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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

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.

 

Sources:

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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It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy, or several, for people to start talking about an issue. With the recent celebrity suicides, one can hardly go through the day without seeing or hearing something about mental health or suicide. While these losses of life are tragic, the fact that the media and ordinary people are talking about mental health and suicide is a step in the right direction.

mental-health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming nearly 45,000 lives. It was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In the same year, there were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress can contribute to one’s risk. Government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, the media and community organizations working together is important for preventing suicide.

The CDC suggests that states and communities can:

  • Identify and support people at risk of suicide.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.
  • Promote safe and supportive environments. This includes safely storing medications and firearms to reduce access among people at risk.
  • Offer activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone.
  • Connect people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare.
  • Expand options for temporary help for those struggling to make ends meet.
  • Prevent future risk of suicide among those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

My job involves helping to meet the needs of the people in my county and my state. Reducing the stigma related to mental health is one thing I have been promoting. I work in an area where mental health services can be few and far between and where the stigma associated with seeking treatment is still quite prevalent. Many people view mental health issues as being a weakness of character or will instead of the medical issue that it is. One of the ways I have been promoting mental health awareness is by teaching Mental Health First Aid.R

Mental Health First AidR gives you the tools and knowledge to assist someone having a mental health emergency much like regular first aid or CPR do for a medical emergency. You are not expected to diagnose or treat someone with a mental health issue; just as you would not be expected to perform surgery on someone you have given first aid. Mental Health First AidR also encourages people to pay attention to the words they use when talking about mental health issues. Since language can be very powerful, when we use nonjudgmental words, a person with a mental health issue or someone thinking about suicide is more likely to reach out for help.

If you would like more information on how you can become a mental health first aider, you can search for a course near you at: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/.

 

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

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

 

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/mental-health-wellness-psychology-2019924/

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (May 2018). Suicide. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June 7, 2018). Suicide rising across the U.S. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/

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Every year, a few new words or terms that make their way into common language. While they’re usually words that describe new trends or technologies (glamping, cryptocurrency) one that I’ve heard a lot lately is Mom Guilt. And while the use of the term has only recently gone mainstream, I imagine that the emotion has been around since the beginning of motherhood.
people-2566854_960_720

Guilt, on its own, is an emotion experienced when we perceive that we’ve done something wrong. Add “Mom” as a prefix and, it’s clear that we’re referring to instances when we feel we could have done better by our child.

While many triggers exist, Mom Guilt is often associated with the times when we are not physically with our children. If you hesitate to plan a weekend with friends, pass on date night with your partner, skip your workouts, or even feel badly leaving for work, all because you feel you shouldn’t be leaving your child, you may be experiencing Mom Guilt.

That most likely means that you recognize how critically important you are to him or her. According to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, “The single most common factor [in resilient children] is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive [parent or other adult.]”mom-48958_960_720

So, it’s wise and admirable that you would be thoughtful about how you use your time, and that you see the value in devoting the better part of a given day, week, or month to time with your child and your family. However, for loving and attentive parents, perhaps a feeling of guilt (which remember, refers to feelings of having done wrong), each time you leave home, should be reconsidered. Here’s why:

  1. Your child needs the opportunity to exercise independence. In many of our parenting classes, when we ask parents what their goals are for their children, we almost always unanimously agree that we want our children to grow into happy, independent adults. Children need the chance to exercise their independence by being away from you at times.
  2. You are your child’s first teacher, and always a role model. Let them see how you can manage the many responsibilities adulthood, including heading out to work each day. I hope to inspire my daughter by showing her that every day, going after what needs to be done with a positive attitude, which includes leaving for work, is good for me, for her, and for our family.
  3. Happy parents create happy families. Taking care of #1 has rippling effects for your family. So, if you need to take a break without your kids, whether that’s going to yoga or having lunch with friends, know that it’s nothing to feel guilty about. When you’re back, you’ll feel more peaceful and rejuvenated, and can be present with your child, the beneficiary of a happy mom!

What do you do to relieve your “Mom Guilt?”  Respond in the comment section.

