Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

October is emotional wellness month!  What exactly is emotional wellness?  Emotional wellness encompasses the feeling of happiness and success. It is learning how to deal with the ups and down of life, coping with challenges and having control of your life and a sense of purpose.  When you are emotionally well you function more effectively in your workplace, community, and in relationships. 

Mental Health America (MHA) reports that over 40 million Americans suffer from at least one mental health problem.  Prolonged untreated mental health problems may lead to more severe psychological and physical health conditions such as: insomnia, hypertension, headaches, shortness of breath, impulsivity, and muscle aches.  Mindfulness, along with a healthy lifestyle, and stress management can help you deal with mental health problems.  Treatment can include medication along with healthy habits, yoga, meditation, and counseling.

Make your life better by establishing healthy habits. To encourage holistic health, focus on healthy habits which make you feel good!

  • Mindfulness:  Be mindful, focus on the specific moment you are in.
  • Journaling:  Write down your joys.
  • Meditate/Yoga
  • Laugh!  Laughing releases, the happy juice — endorphins. With endorphins surging through our bloodstream, we’re more apt to feel happy and relaxed. With each laugh, therefore, we’re relieving stress, reducing anxiety, and increasing our stores of personal energy.
  • Say “NO” without guilt.  Learning to set boundaries and spending time for yourself is imperative for self-care.
  • Read Books
  • Seek therapy
  • Communicate with others your feelings and needs.
  • Focus on the good.

American Psychological Association, (2018) Stress Effects on the Body. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body

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 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

Read Full Post »

On Saturday, I rushed through the kitchen and announced to my household: “Don’t follow my example. I’m trying to do too many things at once but here’s what I need you to do ….”  Some of the tasks I was trying to accomplish were putting groceries away in the refrigerator, reminding the kiddos what to get ready so we could leave for an event, and I needed to return a text with timely information. I thought I might have pulled it off until the next morning. Three food items that should have gone in the refrigerator were still sitting in the grocery bag on the counter. Ugh! I hate that I wasted time and money on food that was planned for the week.

Before I blame this pressure to multitask on modern expectations, the following quote is attributed to Mozart (1756 – 1791): The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time. The temptation to multitask is strong but the hidden costs of multitasking can build up. While we might feel like we are getting a few things done at once, research has shown that our brain is switching between the tasks and has to constantly re-focus on each new task. The challenge is “even though multitasking is wildly inefficient, it feels productive”.

“I’m trying to do too many things at once”. The next time that thought pops into my brain, or the words come out of my mouth, what can I do? I can take a mindful pause. It will not “waste” any time to pause, take a few deep breaths or even do a one-to-three-minute mindfulness practice. The immediate, rushed pressure of the moment will diminish. It will be easier for my brain to determine the order of the tasks or if I can delegate a task or if I can save a task until another time. Don’t follow my example when I’m trying to rush and multitask. Go ahead and follow my example when I take a pause, decide what needs to be done first and then do one thing at a time. 

Sources:

Carter, C. (2020). Three ways to help your kids succeed at distance learning: How can parents support their children at the start of an uncertain school year?. Greater Good Science Center. Berkeley University of California. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_to_help_your_kids_succeed_at_distance_learning

Guided Meditations. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations#english

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A., & Ostergren, M. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Graphics Interface Conference.  

Powell S. K. (2016). Mindfulness, Multitasking, and You. Professional case management21(2), 61–62. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCM.0000000000000141     https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26844712/

Wang, Z., & Tchernev, J. (2012). The “myth” of media multitasking: Reciprocal dynamics of media multitasking, personal needs, and gratifications. Journal of Communication 62 (2012) 493–513 © 2012 International Communication Association

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

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

Read Full Post »

Psychologist Carl Rogers believed that each of us have one basic motive in life: to self-actualize, meaning that our “ideal self” (who we would like to be) is congruent with our “self -image” (how we see ourselves). To achieve this balance, we must be living an authentic life.

What does it mean to live an authentic life?

According to Rogers’ theory, to live an authentic life, you must first understand what your beliefs and values are. Once you understand those core values, you maintain a balance by living according to those beliefs and values.

Authentic life = beliefs and values + actions and behaviors

It isn’t always about making waves, standing out in a crowd, or making sure you are unique or different; it is about being comfortable in your skin without worrying about how you compare to the rest of society.

There are health implications when we are living an authentic life. Those whose actions and behaviors are typically in line with their beliefs and values reap the benefits of feeling optimistic about life and tend to have positive self-esteem and an overall healthy psychological wellbeing. When we are out of sync, that is when life can become stressful, overwhelming, and discouraging.

To nurture self-authenticity, strive for the following:

  1. Awareness. The knowledge and acceptance that you are not just “one” thing (ex. extroverted versus introverted); rather you are multi-faceted with an understanding of your motives, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, dreams, goals, and aspirations.
  2. Unbiased Processing of Self-relevant Information. Objectively looking at our own positive and negative self-aspects, feelings, internal experiences, and private knowledge without denying the truth, distorting reality, or exaggerating (to create a more positive or favorable self-image).
  3. Behavior. Behaving according to our beliefs, values, preferences, and perceived needs rather than acting suitably to please society, obtain recognition or rewards, or to avoid punishment.
  4. Relational Orientation. Being yourself, open and honest in your actions and motives, in your relationships with others.

Further, you can practice these five things to help you live an authentic life:

  1. Openness to new experiences. Allow for ambiguity in situations and a willingness to view events without defensively distorting or censoring so that you can be on a path of growth.
  2. Mindful living. Living fully in the moment, being flexible and adaptable as you view life as fluid and ever changing.
  3. Going with your gut. Trust your inner experiences to guide your behaviors.
  4. Freedom. The choice about how to respond and feel about experiences is up to you.
  5. Creativity. Use creativity in your approach to living, rather than reverting to an established set of rules of behavior that might be restrictive.

If you really want to make a positive impact on your world, be you! Walk your own path, stay true to yourself, and embrace the differences in others. What a wonderful world to be authentically you!  

Sources:

Goldman, B. M., & Kernis, M. H. (2002). The role of authenticity in healthy psychological functioning and subjective well-being. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 5(6), 18-20. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2002-11420-003

Kernis, M. H. & Goldman, B. M. (2006). A multicomponent conceptualization of authenticity: Theory and Research. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 38.  https://depts.washington.edu/uwcssc/sites/default/files/hw00/d40/uwcssc/sites/default/files/The%20Authenticity%20Inventory.pdf

McLeod, S. (2008). Self-Concept. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html#image

McLeod, S. (2014). Carl Rogers Theory. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/carl-rogers.html

Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Baliousis, M., & Joseph, S. (2008). The authentic personality: A theoretical and empirical conceptualization and the development of the Authenticity Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, 385–399. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.55.3.385

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

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

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Read Full Post »

Choices of peanut butter on a shelf

As an Extension Field Specialist, I have coached traditional food pantries where food is pre-selected to help them transition to a client-choice model where food is chosen based on preferences and needs. Client-choice pantries provide a more dignified experience for people and can be more efficient at preventing food waste since unwanted items aren’t discarded. For many low-income Americans, choosing where and how to grocery shop might be viewed as a privilege reserved for those with greater incomes. The same could be said for people living in developing countries where food, water, and material resources aren’t as abundant. For those of us fortunate enough to have the privilege of choice, we face the challenge of having too much choice. Whether it be food, clothing, TV stations, housing, spouses, lifestyle, investments, hobbies, or even medical procedures, having too many choices can lead to isolation, paralysis in decision making, anxiety, and depression. At the societal level too much choice might lead to waste, tribalism, and perhaps public health problems.

Sometimes we are faced with so much choice that we don’t know what to choose and we become almost paralyzed in our decision making. We are afraid to make the wrong choice, and feel as if we need to further investigate all of the options, which takes time (something I seem to have less of). As a result, we sometimes put off big decisions. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new insulin pump for my diabetes but there are so many products. In addition, working with insurance to purchase the new product is a headache, so I have yet to make a decision.

Another challenge is choice inflates our expectations and sometimes deflates our satisfaction if we think we made the wrong choice. For example, I was trying to decide between two restaurants the other night, one Indian, the other Mexican. I went with the Mexican and it was good, but part of me wondered if the Indian would have been better. As a result of this thinking, I wasn’t as happy with my experience and I likely missed out on some of the enjoyment of the outing. Although this example seems trivial, all of the choices we make everyday and the sometimes resulting stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction could lead to mental and physical health problems.

At the societal level, too much choice contributes to many small and large-scale problems. Material goods such as food, electronics, and clothing are discarded because people have the option of newer and better choices. I’ve wasted leftover food because I’ve had the choice of eating out. Too much choice might lead to tribalism, isolation, and less cohesion. Growing up, my family had three channels on TV. We watched whatever was on as a family. Now, my three kids are plugged into their phones watching their own shows, etc. I hardly get to talk with them. Thirty years ago, our nation was more cohesive and less tribal. Everyone watched the world series for example, since there weren’t as many options for sports. In terms of public health challenges, we have so many choices for fast food, unhealthy snacks, etc that obesity is more common than ever. We can choose whether or not to get vaccinated, which places others at risk for disease.

What to do? There are two dimensions of wellness to consider for guidance: spiritual and environmental. Spiritual wellness can help people become satisfied and grounded with who they are and with choices they make. Some traditions teach that desires and cravings lead to suffering and seek to reduce these states of mind. Environmental wellness can help people reduce consumption, or reuse new products etc. and thus not feel stressed about getting the newest and greatest item out there.

Obviously, choice is a good thing, and I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where we don’t have any choices. However, we need to reflect on the consequences of having too much choice for our own health, and the health of our families and communities. In any event, I hope this was helpful in some way and I am glad you “chose” to read this…….

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension, remely.4@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Remley, D., Franzen-Castle, L., McCormack, L., & Eicher-Miller, H. A. (2019). Chronic Health Condition Influences on Client Perceptions of Limited or Non-choice Food Pantries in Low-income, Rural Communities. American Journal of Health Behavior43(1), 105–118. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.5993/AJHB.43.1.9

Schwartz, Barry. The Paradox of Choice. TED talk. Accessed on 7/20/21 at The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz – YouTube

William and Mary University. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Accessed on 7/19/21 at The Eight Dimensions of Wellness | William & Mary (wm.edu)

Read Full Post »

In a month, on my 49th birthday, my youngest child starts the first day of her last year of school. As a mom, I have mixed emotions. I’m excited for her and all she has and will accomplish, yet I am sad that my baby is a senior. Where did all of those years go? Just yesterday a social media memory reminding me that she passed her driver’s test popped up. It seems like yesterday when she was in the driveway practicing her maneuvering (parallel parking) over and over in preparation. Now, she drives herself wherever, whenever she wants.

My mom teaching my daughter how to drive her stick shift car

As she enters this year of “lasts,” I too will be entering a year of lasts. This will be my last year in my 40’s.  I can remember thinking about my last year in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be experiencing another birthday! As I have said, “I want to get older, but I don’t want to get old.” In my 22 years working in healthcare, I saw younger people who were much older than their chronological age and older people who were younger than theirs. I decided very quickly that I wanted to be the latter. I’m sure my children would say I am old, though.

This year of lasts will be filled with lots of happiness and joy, as well as LOTS of tears, especially on my part. My kids make fun of me for crying at the drop of a hat. My colleague recently wrote a blog about the benefits of crying, so as the tears stream down my face, and they for sure will, I will not worry so much about hiding my tears. While I certainly don’t want to rain on her parade as these exciting events occur, I am mourning these last moments with my last child. I find myself thinking about all the things I wish I would have done while my kids were young and here all the time. Had I known how fast time would pass, I would have made more emotional deposits. While it’s never too late to start, I wish I would have worried less about cleaning the house or whatever else I thought was important.

Though all of the decisions my daughter will face over the next year will be exciting for sure, they may also be stressful. The American Psychological Association gives these symptoms of stress that you may see in your child:

  • Irritability and anger:  Stressed-out kids and teens might be more short-tempered or argumentative than normal.
  • Changes in behavior:  Sudden changes can signal that stress levels are high.
  • Trouble sleeping: A child or teen might complain of feeling constantly tired, sleep more than usual, or have trouble falling asleep.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: An adolescent may suddenly drop the ball on homework, forget obligations, or start procrastinating more than usual due to stress.
  • Eating changes: Eating too much or too little can be reaction to stress.
  • Getting sick more often: Stress often shows up as physical symptoms. Children who feel stress often report headaches or stomachaches and might make frequent trips to the school nurse.
My mom, my 3 kids, and me

As my daughter and I navigate this next year, I want to support her as she prepares for the next stage of life. We toured one of her 3 college picks last month, we will be touring a second one next week and the final one during fall. As I have watched her two older brothers make a few mistakes along the way, I know she too will make her own mistakes. These tips from AARP can help parents to maintain a healthy relationship with their children as they enter into and navigate adulthood:

  • Observe respectful boundaries.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Do what you love together and intimacy will follow.
  • Set ground rules for how to disagree.
  • Make room for the significant others in their lives.

I’m not too worried about my daughter and her ability to handle this next year, though I’m not sure about me. While the ultimate job of parenting is to put ourselves out of a job, I hope my children always want me to be part of their lives even when they are responsible, productive, well-adjusted adults who no longer need my guidance or reassurance.

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

Reviewed by: Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2019, October 24). How to help children and teens manage their stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/child-development/stress  

Fishel, E., & Arnett, D. J. J. (2013, April). Parenting Adult Children, Friendship with Grown-Up Kid. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/parenting-adult-children-family-relationships.html

Quealy, K., & Miller, C. C. (2019, March 13). Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/upshot/parenting-new-norms-grown-children-extremes.html?.%3Fmc=aud_dev&ad-keywords=auddevgate&gclid=CjwKCAjw3MSHBhB3EiwAxcaEu8XfiLpibGmTN7PCkXe2x6aXx8W8tmUtlXmcAUyEfZ_dgOyHSxt_NBoCVj8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

Read Full Post »

sun shining on a bed of wildflowers

As health restrictions are lifting from the pandemic, I have been able to interact with more people in person. When others ask how I’m doing, I say “fine” … but what I really want to say is “meh.” I’m doing okay… not depressed… but not great either. I find that I really have to psyche myself up for another week of work, and for certain tasks at work and home. I usually rise to the occasion, but it takes a lot of energy to overcome the urge to seek the solitude or even the isolation that I thought I couldn’t wait to escape.

A colleague pointed me to an enlightening article on languishing and it captured so much of what I have felt in the past few months. Psychologists describe languishing as slightly withered, wilted or faded. The pandemic has left a lot of people feeling this way. Initially, the pandemic may have incited feelings of fear, anxiety, dread and paralysis… and as these feelings have faded, they have left languish in their wake.

Emory University Professor Corey Keyes has been publishing about languishing since 2002, but it took the pandemic to bring greater attention to this work. Keyes describes languish as the absence of feeling good about life and lacking purpose or meaning in one’s life. Languish is the middle ground between depression and optimal well-being or flourishing. While depression is clinically diagnosable with the presence of certain behaviors, languish is feeling indifference, emptiness, and stagnation. Keyes’ research found languish to be a predictor of developing depression and anxiety as well as increased risk of suicide attempts. We need to acknowledge and treat languish so it doesn’t turn into depression later, and so we can live our best lives.

How do we move from languishing to flourishing? Thankfully, there are research-backed steps we can take. In fact, there are entire programs at universities dedicated to helping others flourish: The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, and The Wellbeing at Work project at the University of Notre Dame. Here are some of their highlights:

Name your feelings – It helps to identify emotions and give them a name. Once you identify languish and name it, you can start to deal with it. You might start to notice examples of it all around you in family members, friends, co-workers.

Find your flow – Flow can be described as feeling fully engaged or even engrossed in an activity that motivates and excites you. For me recently, that has been home improvement projects, from the smallest detail like a broken switch plate cover, to larger re-wiring or painting projects. As long as I have something to keep me focused, I can find my flow. As one project concludes, I line up another. Perhaps the activity that will get you into flow is learning something new. The act of learning a new task or skill can engage your brain and sharpen your focus.

Free yourself from disruptions – Give yourself what your brain might be craving: time to become engrossed in an activity and let it captivate you. We find joy and purpose when we can gain a sense of progress on an activity or task.

Focus on a small goal – Is there a goal you can set to increase your skills or strengthen your resolve? Find a challenge that is meaningful to you and commit time to it each day.

Cultivate gratitude – Recognize and savor the good in your present situation. Imagine your best possible self, and volunteer or provide acts of kindness for others to make your best self a reality.

Start wherever you are… and if that is languish, decide to take a small step toward blooming and flourishing. If languish is like a fading photograph, then imagine steps toward flourishing as a color touch-up, bringing vibrancy back into your life. Share your journey with someone, as you just might help them out. It could be refreshingly authentic to answer ‘meh’ next time someone asks how you are doing.

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

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

Sources:

Grant, A. (2020). There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing. New York Times. Published April 19, 2021, Updated May 5, 2021

Keyes, C.L. (2002). The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222. doi:10.2307/3090197

Keyes, C. L., Dhingra, S. S., & Simoes, E. J. (2010). Change in level of positive mental health as a predictor of future risk of mental illness. American journal of public health100(12), 2366–2371. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2010.192245

VanderWeele, T.J. (2017). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 31:8148-8156.

Read Full Post »

When was the last time you fell in love? Maybe it was when you found a special someone, got a new puppy or saw a beautiful grand-baby for the first time. What about falling in love with nature? It only takes a moment to stop and notice things happening in nature, and the good news is you do not have to be a naturalist to reap the benefits of bringing nature into your daily life!

Experiencing nature can be a simple as stopping to notice the big, puffy white clouds in the sky or watching the sun set from your window. The other day I found beautiful bright pink pinecones on a tree that I walk by every single day and never noticed. When we stop and notice the little things in nature, we begin experiencing a deeper connection to something more.

Pink pinecones
Photo source: Shari Gallup, 2021. “Pink Pinecones.”

Nature has a way of calming and healing the human mind and body. Have you ever noticed that you feel happier when you spend time in nature?

Spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Research done in hospitals, offices and schools found that the presence of a plant in a workroom can decrease stress and anxiety, and office plants have been shown to reduce employee sick days and improve work productivity.

It is easy to let daily life go by with the busyness of ballgames, work, and other activities, but it only takes a moment to stop and “smell the roses.”  If it is not possible to get outside, here are a few ways to bring nature inside:

Bring plants indoors: I keep a mint plant on my desk and between meetings, I scratch the leaf to release the oil scent and take a few deep breaths in through my nose. My eyes naturally begin to close, and I become calm. Plants help reduce stress and tension. Choose plants that you enjoy and that are easy to grow indoors, or bring in fresh flowers and place them in a container where you can see them.  

Bring the smell of nature indoors: Bring in aromatic flowers, herbs, or pinecones, or use diffusers, candles, or sprays in natural scents like pine, citrus, lavender, or lemon.

Watch the birds:  Set up a bird or suet feeder near a popular window, grab a pair of binoculars if you have one, and watch nature from indoors. There is a lot of great information available from the National Audubon Society if you are new to bird watching, and there are many benefits to becoming a bird nerd

If you want to fall in love with nature, start with something small at first, or choose just one of the suggestions above and go slow…that’s the whole idea!

If you would like to learn more, please join me for a free class on Nature and Nutrition on June 9th at noon!  Register at https://go.osu.edu/wellnessweds.

Written by Shari Gallup, MS, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County and Laura Stanton, MS, Family and Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County.

Sources:

Beans, Laura (2014).  Study Shows Living Close to Nature Improves Mental Health. https://www.ecowatch.com/study-shows-living-close-to-nature-improves-mental-health-1881858780.html

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (2015). #PlantsDoThat. https://consumerhort.org/plantsdothat-3/

University of Minnesota. Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing. Healing Environment. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/healing-environment  

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »