and Loss, grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

So, as we go through the holiday season and beyond, it’s important that we recognize and understand that grief and the grieving process looks different for everyone. Here are some tips from AARP for dealing with grief during the holidays:

  1. Only do what feels right– decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle.
  2. Accept your feelings, whatever they might be– however you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs.
  3. Call on your family and friends– be honest about how you’d like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it’s OK.
  4. Focus on the kids– many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs.
  5. Plan ahead– create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring.
  6. Scale back– if the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help.
  7. Give– it’s amazing how in times of grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is to give to others.
  8. Acknowledge those who have passed on– when we are grieving a loss of someone very close to us, it can be helpful to participate in a related holiday ritual in his or her memory.
  9. Do something different– acknowledge that things have changed; indeed, the holiday will not be the same as it was ever again.
  10. Skip it– if you feel that it will be too much for you and you’d like to simply opt out of participation in a holiday, let family and friends know.

By using some of these tips, hopefully the holidays don’t have to be a time of sorrow and grief. If you or someone you love exhibits any of the following symptoms, seeking professional help is advised:

  1. Feel like life isn’t worth living.
  2. Wish you had died with your loved one.
  3. Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it.
  4. Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks.
  5. Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss.
  6. Are unable to perform your normal daily activities.

Here’s hoping that you can find some joy and comfort over the holidays and in to the new year!

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

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

Sources:

Curiel, Ashley. (2016). The Least Wonderful Time of the Year? Good Therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/holidays-least-wonderful-time-of-year-1216164

Goyer, Amy. (2012). Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season. AARP. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-12-2012/death-loss-christmas-holidays-goyer.html

Pappas, Stephanie. (2019). Unique pressures put America’s farmers under stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/farmers-under-stress

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Job Loss and Unemployment Stress. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress.htm

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Coping with Grief and Loss. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

Photos:

https://pixabay.com/photos/rainy-christmas-grief-child-kid-83136/

https://pixabay.com/photos/arable-field-flood-wet-ground-406153/

https://pixabay.com/photos/pants-bag-list-wrench-job-search-1255851/

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Does the month of December have you in a rush or panic to achieve the perfect holiday? Can you adjust your ideal holiday to be more realistic, so you don’t set yourself up for stress, disappointment or exhaustion?

Set Priorities

Set priorities before the whirlwind begins. Separate tasks you truly enjoy from those you do merely out of habit or obligation. What can you trim from your schedule to leave more time for the traditions that are most meaningful to you?

Let Go

Let go, of expectations, perfection, guilt, and traditions that no longer have meaning. Perhaps those expectations you feel pressure to live up to are created by you… let them go. Stop trying to create the “ideal” holiday, just enjoy your family and friends.

Be Transparent

Keep this in mind… those posts you see on social media or those family cards of the perfectly decorated home and perfectly dressed family… those are just illusions. My favorite Christmas letters are those that are a real description of the family’s holidays… Like when the cookies burned, the kids are squabbling, and the cat knocked over the tree…

Keep Perspective

Remember that this is just a season. If something does not live up to your expectations, it’s not the end of the world. Focus on the things that ARE going right in your life and acknowledge that this stressful situation will pass.

Picture of gingerbread cookies ready to be baked

Trim Your Schedule

Decide ahead of time how many social events you’ll attend. Don’t feel as though you must accept every invitation and stick to gatherings that you’ll enjoy the most.

Simplify

Cut your holiday card list in half, cut back on the number of gifts. Be selective – the gifts will mean more. Most people won’t notice the difference and will appreciate being able to simplify the holidays for themselves.

To help yourself set realistic expectations this year, ask yourself these questions…

  • When you reflect on past celebrations, what is most meaningful to you and your family?
  • How can you design your holidays to focus on what is meaningful, while letting go of those traditions that no longer have the same significance?
  • Clarify where your expectations are coming from… are these your expectations or someone else’s?
  • What is something you’d be willing to do differently this year to decrease your stress?
  • What is one thing you’d really like to do for yourself this holiday season?

The American Psychological Association has an entire webpage dedicated to this season. It’s called the Holiday Stress Resource Center and provides some great ideas on how to keep your expectations and stress in check.


