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Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

February is American Heart Month but it’s also my favorite time of year and always has been since I can remember! And to make this month even more meaningful I had a special gift delivered on Valentine’s Day – a baby boy! What a gift he is!  But each day should be a gift, especially during heart month.

Woman writing "Love You" in a journal. Letters and chocolate bar.

So, in honor of the love month, I do a few special things starting with writing love letters. I write love letters to each of my children reminding them of my love and how proud I am of their accomplishments. I send these letters through regular mail on purpose – no email allowed – so they can see my handwriting and feel connected to me. I also take time to send Valentines to friends, family and the elderly. 

Something special happens when writing: the act of sitting down to write causes me to slow down and think of those I love for a moment. Other good benefits of handwriting letters are:

  1. You feel more in touch with the person you are contacting.
  2. You get to take a moment out of your hectic schedule to just breathe and write.
  3. You get to practice your handwriting.
  4. You can use all your fun stationery supplies for a totally legitimate reason!

The American Heart Association agrees that we should do simple things each day for our hearts. Aside from writing letters, you might:

  • Count your blessings
  • Stretch
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Clean up clutter (start with just one drawer)
  • Take a walk
  • Draw hearts on post-it notes and stick on someone’s coffee mug

It’s the little things in life that add up and make a big difference. We can all choose to do a little something each day to improve our health and share joy of the gift of another day with the people we love.

Have a wonderful February!

XOXO

Shari

Written by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Licking County

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

Sources:

  1. American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org/
  2. Abrahamsen, Shelley. (2019). The Art of Writing Letters (and why you should start today!) https://littlecoffeefox.com/art-writing-letters-start-today/The
  3. Brencher, Hannah. The World Needs More Love Letters.  http://www.moreloveletters.com/

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heart disase

Learning you have heart disease is a major life change.  Upon receiving a diagnosis, your healthcare team becomes an important part of your recovery process.  Listen to what they say, follow their advice, and make healthy lifestyle changes for the best possible life ahead.  In addition, there are steps you can take to protect your heart and overall health and move forward to live your best life:

heartKnow Your Type of Heart Disease

Learn about the type of heart disease (coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, etc.) you are diagnosed with by your physician.  Remember to keep a positive attitude.

medicationTake Charge of Medications

  • Take your medications regularly and on time
  • Learn what each medication does and why you are taking it
  • Set up a system to make it easier to manage medications

healthcare teamGet Involved with Your Healthcare Team

  • Talk to your doctors regularly. Be clear about your fears and goals.
  • Keep a journal on how you feel at different times throughout the day. Document how medications, diet and exercise make you feel.  Share journal entries with your doctor and discuss them.

heart symptomsLearn About Symptoms of Concern

Symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort,  shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, palpitations, lightheaded, dizziness and depression are important and should never be ignored.  If you experience any of them, discuss them with your doctor.

heart lifestyleAdjust Your Lifestyle

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
    • Include a variety of fruits & vegetables, low- fat dairy products, whole grains, skinless poultry & fish, and nuts & legumes
    • Limit intake of saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, red meat, sweets, and sugar
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Live tobacco free
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Manage stress – learn coping techniques

 

healthcare technologyExplore Helpful Personal Technology, such as:

  • Home blood pressure monitoring devices
  • Wireless scales that record and store your weight over time
  • Activity monitors that remind you to stay active
  • Heart rate monitors that will alert you if your heart rate exceeds a determined threshold

stay on trackStay on Track

  • Set and write down realistic goals
  • Make one change at a time
  • Prepare for setbacks – They happen, just get back on track

A friend helps a person join a company club team or other group.Join a Support Group

  • Keep up with family and friends.
  • Recognize that living with heart disease can be challenging. It can be helpful to join a group of people that are facing the same difficulties.

 

Written by:   Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County.  lobb.3@osu.edu

 

References:

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/06-5716.pdf

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/default.htm

 

 

 

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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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Woman holding head
Do you ever feel like a hamster in the wheel just spinning around and around? Or like the world around you is always demanding something more from you? Life has a way of swallowing us up if we don’t manage our schedules. As I look at my monthly calendar, I feel overwhelmed by doctor’s appointments, volleyball games, meetings and more meetings, evening work programs, my daughter’s high school homecoming, house repairs, conference presentations, deadlines, webinars, family obligations, and traveling out of town for work 15 out of 26 days. 

As part of my job, I encourage people to practice healthy time management and stress management. Clearly, I have fallen victim to NOT practicing what I preach. I would like to say without hesitation, that I have not experienced first-hand how life responsibilities and demands can quickly create feelings of stress. That would be a lie. I am keenly aware of the warning signs and symptoms related to increased stress in my life. Like many people, I sometimes choose not to listen to my body’s cues.

Headaches and muscle tension are symptoms I experience when I am overwhelmed. The Cleveland Clinic identifies these other physical symptoms related to stress:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it.”
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face, or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach and/or diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Do you know how stress affects you? I encourage you to take some time to identify the signs and symptoms you experience related to stress. Once you know your own warning signs, it will be easier to manage stress. There are a variety of ways to cope with stress.  The key is choosing what works for you and what fits your lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic offers these stress management tips:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Set aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

If you practice healthy stress management techniques but your symptoms continue or worsen, please seek assistance from a healthcare professional. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available to anyone. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all calls are confidential.

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

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

References:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress

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

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/clause-law-flood-stress-burnout-3213670/

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picture of journal with note "Make it Happen"

Earlier this year I decided to do some research in to increasing productivity since I found myself saying or thinking how busy I was, even though I did not feel like I accomplished as much as I could or should. In my first blog about productivity, I rejected the notion of multitasking. In my second blog, I talked about taking breaks FROM work. I would be lying if I told you I have been doing well with either concept, especially the last couple months.

Over the summer, I have slipped back into my old ways. I have not been turning off email as often as I should (it is closed as I write this.) I have found myself starting one thing and then trying to do something else simultaneously. I have been taking breaks from my work on some days, but not as faithfully as I had planned. In fact, I was just telling my co-worker that SHE needs to take breaks from her work. I had to admit to her, that it was also a reminder for me to do the same. While my tendency would be to lament about my lack of progress, I have accepted that this is a process.

When we start something new or try to do things differently, there is bound to be a learning curve. As I am trying to learn different ways of working, I am likely to stumble, and I may even fall flat on my face. When this happens, I need to get back up and continue or start over. So, today I have my email turned off while I work on this blog. In a little while, I am going for a walk outside to help me reset and refresh. While I have not been as regular as I wanted to be with these changes, I am not going to be too hard on myself. I am going to regroup and make a concerted effort to get back to doing some of the things I committed to doing earlier this year.

to do list... "Later, tomorrow, today, Now"

Since my last blog, I have done some additional reading about productivity. In the article, “How to Boost Your Workplace Productivity” Tamar Shulsinger gives these suggestions:

  1. Develop a Morning Routine
  2. Prioritize Your Calendar
  3. Arrange Your Tasks in Order of Importance
  4. Communicate Efficiently
  5. Consider the Pomodoro Method
  6. Define What Work-Life Balance Means to You

I have been using some of these ideas, but again, not consistently. I want to become better about prioritizing my calendar, arranging my tasks, and using the Pomodoro Method. I will keep you updated in future posts as to how it is going. I would love to hear what tips or suggestions do you have for maximizing productivity. The more tools I have, the better.

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

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

Images:

https://pixabay.com/photos/still-life-paper-no-person-3126536/

https://pixabay.com/vectors/now-concept-reminder-motivation-1272358/

References:

Cirillo, F. Do more and have fun with time management. Cirillo Consulting. Retrieved from: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish even MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Retrieved from: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/livehealthyosu.com/11895

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/livehealthyosu.com/11802

Shulsinger, T. (2017). How to Boost Your Workplace Productivity. Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Found at: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/how-to-boost-workplace-productivity/

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One of my goals for this year is to explore mindfulness. In this blog, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned about this life changing topic.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in American mindfulness,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Path in forest I enjoy being outside in nature. I have often wondered why this is relaxing for me. Why is it that I breathe deeper and feel a sense of calmness come over me while enjoying the beauty of nature?

I have learned that it has to do with the focus on my surroundings and mental relaxation that I experience from being in nature. Moving mindfully provides us with several benefits and can help increase the awareness of our bodies and the surroundings around us. According to the American Heart Association, some benefits of mindful movement may include:

  • Manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • Motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

One reason that I enjoy exploring mindfulness in nature is that I am paying attention to my surroundings and experiencing several senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Watching the way that a blade of grass blows in the wind, feeling wind in your face, hearing the rustle of leaves, watching clouds drift across the sky are all examples of ways that we can pay attention to the details in nature. You can also enjoy these visual cues while looking out your window.picture of woods with trees, wildflowers

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Integrative and Complementary Medicine website offers several Mindfulness practices for you to explore. Click on the link and check out their resources.

Take time during your busy life to check out nature as I did this past weekend. I visited one of my favorite spots in the town where I live. A 90-year-old man has 4 acres of paths and trails through his back yard. You can walk and explore the Hosta plants and wildflowers he has planted over the years. One year he shared with me he planted 3,000 daffodil bulbs!  Imagine all those beautiful flowers!

Share in the comments how you enjoy mindfulness in nature.

Sources:

Dreskin, M., Smith, S. & Kane, D., Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors. Retrieved from: https://m.kp.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Powers-Barker, P., 2106. Introduction to Mindfulness. Ohioline Factsheet number HYG-5243. Ohio State University. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Suttie, J., 2018. Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for your Health. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health

Hostas courtesy of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, Chillicothe, Ohio.

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

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

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causeway

Every day on my drive to work I cross over the Mosquito Creek causeway.  Driving over the lake is always beautiful with the scenery of birds, and ice anglers in the winter and an array of boats and skiers in the summer.

Driving over the causeway twice a day,  enjoying nature has provided me a moment to reflect both before and after work.  Over the years, this time is important to me, preparing me for the day and reminding me to slow down and take a moment to pause.

We all live busy lives. Our workdays are busier.  Digital technology has extended work into late hours.  Our work/life balance suffers.  Recently, at our Extension Annual Conference, keynote speaker Theresa Glomb gave an inspiring talk on how we can improve our work and home lives.  She shared a relatable message with the following action steps:

 

Work Hard

Have Fun

Choose Kind

Be Present

 

Work Hard–

Create a routine to accomplish goals or make significant progress on a project.

Plan for 60-90 minutes of uninterrupted work.

Have Fun–

Create a positive work environment.

Reflect on one good thing that happened during the weekday.

Share positive events with team members.

Choose Kind–

Ask a co-worker how their evening was last night.

Give a compliment for a job well done.

Be respectful.

Be Present–

Pay attention. Focus on the task.

Engage in mindful practices daily.

Pause before answering a question, text, or mail.

This advice is easy to remember and a simple tenet of how we can choose to spend our days in a more meaningful way.  Take a moment today to pause…. What strategies will you incorporate into your daily life?

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.bravenewworkshop.com/creativeoutreach/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Work-Hard-Have-Fun-Choose-Kind-Be-Present-Lecture-BNW-MNovation-2018.pdf

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