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Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

When my March 19th blog Certainty in Uncertain Times posted, I was unsure what was going to happen with my work, my community, our state, or our nation. With so many unknowns, I could not allow myself to go down the road of “what if’s”, so I chose to focus on things I knew were steadfast. Even as I wrote that blog, I realized I have many privileges. I have realized even more over the past several weeks just how fortunate I am.

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While we have learned a lot about Coronavirus and flattening the curve, there are still many unknowns. When will a vaccine be developed? How long will we have to maintain social distancing? Am I or my family going to contract the virus? How will the economy rebound? All these unknowns and more can cause anxiety and other emotions. It is important to recognize and try to manage these thoughts and feelings if we are to move through these challenges.

My husband and I are fortunate to work for organizations that are supportive of their employees and our overall health and well-being. My supervisor checks in with me regularly. We are encouraged to do things to take care of ourselves and our families. Rearranging our work hours if needed, taking time off, engaging in professional development opportunities (virtually of course), adjusting our workloads, and other reasonable accommodations are all possibilities.

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My children are older and can take care of themselves, do their own homework, and even help around the house, so I have been able work from home with little to no interruptions. Some colleagues and many of you have young children who need more time and attention. My kids understand the reasons for all the changes, though they are not happy about them. We have conversations about the different ramifications of our current situation and what the future might look like.

It was no surprise when our governor announced that schools will not resume this year. My high school sophomore daughter is not happy, but she is a high-performing student, so completing school on-line is not really an issue. This is not the case for many. The adjustment for her and my college sophomore son has been the hardest part for me. Neither of them expected to end the year this way, but at least they have two more. For the seniors and their parents, it’s a different story. They have not had the celebrations and the closure that comes from all the “lasts”.

As restrictions are starting to lift in several areas, many people may be anxious about transitioning back to work and back to the usual routines of daily life. I am co-chair of the Work/Life/HR sub-committee of the COVID-19 Transition Team for our college. The concerns of faculty, staff, and students about returning to work or school is critical to our planning. NAMI Ohio gives these tips to help with the transition back to work:

  1. IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
  2. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
  3. EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
  4. GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG

As our team and thousands of similar groups across the state and the nation begin to plan for a return to work, the health and safety of employees is at the forefront. Many organizations are considering the physical safety of their buildings, as well as the cultural and social aspects of returning to “business as usual.” These are just a few of the things our team will be considering as we provide recommendations to our Dean. While I must consider many unknowns as part of this team, I remain focused on the present and on the things I can do right now to help myself, my family, my colleagues, and my community to continue to be resilient in the face of the challenges we still face.

What have you found effective in coping with the COVID-19 changes?

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Reviewer: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). How to Improve Mental Health https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=april_22_2020

Grabmeier, J. (2020). Survey shows how Ohioans’ views on COVID-19 have evolved. Ohio State News. https://news.osu.edu/survey-shows-how-ohioans-views-on-covid-19-have-evolved/

Harmon, M. (2020). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Johnson, A. (2020). Tips to Manage Anxiety When Returning to Work. NAMI Ohio. https://mailchi.mp/namiohio/helpathome-1389521?e=93084d4f8d

O’Neill, S. (2020). Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Allen, J. & Macomber, J. (2020). What Makes an Office Building “Healthy.” Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-makes-an-office-building-healthy

Scammahorn, R. (2020). A Time to Build Resilience. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/04/27/a-time-to-build-resilience/

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How are you feeling today?  Are you overwhelmed, anxious or even feeling lost?   

You are not alone…

Try not to think about events of today, or tomorrow or the next month…only focus on this moment, right now. And in this moment, YOU have the power within to calm yourself with one small thought, touch, or breath. 

There are techniques you can use when you need a moment of calm that you can do anytime, anywhere with no special tools required. Two of my favorites include:

A Simple Touch

Human touch matters. Research shows that our body releases a hormone called, oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, when the skin is touched. Have you ever heard about the “20 Second Hug?” When hugged, the body releases oxytocin which provides us with a sense of security, soothes stressful emotions, and sends calm to our body. 

But what if you do not have someone near to hug? Then you can hug your dog or animal! Yes…oxytocin is produced from hugging and petting our animals too! And if you still don’t have anyone to hug there is more good news! Our body does not recognize if someone else is hugging you or you are hugging yourself!  Here’s how:

  • Cup your hands in your face and say “It’s going to be ok” or
  • Cross your arms and give yourself a hug and say “May I be strong.”
  • Put your hand over your heart and say “May I be safe.”