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

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

Sources:

“Managing Expectations.” American Psychological Association. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations

Wickam, J. (2014). “Coping with holiday stress — Keeping our expectations realistic.” Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/coping-with-holiday-stress-keeping-our-expectations-realistic

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Family enjoying a meal together

Family Mealtime

December 3rd is Family and Consumer Sciences Day.   The theme for the 2019 “Dine In” for Healthy Families is, “Neighbors as Family”. This December, I encourage you to host a “Dine In” meal with your neighbors of choice. This might be neighbors in an apartment, college dorm or friends from across town. Your “neighbors” might be people you see regularly from work, the gym or other community settings. Your meal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Interested? Look at the meal prep tips and recipes listed below.

Why should you say “YES” to Family Mealtime?

A “family meal” is when the people you live with or consider “neighbors” come together to eat and talk. Why should you add this to your routine?

  • Eating together can be an opportunity to have conversations with family and friends.
  • Regular family meals create a routine that may help children feel more secure.
  • Eating together can provide the opportunity to teach and learn basic food preparation skills.
  • Make it a positive place for conversation – place your devices (phone, tablets, etc.) away from the table. Focus on positive interactions with those at your table. Not sure what to talk about? Iowa State Extension shares Mealtime Conversation Starters to help you get started.

Would you like some ideas to help you get started on the Meal Prep side of things?
Here are a few tips for prep day:

  • On your meal prep day, focus first on foods that take the longest to cook: proteins like chicken and fish; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa; dried beans and legumes; and, roasted vegetables.
  • Also consider preparing staple foods that everyone in the family enjoys and which you can easily add to a weekday meal or grab for a snack: washed greens for a salad, hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of chopped fruit, cooked beans.
  • If you prefer not to precook proteins, consider marinating poultry, fish, or even tofu (in the refrigerator) on your prep day so that you can quickly pop them into the oven or stir-fry later in the week.
  • Multi-task! While foods are baking or bubbling on the stove-top, chop vegetables and fresh fruit, or wash and dry salad greens for later in the week.
  • As you find favorite ‘prep-able’ meals, watch for sales and coupons to stock up on frequently used shelf-stable ingredients like pasta, rice, and other whole grains, lentils, beans (canned or dried), jarred sauces, healthy oils, and spices.
    Need more Inspiration? Check out these easy-to-make recipes. 

Our Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

 Skillet Lasagna

 Veggie Crockpot Lasagna

 Southwest Shredded Chicken

 Egg Roll in a Bowl

Remember to enjoy time with family and friends. Enjoy conversations over mealtimes. Have fun making the meal. Remember to relax, talk and enjoy the time spent with your “family” – whether it is your family, friends, co-workers or neighbors.

Sources:

“Dine In” With Us! Family & Consumer Sciences Day. https://www.aafcs.org/fcsday/home

Mealtime Conversation Cards. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/Mealtime-Conversation-Cards

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

Reviewers: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, powers-barker.1@osu.edu

Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

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Picture of a cell phone.
Cell phone

Is your cell phone at risk of someone accessing it? Our phones have contacts, pictures, videos, directions, social media links, banking, and all kinds of other information. I recently went to The Ohio State University’s Cyber security day. I learned it is not hard for hackers to get information off our phones, but the following steps will make your phone less of a target:

  • Be sure your phone camera is not Geo Tagging your pictures with the location and date, especially if you post to social media. 
  • Use fingerprint reader on phone.
  • Use two factor authentications (Google Authenticator).
  • Use a program that makes up passwords for you as it best to have a crazy random password.
  • Don’t reuse passwords.
  • Enable a passcode or PIN to access your phone (at least six digits).
  • Enable auto lock (when you are not actively using your phone it will lock in 5 minutes or whatever you set the time for it to lock).
  • Enable auto-wipe.
  • Enable the “Find your phone” or “Find your device” feature.
  • Delete apps you don’t use.
  • Delete accounts you don’t need.
  • Verify apps before downloading. Use App Store or Google Play to get apps.  

Be careful if you access public WIFI. This can put you at risk if it is not a secure WIFI, leaving you to vulnerable to hackers monitoring your activities. It is best to put a “vpn” app on your phone to use in those circumstances. However, be careful about free “vpn” apps. 

