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Vacations Matter…

beach

As school districts close down the 18-19 school year, I’m reminded of the joy I felt as a kid on the last day of school. The euphoria of knowing I had the whole summer to do whatever I wanted. Weeks of independence, sunshine and no schedules to follow!

It’s easy to forget those feelings as an adult with our heavy workloads, commitments, and stresses of life, but that doesn’t lessen the need for downtime. We all need to step away from our heavy schedules and hit the pause button.

According to 2018 research in the US, 51% of Americans did not take all of their vacation time and 21% “left” more than five vacation days on the table. Many stated they were worried about falling behind in their work, others indicated concerns such as losing their edge competitively in the job site, especially when it involved the potential for a promotion.

Vacations are important and provide multiple benefits:

  • Reduction of stress
  • Increase of productivity at work
  • Fostering creativity
  • Improving relationships
  • Improving focus
  • Allowing us the opportunity to digitally detox

Vacations allow us to explore new places, engage in adventures, spend time with family and friends and unplug. Imagine a calmer, energized, refocused self!  Take your vacation time this year and enjoy the freedom of summer days.  Where will you go?

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/reneemorad/2018/06/30/the-benefits-of-vacation-diminish-after-just-a-few-days-back-at-work-survey-says/#5df603bc3872

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20180828/take-a-vacation-your-heart-will-thank-you#1

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teen and technology

If you have a teenager in your home, they are probably celebrating the start of their summer break.  This can mean they stay up later, sleep in longer and relax more.  Like other working parents, you may be dreading the extra-long gaming sessions and screen time that your kiddos may be planning over the summer.

Here are a few tips from media experts on how to tune down the technology and keep the peace in your house for the next 12 weeks and beyond:

  1. Dr. Jenny Radesky, the lead author of the most recent update of the Guidelines on Media and Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, has a “no media on weekdays” rule. Dr. Radesky states “I try to help my older son be aware of the way he reacts to video games or how to interpret information we find online.” For example, she tries to explain how he is being manipulated by games that ask him to make purchases while playing.
  2. Lauren Hale, a sleep researcher at Stony Brook University in New York, suggests limiting the use of devices at least one hour before bedtime. This gives your brain time to “turn off” and relax, which will promote better sleep. According to Hale, “when kids watch or use screens at night, bedtime gets delayed.” Additionally, “when it takes longer to fall asleep, sleep quality is reduced and total sleep time is decreased.”
  3. Dr. Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician in Canada and founder of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, puts an emphasis on limiting technology by promoting the  5- 2- 1- 0 formula. That means each day includes: five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of screen time, one hour of physical activity, and no sugary beverages.

Other screen time tips include:

  • Set firm limits on usage by making a technology schedule. Allow your teen to help with the details so everyone can agree.
  • Limit the number of devices available to your teen while you are working.
  • Limit the amount of free time that technology can eat up by signing them up for camps, volunteering, or even working.
  • Practice safe technology use by implementing rules such as remaining anonymous, using nicknames rather than your real name, reporting messaging or chats that make you feel uncomfortable to an adult, and protecting your passwords.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals
  • Turn off all screens at bedtime, keep devices with screens out of your teen’s bedroom after bedtime, and don’t allow a TV in your teen’s bedroom.
  • Research video and computer games before letting your teen get them. Check ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board.  Ratings can run from EC (meaning “early childhood”) to AO (meaning “adults only”). Teens probably should be limited to games rated T (for “teens”) or younger.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Children and Media Tips. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx

Ben-Joseph, E.P. (2016). Screen Time Guidelines for Big Kids. Kids Health from Nemours. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-bigkids.html?ref=search

Common Sense Media. Screen Time. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/screen-time

Child Obesity Foundation. What Every Family Can Do: The 5-2-1-0 Formula. https://childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/families/simple-steps-families-can-take/#tab-id-2

Kamenetz, A. (2018). What Families Need to Know About Screen Time This Summer. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/07/09/625387830/what-families-need-to-know-about-screen-time-this-summer

Written by: Heather Reister, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County

Reviewed by: Bridget Britton, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Carroll County

drink colorful color tube

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My teenage daughter lectures me from time to time about overusing plastics, especially those that can’t be recycled. We’ve bought reusable straws to use at home, and I get dirty looks if I take a straw at a restaurant. I’ve been wondering why using a plastic straw would be detrimental to my health and well-being. Turns out there is a dimension of wellness called Environmental Wellness. We may not think much about Environmental Wellness as part of an overall wellness plan that might include eating more fruits and vegetables, but our environment and how we feel about it can have a huge impact on the way we feel overall.

Environmental well-being includes trying to live in balance with the nature by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you. Protecting yourself from environmental hazards and minimizing the negative impact of your behavior on the environment are also central elements.

According to University California- Riverside leading a lifestyle that is respectful to our environment and minimizes any harm done to it is a critical part of environmental wellness. Environmental wellness involves a number of different aspects of personal and societal responsibilities, but generally relates to being aware of earths natural resources (soil, water, clean air) and their limits, understanding how daily habits impact natural resources, and being accountable by taking actions to minimize our impact on natural resources. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I recycle?
  • If I see something damaging to the environment, do I take the steps to fix the problem?
  • Do I volunteer time to worthy causes to protect soil, water, air, or wildlife?
  • Do I take time to appreciate my environment (go hiking, fishing, meditate, swim in stream or lake)?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your environmental wellness.

Recycling– Recycling saves energy and natural resources. For example, recycling one ton of office paper can save the energy equivalent of consuming 322 gallons of gasoline! Some cities offer recycling programs that pick up your recycled products at your curb. In other communities, you may have to collect your recycles and drive them to a designated recycle bin. The EPA offers some good information about what can and can’t be recycled, and recycling centers are all different in terms of what they can and can’t accept. In general, glass, cardboard, paper, food and beverage cans, jugs, plastic bottles, food boxes can be recycled. Other items such as Styrofoam, and soiled products can’t. Follow the rules, otherwise recycling centers have to spend time, energy and resources to filter out products that can’t be recycled.

Hazardous materials and situations– Some materials such as oil, paint, cleaners chemicals, and other products can pollute soil and water. Oil from one oil change for example can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Many commercial garages will accept used oil, and other businesses might accept paint and other materials.

Volunteering- Consider volunteering at a national, state or local park. Maintaining trails, planting trees, cleaning up streams and rivers are all volunteer activities that might contribute to your environmental wellness. The AARP offers some ideas on volunteering to help the environment.

Appreciate the environment– Appreciating the environment and natural resources will help motivate you and your family to change habits. Set a goal to get outside and appreciate the soil, air and water. Hike, fish, hunt, camp, swim, garden and even meditate outdoors!

Getting back to straws- although straws are only a fraction of plastics waste, they have become a poster child for single use plastics that wind up consumed by wildlife and found on beaches. In fact each human on the planet consumes around 88 pounds of plastic a year! Cutting back on straws can be a gateway to making many other changes in your life to improve your environmental wellness!!

Sources:

University of California Riverside. Environmental Wellness at https://wellness.ucr.edu/environmental_wellness.html

Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling 101 at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/frequent-questions-recycling

American Association of Retired Persons. 5 ways you can help the environment. https://www.aarp.org/giving-back/info-09-2012/fun-ways-to-help-environment.html

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

 

I remember the nurse placing a screaming dark-haired baby in my arms like it was yesterday. 18 years later, this baby is graduating from high school and telling me she wants to change her address to one different from mine.  While I appreciate her goals and ambitions, watching her go is tough.  Preparing now with a few simple things I am hoping will make this big transition smoother for both of us as she heads to college on her own.

Prepare and You Will Not Fear

I remember being taught this principle in relation to natural disasters when I was young, this same mantra is bringing me some comfort as a mother as I prepare to send a child into the world.  There is a long list of independent living skills youth and young adults need to be successful on their own; more skills than can be taught in the summer between their senior year and heading out on their own.  Starting young with developing and teaching life skills can bring peace and confidence with parents and youth as they move on.  Giving young children and teens responsibilities at home, allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them will prepare them for obstacles and responsibilities they will face when they leave home.  These needed life skills include not only skills such as cooking and laundry but budgeting, relationship skills, emotional and behavioral control, manners, self-care, time management and more.

Am I invited too?

My daughter, who is leaving, sat at the table listening one night as my sister and I discussed future Thanksgiving plans.  When we were finished she asked, “Am I invited too?”  It never occurred to me that she might be having some questions about where she would fit in when she left home.  We talked about what our communication would look like, how often, ways we would stay in contact and what family events she might want to be included in.  I let her know she would be welcome in our home anytime, without an appointment or reason. 

Plans do not always work out.  Let your young adult know that they are welcome in your home and what your requirements might be after they move away and return to visit. Help your child know that while you are excited about their new adventure you are always there if they just need to chat. Communication can be vital during this transition, for both of you.   Do not assume they know they can phone you if they feel sad or need to talk. 

Have a Plan

Have a plan for if things go wrong too.  A clear plan for contingencies can help parents make a decision when emotions are running high or a quick decision is necessary. Have you discussed what will happen if your college student makes poor grades? What if they are homesick and want to return home? What if they want or need to change schools or apartments? What if they are unable to cover expenses and call to ask for money?  Having these discussions before hand can clear up confusion for you and your child. 

Take Care of You

Feelings of loneliness, loss, and grief may all be common when a child leaves home. Have a plan to deal with those feelings.  As I have discussed this transition with friends their advice and reactions have ranged anywhere from excitement to being seriously distraught over their son or daughter moving out.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  Try to let your feelings run their course. If you feel like crying, cry. It is important to acknowledge how you feel and not allow others to dictate your emotions.  You will not react the same way your friend did to their child moving out and that is ok. 

Every family is different and will have different plans and responses to a big change such as a child leaving home.  Try to remember what a fun new adventure this can be for your son or daughter.  Your enthusiasm can go a long way to helping them move on.  Celebrate their successes and yours, and remember just like with anything else new in life- it takes time!

Good luck! I am in this one with you. . . 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-in-between/201406/5-steps-help-your-teen-leave-the-nest https://www.healthguidance.org/entry/18004/1/how-to-cope-when-your-children-leave-home.html

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

 

Did that title spark your interest? As a mom of three small children, I find myself stressed at times because of my kids’ behaviors. The behaviors I am referring to are typical behaviors for their ages however when multiplied by three it is enough to make you want to pull your hair out at times. I know my children are not the only ones that struggle with the following:

  • Act overly silly or “out of control”
  • Have tantrums or meltdowns
  • Experience difficulty waiting or taking turns
  • Struggle being in close proximity to others
  • Move too quickly or with too much force
  • Act on impulse by grabbing, throwing, or touching things
  • Experience difficulty walking or waiting in line
  • Have problems during social interactions like talking too loudly or standing too close to others

If you have noticed some of those struggles with a child in your life then they may need help learning how to regulate. Self-regulation is “control [of oneself] by oneself. It is a skill that effects a person’s ability to handle disappointments, failures, and tolerate unmet wants or needs with the outcome being success. The key word is SKILL. Self-regulation is taught and then children need time to practice using this skill. The more they practice the better they become.

There are four types of games/activities you can do to teach children how to self-regulate. The purpose of the games is for children to practice managing their impulses and self-control.  

  1. Red light, green light- have a start line and a finish line, one child is the cop and says green light for the rest of the children to go and red light for them to freeze. If they move after red light has been said then they move back to the start line. First person across the finish line wins and gets to be the new cop. Reverse rules, stop when the cop says green light, and go when the cop says red light.
  2. The Freeze Game- dance to music and then freeze when the music stops. Dance fast to fast-paced songs, slow to slower-paced songs, and then reverse the rules.
  3. Wacky Relay- have children work with a partner to move an object from the start line to the finish line using elbow to elbow, palm to palm, hip to hip or forehead to forehead. The larger the object the easier it is.
  4. Self Control Bubbles- allow children to pop bubbles as you blow them, then tell children not to touch the bubbles at all, even if they land on their face. Praise children as they refrain from touching the bubbles.
blowing bubbles
Blowing Bubbles

Just a few minutes a day can really help improve their self-regulation.  Games and activities are great ways to help children reflect on their own ability to self-regulate in various situations. Children can learn self-awareness for handling stress and emotions that will carry them through their teenage and adult years while saving your sanity.

Sources:

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/self-regulation/

https://www.acesconnection.com/g/Parenting-with-ACEs/clip/5-incredibly-fun-games-to-teach-self-regulation-self-control-early-childhood-development-8-minutes-kreative-leadership

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

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

excited kids looking at a computer

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog titled Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. I was tired of feeling like I was so busy at times, yet not feeling like I accomplished as much as I could or should. I wanted to make some changes to my schedule and my work habits. I started researching proven strategies for increasing productivity. I am going to review my progress and provide some additional information about productivity.