Resources:

The Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, Resilience https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

PBS Parents, Fostering Independence in Children http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/learning-disabilities/fostering-independence-in-children/

Writer: Joanna Fifner, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County, fifner.2@osu.edu

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

 

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“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” This quote from Ann Landers really outlines the basic purpose of parenting. The purpose of

photo of father and daughter running at the park

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

parenting is the same today as it has been for many years: to protect our children and prepare them to survive in society.  In order to survive in society, children have to learn to be independent.  Parenting involves gradually teaching a child independence according to their age. Children develop in stages, so appropriate behavior at one age may not be appropriate at another. Giving children the opportunities to learn, grow and be independent can be very scary for parents. At an early age, we watch our toddler learn to walk. We have to watch their many failed attempts before they learn to master the skill of walking. As hard as it is for parents to watch their children fall, we also know that it is necessary for them to grow, and this is true throughout the many stages and challenges of their childhood.

Equipping children with some basic skills will help them continue on their path to independence. In Active Parenting: A Guide to Raising Happy and Successful Children, author Micheal H. Popkin argues that active parents help children learn survival skills and independence. The four skills that Popkin identifies are:

  • Courage, or trying new things without fear of failure. Courage is the building block of self-esteem.
  • Self-esteem, or how people feel about themselves. People with high self-esteem feel capable and able to succeed.
  • Responsibility, or the ability to accept consequences for decisions and actions. Children who learn responsibility have courage to stick with their decisions.
  • Cooperation, or working as a team member. Children are true members of the family and are entitled to express their feelings, respectfully, to their parents.

Parents are the foundation that help children learn to have courage, be responsible and cooperative, and feel good about themselves. Putting it simply, the job of parenting is to work yourself out of a job.

 

Written by: Kathy Goins, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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Each year, I find myself becoming more curious about my ancestry.  Whofamily-tree-297812_1280 shaped me in to the person I am today? Some relatives were living when I was born, others I only know through the stories, and yet, each person has a part in who I am.  There are many websites available to search for ancestors, but starting with the National Archives  or USA.gov is a great place to begin. On these sites, you can access historical and government records as well as information on how to begin your search.   Local genealogy societies are also a wonderful source of information.

The internet can be a wonderful place to search for information, but the best resources are the people who you are related to that are still living. The UCLA Library Center for Oral History offers many suggestions for questions that can help you record your family’s history.

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery and was first known as Decoration Day, as flowers were placed the graves of those who died in battle. Throughout America, many parades and ceremonies took place to honor those who died in battle for our country.  By learning our history, these days become more personal to each of our family members.

When I visited the memorials in Washington D.C., I found the names of distant relatives.  I cannot help but wonder about them.  If their stories could be heard, what would they tell me about how they lived and loved? For many of us, we can read our ancestors’ stories because of family documents or because their stories are told in a history book.  The heroism of these individuals leaves me in awe as I reflect on the selflessness that each man or woman offered to me and to you.  These men and women were family to someone.  America is the land of the free because of the sacrifice and service of those who died while serving in our Armed Forces.  To those men and women: we honor you, we remember you, and we offer our humblest thanks for your life.

There are places where living veterans can share their stories so that we never forget.  One such place is through the Library of Congress’ Veteran’s History Project. Sponsored by AARP and the United States Congress, “The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”  If you know a veteran, please help them share their story with others.

vintage-1592014_1920Life is one that knowing who came before you can help to shape who you are and also who you become.  If you haven’t taken the time to learn your story, through the stories of your relatives, I encourage you to start today.  May the past connect you with a sense of awe and wonder.

 

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

Reviewed By: Joanna Fifner, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Medina County

Resources:

National Archives, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

USA.gov, Official Website of the U.S. Government

UCLA Library for Oral History, http://oralhistory.library.ucla.edu/familyHistory.html

The Library of Congress

Photos:

https://pixabay.com/en/vintage-covered-wagon-family-1592014/

https://pixabay.com/en/family-tree-family-ancestors-tree-297812/

 

 

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Do you wonder why some people succeed or make it – either in the workplace or with sports – and others just don’t? Grit may be the answer. Grit is courage, resolve, or strength of character.

