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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

Does that question cause you some anxiety? Even thinking about it may feel impossible!
Our phones are used for so much these days; banking, shopping, entertainment, keeping in touch, navigating and more. Even my kids share ways their teachers incorporate their phones into their school day with quizzes and classroom research. 

cell phone

As our use of our phones has grown, so has the research suggesting that our phones can impact our health: physically, mentally and emotionally. With this in mind, taking a break from your phone can be a powerful way to improve your health and well-being. The benefits of taking a break from screens are vast and impact many areas of our daily life. Improved mood, better sleep, a healthier work/life balance, being more present in everyday moments and even a more focused driver are all positive benefits from a break. 

Putting down your phone can be easier said than done.  It doesn’t have to be permanently. Just a few small changes in the way phones are used in your daily life can have a big impact. Here are a few to consider:

Remove phones for transitional moments in your day: walking, getting ready in the morning, driving etc.  Instead of allowing your phone to distract you focus on walking from your car into the grocery store.  Be present in the moment. Pay attention to your breathing, what you see, what you smell.

Consider other ways to fill down time: We haven’t always had our phones. What did you do with your downtime before?  Our phones often control or take over our downtime with checking on social media or playing a game.  Think about what you used that downtime for before you started crushing all that candy and try to implement some of those activities or hobbies.  

Put your phone away before bed: The blue light emitted from our phones can impact sleep, making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. Our mind needs time to unwind after technology use throughout the day.   Shutting off your phone 30 minutes before bed can help you achieve more restful sleep and help your brain produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Find opportunities to explore the real world: Get outside, spend some time in nature.  Focus on building real relationships.  Walk over and have a conversation with a neighbor face to face instead of texting.  Call a friend or make plans that don’t include screens or your phone. 

Put your phone away during conversations:  Studies show that people feel less connected to conversation partners, and found their partners less empathically attuned, when a cell phone was present during the conversation. Having a phone present can be a barrier to a deeper or meaningful conversation. These conversations require trust and undivided attention.   Putting your phone away shows your loved ones that you are listening and focused on them. 

Whether as a temporary breather or an opportunity to create enduring change, there is much to be gained from taking a break from your phone. Screen-Free Week is April 29- May 5. Take the online pledge and you’ll receive support and tips for going screen free.
There is no need to go it alone- consider getting close friends, family, and household members to join you in this effort.

 

Resources:

Commercial-Free Childhood. (2019). Rediscover the joys of life away from screens. Retrieved from https://www.screenfree.org/

Gomes, M. (2018, April). Five Reasons to Take a Break from Screens. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_reasons_to_take_a_break_from_screens

The National Sleep Foundation. (2019). Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake. Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/

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

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

 

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Stress is something that every person encounters in life; relationships, weddings, jobs, births, finances, vacations, deaths, etc. all create stress.  Some events might be happy, positive events, like having a baby, but they still can be stressful.  According to the Mayo Clinic, stress effects our bodies physically, mentally and behaviorally.

Common effects of stress on your body:road sign - one pointing right with the word stress and one point left with the word relax

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior:

  • Overeating or underrating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

If stress isn’t managed properly it can wreak havoc on your body.  Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Kim Goodman says “Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, low tolerance levels and interpersonal relationship challenges.”    Our ability to effectively cope with stress is determined by how we respond to it.  Jack Canfield developed a formula to explain this concept E (event) +R (response) = O (outcome).  He states “every outcome you experience in life is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event in your life.  Likewise, if you want to change the results you get in the future, you must change how you respond to events in your life…starting today”.   Here is an example of putting this formula into practice:  you’re stuck in traffic (E) + you cuss, beep your horn and yell out the window (R) = your angry, anxious, experience muscle tension and your blood pressure increases (O).  Now let’s use the same scenerio but change our response and see if the outcome is different.  You’re stuck in traffic (E) + you turn on some music, maybe return phone calls or spend the time contacting a friend you haven’t had time to connect with (R) = you remain calm and relaxed and your productive.   It really isn’t about the event/situation, rather it’s about YOUR response to it that determines what the outcome will be and whether stress controls you or you control your stress. 

So what are some self-care practices that will help improve the way we respond to different events/situations?

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Take time for yourself

Remember, you have a choice in how you respond to stress and the toll it will take on your physical, mental and behavior health.  So choose wisely!

Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/why-stress-management-important-self-care-tips-anyone-can-put-practice

https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/the-formula-that-puts-you-in-control-of-success/

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Taking-Care-of-Yourself

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

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

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open laptop with smart phone on video call in front of it

How many times a day, a week, or a month do you say, “I am so busy?” When I look at my calendar, yes I still use paper, there are times when I get a little overwhelmed and wonder why I am so busy. I color-code my calendar to denote meetings, presentations or classes, blogs, and personal appointments. This allows me to quickly glance at it and prioritize my work, in theory. However, at times, my calendar can leave me a bit stressed.

Have you ever heard someone bragging about how great they are at multitasking? I admit, I used to. I could be working on several things at the same time and keep it all straight, or so I thought. I realized I was not completing these tasks as well as I could or should. The truth is that there is no such thing as multitasking. Yes, I just said that. This former self-proclaimed multitasker just denounced the entire concept!

Research shows that multitasking is a myth. Our brains are good at switching tasks very quickly. So much so, that we mistakenly think we are able to do several things at once. Now, there are exceptions. For instance, as I type this blog, I am walking on my treadmill. These two activities require different areas of the brain; therefore, I am able to both of them simultaneously, reasonably well . I also have been walking for 4+ decades, so it requires very little brain power. Now, if I was trying to learn a new physical activity while compiling this blog, I would likely have trouble.

I decided to look at proven strategies to help increase productivity since I sometimes feel soo busy. I discovered some interesting research. For instance, employees at green companies are more productive, blue skies may decrease productivity, negativity in the workplace can hurt productivity, and hiding from your manager may increase your productivity. While these all make sense, I really wanted to focus on things that I can do immediately.

According to an article by Heather Stringer called Boosting productivity, these are a few tips to start with:

  1. Grow your attention span. Even though technology can empower us to accomplish things faster, Larry Rosen, PhD has found that those benefits can disappear when digital distractions are so readily available.
  2. Write out your goals. Many people who work are familiar with the idea of setting goals for themselves, but achieving those goals can be elusive. Research is showing that establishing a habit of writing about goals can boost performance.
  3. Get together. The idea of fitting in another meeting may seem counter-productive for people working in group settings, but research ­suggests that taking time to debrief as a team can improve productivity in the long run.
  4. Get out of the chair. Researchers are finding that employees with stand-­capable workstations may be more productive than their seated counterparts.

I plan to implement some of these strategies to help increase my productivity and reduce how often I feel soo busy. I will keep you updated in future posts as to how it is going and I will add more suggestions. I would love to see your tips for increasing productivity in the comments.

Reviewer: Your Name,

Image:

https://pixabay.com/photos/laptop-computer-technology-asus-425826/

Sources:

Newman, K. (2019). Why You Never Seem to Have Enough Time. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_never_seem_to_have_enough_time

Stringer, H. (2017). Boosting productivity. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/boosting-productivity

Henion, A. and Johnson, R. Workplace Negativity Can Hurt Productivity. Research@MSU. https://research.msu.edu/workplace-negativity-can-hurt-productivity/

Noble, C. (2013). Hiding From Managers Can Increase Productivity. Working Knowledge. https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/hiding-from-managers-can-increase-your-productivity

Hewitt, A. (2012). Employee at ‘green’ companies are significantly more productive, study finds. UCLA Newsroom. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/study-certified-green-companies-238203

Noble, C. (2012). Blue Skies, Distractions Arise: How Weather Affects Productivity. Working Knowledge. https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/blue-skies-distractions-arise-how-weather-affects-productivity

Weinschenk, S. (2012). The True Cost of Multitasking. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/the-true-cost-multi-tasking

Hamilton, J. (2008). Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794

 

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One of the biggest joys of being an Extension Educator is hearing the stories of others and sharing the highs and lows of daily life. I love living in the community, and have come to realize that if I want it to be a better place, it begins with conversations with others.

Every day, each one of us lives in joy, in sorrow, in anger, in sadness, in the known and in the unknown. And yet, we don’t always share with another the truth of how we are feeling. When asked, “How are you?” A standard response is “Good”. When in reality, we are happy, excited, frustrated, sad, exhausted, silly, or many other emotions. It is so important that we begin to share our emotions with one another, that we share one another’s joys and sorrows.

When talking with a group of young adults about finding balance and setting boundaries in relationships, one of them asked me, “How do you do that without hurting someone else?”

While helping dairy farmers learn more about sharing one another’s joys and burdens with family and friends, one of them asked me, “How do you start that when it’s not what I was taught?”

During a class for parents going through a divorce, one of them asked me, “How do you help your child when they are isolating themselves?”

Each of these questions, asked with honesty and openness, led to a shared discussion for everyone present. The beauty in those moments was the community that was built for each person present.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) shares that “emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” For optimal emotional well-being they suggest 6 strategies for improving your emotional health:

  • Find the positive
  • Reduce Stress
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Allow yourself to grieveteam-386673_1920
  • Spend more time with others
  • Practice mindfulness

The NIH also reminds us that “positive social habits can help you build support systems and stay healthier mentally and physically.” Through our relationships with others, we learn how the world around us works. Being in relationship with others is an important part of our well-being. What are the ways that you are involved with others each day? Some places you might be involved within your community are: service groups, exercise, social groups, family, athletics, work, school events, the grocery, driving from here to there, and many more.

Building a community is the responsibility of each of us. Be vulnerable. Try something new. Reach out to someone you have not talked to recently. Through our sharing of our life experiences, each of us will learn that we are not alone and we are loved. Take time today to reach out to the community you currently have created and don’t be afraid to look for community wherever you are.

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

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County

Sources:

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Emotional Wellness Toolkit, https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Social Wellness Toolkit, https://www.nih.gov/health-information/social-wellness-toolkit

Queensland Government,Social and Emotional Wellness,  https://workplaces.healthier.qld.gov.au/public-resources/health-topics-ideas-for-action/social-and-emotional-wellness/

Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/team-motivation-teamwork-together-386673/

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Last year was a very difficult year for my family, and 2019 has not started any better. Everywhere I turn I am forced to think about the challenges my family is facing. I know I am not alone in the way I feel. I also know that some of you may be living in your worst fear every day. I have spent the last several months trying to keep my head high and not talk about what is going on behind the scenes. I am a very private person when it comes to my family and I do not plaster my every thought on social media. However, keeping all of that inside of me has not been good for my health. I know how to recognize and control my stress but no matter what I tried, I could not escape it.Think Positive motivation

My family is one of the many dairy families across the United States experiencing farm stress. Living in the unknown of the farm takes away all of my positive energy and can be emotionally exhausting and draining every day. I have had to make a conscience effort to focus on the positives in my life and to let the negatives go. I was able to find an extremely wonderful handout from North Dakota State University Extension called 12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress. I had the amazing opportunity to hear Sean, the author, speak at a conference about rural stress. This resource not only applies to farm stress but to ALL stress that EVERYONE faces. The list focuses on the following physical, mental, emotional, personal, work, and financial wellness strategies, which will help enhance your mood, renew your energy and help you stay focused:

  1. Exercise 20 minutes or more daily (walk, swim, ride a bike, etc.)
  2. Get an annual medical checkup with a local health-care provider.
  3. Spend 10 minutes planning your day and priorities.
  4. Take regular 5- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge.
  5. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for daily.
  6. Share concerns with a counselor or other professional.
  7. Take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member.
  8. Get involved or stay connected with a friend or group of friends.
  9. Discuss needs of the farm operation but do not let them occupy all other aspects of life.
  10. Seek constructive feedback on your farm operation and ways to grow or improve.
  11. Create a family budget and seek to live within your means.
  12. Select three healthy habits you will try to practice daily. Start today!