This may feel awkward at first, but the body responds to our self-compassion by physical touch from ourselves or others!  So… hug away when stressed

2. Just Breathing

The “4,7,8 Breath” also known as the tranquilizer or relaxing breath is one of my favorites, because it works! This is the “perfect, portable stress” reliever and can also be done anywhere, anytime, and no equipment needed.  Here’s how:

Steps to the 4, 7, 8 Breath:

  1. Completely exhale through your mouth making a WHOOSH noise.
  2. INHALE through your nose for a count of 4.
  3. HOLD your breath for a count of 7.
  4. EXHALE through your mouth making a WHOOSH sound, for a count of 8.

These 4 steps are considered one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. It is a simple as that…and you are on your way to calm.  By practicing these remarkably simple and easy tools, you will learn to quickly and easily comfort yourself during times to stress.

Here is a fact sheet with these techniques all on one sheet which I hope you will use. Which technique do you think you will try when you need a moment of calm? Do you have any other favorite techniques to share?” I would love to hear from you.

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Embrace the 20 Second Hug for Better Health – https://enell.com/blogs/blog/embrace-the-20-second-hug-for-better-health

Hugs Heartfelt in More Ways Than One: Harvard Health – https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_brief_Hugs_heartfelt_in_more_ways_than_one

Neff, Kristen – Self-Compassion – https://self-compassion.org/

Learning to Keep Calm fact sheet – https://licking.osu.edu/covid-19-resources

Video: Breathing 4,7,8 Breath – https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

 

 

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One of my friends posted this quote on her Facebook timeline followed by an encouraging word to use this challenging time to build resiliency.

My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” – Mizuta Masahide

That quote got me thinking, “Do I even really understand what resiliency is or what it looks like?”  

Resilience is “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens” (English Language Learners Dictionary). This indicates, we are somehow able to achieve a positive impact from a negative experience. So how does this happen? What can I do to build resilience?

Although there are many ways to build resiliency, here are five we can focus on:

  1. Change our perspective. When something bad happens, we should shift our focus away from the negative and try to see the positive in the situation. This is called rewriting our narrative. Instead of seeing the struggles and obstacles, we start to look for the opportunities and the blessings. A hopeful outlook empowers us to expect good things will happen to us.
  2. Practice mindful wellness. Without judgement or self-deprecation, acknowledge what we are feeling. Acknowledging our emotions and the impact it has on our mind, body and spirit brings us more into the present. This way we can use mindful practices such as breathing, imagery, body scan or muscle relaxation to cope with negative emotions as they arise, as well as, fully embrace the moments of joy.
  3. Form a social support network. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests having both inner resources in addition to being active civic organizations or faith-based groups helps us to better handle stressful events successfully. These groups can offer us support, reclaim our joy, and give us peace of mind during a difficult time.
  4. Find a purpose. According to the APA, when we are proactive or task oriented, we are no longer a bystander waiting to see what will happen. We are looking for issues that can be changed and then taking charge of them. We can help others, create new goals for ourselves, and look for opportunities for self-discovery. Finding a purpose can be empowering. 
  5. Be Flexible. Thinking on our feet, going with the flow, and accepting change is a part of life is key to maintaining psychological strength. Accepting that certain goals or ideals may no longer be within our grasp, helps us to focus on the aspects of our lives that we can alter.

Being resilient is more than just one of the above-mentioned skills, it is a holistic outlook that encompasses many possibilities. If you find that one of these suggestions doesn’t work for you, try another one. There is no “one size fits all” solution to coping with adversity. You must find what works best for you and you can realistically incorporate into your life. Just remember, your current pain or misfortune is not your destination, it is just your launching point.

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

Sources:

Building Your Resilience, (2020). American Psychological Association – https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience

Introduction to Mindfulness – https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Three Ways to Rewrite Your Story and Embrace the Future – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-gratitude/201206/three-ways-rewrite-your-story-and-embrace-the-future

References:

English Language Learners Dictionary. (2020) Definition of “Resilience” Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/resilience

Meichenbaum, D., (2012). Roadmap to Resilience: a Guide for Military, Trauma Victims and Their Families. Clearwater Florida: Institute press

Moore, B. (2014). Keys to Resilience. Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-camouflage-couch/201401/keys-resilience

Sterling, D., (2011). Five Tips to Increase Resilience. Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ask-dr-darcy/201102/5-tips-increase-resilience

Virelli, R., (2013). Learning to be Resilient. Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201305/learning-be-resilient

Watson, R., (2012). Three Ways to Rewrite Your Story and Embrace the Future. Retrieved on April 10, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-gratitude/201206/three-ways-rewrite-your-story-and-embrace-the-future

Photo Credit: Image by Susan Cipriano from Pixabay

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stay at home

With so many aspects of our lives disrupted recently, a lot of people may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed over the current stay-at-home order.  Many are learning how to work from home, navigate through the home-schooling process, and balance the many changes in daily routines.