Gritty people:

  • Finish what they start.
  • Put forth twice as much effort.
  • Are optimistic.
  • Identify and fix their mistakes.
  • Set a goal and follow through with it.
  • Practice, practice, practice!!

Psychologist Angela Duckworth who does research on “Grit” or the blend of passion and persistence has written a number of books and articles on the subject. She says you can predict success by building “Grit”. To have grit you need to stick with goals for years and live life like a marathon, not a sprint!

As parents, teachers or mentors there are a few things to help others learn about and build their “Grit”:

  • Encourage reading books where the characters had to overcome a challenge.
  • Talk about times you personally had to work hard to achieve something. Share the times you didn’t end up succeeding, but learned a valuable lesson in the process.
  • Promote moving on from failures and not focusing on excuses.

Research on gritty individual’s shows that they are more successful – they graduate from school at a higher rate and hold onto their relationships. But a negative the researchers on grit found is that sometimes people stick with goals, ideas, or relationships that should be abandoned. It is hard for them to know when to move on or cut their losses. Sometimes they hold on to these goals so long they damage relationships or even lose money.

So what should we do – work towards “Grit” or “know when to fold”? By learning to reward yourself for the pleasure of the experience of achieving the goal you are working towards, not just the final result we can make our perseverance a good thing. Break our long-term goals down into a number of steps that can be check off along the way – and then feeling success in achieving those short-term goals.

If you want to learn more about “Grit”:

  • Watch Angela’s TED Talk on grit at http://go.osu.edu/grit.
  • Read or listen to one of the many books on grit that are available for purchase or from your library for free.
  • Search “Grit” in the Daily Good – an online portal that shares stories and quotes about goodness.
  • Check out the Bowling Green State University Counseling Center “Grit”
  • Or if you like sports I find that many of the stories on The Players’ Tribune (an online platform giving stories from athletes to us the fans) display the grit it takes for them to succeed.

I’m sure many of us have stories of the “Grit” it took us to succeed in something. I would love to hear your story or find out about the places you get your inspiration from – comment on this article to let us know what keeps you going and inspires you.

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

Reviewers: Kathy Goins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County.

Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

 

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cellphone3I recently had an opportunity to dine out with some friends. As we talked and caught up with each other, I noticed just about everyone else in the restaurant was on their phones. Families were sitting together, but not talking to each other. They were too busy checking their cell phones.  Most never bothered to look at each other until their meal was served.  It struck me as extremely sad that our society has begun to lose the art of conversation.  Technology has taken over.  Relationships will begin to suffer.

Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? Do you check it every hour?  Have you ever looked at the clock and realized you’ve spent over an hour surfing the internet, reading twitter posts or pinning in Pinterest?  Have you checked your phone while having a conversation with a family member?   If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your life is being hacked by your technology!  Social media is a huge part of our everyday lives.  It helps connect long lost family members and old high school friends, but it has also become a big distraction.

A recent study found that for every time you get distracted, it takes on average 25 minutes to get refocused.   Distractions consume close to 2.5 hours of productivity daily.  That is 17.5 hours a week and 70 hours a month!  What could you do with an extra 70 hours every single month??

It’s time to take back your life. How can you make that happen? Utilize some of the following suggestions:

  • Do not check your cell phone first thing in the morning.
  • Turn all cell phones off during meals.
  • Limit your social media times to certain slots of the day.
  • Talk to family members and colleagues. Unplug from technology, listen and communicate.
  • Establish screen-free zones in your home. This could include the dinner table, backyard or bedrooms. It could also be a specified time, such as an hour in the evening before bed.
  • Turn off your notifications on the phone. Keep the essential ones (i.e. phone calls, text messages) but turn off the ones that come from social media and other apps.
  • Don’t take your cell phone out during time with your family, friends or a date with your spouse.

Engage, be mindful and enjoy your family time!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County

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

References:

https://extension.psu.edu/shopby/daniel-francis-perkins,-ph-d–chris-houser

https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/how-cellphone-use-can-disconnect-your-relationships

 

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