Which three healthy habits could you begin doing today? So many times, we try to handle things on our own and in reality, we end up doing more damage than good. I strongly encourage you to figure out who is in your support network. Who do you feel comfortable sharing your personal struggle(s) with? I started focusing on the goodness in this world and the amazing people that surround me. My coworkers and friends have been wonderful! They’ve given me endless amounts of humor to lighten my mood, been a listening ear on tough days and have sent words of encouragement. Don’t feel like you have to hold your thoughts in any longer. Open up and focus on the positive outcomes in your bumpy ride.

 

Brotherson, S. (2017, September) 12 Tools for your wellness toolbox in times of farm stress. Retrieved from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/12-tools-for-your-wellness-toolbox-in-times-of-farm-stress

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

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I pick “kind”… will you?

I work in Pickaway County, Ohio and the selection for our “One Book, One Community” campaign this year is Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I’ve seen the movie twice and now I am enjoying the book. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I encourage you to do so. This book is a touching read that highlights how people respond to and interact with others who are different from them. It may just open your eyes to what others experience in life.

Why are wonder, kindness and compassion the topics of this blog? We interface with many people every day. How we interact with others not only affects our lives and happiness but it affects others. I encourage you to look at the way you respond to people and situations and to react with kindness and compassion.

Let’s look at some definitions of the word “wonder” when it is used as a noun:

  1. From the English Oxford dictionary: A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
  2. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary a cause of astonishment or admiration.
  3. From the Cambridge dictionary: a feeling of great surprise and admiration, or someone or something that causes such feelings.

These dictionaries define “wonder” as a positive way to view things we might see or experience in life. In the book and movie Wonder, many people viewed the character Auggie as someone very different from them. His face looked different and he was not used to interacting with kids. He faced these challenges with heart.

I encourage you to look with wonder at people and places and to share kindness with those you meet. If someone is different from you – or unfamiliar to you- embrace the interaction with fresh eyes and be open to their friendship. A simple smile goes a long way towards breaking down barriers. Take a moment, pause and treat others how you would like to be treated.

If you have seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, you know that this classic film highlights the life of a character named George Bailey. Throughout the movie, George is encouraged to look at the positives in his life and explore how his life touches others in his “everyday” actions. Clarence, another character in the movie, shares this thought: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Movie Marquee - It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life

Many people watch this movie around the holidays, but I think it is a great movie to watch anytime. It provides a gentle reminder to embrace life and look for positives, even when we are experiencing challenges.

As you pass through your life, will you pick kindness, compassion and wonder? These virtues will enrich your life. If you need tips or strategies to grow compassion, check out the article Six Habits of Highly Compassionate People from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Additionally, the Integrative Medicine department of the OSU Wexner Medical Center offers free heart-centered mindfulness recordings to help foster kindness, compassion and gratitude. These resources, exercises and strategies may help you become a more compassionate person.

If you have a story to share, leave a comment or email me at treber.1@osu.edu.

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

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

Sources:

Jazaieri, H. (2018). Six Habits of Highly Compassionate People. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_habits_of_highly_compassionate_people

OSU Wexner Medical Center, Department of Integrative Medicine. Heart-Centered Practices. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/heart-centered-practices

Palacio, R.J. Wonder. https://wonderthebook.com/books/wonder

 

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simplify

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

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

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

Enjoy 2019!

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

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

Sources:

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

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

 

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