We all live busy lives.  This new “style” of life has altered our everyday routines and is likely impacting work life/home life balance.

Recently, at a conference I attended, the keynote speaker Theresa Glomb gave an inspiring talk on improving work life. This theme also relates to our overall daily lives and provides a relevant message with easy action steps. Consider using these four steps to improve your stay at home work life:

  • Work Hard
  • Have Fun
    • Create a positive home environment.
    • Use technology to stay connected to family, friends and neighbors. Video chat play trivia games or start a virtual book club. Remember to monitor children’s usage on any digital social app.
    • Use technology to learn something new. Take an online cooking class, watch a virtual concert or experience zoos, museums and aquariums online.
    • Choose a book to read a chapter out loud each night with your family.
    • Play board games, card games or do a jigsaw puzzle.
daffidols
  • Choose Kind
    • Text a co-worker and ask how their evening was last night.
    • Give a compliment for a job well done.
    • Express gratitude to essential workers (first responders, health care professionals, etc.) who are on the front lines.
    • Practice self-care. Exercise daily, using online physical activities if needed. Stick to your sleep routine and eat healthy meals.
  • Be Present     
    • Uni-task. Pay attention by focusing on the task at hand.
    • Engage in mindful practices daily.
    • Stay positive.
    • Reflect on one good thing that happened at the end of each day at dinner.

These changes are temporary and when things return to normal, we will all have learned valuable lessons to continue to use daily.

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:

Theresa Glomb. https://www.theresaglomb.com/

Ohio Department of Health. Stay at Home Order FAQs. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/stay-at-home-information/stay-at-home-order-frequently-asked-questions

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I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in an environment that is structured, orderly, neat, and reliable. I enjoy having a procedure for everything I do. However, the past week has been anything but predictable. Like you, my home and work schedules and routines have flown out the window! As a result, I have been overwhelmed with stress and my reaction has been emotional eating.

Emotional eating is when you consume foods in response to your emotions rather than eating when you are hungry. Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, boredom, sadness and even positive events such as wedding and parties all can result in emotional eating.  Happy or sad, most of us correlate comfort food with making us feel better. Ice cream after a breakup, a bag of chips when we are bored, too many helpings of dessert at Thanksgiving all result in the potential to over-eat.

With everything going on in our lives right now, how do we take steps to stop emotional eating?

Journaling or a Food Diary: For me it is a food diary. Writing down what I eat, how much, and what I am feeling as compared to if I am really hungry shows me the patterns I develop connecting my stress/mood to food.

Mindful Wellness: Practicing mindful wellness has also shown to be a great way to tame your stress and encourage mindful eating.  When you slow down, pace yourself and enjoy your food using all of your senses, you are able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab unhealthy foods, decide if you are really hungry, and choose to eat healthy during the stressful times. MyPlate Kitchen is a great resource to find healthy and affordable meals and snack ideas.

Build a Support Network: Thankfully I work with an amazing group of people at OSU Extension, and I know that I can call on them, a friend or a family member if I am having a really bad day. Having a support network helps your efforts to change your eating habits and improves your chance of success! It may also be helpful to join a support group specifically for individuals with similar emotional eating behaviors to learn better ways of coping.

Substitute other activities for eating: This could look like a taking a walk, reading, calling an old friend, playing with your cat or dog, giving yourself a break, or if you are like me, cleaning and organizing. Doing something that reduces your stress, fights boredom, or takes away the temptation to emotionally eat and substitutes a healthier behavior is a great way to reduce emotional eating.

We are currently in a phase of constant change; we can’t control everything, but we can control how we choose to cope with our emotions.  My goal is to make better choices when I am stressed, reduce my emotional eating, and enjoy the here and now rather than live in the past or worry about the future. May your goal help you to grow and learn as you learn healthy way to adjust to our ever-changing world.

Sources:

Brinkman, P., (2016). Eating Healthy During Stressful Times. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5244

Harvard Healthy Publishing, (2020). Why Stress Causes People to Overeat. Harvard Mental Health Letter retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Mississippi State University Extension, (2017). Stress and Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from http://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/information-sheets/is1783.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, (2019). Stress Management. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-591106

Powers-Barker, P. (2016) Introduction to Mindfulness. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

The Mayo Clinic, (2020). Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

University of Rochester Medical Center, (2020). Emotional Eating; How to Cope. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4517

Photo credit: Dylan Lu on Unsplash

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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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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