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Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

Taking care of your brain health should be a priority throughout the year, but warmer weather brings many opportunities to show your brain some love.  The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation shares the four pillars of fitness that are crucial to promoting brain health.

The first pillar of nutritional fitness includes a good healthy Mediterranean diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and heart healthy fats. This type of diet promotes vascular health, reduces inflammation and is full of antioxidants. The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer months, makes it a perfect time to inspire a brain friendly diet.

Regardless of age, we are all mentally fresher and sharper when we get regular, vigorous physical activity. This is where the second pillar of physical fitness becomes important. According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation regular exercise can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and memory loss by up to 50 percent. To see the best benefits of your exercise program, it is recommended that you get 150 minutes per week of a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. The opportunities to get outside and exercise are abundant during the summer months.

The third pillar is stress fitness. Chronic stress can result in inflammation, sleeplessness, and mental health concerns. Finding ways to reduce your stress and promote positive mental health is another important step in loving your brain.  Research has shown yoga, mindfulness, and meditation benefit stress fitness by reducing cognitive decline and perceived stress while increasing overall quality of life. Like physical fitness, warmer weather brings opportunities to connect with nature and reduce stress.

Developing and maintaining strong spiritual connections is the last pillar of brain health. Spiritual fitness by whatever means that works for you will promote a higher level of brain health throughout your entire life.

Building a better memory, preventing Alzheimer’s and memory loss all depend on your lifestyle. Now is the perfect time to jumpstart your brain health and show it the love it deserves.

Writer:

Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer:

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

References:

     Khalsa, D., & Newberg, A. (2021). Spiritual Fitness: A new dimension in alzheimer’s disease prevention. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: JAD80(2), 505–519. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-201433

     Kivipelto, M., Palmer, K., Hoang, T., & Yaffe, K. (2022). Trials and treatments for vascular brain health: Risk factor modification and cognitive outcomes, Stroke, 53(2), 444-456

     Russell-Williams, J., Jaroudi, W., Perich, T., Hoscheidt, S., El Haj, M., & Moustafa, A. (2018). Mindfulness and meditation: treating cognitive impairment and reducing stress in dementia. Reviews in the Neurosciences29(7), 791–804. https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0066

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Let’s face it the last couple of years has been a whirlwind of events that have challenged us all!  The pandemic, racial tensions, natural disasters, and now the war in Ukraine. That isn’t even including the daily events in our lives that add stressors.  Talking to our kids about difficult subjects is one of the toughest things a parent has to do.  It’s hard to put the words together to address such big issues.

Communication helps us to process and to make sense of things we don’t understand. Offering guidance, a listening ear, and explaining current events brings comfort and allows children to understand and process subjects that are challenging (even if we don’t know all the answers).

Allow your child to lead the conversation. This helps you learn exactly what they are concerned about, so you can address it. Ask open-ended questions to gauge their understanding, make sure you are not distracted, and take your time. Making eye contact and repeating back what they say without judgment teaches them how to be good listeners and gives them the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings. Be sure to let them know you are there to talk to them when they are comfortable and ready. Lastly, be honest. If you don’t know the answer it is ok to say, “I don’t know, can I get back to you on that?”  Lying can cause damage and may result in the child getting information somewhere else.  It is best that they get information from a trusted adult.

Talking about difficult subjects with children’s guidelines:   

  • Be honest
  • Limit small kids’ exposure to age-appropriate subjects by turning off social media, tv, radio
  • Let them know you are a safe person to share with
  • Listen and ask questions
  • Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know you understand it is OK to have these feelings of uncertainty. 
  • Ask what they would do if they were in a difficult situation
  • Get them to consider solutions
  • Ask them if they ideas to help or change the situation and what they can do

Sources:

Walls, T. (2020.) How to Talk to Your Child About the News. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/news.html

Rocker, L. (2020). Breaking Bad News to Your Children.  https://www.childpsychologist.com.au/resources/breaking-bad-news-to-your-children-quirky-kids-6-top-tips

Children’s Museum Team, (2020). 7 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Difficult Subjects. https://www.cmosc.org/talking-about-difficult-subjects/

Written by:  Kellie Lemly M.Ed., Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D. Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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Three young people standing outside, one looking through binoculars and one pointing

Recently, I met an 11-year-old who likes birds. Since I self-identify as a bird nerd, we started talking and I quickly realized this young person had a genuine curiosity and passion for birds. She told me she had checked out Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America from her school library and had no intention of returning it.

As a parent of teenagers, I struggle to get my kids off screens and out in nature, despite my constant reminders about the health benefits of getting outdoors. Here was a young person who wanted to get outside, so we made plans to go birding together.

And birding we did. The two of us spent 5 hours out in the cold on a gloomy, gray day and we had a blast. She brought (and I carried) the large, heavy Smithsonian library book with her. When we spotted a bird, she knew exactly where to find it in the book.

It was delightful to bird with a young person who was excited and engaged. I look forward to birding with her and other young people in the future. After spending time with a young birder, it became clear to me why we should take young birders under our wing:

  • They are connecting with nature: Our young people are disconnected from the natural world. Studies found that 8- to 12-years-old spend 4 to 6 hours on screens every day, while teens spend up to 9 hours. Time spent on screens almost always equates to time spent indoors, disconnected from nature.
  • They can showcase their strengths: Birdability is a non-profit organization that “ensures that birding truly is for everybody and every body, regardless of disability or other health concerns.” Their blog has stories from birders who are autistic, color-blind, hearing-impaired, and mobility-challenged. One young birder described her ADHD as her birding superpower since she saw and heard so many details around her!
  • They benefit from Vitamin N (Nature): There are decades of research that show the positive impact that spending time outdoors has on our mental and physical health. Nature has unique health benefits to young people, especially when it comes to kids with ADHD, allergies, asthma, weight issues, and mental health challenges.
  • They are becoming environmental stewards: Children who spend time in nature are more likely to feel connected to nature as adults, and therefore, more likely to care for and protect the natural world.

After our birding outing, I purchased my new birding buddy her own copy of the Smithsonian Handbook. I am selfishly hoping the returned library book will inspire another young birder at her school. I also added a Birds of Ohio Field Guide to her collection so the next time we’re out birding, neither of us has to lug a 752-page handbook.

Additional Birding Resources:
To find more information about birds and birding, please visit: go.osu.edu/nature-matters-birds

25th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count photo

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Photo Credit: Kindel Media from Pexels

References:

Alsop, F. J. (2001). Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America: Eastern Region. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Wells, N. M. & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from Childhood Nature Experiences to Adult Environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(1), 1–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.16.1.0001

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

Scripps Health. (2022, January 10). Do Your Kids Spend Too Much Time in Front of a Screen? https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4688-do-your-kids-spend-too-much-time-in-front-of-a-screen

Stanton, L. M. (2021, February 11). Benefits of Being a Bird Nerd. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/02/11/benefits-of-being-a-bird-nerd

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Stanton, L. M. (2021, November 30). Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/30/wonder-and-wander-in-nature-this-winter

Tekiela, S. (2020). Birds of Ohio Field Guide. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications.

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I have lost track of how many diets I’ve started. How many Mondays were going to be a “new start”. How many “cheat meals” I’ve indulged in, or the number of times I’ve promised myself that I would make it to the gym and then didn’t.  Infinity.  Inner talk like this has been a habit of mine for several years.  I think and talk about goals I’ve set and new routines I want to try but then when it comes to doing it. . . . You know the story.

Silhouette of businessman holding target board on the top of mountain with over blue sky and sunlight. It is symbol of leadership successful achievement with goal and objective target.

Let’s all take a minute and admit; self-improvement is hard.  Say it out loud if you want because it’s true and it deserves to be acknowledged. 

Often, we go out of our way to keep a promise that we made to a friend or family member, but we think nothing of breaking a promise we’ve made to ourselves.  Promises we make to ourselves are just as important as the promises we make to others.  Forbes referred to these in 2020 as “the most important promise you’ll make.”

With the new year starting did you make a promise to yourself? Was it to exercise or walk more? Maybe your promise was to eat more fruits and vegetables?  Are you trying to reduce the sugar you consume each day? Whatever that promise was that you made to yourself- we want to help you keep it!!