The Ohio Attorney General has some additional tips: 

  • Shut off Bluetooth and WIFI when not in use or you are out in public. Other electronic devices can connect wirelessly with your phone through Bluetooth. If you have your Bluetooth or WIFI turned on some stores and other places have tracked people’s movements when people are in range. 
  • Be sure to update your phone and apps when updates are available.
  • Use an antivirus app.
  • If you are not sure about a text message, a call or email don’t answer or click. 

To be secure anywhere putting your phone on “Airplane mode” is the safest according to some cybersecurity people. “Big Brother” may be listening and/or watching. Protect your privacy.

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

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

References:

Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, (2019). Protect Your Apps:  How to Make Your Smartphone More Secure, available at https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Publications-Files/Publications-for-Consumers/CHIPP-Stay-Safe-in-Cyberspace

Federal Commerce Commission, (2015).  Ten Steps to Smartphone Security, Available at https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/smartphone_master_document.pdf

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Have you been celebrating the 50 years of Mr. Rogers? If you follow the stories, you know there are many ways to watch, learn and celebrate. For example, check out the Won’t You Be My Neighbor? film, the new movie (coming soon) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and a United States Postal Service Forever Stamp.  To celebrate World Kindness Day last week, not only did adults wear their cardigans but the newborn babies at Pittsburgh’s West Penn Hospital were also dressed in miniature red cardigans to recognize the kindness messages of Mr. Rogers.

residential-2729103_1920

The highlights and celebrations remind us of the intentional work and messages by Fred Rogers that encourage all of us, young and old, to:

  • feel good about ourselves
  • understand our feelings
  • build relationships with others
  • wonder and learn
  • be ready for new experiences
  • learn how to talk about difficult subjects

The work of Mr. Rogers is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. How do you define your neighbors? Another organization that is using the theme of neighbors is the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS). Since 2014, nearly half a million people have committed to “Dining In” on December 3rd, Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Day. Each year AAFCS promotes a theme, shares information and tallies the number of people who commit to eating a meal together. With the 2019 theme, Neighbors as Family, AAFCS notes that neighbors come in many different forms. We can be neighbors with others from where we live (urban, suburban, city, rural/farms) to types of housing (Single dwelling homes, Homeowners group, Subdivision, Condo/high rise, Apartment building) to types of communities (Retirement community, College dorm, College sorority/fraternity house, Campus neighbors) and to places where we spend time with others (Office building, Office staff, Office neighbors, Gym). In addition to their list, other definitions of neighbors as family can be sports teams, those we worship with, cultural clubs, 4-H clubs, extended family, and friends as family.

achievement-3953952__480Pixabay

I have a child in elementary school, so some of our neighbors as family include families in scouts and dance club. This year our scout meeting happens to land during the week of December 3rd so we’re meeting, learning and eating together as neighbors and family that evening at school. Are you interested in being part of an online neighbors as family this year? Please join me and others in signing up at the AAFCS webpage, hosting a simple meal, and posting your photos for Dine In Day 2019. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a formal, elaborate meal! The important thing is to take some time, sit down together, enjoy some food and camaraderie.

FCS_Day_Sign-Up_Graphic_

I not sure that the AAFCS 2019 theme for Dine In Day, December 3rd was planned to coincide with celebrations of Mr. Roger’s 50 years but I’d like to think that Mr. Rogers would approve of the theme Neighbors as Family.

Sources:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, movie trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLEPhfEN2M

Cheers to 50 Years, PBS https://www.pbs.org/parents/rogers

Dine In With Us, FCS Day, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences,  https://www.aafcs.org/fcsday/home

For World Kindness Day, a hospital dressed newborns in red cardigans like Mister Rogers, Joshua Bote, USA Today

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/parenting/2019/11/13/world-kindness-day-newborns-red-cardigans-honor-mister-rogers/4181101002/

Mister Rogers Forever Stamp, USPS https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2018/pr18_022.htm

Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, https://www.misterrogers.org/the-messages/

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? PBS http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/wont-you-be-my-neighbor/

Author: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Lucas County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County.

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