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Have you ever had a difficult time canceling an online account or subscription service? Maybe the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘cancel’ button was hard to find, or you had to answer several questions first before being able to finally cancel?

Computer screen

These practices are known as “dark patterns” and they are becoming increasingly common on a variety of websites. Dark patterns are deceptive strategies used by businesses to manipulate the decisions made by their online customers. This may result in consumers spending more money than they had anticipated, signing up for services they do not want, or spending more time and attention on a website than they intended. Several groups are advocating for the removal of dark patterns since they can make navigating the internet more difficult for individuals who speak English as a second language as well as individuals who have less experience using online commerce. Unfortunately, dark patterns sit on the edge of legality, making it difficult for lawmakers to pass legislation against these practices.

Several different types of dark patterns have been identified since 2010, such as:

  • Friend Spam – A website will ask you for permission to access your contact list (usually under good pretenses) but will then send messages to your friends claiming to be from you.
  • Trick Questions – Questions that trick you into giving an answer you did not mean to give, or a question that is worded in a confusing way.
  • Disguised Ads – Advertisements that look like a part of the website content or navigation, in order to get you to accidentally click on them.
  • Confirm Shaming – Websites that make a user feel guilt or shame when selecting an option other than what the company desires.
  • Roach Motel – Websites that allow you to sign up for their services easily, but are then very difficult to unsubscribe from.

How can you avoid falling into these traps? The best way to avoid dark patterns is to slow down and read carefully before signing up for a subscription or purchasing a product. Federal and state governments are slowly addressing dark patterns as well – California recently added regulations to the “California Consumer Privacy Act” that prohibit companies from using some misleading means. 

Consumer Reports has also created the “Dark Patterns Tip Line,” where consumers can submit screen shots of dark patterns they have encountered on the web. Launched in 2021, the tip line now contains a multitude of real-life examples others have encountered.

What are some dark patterns you have experienced?

Sources:

Reicin, E. (2021). Understanding Dark Patterns: How to Stay Out of the Gray Areas. BBB National Programs. https://bbbprograms.org/media-center/blog-details/insights/2021/05/19/dark-patterns

Deceptive Design. Types of Deceptive Design.  https://www.deceptive.design/types

Dark Patterns Tip Line.  https://darkpatternstipline.org/

Germain, T. (2021). New Dark Patterns Tip Line Lets You Report Manipulative Online Practices. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/digital-rights/dark-patterns-tip-line-report-manipulative-practices-a1196931056/

Author: Jessica Lowe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, lowe.495@osu.edu

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

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Group of diverse volunteers

And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.
~ Louis Armstrong

Being environmentally well means “recognizing the responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciating your connection to nature.” In other words, environmental wellness happens when the different surroundings in your life enhance your health and wellbeing. This includes your home, your workplace, your local community, your natural surroundings, and the planet.

Three aspects of environmental wellness include: paying attention to the different environments that you spend time in, making an effort to spend time outdoors, and being more sustainable (AKA “going green”).

Health Benefits of Environmental Wellness Across the Lifespan

No matter what your age, research demonstrates the far-ranging health benefits of environmental wellness. For example:

  • Children who play outside in nature develop superior motor skills, balance, and coordination compared to children who play on traditional playgrounds.
  • Teens and young adults report feeling calmer, less stressed, and lower anxiety after spending time in nature.
  • Adults reduce their risk of chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they spend time in green space.
  • Senior adults who garden reduce their risk of dementia by 36%, even more than those who walk every day.

How can you start improving your environmental wellness? Commit to spending more time outdoors, being more green in your purchasing decisions, and actively caring for the environment. You can also try these simple activities:

  • Write nature into your schedule. Grab a bag and pick up litter while you are out.
  • Bike or walk rather than drive. If you drive, carpool when possible.
  • Use reusable water bottles, mugs, and shopping bags to limit waste.
  • Add houseplants to your home and work environments to improve indoor air quality and to psychologically link us to nature.
  • Learn about recycling in your community and recycle as much as possible.
  • Avoid purchasing single-use plastic and pack waste-free lunches.
  • Plan your food purchases to avoid food waste and compost food scraps.
  • Encourage local schools to recycle, compost, and host community gardens.
  • Decrease your use of energy and water.
  • Grow native plants to provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators.
  • Donate your time or money to organizations that protect the environment.

Satish Kumar said, “We are nature.” Environmental wellness helps us recognize our connection to the natural world and realize that when we help our environment, we help ourselves. It is important, however, to point out that not everyone has equal access to nature or green environments, due to limited green space, accessibility limitations, safety concerns, and financial resources. We all need to work together not only to protect the natural world but to also ensure that everyone can reap the health benefits of environmental wellness equally.

For More Information:

  • On sustainability, visit the OSU Extension Sustainability website to find Trash-Free Trails, Reducing Your Single Use Plastic Waste, and many other tip sheets. In addition, there are many educational videos as well as a sustainable home tour: https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability
  • On the importance of nature and spending time outdoors, visit the Nature Matters website created by OSU Extension, Warren County: go.osu.edu/nature-matters

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

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

Photo Credit: Image by rawpixel.com

References:

Bickel, N. B. (2021, September 13). Youth report feeling physically, mentally better after spending time in nature. University of Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/youth-report-feeling-physically-mentally-better-after-spending-time-nature

Ingunn Fjørtoft. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.14.2.0021

Kumar, S. (2019). Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well. New Society Publishers.

Melnyk, B. M., and Neale, S. (2018, January). Nine dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today, 13 (1). https://www.myamericannurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ant1-Wellness-1218.pdf

Simons, L. A., Simons, J., McCallum, J., & Friedlander, Y. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo study of the elderly. The Medical Journal of Australia, 184(2), 68–70. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00120.x

Stanton, L. (2021) Ten tips for packing waste-free lunches. Ohio State University Extension. https://go.osu.edu/waste-free-lunches

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628–637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030

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As we age there are many important things to consider. One of those important considerations is living arrangements. With the aging of America, the retirement living industry has grown exponentially over the past decade providing the seniors of today and tomorrow a vast variety of housing and care options. Understanding the housing choices that are offered can make your selection easier.

The first option is continuing to live at home. As with any other critical decision, you should think about the benefits and challenges of living at home. Some benefits may include being surrounded by friends and family in a familiar setting. Some challenges may include needing outside help with everyday tasks and feeling isolated and lonely.

If you choose to stay at home, think about possible modifications that can be done around your house to make your later years of life easier. This concept of making the home more accessible and safer is called Universal Design. The Virtual Universal Design Tour can show you ideas on modifications that can be made to your home.

The next option is to move to an outside facility. There are various types of settings depending on your desires and needs. Understanding the various options is important to help guide your decisions. Here is a brief overview of housing options for older adults:

Active Adult Communities – offer services and amenities aimed at giving residents a more carefree lifestyle, while also providing social engagement opportunities of all kinds.

Independent Living -refers to a way of life in residential communities designed specifically for those who have reached or are nearing retirement age, but want to remain active and independent.

Assisted Living – is a communal way of life designed for seniors who need help with various daily tasks like grooming, bathing, and medication management, but still wish to remain as independent as possible.

Skilled Nursing Care – provide skilled nursing care, a level of care provided by a registered nurse who monitors a patient’s health and administers treatment around-the-clock.

Residential Care Homes – provide individualized service, often in a standard single-family home. These houses have been modified to accommodate the needs of seniors, and are generally licensed by the state for only two to six beds. Similar to assisted living, residents receive 24-hour care and assistance with activities of daily living, including medication management, housekeeping services, transportation to doctor’s appointments as needed, meals, and social programs.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – offers several different senior living options or care levels all on one campus. It provides a peace-of-mind guarantee of care to residents for the rest of their lives.

Long-Term Care – refers to any community that provides 24-hour care on a long-term basis. Assistance generally includes regular supervision, help with activities of daily living as needed, medication reminders, housekeeping, meals, and social activities.

Memory Care – long-term care that helps those with dementia of Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care is either offered at a stand-alone community, or as an add-on service at some assisted living facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and nursing homes.

Housing decisions are unique to everyone and will depend on personal preferences, financial resources, and care needs. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging offers A Guide for Making Housing Decisions that provides more detailed information for housing options for older adults.

Written by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Sources:

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Housing Options for Older Adults: A Guide for Making Housing Decisions, retrieved from: https://www.usaging.org/files/HousingOptions.pdf

Prosch, T. (2014). The Other Talk: A Guide to Talking with your Adult Children About the Rest of Your Life. United States: McGraw-Hill Education.

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After the Super Bowl LVI halftime show 2022, water cooler and social media discussions were interesting, to say the least. Comments ranged from, “That was AMAZING!” to “That was AWFUL!” also “What a blast from the past!” and “Who were those performers?” Regardless of your thoughts on the Super Bowl halftime show, do you know that listening to music can lead to positive health outcomes? Many times, we focus on silence and quiet for inner peace and strength. While there is a time for silence and quiet reflection, turning the music on also has its place and benefits.

Someone asked me the other day if I was a “Broadway fan.” I replied, “It depends on the day.” Sometimes a good musical number is my go-to jam, but I also enjoy a variety of music genres. What I listen to depends on my mood, where I am, and what I am trying to accomplish. I have an internal dialogue that helps me choose what to listen to.

  • What activity will I be doing? (driving, showering, studying, exercising, working, cleaning, relaxing, etc.)
  • What mood am I in? (happy, sad, excited, silly, reflective, angry, etc.)
  • Do I want to stay in that same mood?
  • Am I somewhere I can sing and dance along?
  • Is anyone going to be listening with me?

After this, I choose my song or genre, then find an existing playlist or station, turn it up (or sometimes down), and let the magic of music begin.

Some health benefits of listening to music include:

  • Music = brain food
    • Listening to music helps develop different neuropathways in the brain
  • Music = mood changer
    • Music releases dopamine and oxytocin, the brain’s feel good chemicals
  • Music = stronger language
    • Music helps to build language development, including sound recognition
  • Music = math
    • Music helps to develop rhythm, pattern-recognition, and fractions
  • Music = memory
    • Music transports us to a different time and place
  • Music = social
    • Music reminds us we are part of a team

Music can be a unifier or a divider of families and communities (as evidenced by the singing  of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto). Music can help you find a way to dance when you’ve lost your rhythm and it can make a difference from moment to moment. What are you waiting for? Build your playlist, enjoy your favorite genre, and let the magic of music transform you.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

RESOURCES

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Based on the title of my blog, you might think it’s focused on yoga, tai chi, or some other form of gentle movement often associated with mindfulness. While all of these can be beneficial, mindful movement can include much more.

As a runner, I have struggled with an Achilles tendon injury for years. There have been times when I had to forego running altogether for several months at a time. After diligently doing things to heal, I have been able to resume running. When I have had to take breaks, I had to remind myself to start slowly and to gradually increase my distance. This is not and has not been easy. I have re-injured myself from going too far too soon and from not being mindful when moving my body. I have been back to running for a couple years with little trouble, though I must constantly remind myself to be mindful while running.

I recently started training for a marathon, a bucket list item before I reach the ½ century mark later this year. Even though I have a training plan/schedule, I also have to be flexible and listen to my body, particularly my left foot/heel as I am increasing my distance. I am keenly aware of how my usual state feels and when I notice it becoming altered, I must stop running and walk for a bit to give my muscles and my heel a rest from the repetitive running movement. I do this so I do not re-injure myself due to poor body mechanics. By being mindful of my stride length, of how and at what point my foot hits the ground, of the terrain, of my posture, and of my pace, I can continue running injury free.

Another part of mindful movement is paying attention to or noticing what’s happening around you at any given moment. Since I run primarily on the road, paying attention always, is imperative. By staying in the present moment, I am more aware of potential hazards, like holes in the road, icy patches, and speeding or distracted drivers. I also get to take in more of the scenery and beauty of the terrain. There is nothing better than running up a hill and then pausing to take in the view before heading down the other side. I notice different sounds, like cars in the distance or the wind picking up as it blows across the fields or through the trees and finally on me.

You may be thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, so what does this have to do with mindful movement? Well, mindful movement can be practiced ANYTIME you are moving!

Here are three easy steps to practice moving mindfully:

1.            Notice what is happening in the body.

2.            Recognize what is on your mind – notice troublesome thoughts we cannot stop. Recognize habitual patterns.

3.            Accept that feelings and thoughts are impermanent and just passing through. Allow them to be in the space you are noticing. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.

If you find resistance – just notice how that feels with a sense of kindness to yourself. Breathe into the blockage or difficulty with a sense of softness.

If your mobility is limited, notice what movements you can do with ease. Try to capitalize on movements that are OK for you, even circling your arms, hands, or feet, or flexing the wrists. Allowing, acceptance and kindness are key to any mindfulness practice, still or moving, sitting, laying down or standing.

How do you move mindfully?

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

Reviewed by Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Hardin County

Sources

Calechman, S., Bradley, C., Graham, L., Staff, M., Pratt, M., & Lagunju, O. (2022, February 4). Getting started with Mindful Movement. Mindful. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/getting-started-with-mindful-movement

Calechman, S., Bradley, C., Graham, L., Staff, M., Pratt, M., & Lagunju, O. (2022, February 4). Getting started with Mindful Movement. Mindful. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/getting-started-with-mindful-movement/

Dreskin, M., Smith, S., & Kane, D. (Eds.). (n.d.). The benefits of Mindful Movement. What Is Mindful Movement and What Are Its Benefits? | Mental Health & Wellness | Kaiser Permanente. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Renner, B. (2019, February 13). Mindfulness meditation too boring? try mindful movement to shed stress, anxiety. Study Finds. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.studyfinds.org/mindfulness-meditation-mindful-movement-stress-anxiety/

Seery, J. (2022, January 31). Mindful movement. Mindfulness Association. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/weekly-challenge/mindful-movement/

Work Well NYC. (n.d.). Improving Mind-Body Wellness Through Mindful Movement. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/olr/wellness/wellnesshome.page. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/olr/downloads/pdf/wellness/improvingmindbodywellnessthroughmindfulmovement.pdf

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Rolled Oats
Rolled Oats

As a young child I remember my dad eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast. I’m not an oatmeal fan at all and I remember thinking to myself, how could he eat the same thing repeatedly. For me it’s something about the texture that I can’t get past. However, now that I’m older I’ve realized that my dad was eating oatmeal for the health benefits that oats provide. Healthline lists 9 benefits:

  1. Oats are incredibly nutritious. They are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber along with important vitamins and minerals.
  2. Whole oats are rich in antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects along with leading to better blood flow.
  3. Oats contain a powerful soluble fiber which helps in reducing cholesterol levels and blood sugar response.
  4. They can lower cholesterol levels reducing both LDL and total cholesterol.
  5. Oats can improve blood sugar control by delaying absorption of glucose into the blood.
  6. Oatmeal is very filling and may help you lose weight. The feeling of fullness helps reduce calorie intake.
  7. Finely ground oats may help with skin care and have long been used to help treat dry and itchy skin.
  8. Research suggests eating oats can decrease the risk of childhood asthma.
  9. Studies also indicate that the fiber from oats may help relieve constipation.

Oats are considered a whole grain and whole grains have been shown to help reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases.

With all of those amazing benefits, I wanted to find a way to incorporate oats into my daily living. Some ways that my family and I enjoy oats are in:

What’s your favorite way to enjoy oats?

Sources:

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000727.htm

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, Wellness. Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu

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January 10, 2022 by Jennifer Little

https://stocksnap.io/author/mattmoloney

Human Trafficking is an issue that affects Ohioans of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, and Wear Blue Day is an effort to raise awareness of the signs and to, ultimately, stop this crime which destroys lives of vulnerable people in our own communities, and across the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice describes Human Trafficking as” a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex”.  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 further recognized that this issue includes the use of “force, fraud or coercion” as well as the recruitment of those too young to give legal consent (under age 18).  This Act began to draw national attention to what is often referred to as “modern day slavery”.

The Department of Homeland Security describes the many ways this issue affects the people and institutions of United States – “Human trafficking threatens our physical and virtual borders, our immigration and customs systems, our prosperity, our national security, our personal and public safety.” Addressing the issues related to human trafficking is a national priority and includes strategies 1) to support organizations combating Human Trafficking, 2) to limit the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and 3) to end Child Sexual Exploitation.

Human Trafficking is not only a national concern, but a significant problem right here in Ohio.  According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Update in January 2020, Ohio ranks 4th in the nation for prevalence of human trafficking, even though our state population is only ½ to 1/3 of other highly ranked states.  In 2019 the Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Commission was part of an effort that rescued 110 trafficked victims and referred another 217 people to victim services.  One major Ohio law enforcement operation in 2020, involved 76 open missing/exploited children cases. 

January 11th is National Wear Blue Day and is part of the Blue Campaign sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to educate individuals, law enforcement and organizations about how to recognize indications of human trafficking, and what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

What are signs that someone may be the victim of human trafficking?

  • A person who appears fearful, timid or acts overly submissive or defers to an older or controlling companion for basic questions
  • Someone who has a sudden or significant change in behavior or withdrawal from school or other outside activities
  • A person who seems to lack possessions or appears to have been denied food, sleep, or medical care
  • A person who appears to have bruises at various stages of healing, signs that he/she may have experienced physical abuse over time
  • Someone who seems to have an overly restrictive living situation, such as limited ability to move about or to leave on their own

What can you do to assist someone you suspect may be a victim of human trafficking or to help combat this issue in your community?

  1. Report suspected human trafficking to the federal authorities at 1-866-347-2423.
  2. Encourage or assist the victim to text HELP or INFO to 233733 (BeFree). 
  3. Bring awareness to this crime by participating in #WearBlueDay on January 11th. Learn more about @DHSBlueCampaign and #WearBlueDay here:  https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday.                                                                                                           
  4. In Ohio, participate in the Attorney General’s initiative to end human trafficking by visiting the website:  https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/humantrafficking.

Written by: Jennifer Little, MS, RD, LD, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, MEd, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Justice website:  https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking
  2. Homeland Security Human Trafficking webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking
  3. Ohio Attorney General website: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/Newsletters/Criminal-Justice-Update/January-2020/New-human-trafficking-efforts-aim-to-make-a-differ
  4. Homeland Security Blue Campaign webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday

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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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With the holidays around the corner, I have been thinking about all the things that have changed over the years. When I was a kid, we went to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve and celebrated with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. When my grandparents moved in to an apartment, the holidays were divided amongst my aunts. As my generation grew and started having children, it became too much to coordinate, so we no longer get together for Christmas with my extended family. We have continued to gather for Thanksgiving, though.

Baking Cookies, Christmas Baking, Child'S Hand, Cut Out
Child making cut out cookies

Even as my own kids have grown, our traditions have changed. We used to go to their great-grandpa’s house and then my aunt’s on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, we opened presents at our house, then went to my parent’s house to open presents and eat with my brother and his family. Finally, we concluded with Christmas evening at their other grandparents’ house with their aunt and uncle. Now, my parent’s go to Florida for the winter, so we no longer celebrate the holidays with my family. While the slower pace on Christmas Day is nice, I miss seeing my parents and my brother and his family for Christmas.

While I do miss some of the traditions of the past, I try not to focus on how things “used” to be, but instead seek to make new traditions that suit the changes in our family. My kids, young adults now, have school or college, work, friends, etc. to juggle along with the “commitments” of the holidays. I could not be happier that they have grown in to happy, healthy, productive, well-adjusted adults, as I had always hoped; however, I would be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss the time when their world revolved around our family. I try to be supportive and understanding, which is easier to do, so long as I remember that this is the cycle of life.

Friends, Celebration, Dinner, Table, Meal, Food, White
Friends celebrating with a meal

As I look to the future, I am mostly excited for what is to come. I will miss my daughter when she goes off to college, just as I miss(ed) her brothers when they left. I am looking forward to seeing my young adult children spread their wings and make their way in the world. I will be cheering them on all the way and I will be here to support them as they make new traditions in their own lives. Hopefully, I will be included in many of those traditions. As they go out in to the world, I am sure my husband and I will make some new traditions for ourselves as well. Traditions serve many purposes, including:

  1. An anxiety buffer– From reciting blessings to raising a glass to make a toast, holiday traditions are replete with rituals which can act as a buffer against anxiety by making our world a more predictable place.
  2. Happy meals– The long hours spent in the kitchen and the dining room during the preparation and consumption of holiday meals serve some of the same social functions as the hearths of our early ancestors. Sharing a ceremonial meal symbolizes community, brings the entire family together around the table, and smooths the way for conversation and connection.
  3. Sharing is caring– Anthropologists have noted that among many societies ritualized gift-giving plays a crucial role in maintaining social ties by creating networks of reciprocal relationships.
  4. The stuff family is made of– The most important function of holiday rituals is their role in maintaining and strengthening family ties.

My kids are mostly grown now, and hopefully the traditions and rituals we have had over the years and ones yet to come, will be looked upon fondly by them, just as I look back with fond remembrance of the traditions of my childhood and those of raising my own children.

Join us Friday, December 17th at 12:00 pm for a 30-minute webinar on Why Traditions are Important Today. The webinar is free, but registration is required at go.osu.edu/playweb.

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

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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Two people walking in the snow with a small dog

Getting outside is a wonderful thing to do any time of the year. The health benefits of spending time outdoors have been well documented and validated over the last four decades. For example, spending time in nature can improve your psychological wellbeing, lower your stress, and reduce your blood pressure. Although science shows all the positive ways being outside can benefit us, we also know that Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors. We challenge you to change this statistic and make plans to get outside this winter!

If you are looking for unique opportunities and ideas of what you can do outside during the colder months, consider these activities:

  • Go tubing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, and snowshoeing when there is snow on the ground. Of course, building snow forts and snowmen are also classic winter activities.
  • Find a safe place to have an outdoor fire. Invite friends and family over, bundle up, and sing or tell stories. Be sure to follow outdoor fire safety tips.
  • Watch the stars, planets, and moon during the dark winter months. Clear, cold nights are perfect for watching the night sky. Check out What’s Up: Skywatching Tips from NASA, an educational website full of great tips and resources.
  • Invite the birds into your yard. Providing bird seed and a heated water bath is sure to attract feather friends. If you enjoy birds and birdwatching, consider signing up for Project Feeder Watch and/or Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
  • Read a book about winter to the children in your life and then re-create the story in real life. To get ideas, check out The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats or Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.
  • Explore seasonal and holiday-themed opportunities. Many communities have light shows, ice rinks, and outdoor activities for you to enjoy during this time of the year. Check with your area parks, museums, zoos, and nature centers for events.

Before heading out, remember to follow these winter weather safety tips:

  • Monitor the weather and plan ahead.
  • Wear layers.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Protect your head, hands, and feet.
  • Wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen, and use a lip balm with sunscreen.

If you or someone you love has limited mobility or a difficult time getting outside, consider bringing nature closer to you and if possible, bring nature indoors. For example, if it snows, bring some snow inside in a plastic tub. You can also purchase a houseplant that has a seasonal scent, like rosemary or pine. A window bird feeder is another option. Each of these ideas is a way to enjoy the benefits of nature without leaving your house.

Every day is an opportunity to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer, even during these colder and darker months. Make it a priority to wonder and wander outdoors this winter!

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

Sources:

Gallup, S. (2021, May 19). Falling in Love with Nature. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/19/falling-in-love-with-nature

Harvard Health Publishing (2018, December 1). The Wonders of Winter Workouts.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-wonders-of-winter-workouts

Kelpies, N. E., Nelson, W. C., Ott, W. R., Robinson, J. P., Tsang, A. M., Switzer, P., Behar, J. V., Hern, S. C., & Engelmann, W. H. (2001). The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of exposure analysis and environmental epidemiology, 11(3), 231–252. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500165

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

Photo Credit: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

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