Here are a few strategies to help you reach your goal successfully:

 Don’t just talk about your goal, plan HOW you can meet it. Start with a small goal.  Aim to drink more water every day or add one fruit and veggie to lunch and dinner. It can be easier to add a habit than to take one away. When that goal is conquered, set another. Have a goal that is measurable and specific.  Having steps will help you achieve your goal. Consider telling a friend and inviting them to join you. There can be power in being accountable to someone and having their support. Having a friend join you in achieving your goal can help you feel motivated while being consistent.

2022 Goal, Plan, Action checklist text on note pad with laptop, glasses and pen.

Be honest with yourself as you go through this process. Be honest about what your actions are and how they relate to your goal. Are the little things you are doing every day supporting your goal steps? Examine your time and abilities. Be realistic and set yourself up for success instead of failure.

Lastly, be positive.  We can be so hard on ourselves when we miss a step or take a small detour. Recognize a failure or a setback as an opportunity to learn. Take that lesson and move on, don’t throw your goal away because of a mistake or bump in the road. It might not hurt to forget that self-improvement is a lifelong journey. I love the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh reminding me “Yesterday is already gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us; it is the most important day of our lives.”  Work on that promise to yourself today.

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

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

Sources:

57 thich Nhat Hanh quotes on mindfulness (to live a more meaningful life). Develop Good Habits. (2020, November 17). Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.developgoodhabits.com/thich-nhat-hanh-quotes/

Blaschka, A. (2020, December 14). How to keep the most important promise you’ll make. Forbes. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyblaschka/2020/12/15/how-to-keep-the-most-important-promise-youll-make/?sh=66a64964127c

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 23). 3 reasons to work out with a friend. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/workout-buddy.html

Jantz, G. L. (2016, May 16). The power of positive self-talk | psychology Today. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201605/the-power-positive-self-talk

Treber, M. (2014, January 17). Set a wellness goal for the New Year. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/01/07/set-a-wellness-goal-for-2013-4/

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A nice hot cup of tea can be so soothing on a cold winter day. When is the last time you enjoyed some tea? Can you remember a time when you enjoyed tea with a close friend or family member? I have a dear friend who just passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. We would enjoy many a conversation over a soothing cup of tea. Tea also reminds me of my grandmother. I used to watch as she put a little milk in her tea, and I loved to see the milk swirl as it dissipated in the tea.

Did you know tea can help us improve our health and wellness?

Tea has many health benefits. Specifically, it has been associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The substances in tea we have to thank for these health benefits are a type of nutrient called flavonoids. More specifically, the particular type of flavonoids found in tea are catechins. Catechins can do some amazing things like improve the function of our blood vessels and reduce the initial development of cancerous cells. While all kinds of tea contain catechins, green tea has three times more than oolong or black tea. For more information on how tea can benefit your health, check out this article from North Dakota State University Extension.

In addition to its physical health benefits, you can use the experience of drinking tea to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be practiced by paying attention to something in the present moment, and you can bring attention to something as simple as brewing and drinking a cup of tea. Using your senses is a great way to practice mindfulness. For example, with just one sip of tea you could:

Smell the tea before you brew it, whether you use a tea kettle or the microwave.

Watch the steam curl in the air as it rises from the cup.

Feel the warm cup in your hands.

Taste and savor the flavor of the tea as you sip it.

Feel the hot liquid as it travels down your esophagus.

Try that with a few more sips. Then, during your next cup of tea, expand your practice a little more.

For more details on how to practice mindfulness with a cup of tea, this article has great tips.

Whether you drink tea by yourself or with a loved one, take a moment to think about the benefits you are bringing to your mind and body. Maybe this new mindfulness practice could be ‘your cup of tea.’

Written by Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Fairfield County

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

Sources:

Garden-Robinson, J. “Take Time for Tea: For Health and Well-being” (FN1328, Reviewed July 2021). North Dakota State University Extension. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/take-time-for-tea-for-health-and-well-being

Halliwell, E. “How to Be Mindful with a Cup of Tea” (Nov 2016) Excerpted from Into the Heart of Mindfulness. https://www.mindful.org/mindful-cup-tea/

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

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If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow. This quote by an unknown author is like the Midwest winter version of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s quote about a beautiful day at the ocean: you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf. We cannot control the immediate, outside weather, but as Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn points out, we can control our personal, internal weather of how we think about and react to external situations.  

In Ohio, we might have snow, rain, ice, or we might have a bright, clear day. Across the state, all these different situations might be true right now. You do not have to love snow (or ice or rain), but if you take the time to bring up a favorite memory or a current moment to notice the sparkle or freshness, you can add a note of gratefulness to your day for all the seasons throughout the year.

If you’re looking for a short break from working on the computer, take one and half minutes to enjoy an online snow globe or a minute to draw and watch your iceberg float at Iceberger. If you’re staying inside, grab some colored pencils and print a copy of winter coloring pages like mittens or winter birds. If coloring is not your cup of tea, make your plans now to slow down and enjoy a warm cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee.

We wish you comfort and joy all through the year, and we also acknowledge that the wintertime can sometimes be difficult. If you need any resources related to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or other seasonal challenges, please find the best support for your situation. If you find yourself – or a loved one – struggling, please use local support or call the Ohio CareLine at 1-800-720-9616.  Ohio’s CareLine is free, anonymous, open 24/7, and staffed with licensed behavioral health professionals.

What brings you comfort or joy? Jot down a list and then do more of it! This list of Mindfulness Ideas and Activities was collected by the OSU Mindful Wellness team and can be used as an idea-starter for your practice.  If you’d like to follow a recorded mindfulness practice, we recommend the links at the Wexner Medical Center.

Bundle up and head outdoors!  Use all your senses as you walk. Use this Live Healthy Live Well blog on Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter for ideas. For more information on the value of nature in our lives, including articles and infographics, visit Nature Matters.

If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow. How are you finding your joy this winter season?

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Lucas County

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

Photo Credit: Melinda Hill, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Wayne County

Sources:

Dellifield, J. (01/12/17). Beating the winter blues. Live Healthy Live Well https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/01/12/beating-the-winter-blues-2/ 

Lobb, J. (01/07/21). Opt outside to beat the winter blues. Live Healthy Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/07/opt-outside-to-beat-the-winter-blues/ 

McCallum, K. (07/14/21). Can weather affect your mood? Houston Methodist. https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2021/jul/can-weather-affect-your-mood/

Scammahorn, R. (01/18/22). You control your own weather. Live Healthy Live Well https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/01/18/you-control-your-own-weather/

Seasonal Affective Disorder. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

Stanton, L. (11/30/21). Wonder and wander in nature this winter. Live Healthy Live Well https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/30/wonder-and-wander-in-nature-this-winter/

Stanton, L. (n.d.). Nature Matters. OSU Extension, Warren County. https://warren.osu.edu/program-areas/family-and-consumer-sciences/healthy-people/nature-matters

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At a recent conference, the guest speaker said, “I have the power to change my own weather and so do you.” Meaning, we each have control over our emotional and behavioral reactions to our thoughts creating either a nice breezy day or a stormy day.  Let’s face it, we can’t stop every thought that pops into our heads.  However, we can pause and ask ourselves four things:

  • Is my thought rational or irrational?
  • What am I feeling because of this thought?
  • What is this feeling telling me about how I view this situation?
  • How do I want to react to this feeling?

It is through these questions that we have the power to change our own weather. Many times, we have created our own go-to pattern which results in stormy weather.

For example, someone cuts us off in traffic:

  • Thought: “What a jerk!” “They could hurt someone!”
  • Emotion: Anger and Fear
  • (Go-to) Reaction: Become irritable, yell, or worse, road rage!

Here is where we can choose to change our weather:

  • Thought: “What a jerk!” “They could hurt someone!”
    • Is my thought rational or irrational? We don’t know why they cut us off. Maybe they are on their way to an emergency and are distracted. Maybe we were in their blind spot (it has happened to all of us). Or maybe they are that bad of a driver.
    • NEW Thought: “WOW, that wasn’t any fun, but I am glad I have cat-like, smooth driving skills!”
  • Emotion: Anger and fear
    • What am I feeling because of this thought? The need for safety is at our core, hard-wired into each of us, think fight, flight, freeze response. Typically fear and anger arise when our safety is feeling threatened, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to identify anger as the emotional, and logical reaction, to this situation.
    • What is this feeling telling me about how I view this situation? This anger may be telling you that you feel afraid. It may also be some residual fear from a negative driving experience from your past and really doesn’t have to do with the current experience.
    • NEW Emotion: That was really scary, but I am OK.
  • Reaction: Become irritable, yell, or worse, road rage!
    • How do I want to react emotionally or physically? Becoming irritable, yelling at the other driver, or displaying road rage might immediately make us feel like we have taken corrective action, but in the long run, has it created stormy weather? Will this situation matter in 5 hours, 5 days or 5 weeks from now? Have we just endangered others because of our reaction?
    • NEW Reaction: I let it go and move on with the rest of my drive, thankful that I am safe.

WE do have the POWER to change our own weather, by choosing how we will react to our thoughts and emotions. Although it will take some practice to not rely on my “go-to” reactions, I think my future forecast is less ‘partly cloudy with a chance of rain’ and more ‘warm temperatures and sunshine!’  

Written by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County

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

Sources

Golden, B. (2021, March 20). Fear and Anger: Similarities, Differences, and Interaction. Psychology Today.  Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-destructive-anger/202103/fear-and-anger-similarities-differences-and-interaction

Governors State University. (nd). Rational Vs. Irrational: The 3 Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Beliefs. Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.govst.edu/uploadedFiles/Academics/Colleges_and_Programs/CHHS/Departments/Addictions_Studies_and_Behavioral_Health/Recovery_Coaching_Rational_vs_Irrational_3_questions.pdf

Mayo Clinic. (2019, March 16). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610

Trauma Recovery. (nd). Fight, Flight, Freeze Responses. Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre, Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://trauma-recovery.ca/impact-effects-of-trauma/fight-flight-freeze-responses/

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This time of year, people are reflecting on the previous year and making resolutions. Most of the time, those new resolutions only last a few days or weeks, and they are forgotten by February. The start of a new year is the perfect time for a fresh start and an opportunity to change bad habits, that can help you grow emotionally, socially, physically, or psychologically. 

Take your time planning and choosing your resolution. Creating a detailed plan will assist you in sticking to your goal. Write down the strategies you will implement, the steps you will take, and why you want to do it. This will help keep you on track. 

Remember to be realistic when making your resolution and make one change at a time.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to change everything at once. Take control of one habit and then move to another. For example:  If your resolution is to change an eating habit, take one small simple step at a time. Step one: Drink more water. Step two: Start the day by eating a healthy breakfast. Step three: Add more activity each week. Focusing on one small change instead of big changes will help you accomplish your goal. 

Reward yourself. Set little rewards for meeting your goals or steps along the way to help you stay motivated. Make the reward something that will encourage you to stay on track and motivated to keep moving toward your goal.

Sometimes, changes involve setbacks. Don’t give up on your goal. If you mess up and stray from your plan, think about the reasons you want to change. Get back on track and make it happen. 

Sources:

Clear, J. (2021) How To Start New Habits that Actually Stick.  https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

Kliff, S. (2014).  The Science of Actually Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution.  https://www.vox.com/2014/12/29/7434433/new-years-resolutions-psychology

The Ohio State Univeristy. (2021, June 28). Creating Healthy Habits that Last. Retrieved on December 15, 2021, https://recsports.osu.edu/articles/creating-healthy-habits-that-last/

Written by:  Kellie Lemly M.Ed., Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D. Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Darke County, scammahron.5@osu.edu

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Although living in the moment and planning for the future might sound like a contradiction, research shows the value of both. In defining mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn specifically says that it is “in the present moment.” How can I be mindful and also plan ahead for a successful future?  

In 2020, researchers found that during the pandemic lockdown, those who used proactive coping were able to avoid additional stress, or at least reduce its negative impacts. Proactive coping is when people make plans and take steps to change or reduce potential stress for future events. Researchers recommend continuing to make informed plans, even in uncertain times. Other studies highlight the positive role that anticipation plays when we are looking into the future, waiting for a pleasing event like a vacation. Anticipation for a positive event can bring us enjoyment while proactive coping for a potentially negative event may help reduce stress.  

Sometimes future events are very large such as starting a new school or job. Other times, future events are as basic as daily routines. In a previous Live Healthy Live Well blog, titled My Future Self, the author described how the things we do today affect who we are tomorrow. Some basic examples of daily routines that shape our successful future could include meal planning, family decisions, and scheduling exercise.

The goal is to not spend time and energy worrying about the future. We cannot control future events, but there is value in anticipating positive results. When making future plans and putting action steps into place, it’s worth asking:

  • Am I preparing for future success or am I worrying about future things I cannot control?
  • Am I taking pleasure in looking forward to future events?
  • Am I being present, now, in this moment as I take appropriate steps for future success?

Here are a few life examples of plans and action steps now for a successful future later:

  1. Practicing the musical instrument now to be able to pick up and improvise a jazz performance
  2. Practicing mindfulness now for additional benefits later
  3. Packing now for a week-end trip
  4. Choosing flower seeds now for next year’s garden
  5. Choosing a greeting card or gift now to share later with a loved one
  6. Reading and studying now to test later
  7. Childproofing living room now for toddler grandchildren to visit later
  8. Buying groceries now for meals later this week
  9. Prayers of gratitude now for unknown future blessings
  10. Reading this blog now with plans to use the information sooner than later

What steps are you taking now in planning for success in the future?

References:

Kumar, A., Killingsworth, M., and Gilovich, T. (2014, August 21). Waiting for merlot: Anticipatory consumption of experiential and material purchases. Psychological Science.

Marrison, E. (2019). My Future Self. Live Healthy Live Well. Ohio State University. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/12/my-future-self/

Pearman, Hughes, Smith, & Neupert, 2020  https://web.ncsu.edu/accolades-magazine/2020/10/15/quiz-pandemic-stress-busters/index.html

Polk, M., Smith, E.,  Zhang, L.,  and Neupert, S., (2020). Thinking ahead and staying in the present: Implications for reactivity to daily stressors, Personality and Individual Differences. Volume 161. 2020 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886920301604

Szabo, Richling, Embry, Biglan, Wilson, (2020). From helpless to hero: Promoting values-based behavior and positive family interaction in the midst of Covid-19.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

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

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Each year I select a word for the upcoming year. It isn’t something I do lightly. I spend time considering what I want to focus my intentions on for the upcoming year. Instead of making numerous New Year resolutions, use this word to set goals or intentions in each area of your life. They can all circle back to your word.

Here are some real-life examples of my journeys this year. One journey this year includes physical wellness. With hip replacement surgery this summer, I truly appreciate the complexities of the body and how important this journey of physical activity and wellness. Physical activity helps all of us. It is a stress reliever and can help you strengthen both your body and mind. If you are new to movement, start slowly and add activity to your day. Not sure you are ready to move more? Check out this website for reasons to get started.  

Another journey for me has been my emotional and mental health. I’m working on emotional wellness by reducing stress, counseling, and practicing mindfulness. Writing in my gratitude journal helps me appreciate life so much more. This simple practice can improve your health and happiness.

The final journey I’ll share is my transition from work life to retirement. I’ve worked since I was 5 years old. My first work memory was my dad asking me to fill the pop cooler at our little grocery store, Treber Grocery. I worked there until we sold the store after my dad’s death when I was 17 years old. This early work experience taught me the value of hard work, customer service and taking care of people. That philosophy has sustained me throughout my work career. I have tried to emulate some of my words of the year: strength, kindness, and balance. As I shift towards retirement or “rewirement” I know that this will be another journey – more free time, fewer work demands and reduced work stress. More time for personal reflection, travel and creative expression to name a few!

The National Institutes of Health has several Wellness Toolkits to help you get started on your Wellness Journey. What are you waiting for?

Your Journey awaits! Feel free to share in our comments about your wellness journey.

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

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

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