Since I denounced the concept of multitasking in my last blog, I have reduced the amount of time I spend trying to multitask. I check my email in batches: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before and after lunch, and later in the afternoon. Logging out of email has helped reduce disruptions in my work flow. The downside is that I have been late getting on to Zoom meetings because my calendar did not give me the 15 minute warning. So, I have learned to set the alarm on my phone for these times. This allows me to keep email closed, yet not miss other obligations.

Another thing I have been doing, is avoiding ‘visiting’ with my co-workers first thing in the morning. More people tend to be productive and creative in the morning, rather than later in the day. This one has been challenging since I am a people person. At first I felt like I was not being friendly, so I explained my rationale to my co-workers so they would not think I am just being antisocial. This has been helpful for my own productivity. I have intentionally been designating morning time to work on projects like blog articles, webinars, and other “thinking” work and saving my socializing for the afternoon, unless my co-workers initiate a conversation.

While, I have been doing things that I learned from my research on productivity, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I want to get better at taking breaks from my work. I have a treadmill desk, so I often think I don’t really need to go outside or for a walk since I am able to walk anytime I want to right at my desk. This could not be further from the truth. According to MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen people who take regular breaks FROM their work are more productive. He suggests the question to ask yourself is not how many breaks you should take in a day, but “what is the appropriate time period of concentrated work you can do before taking break?” Pozen suggests between 75-90 minutes of work followed by a 15 minute break is a good ratio.

I am going to be more intentional about taking breaks FROM my workempty officein the next couple months. I have used socializing with my co-workers as one of my breaks from work, but I have not incorporated many other breaks aside from the occasional web-surfing in to my day. I want to incorporate LEAVING my office and/or building for at least a short walk or just to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors as my next goal for increased productivity.

I welcome any tips, tricks, or suggestions you have for increasing productivity since this is a journey for me. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/photos/children-win-success-video-game-593313/

https://pixabay.com/photos/simpolo-india-morbi-tiles-ceramics-2020200/

Sources:

Griffin, J. (2017) 4 Ways Multi-Tasking Decreases Productivity (And How to Avoid It). Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/why-you-shouldnt-multitask/

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/

MIT Sloan Executive Education. (2017). Want to be more productive in 2018? Take more breaks. MIT Management Executive Education. Found at: https://executive.mit.edu/blog/want-to-be-more-productive-in-2018-take-more-breaks#.XOL8RSB7lhE

Wharton School. (2013). Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/productivity-in-the-modern-office-a-matter-of-impact/

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

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield@osu.edu

One of my goals for this year is to explore mindfulness. In this blog, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned about this life changing topic.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in American mindfulness,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Path in forest I enjoy being outside in nature. I have often wondered why this is relaxing for me. Why is it that I breathe deeper and feel a sense of calmness come over me while enjoying the beauty of nature?

I have learned that it has to do with the focus on my surroundings and mental relaxation that I experience from being in nature. Moving mindfully provides us with several benefits and can help increase the awareness of our bodies and the surroundings around us. According to the American Heart Association, some benefits of mindful movement may include:

  • Manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • Motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

One reason that I enjoy exploring mindfulness in nature is that I am paying attention to my surroundings and experiencing several senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Watching the way that a blade of grass blows in the wind, feeling wind in your face, hearing the rustle of leaves, watching clouds drift across the sky are all examples of ways that we can pay attention to the details in nature. You can also enjoy these visual cues while looking out your window.picture of woods with trees, wildflowers

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Integrative and Complementary Medicine website offers several Mindfulness practices for you to explore. Click on the link and check out their resources.

Take time during your busy life to check out nature as I did this past weekend. I visited one of my favorite spots in the town where I live. A 90-year-old man has 4 acres of paths and trails through his back yard. You can walk and explore the Hosta plants and wildflowers he has planted over the years. One year he shared with me he planted 3,000 daffodil bulbs!  Imagine all those beautiful flowers!

Share in the comments how you enjoy mindfulness in nature.

Sources:

Dreskin, M., Smith, S. & Kane, D., Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors. Retrieved from: https://m.kp.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Powers-Barker, P., 2106. Introduction to Mindfulness. Ohioline Factsheet number HYG-5243. Ohio State University. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Suttie, J., 2018. Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for your Health. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health

Hostas courtesy of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, Chillicothe, Ohio.

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

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu