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Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

I enjoy walking during my lunchtime. When I do, this break away from my desk refreshes me. It helps me re-focus as I breathe in the fresh air and take a few minutes to get out of the “work mode”.

A few weeks ago, while crossing the railroad tracks behind my office, I noticed that someone ran through the railroad crossing bar in their haste to “beat the train”.  I see this happen every few weeks – someone hears the signal that a train is approaching; they speed up and try to get through the tracks before the cross bar comes down. It always surprises me that we are in such a hurry that we would risk our lives to save a few minutes.

Rail Road crossing bar hit by a vehicleAs my picture shows, the person made it through without being hit by a train but they damaged the safety bar at this railroad crossing – I’m sure their car was also damaged. We called the number of the RR company and the sheriff to report this violation.

I saw another example of stress, haste and anxiety during my morning commute this week. While at a red light, I glanced over at the driver beside me. She covered her face/eyes with her hands as she realized something that she remembered she needed to do. She pulled into a place of business to text, turn around or get re-focused. I was happy she decided to pull over and handle the situation she faced. This was a safe solution to her dilemma.

Why is this important? In the frantic pace of our lives, we make quick and impulsive decisions that may affect many lives in a negative way. Check out these stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at U.S. Department of Transportation:

Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist’s home.  Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.

A calculation of NHTSA statistics on the rate of deaths per collision in vehicle/vehicle crashes versus the Federal Railroad Administration statistics of deaths per collision in vehicle/train crashes reveals:

A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. 

What can you do to pause the hectic pace of your life? 

  • Practice a savoring walk where you avoid distractions and focus on your surroundings.
  • Explore mindfulness practices to help you tame your mind, relax, or re-focus.
  • Slow your pace and practice walking meditation. This relaxed pace can help you focus on your surroundings and the sensations you experience.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Tai Chi, meditation, yoga or focused breathing can help you cope with stress.

How can you pause and savor your life? Share your comments below.

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

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

Sources:

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/savoring_walk#

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Harvard%20Now%20and%20Zen%20Reading%20Materials.pdf

https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/04/11/taming-stress-using-stress-busters/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml#pub4

https://oli.org/about-us/news/collisions-casulties

https://oli.org/education-resources/driving-safety-tips

https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/mindfulness-practices

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park

While scanning the paper recently, an obituary caught my eye:

“After 96 years of vigorous living, Ralph passed peacefully. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He made friends easily wherever he went.  He made a difference in people’s lives, challenging people to do their best in business, sports, in their families and even in their fun.   He mentored many associates both young and old.  Believing in the rights and dignity of all, he organized an open housing committee at the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His family was the most important part of his life, especially his wife with whom everyday was a party. Their life together was fun. Join us to celebrate his life at the 18th green with a reception to follow in the clubhouse.”

After reading this, I wondered.  Are we living our best life? We all want to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives. Are we taking the time and necessary steps to achieve these goals?

Start today:

  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend more time with loved ones
  • Smile more
  • Forgive
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Spread positive energy
  • Get more sleep
  • Get fresh air
  • Volunteer
  • Enjoy a part of everyday

We only get one life. Forget about what other people are doing and focus on your life and your path to happiness.  At the end of the day and at the end of your life, that is all that matters.

I wish I had known Ralph.   He has inspired me to live my best life.  Thank you Ralph.

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.webmd.com/mental-health/features/choosing-to-be-happy#1

https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits.html

 

 

 

 

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Most parents need ways of staying organized that are tailored to the specific needs of their family. The Bullet Journal®, an analog system designed by Ryder Carroll “to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future” has gained much interest from people who seek a better way to log their schedules, tasks, and events. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you can watch a short video that explains the idea here:

https://help.bulletjournal.com/article/37-start-here

This revolutionary (and yet, brilliantly simple) way of tracking life and to-do lists, has inspired some rather artistic approaches (Google it, you’ll see!) and has people creating systems with good old-fashioned pen and paper to manage their chores, goals, and schedules.Journal pages

Some users also implement the system to go beyond their schedules & to-do lists by creating logs of important reminders for themselves such as charting their daily water intake, physical activity tracking, and progress toward personal goals.  Examples are shown on this post about Self-Care and Bullet Journaling.

Research tells us that writing down our goals helps us achieve them, and we see in our Live Healthy Live Well challenges that tracking your progress keeps you motivated along the way.

Consider creating logs for yourself and your family to stay on-track with the things you want or need to accomplish.  Some ideas are:

  • Daily water intake
  • Exercise
  • Daily mindfulness practices or daily “unplugged” time
  • Minutes spent reading (especially great for children)
  • Weekly family meals, aiming for 3 per week
  • Daily fruit & vegetable intake, aiming for 5 servings per day
  • Meal planning
  • Scheduling annual checkups, dental cleanings, etc.Reading calendar log example

Some people are motivated and inspired by creating colorful and visually appealing logs, like the ones in the post linked above, but simple, clean ones work best for others.

Journals don’t have to be organized daily. You can create different logs for the frequency that is most appropriate. I have several tasks that are best tracked monthly, so for those, I have created a simple table for the whole year, organized by month. I found it made the most sense to combine my work and personal monthly tasks into one list. At the end of each month, or the start of a new one, I go down and make sure all of my monthly tasks are complete.

Water intake log exampleThe Bullet Journal® is an actual product that uses dots  instead of lines that you traditionally see on the pages of a journal. But the Bullet Journal creator says that the concept can be used with any journal of your choice – lines, dots, grids or blank pages.

What do you log or journal to keep you & your family healthy, organized, and happy?

Sources:

www.bulletjournal.com

https://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/dominican-research-cited-in-forbes-article

 

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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When was the last time you paid attention to something you ate?

That might seem like a silly question, but all too often, we rush through our meals and snacks without stopping to think about what we’re doing: how our food looks, smells and tastes. I have to admit, even as a dietitian and food educator, I am just as guilty as the next person! I often eat lunch at my desk while working, since my office does not have a formal break room or lunch hour. Consequently, because my mind is focused on tasks other than eating, I consume my lunch without noticing its taste, appearance or texture.

pasta-salad-1967501_1920One day while eating lunch at my desk, though, I was struck by the saltiness of an olive in a bite that I took of Mediterranean pasta salad. The taste caused me to pause, eat my lunch one bite at a time, and pay more attention to the dish. In this instance, I was practicing mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention in the present moment without judgement. Mindful eating is the practice of being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience as you eat (tastes, smells, textures, etc.) and the thoughts and emotions you have about your food. When you eat mindfully, you:

  • Use all your senses
  • Acknowledge your responses to food (i.e. like, dislike or neutral) without judgement
  • Become aware of hunger and satiety (fullness) cues

When you practice mindful eating, you allow yourself to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. And, not only do mindful eaters tend to enjoy their food more than distracted eaters; research suggests that mindful eating can help with weight control and also steer people away from processed food and other less-healthful food choices. The underlying premise here is that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the stomach and register fullness after eating, so slowing down your eating may help you to realize when you’re full before you overeat.

If you tend to eat too quickly and need some strategies to slow down, try: cutlery-908480_1280

  • Eating with your non-dominant hand
  • Putting your fork down between bites
  • Taking a sip of water between each bite
  • Using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them
  • Putting away cell phones and other electronic devices
  • Practicing gratitude for your food as you think about where it came from and all the people who worked to bring it to you
  • Eating with others and having a conversation over your meal

 

Sources:

Carter, S. (2013). Mindful Eating. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/10/21/mindful-eating/

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

University of New Hampshire, Office of Health Education and Promotion. Mindful Eating. https://www.unh.edu/health/ohep/nutrition/mindful-eating

 

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

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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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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bar-local-cong-ireland-63633.jpegOn a recent trip to New York City I visited an Irish pub. As I sat and enjoyed the surroundings, I began to realize that when patrons left the pub, they would ring a bell that hung from the ceiling and recite poetry. At first I thought the activity was quirky and fun, but as time passed, I began to realize that every single patron cited poetry before they exited.

I heard Frost, Dickinson, Shakespeare and Whitman; just to name a few.  Each poem was beautiful and given by memory!  As the bell rang, everyone inside the pub stopped what they were doing to listen intently to the poetry and cheer on the reciter.

I began to segue from enjoying the moment to full-blown panic mode. What poems did I know?  Could I remember any from my childhood?  Is Dr. Seuss considered a poet?  Why isn’t my Wi-Fi working on my phone? Why can’t I search the internet for help?

Thankfully, I got a grip on myself, remembered to take a deep breath, and relax. My training in mindfulness kicked in. We’re taught to take time to build a “mindful” activity each and every day. It may be any routine activity you complete daily, such as:

  • Being outside and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine
  • Washing your hands and feeling the warmth of the water on your skin
  • Listening to the birds sing outside your window

Slowing down and giving those tasks your full attention helps you appreciate small moments of stillness.

When we are mindful and pay attention to the details of our experiences, we show up for our lives. We do not miss out by being distracted or wishing things were different.

Find your inner calm by adding these strategies into your daily life:

  • Unplug – turn off the electronics and enjoy the still
  • Declutter – clear out the cupboards and organize your desk to give you a sense of order
  • Breathe – take a moment and just breathe
  • Exercise – find time to exercise and release endorphins
  • Read a poem aloud – your mental “to-do list” melts away and thoughts focus entirely on the lyrical sounds of the words

Incorporate one or more of these strategies into your daily habits and you will be well on your way to increasing your inner calm!

By the way, after allowing my mind to clear from it’s panic stricken state, I finally recalled the poem The Dust of Snow by Robert Frost:

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued

 

Thanks to my eighth grade English teacher for requiring us to memorize a poem!

What poem would you recite?

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:

psychologytoday.com/blog/lifetime-connections/201702/5-strategies-finding-calm-in-turbulent-life

 

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