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Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

It has been almost a year working from home. I look back on the year and have realized how much I have grown practicing self-care. I am going to be honest I can promote and share self-care practices, but it doesn’t come easy for this mom of four! Looking back on the first few weeks working from home learning all the technology, transitioning the kids to virtual schooling, I remember feeling scattered, unable to focus, nervous, and completely overwhelmed! These feelings made me even more frustrated because I am a working mother of four, and an educator. I take pride in my ability to be flexible and adaptable in any given situation. They now have a term for this feeling, pandemic paralysis, a loss of function or movement of your limbs or an emotional way, where you procrastinate, you can’t move, you can’t act, and you’re not doing the tasks that you need or have to do.

One day in the afternoon when I was feeling overwhelmed, all I could think of was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In our house a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not the literal sandwich that you may be thinking of! I have 12 yr. old triplets and at one time I could hold all three of them in my lap. Since they have outgrown my lap we have come up with a ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich’. I am the sticky peanut butter and two of them are the slices of bread and then we have the jelly on top! Feeling anxious, I stopped everything I was doing went and laid on my bed and said, “I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, and they came running and we laid there with our legs and arms all intermingled. We giggled, smiled, and talked as we laid there all snuggled together. Afterward I felt so much better. I no longer felt anxious and was able to go back to working.

Did you know when you are hugged it relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and releases endorphins.  This can reduce tension and soothe aches and pains. Hugging increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These are the happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure and happiness which boost our mood and relieves stress and anxiety. Research has shown that hugs can boost immunity, lower stress, increase self-esteem, and reduce depression.

The day I was feeling the need for a hug I had my children. But if you are feeling the need for a hug and have no one to hug, you can trick your brain and give yourself a hug.  By hugging yourself your brain will release the same hormones and you will have the benefits of a warm hug.

How To Hug Yourself:

  1. Wrap your arms around yourself. Bring your left arm across your chest and place your left hand on your right shoulder or upper arm. Bring your right arm across your chest, placing your hand on your left shoulder or upper arm. You can reverse the order, just find a position that is most comfortable for you.
  2. Give yourself a nice big squeeze. Press both arms into your body. Mimic the pressure that you feel when you get a reassuring bear hug.
  3. Hold for as long as necessary. Sometimes a quick hug is all you need, while other times you might want a lingering, gentle hug.

References:

Dunfee, L. (2019). Am I in Control or is My Stress? Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/01/am-i-in-control-or-is-my-stress/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Lamburg, E., (2020). Health Benefits of Hugging, Backed By Science.  The Healthy. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/benefits-of-hugging/

Ocklenburg Ph.D., S., (2018). 3 Surprising Ways Hugging Benefits Your Well-Being, Psychology Today.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-asymmetric-brain/201812/3-surprising-ways-hugging-benefits-your-well-being

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MEd, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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Yahtzee, Yatzy, Play, Cube, Craps, Fun, Leisure, Tricky
Yachtzee-like game

This afternoon my daughter comes into the living room and asks, “Where is the Yahtzee?” I was a little miffed. Why would I be upset that my 17-yo wants to do something that doesn’t involve technology? Let me explain. My parents recently came home from Florida to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and for a couple medical appointments and they are staying with us. My mom likes to play Yahtzee, so the kids usually end up playing it with her. I was miffed because I would LOVE for my kids to play games with me! I have to basically beg or threaten them to get them to play a game. My “kids” are ages 23, 21, and 17.

Since my parents are usually in Florida during the winter, I am happy to have them here. As I listened to my older son, my daughter, and my mom laughing and hooting downstairs, I couldn’t help but smile. You see, it is moments like these that I realize, the little things really are the big things. As much as I wanted to go down and join in the fun, I didn’t want to interrupt this grandparent-grandchildren bonding time. So, I sat upstairs with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart, listening to them play Yahtzee. I am very happy that my kids get to have the fun experiences they do with both sets of their grandparents.

Corona 19, Mask, Spring, In The Spring I'M Back, Family
Family with masks on

According to research by the American Psychological Association, happy memories from our childhood, especially of our parents, have been linked to better health later in life. I would never claim to be the best parent, but I hope that my children have more fond memories than not. That the times when I was or am frustrated with them or someone or something else are not overshadowed by the absolute love I have for them and incredible joy it has been and still is to be their mother.

I remember the day I brought each of my kids home. I could not believe that the hospital was just letting me walk out the door with this new life without some type of license or certification demonstrating some level of parenting proficiency. I mean, I can’t legally drive a car without a license. I had to take a class to learn how to save a life, but I was able to just walk right out the door with this tiny human.

When I hear parents of young children complaining or apologizing for their kid’s interruptions on Zoom meetings, I tell them that there is no need. When they are frustrated with their child, I remind them that it will pass. For those of us with grown children, we know all too well how quickly time passes. While you are wishing for them to sleep through the night, to say their first word, to become potty trained, etc. etc., you may be missing out on lots of little things. Little things that some day you will realize were the big things. As I read over this blog about mindful parenting that I wrote, I cannot believe it has been almost 3 years! Time ticks on.

As Bonnie Ware observed while working for hospice, the things people regret when they are faced with death, have little to do with the things we worry most about most of our life. When questioned about regrets patients had or things they would do differently, these were the five most common themes:

Pictures, Memories, Nostalgia, Saudade, Old Photos
Black & white pictures
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So, as we continue to endure this pandemic and all the challenges, try not to forget to embrace the people and the moments that you have, instead of focusing on when we will get back to “the way things were.” Because I guarantee you, there are little things happening right in front of you, that someday you will realize were the big things.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, OSU Extension Educator, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2018, November 5). Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/11/happy-childhood-memories

Harmon, M. (2018, March 30). Mindful parenting: Enjoy every moment. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/harmon-416osu-edu/mindful-parenting-enjoy-every-moment/

Meyer, M., & Kandic, A. (2017, October 30). Grandparenting in the United States. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177109/

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (n.d.). How the Covid-19 vaccine works. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/patient-care/covid-19-vaccine/how-the-covid-19-vaccine-works

Ware, B. (n.d.). Dying regrets, wise advice and life lessons. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-02-2012/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.html

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Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Is a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.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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I sat for what seemed like a frustrating amount of hours and minutes every day… zooming, teleworking, watching television, healing from back pain (exacerbated by long hours on the computer)… almost immobilized by fear, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation… and I felt guilty… why wasn’t I connecting more with my teen children, who are struggling through this pandemic with their own issues; connecting more with my husband who is a teacher and so exhausted from teaching all day, trying to motivate his students to hold it together, that he is crashed out napping in the other room? Why wasn’t I more effective with supervising my work teams? Is this all that life has right now? Is this what the next several months will be like? Maybe.

Young woman sitting looking out window

Have you been here? When there are things you must do, but you just can’t move? This phenomena has been termed “pandemic paralysis” recently by psychologists and popular press. This paralysis can leave us feeling defeated, deflated and depressed.

And then one evening that just seemed to drag on endlessly, I got up and cleaned the bathroom in my home. That felt motivating in and of itself, as it had been too long-neglected. So I cleaned another bathroom, then the kitchen. I asked my husband for help on a project I couldn’t do by myself. Then my kids came home and my daughter asked for help with studying, and my son needed to talk through an issue that was bothering him. And I had energy and desire to assist. I re-connected with a sense of purpose even in my own home. With the next work day, I was re-committed to the teams and staff I support and supervise. I want to help others be their best self, contributing to the best team. I reached out to a couple friends and acquaintances to check on how they were doing.

How can we switch from that time paralyzed on the couch to feeling productive and worthwhile? Sometimes, we just need to do something. Living with the uncertainty of so many issues in this pandemic can be exhausting and paralyzing. But take heart, there are some things we can do.

Start with what you CAN do. Try to impact some things you can control.

Shift from worry and problem-focused thinking to solution-focused thinking. Focus on aspects of a problem that you can do something about, and you’ll enter a mode of active problem-solving.

Chunk your time – This term is used by mental health professionals to help people understand how to break tasks into smaller, more do-able segments. Creating just the right size chunk of a task helps you feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps us not to feel so overwhelmed, which can snuff out any degree of motivation. This is a good approach to ‘one day at a time’ or ‘one moment at a time.’

Deal with your emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Try to deal with those negative emotions instead of ignoring them. Allow yourself to experience these emotions during times of uncertainty, and they will eventually pass.

If you struggle greatly with the need for control and certainty, perhaps that is something to learn to let go of. Helpguide.org has lots of practical tips and a meditation.

If you literally don’t have the strength to get up, get some help. Call your doctor, talk to a licensed mental health practitioner. Please reach out to someone!

If you can impact your immediate environment enough to make a small, motivating change, you can create that power in your own life. The power of now. The power of the positive. The power of finding purpose. What if the ‘something’ you do is so much greater than cleaning a bathroom? What if what you decide to do is help someone beyond your family, reaching out to those in need. How much more will that help you feel empowered to do something? Do anything!

Other Live Healthy Live Well Blogs to help on this topic:

Sources:

Cloyd, S. “Productivity: The Time Chunking Method.” Rhodes College Academic and Learning Resources. https://sites.rhodes.edu/academic-and-learning-resources/news/productivity-time-chunking-method

Robinson, L and Smith, M. 2020. “Dealing with Uncertainty During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/dealing-with-uncertainty.htm

“Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” 2021. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/brycelab/covid-19-guidance-for-our-spinal-cord-injury-community/your-mental-health-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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

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

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By: Kellie Lemly

This year has been a whirlwind of emotions to say the least.  The pandemic has challenged each and everyone of us!  And yet here we are ​putting one foot in front of the other coming into the holiday season! 

I found myself looking forward to Thanksgiving with family and friends, once again Dealing With Disappointment with the restrictions due to the coronavirus.  I had to stop myself and focus on the “here and now” realizing I have many things to be grateful for.

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation and being thankful for what it is. Research has shown expressing gratitude can improve mood, alleviate stress and depression. Over time practicing gratitude can offer benefits such as, optimism, positivity, and mindfulness.

It is difficult trying to find that glimmer of gratitude when you have been struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few tips on ways to practice being grateful.

  • Mindfulness: Be mindful, focus on the specific moment you are in.
  • Guided imagery: Use positive mental images to influence how you feel.
  • Journaling: Write down the joys of daily life.
  • Think about the people who have inspired you.
  • Focus on the good, the things people have done for you.
  • Meditate 
  • Pray
  • Think about something that has happened to you that was positive and how it would be different if that event didn’t happen.
  • Say “thank you” ​

This year we have all struggled with disappointment, loss, and adaptation. We have all given up precious and valuable moments. However, despite everything this year has thrown at us,  I have realized that there are so many little things I am grateful for!

Brown, J., & Wong, J. (n.d.). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Greater Good Magazine: Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

Miller, K. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science.  Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Powers-Barker, P., (2016).  Introduction to Mindfulness.  Ohioline: Ohio State University Extension. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MS, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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In recent years, Black Friday has come to mean a lot more to me than shopping! Although there are good shopping deals available, I found myself wanting to just be in my little garden on Black Friday. It was there that I accidentally found moments of calm after the storm of preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday which left me often feeling exhausted (yet thankful for family).  This unintentional tradition of gardening on Black Friday began a few years ago when I started turning down shopping trips with my girls in exchange for a quiet moment at home (can you relate?) and found myself wandering out to my very small garden the day after Thanksgiving with no time constraints or schedule!

As I head to the garden, the cold air always feels so refreshing after being indoors in the hot kitchen cooking for days, but I’m always excited to find things that are still growing (I do not “clean out the garden” as suggested by experts).  As I started pulling out plants that had died, I quietly give thanks to the garden for the joy and happiness it brought me throughout the year (especially this year).  This year’s highlights were watching my cone flower that grew so tall and was a glowing pink you can hardly imagine and another highlight this year was finding a new raspberry each day (and eating it right away) from an old raspberry bush growing next to my air conditioner! How could one berry bring so much joy!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is raspberries-in-hand.jpg

During my time in the garden, I also found time to take a few deep breaths and slow my thoughts down and begin to notice what I am (mindfully) seeing …sometimes it is piece of mint still growing or a funky bug crawling in the dirt. It is amazing what our senses do when we slow down and just notice life

And finally, if I find a plant or two that is still green, I dig it up and bring it inside with me to grow for the winter…because plants heal!   Plants offer many benefits to us indoors. They heal and promote good health, and provide so many wonderful benefits to us, so why not bring a few indoors this winter!

And so, as you go about your Thanksgiving weekend during this very crazy, mixed up year, maybe you will also find yourself outside somewhere… noticing life… taking breaths …and finding joy in the garden.

Shari

Author:  Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Science Educator and Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County. gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

  1. The Trust for Public Land.  7 Ways Nature Nurtures Us.  https://www.tpl.org/blog/7-ways-nature-nurtures-us
  2. National Initiative for consumer Horticulture. Plants Do That.Where We Heal. Info-graphic.  https://consumerhort.org/nich-releases-plantsdothat-inside-infographic-3-where-we-heal/

3. Learning to Keep Calm Info-graphic. Ohio State University Extension.  https://go.osu.edu/keepcalm

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As the world finds its way through the uncharted waters of this pandemic, you may find yourself navigating your own course. With stay-at-home orders, canceled events and limited gatherings, we are all experiencing isolation and loss on some level. Perhaps you have even suffered from depression at some point this year. You’re not alone.

Person sitting with hands folded, displaying stress symptoms

A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the stress from pandemics can bring about these responses:

  • Fear and worry about health (your own and loved ones’)
  • Fear and worry about your job or finances
  • Concern about loss of support services you depend upon
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Decline of chronic health conditions
  • Increase of mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances

With all of these stressful thoughts, it’s no wonder we may be feeling anxious, which can lead to depression. And while there is so much that is out of our control, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Cope with stress

  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Just knowing the facts can reduce stress and help you feel more empowered.
  • Learn what to do if you are sick. The first step is to contact your healthcare professional.
  • Find out where to get treatment, support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take a break from news and social media. Constantly hearing news of the pandemic adds to your stress.
  • Distract yourself from the stress of the pandemic by taking up a new hobby or something that adds purpose or joy to your life.
person walking on road near woods

Take care of yourself

Connect with others

  • Talk with people you trust about your feelings and concerns.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting in different ways: online, social media, phone or mail.

This pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel endless at times. Until then, use these tips to take care of yourself and to live healthy AND well!

Sources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html  

Robinson, L. and Smith, M. “Dealing with Depression During Coronavirus.” HelpGuide.org. Last updated: May 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Panchal, N. et. al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The Kaiser Family Foundation. August 2020.  https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

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

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

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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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png

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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