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As springtime activities get into full swing, are you busier than you’d like to be? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Even more importantly, does your calendar match your priorities in life? If not, maybe it is time to de-clutter your schedule and reestablish your priorities.

planner on table with vase of flowers and jar of sidewalk chalk

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs lightened. Organizational and time management skills can help you be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. We tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a day, and under-estimate the amount of time a certain task will take. Maybe we need to observe our patterns, acknowledge our limits, and clarify the values that add meaning to our lives. These principles apply to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding balance, but here are some things to consider:

  • Set priorities. Sometimes that means making tough choices… letting some thing(s) go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child, ask yourself if it fits into your priorities.
father-figure blowing bubbles with 2 little girls on grass
  • Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the calendar, check with your spouse or partner to avoid unnecessary time crunches.
  • Acknowledge your limits. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have, and do the same for the other members of your family to avoid having overscheduled kids.
  • Say no. We probably kick ourselves more often for saying yes when we should have said no (than the other way around). No is such a little word, and yet it holds so much power to free up the schedule.
  • Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

For more information, check out these blog articles about how to create margin in your life and find balance.

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

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

References:
Carter, S. “Creating Margin in Your Life.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, August 2017.

Carter, S. “Overscheduled Kids.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, May 2017.

Price, R. et al. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042) University of Georgia Extension, April 2020.

Treber, M. “Balancing Act – Helping You Find Your Balance.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, September 2015.

Is a garden part of your healthy lifestyle? Whether you grow a few plants, a large garden plot, or visit a public garden, the health benefits can be numerous. Being in nature and gardening can improve physical, social, and mental health. In addition to health benefits, gardens are also known to increase property values, and vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens can help you stretch your grocery budget.

Gardens meet many human needs. The National Gardening Association tracks annual trends in gardening. Not surprisingly, the interest in gardening rose in 2020, when many people were at home during the pandemic. For those who were new to gardening, the reasons they gave for starting a garden included: benefits to their mental health, more time to garden due to being home, wanting to beautify their home, engaging in a positive activity, engaging their families in a positive activity, adding more exercise to their lives, and wanting to grow food. Are any of those your reasons for gardening?

Gardens come in all sizes. Just like gardeners come in all ages and sizes, gardens can be new or old, small, or large. The good news is there is no minimum or maximum amount of space or plants to earn the title gardener! Does the thought of a large garden feel overwhelming? Use a small space by planting a few vegetables in containers or design a miniature garden.

Miniature garden with plants and toy decorations

Gardens are for everyone. Gardening is recommended as a health intervention, “because gardens are accessible spaces for all kinds of people, including children, elderly people, and those with a disability” and they can be relatively easily and quickly implemented in rural as well as urban areas. The 2021 National Garden Association survey indicated that although gardening is popular with older generations, the participation of Baby Boomers remained flat or declined last year. Groups who saw a growth in gardening activity included younger families, renters and apartment/condominium dwellers, and black and people of color gardeners. The diversity of gardeners and their experiences can mirror a garden that grows large with various and diverse plants, beneficial insects, and healthy soil.

Good times and hard times. Most often, gardens offer many more good times than hard times, but there can be frustrations throughout the growing season. We cannot control some things like the weather. Other things like watering, identifying insects, choosing the right spot to plant, and catching any problems early can help reduce or alleviate hard times. If you are new to gardening and have questions, many OSU Extension offices have staff and volunteers who can help. If your local, county Extension office does not have an option like a horticulture hotline, all Ohioans are welcome to use the Ask a Master Gardener Volunteer site.

Gardens can be a great spot to relax, learn, grow, and exercise. They can also offer opportunities to meet other people and to share flowers and produce with others. What are your garden plans this year?

Sources:

2021 National Gardening Survey released. (2021). National Gardening Association. https://garden.org/newswire/view/dave/114/2021-National-Gardening-Survey-released/

Ask a Master Gardener Volunteer, Ohio State University Extension https://extension.osu.edu/https%3A/extension.osu.edu/ask-an-expert/ask-master-gardener-volunteer

Darnton, J., and McGuire, L. (2014). What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening? Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Hopkins, K., Coffin, D., Wertheim, F., and Bowie, C. (2008). Bulletin #2762, Growing Vegetables in Container Gardens. The University of Maine, Cooperative Extension Publications. https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2762e/

Lamp’l, J. (2021). The National Gardening Association’s 2021 survey findings: What gardeners think. Joe Gardener. https://joegardener.com/podcast/national-gardening-association-2021-survey-findings/

Masashi,S., Gaston, K., and Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports. Volume 5, March 2017, Pages 92-99 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401

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

Stechschulte, J. (2014). Project Idea Starter: Miniature Gardens. Ohio State University Extension. https://ohio4h.org/sites/ohio4h/files/imce/books_resources/Self-Determined/e365-02-04%20Miniature%20Gardens.pdf

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

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

A World of Flavors

colorful plate of international foods

The world of nutrition spans different cultures. Have you ever considered celebrating and learning about different cuisines? Have you ever wondered what your plate would look like with Asian cuisine? Filipino cuisine? Latin American cuisine? The possibilities are endless. You can use MyPlate as a guide and  enjoy  various cuisines from all over the world.

The dietary guidelines recommend  consuming at least half your grains as whole grains, increasing your overall fiber intake. Sources include fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is  recommended to eat lean protein, which can be fish, chicken, beef, and other animal products. Healthy fats are important for heart health and can be found in nuts, seeds, and oils.

 Ginisang Gulay is a sautéed vegetable dish that has okra, squash, okra, eggplant, string beans, and shrimp. Shrimp is a protein that provides vitamin B12, selenium, and choline.  Pinakbet is also a great choice, since it contains vegetables with beans, a plant-based protein, and can be served with whole grain noodles. This dish is a 4-food group powerhouse!

Who doesn’t like yogurt? It contains protein, probiotics, and taste great! In the middle eastern dish Keshek, there is sundried powder yogurt and stir-fried lean ground beef. Double protein, double the yum! You can incorporate grains and fruit by adding a piece of whole grain pita bread and side of fruit. Now for an important question, who likes pancakes? I know I do! Besan cheela are savory pancakes made from chickpea flour and vegetables. In this dish you are getting grains, vegetables, and protein. All from pancakes, sounds too good to be true right?

One of my personal favorite dishes is the Salvadorean pupusa. The pupusa is made of masa or a corn cake texture and can be filled with different meats, cheese, topped with salsa, and curtido, a type of fermented cabbage. The curtido is fermented in vinegar and contains probiotics, which can help with gut health. From this dish there is protein when meat is added, dairy from the cheese, vegetables from the curtido, and grains from the masa.

All the dishes listed both demonstrate how you can still get your fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains from trying different international cuisine. Do these foods sound delicious?  

Interested in learning and trying more international foods? This month try cooking a new international food so you can learn how to cook with different ingredients. If you normally pan or deep fry, try baking, air frying, or grilling, which can reduce fat by 50-80%. On top of experimenting with new food you can also learn about the countries culture and symbolism of using certain spices and food pairings. Happy eating!

Written by: Ashley Denise Ascenio, Intern with Wood County Extension, Bowling Green State University Graduate Student in Food and Nutrition, asencia@bgsu.edu

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wood County.

The laughter of a child is associated with happiness, bonding, and connecting. However, laughter in children is more than these things, it is how they learn and grow. A rousing game of peek-a-boo for a little one shows you they understand their loved one is behind those hands, and they enjoy the element of anticipation, and will giggle with relief when their loved one reappears. The child learns that what at first might be scary, can become fun. It also helps the child to predict behaviors in future situations.

As toddlers gain mastery of language, rhyming and nonsensical jumbled sounds or phrases become comedy hour for a 2-year-old. Their laughter tells you they understand that those words, phrases, and sounds are silly, and don’t really belong in the conversation. Children at this age also correlate objects to specific purposes or places. So, putting underwear on their heads is hilarious because they know it doesn’t belong there. They know they are being silly, and this is their way of telling you a joke.

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

With age comes better mastery of verbal skills, development of creativity, and problem-solving. Silly words and games are no longer the knee-slapping, laughter-inducing skits they once were. Their sense of humor has matured, as have they. A child at the mature age of six will flourish in the world of riddles, puns, and jokes. These forms of laughter inducing play help the child build their understanding of logical thought, deepen their understanding of language, and think creatively to problem solve.

When you change your perspective from laughter being a by-product of childhood and re-frame it for what it really is, childhood development, you gain a whole new perspective on peek-a-boo, silly words and noises, or riddles, puns, and jokes. Laughter is learning, growing, exploring, bonding, connecting, and so much more. Find time to laugh, no matter your age.

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

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

cartoon image of sleeping moon

I have always struggled with getting enough sleep. I feel like there is so much I want to get done in a day, but I don’t really have the time for. As I become busier with my work schedule, wedding planning, and wanting to spend time with family and friends, I am learning just how important sleep really is.

Sleep helps recharge your body and mind. When you get enough sleep, you should wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. When there is an inadequate amount of sleep, it causes your brain to function improperly. This will make it more difficult to concentrate and think clearly. When someone is getting less then the amount of sleep needed, it is called sleep deprivation.

Stages of Sleep

It is important to remember that there are four stages of sleep. The first three are NREM (non-rapid eye movement). The final stage is REM sleep( rapid-eye movement).

  • State 1 NREM: This stage marks the transition from wakefulness to sleep and consists of light sleep. This typically lasts several minutes
  • Stage 2 NREM: This stage is considered a deep sleep. This is the longest of the four stages of sleep.
  • Stage 3 NREM: This is the stage that helps you wake up feeling refreshed. Stage 3 NREM is longer at first but decreases through the night.
  • REM: This stage begins 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The duration of the REM stage decreases the older you get. You will eventually spend more time in the NREM stages.

The four stages repeat, in order, throughout the night with each stage lasting around 90-120 minutes. That means you will spend roughly 75%-80% of your sleep in the NREM stages.

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Different age groups require different amounts of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation provides a chart with the recommended amount of sleep for different ages per day.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep can affect how someone feels and acts. Symptoms vary depending on the person and the seriousness of their sleep deprivation.  Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Slowed thinking
  • Reduced attention span
  • Worsened memory
  • Poor/risky decision making
  • Lack of energy
  • Mood changes

Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips:

  • Get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends
  • Go to bed when you are sleepy
  • Put away electronics 2 hours before bed
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment
  • Limit caffeine
  • Avoid or limit alcohol
  • Stick to a routine with meals, exercise, and other activities

Additional habits that can interfere with your sleep are smoking and naps. Naps interfere with a good night’s sleep if they are longer than 30 minutes. Avoid taking naps in the late afternoon. In some cases, you may want to avoid naps all together.

Resources

Pacheco, D. (2022, March 11). Why Do We Need Sleep?. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep

Suni, E. (2022, March 11). Healthy Sleep Tips. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips

Suni, E. (2022, March 18). Sleep Deprivation . Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation

Bertisch, S. (2018, November 5). No More Counting Sheep: Proven Behaviors to Help you Sleep. Harvard Healthy Publising. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/no-more-counting-sheep-proven-behaviors-to-help-you-sleep-2018110515313

Written by: Megan Zwick, Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

A person in a lab coat giving someone a vaccination in the arm.

The first week of April is National Public Health Week. Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people were unfamiliar with this local government organization and the work that it does to keep us safe and healthy every day. 

We are fortunate to live in a state with a well-established public health system. The Ohio Department of Health is one of only 11 accredited state public health departments in the United States. The Ohio Department of Health “Strives to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans by preventing disease, promoting good health and assuring access to quality care.” According to the ODH website, the Ohio Department of Health is involved with over 170 programs that help them meet this mission. Programs range from the oversight and inspection of health care facilities, nursing homes and food service operations to direct healthcare services such as performing screenings and administering vaccines. Local health departments are also involved in ensuring the safety of swimming pools, public beaches and drinking water. Most of us are now familiar with the organization’s role in tackling large public health issues as they arise, such as curbing the spread of communicable diseases (such as Covid-19) on a community and state-wide level by tracking transmission and imposing necessary emergency public health orders. They also play an important role during natural disasters, collaborating with other government and private organizations to navigate such emergencies and coordinate effective responses. Local health departments are charged with investigating and responding to more common situations, too, such as local outbreaks of foodborne illness and exposure to harmful substances such as lead to minimize harm to area residents. 

Another role of the Health Department is gathering and maintaining data including vital statistics such as birth and death certificates and prevalence of diseases, as a way to monitor health trends locally and nationally. Local organizations and governments draw on this data for state and community health assessments and for use in creating Health Improvement Plans, which allow resources to be distributed and used for optimal impact on the health and well-being of those served.

The history of public health in the United States was born out of necessity, as seaman guarding and defending the country, in its infancy, often had difficult living conditions and no place to receive medical care. The New England coast also served as a port of entry for diseases such as yellow fever. In 1799, the first Board of Health and Public Health Department were established in Boston, Massachusetts. One of Boston’s most famous sons, Paul Revere, was the first president of the new Board of Health.   

Today most every community across the U.S. is served by a designated public health department. Ohio communities are divided into local health districts which may either serve a city or the entire county, depending on the geographic location and population. Local health departments are overseen by a Board of Health, made up of local healthcare workers, government representatives and community members who ensure that health and safety needs and priorities of area residents are met, and that public health laws and regulations are enforced.  

Be sure to take advantage of this local source of health services such as immunizations and childhood screenings, as well as health education and community health information and statistics. Your health department is your local “Health Force”, on the front lines fighting for your health and safety.   

Written by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

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

Sources: 

Let’s focus on Financial Wellness for a minute! 

Are you one of the almost three in four Americans surveyed recently by the American Psychological Association who said they are experiencing financial stress? Financial stress can affect people physically, emotionally, and psychologically and result in unhealthy coping behaviors.

Financial wellbeing includes being fully aware of your financial state and budget and managing your money to achieve realistic goals. When you analyze, plan well, and take control of your spending, you can make significant changes in how you save, and ultimately how you feel resulting in living a more hopeful life. 

Ohio State University Extension designed an Accounting for Your Money Hope Chest to “help people help themselves” as we work to achieve financial wellness during this time of rapid social and economic change. Managing and controlling our spending and saving is needed to build hope and manage emergent financial stress.

The purpose of the Hope Chest is for individuals and families to –

  • Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants
  • Identify realistic/SMART goals
  • Gather current financial spending and saving information
  • Locate emergency resources
  • Analyze their current budget
  • Develop a “new” Accounting for Your Money calendar
  • Take control of spending resulting in more saving for family goals

Work through the steps of the Accounting for Your Money Hope Chest with your family members and/or co-spenders as you and your family adjust to changing basic needs and wants. Determine how to best spend your money during this period of rapid social and economic change. Your family will be empowered to meet the new challenges brought about by the change, reducing financial emergencies and easing future financial stress.

Written by Margaret Jenkins, Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Clermont County

Reviewed by Nannette L. Neal, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension Clermont County

Sources: 

Going on vacation may seem like a great excuse to overindulge, but just because you are going on vacation does not mean you should take a break from your health. A healthy vacation allows you to enjoy your trip and be physically, mentally, and emotionally restored.

Here are a few areas to keep in mind as you plan for a healthy vacation.

Meals/Eating   

Healthy meal of salmon and vegetables

Try to stick to your normal routine, including normal number of meals and snacks. Try to eat at your usual times; consuming your typical portion. Most restaurants post their menus online so you can plan ahead to find restaurants that have healthier options. Pack or stop at a local store to keep healthy snacks on hand, or even visit a local farmers market for fresh produce. If you are staying at a hotel with breakfast opt for healthier options like eggs, yogurt, and fruit. If your vacation rental or hotel has kitchen appliances, stock with healthy snacks and breakfast items can save both your waistline and your wallet.

Did you know if you are thirsty that your body is already dehydrated? Dehydration can lead to mood changes, headaches, and feelings of fatigue. Stay hydrated during travel and throughout each day, especially when visiting warmer climates, when being more active, or indulging in alcohol. Make accessing water easier and reduce waste by add an empty water bottle to your packing list.

Activity/Exercise

Depending on your vacation style you may need to have a plan to be active. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity each day. Explore the town on foot, rent a bicycle, look up local hikes, or utilize the hotel gym. During your travel days find time to stand up, stretch, and move. Walk the concourse during layovers, stroll around a rest area, or stretch throughout your journey.

Sun safety gear, hat

Sun Safety  

Wherever you are traveling be sure to prioritize sun safety. Pack water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Apply 30 minutes before heading outside and reapply every 2 hours, especially if swimming or sweating. There is no such thing as a safe or base level tan. Avoid tanning beds and long unprotected exposure to the sun. Pack or buy a fun new hat and try renting an umbrella if spending the day at the beach.

Sleep/Rest

Prioritize sleep and rest during your trip, not every second of every day must be filled. Allow for the recommended eight hours of sleep each night and capitalize on being away. Enjoy some down time during your trip to help restore your mind and body.

 When you prioritize your health and include these tips in your vacation plan you will find your mind and body more rested and restored when you return from your healthy vacation.

Written by: Laura Halladay, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Greene County.

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

Sources:

Brinkman, P. (2016, February 18). Keeping sun safe. Ohioline. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hsc-7

Harvard Medical School. (n.d.). Consequences of insufficient sleep. Consequences of Insufficient Sleep | Healthy Sleep. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences

Moser, M. (2012, May 30). Don’t let vacation go to waist. Chow Line. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://u.osu.edu/chowline/2012/05/30/dont-let-vacation-go-to-waist/

Poitras, C. (2012, February 21). Even mild dehydration can alter mood. UConn Today. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://today.uconn.edu/2012/02/even-mild-dehydration-can-alter-mood/

Photo Credit:

Marijana1 via Pixabay – Summer-Sun protection items https://pixabay.com/photos/summer-summer-flat-lay-flat-lay-3490611/

YenniVance via Pixabay – Healthy meal with salmon and veggies  https://pixabay.com/photos/salmon-food-healthy-dinner-meal-1312372/

MyPlate icon

Are you looking for easy, budget-friendly meal ideas? Check out the Shop Simple with MyPlate App! As you explore the App – which can be done from a phone, tablet or computer – you have the opportunity to discover budget-friendly recipes, farmer’s markets in your area, local savings opportunities, and specific information on different food items.

Want to find different ways to save money while eating healthily? This App has you covered! When browsing recipes in the App, the cost per serving is displayed, and recipes can be sorted by total cost on a scale from 1-4 in dollar signs. In the savings tab, you will find tips on how to make meal plans, shop smart, understand price tags to get more bang for your buck, and prepare healthy meals with the low-cost ingredients you find from the different MyPlate food groups.

National Nutrition Month 2022 graphic. Celebrate a World of Flavors.

This year, try using the App to find and create a new recipe for National Nutrition Month. The theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is Celebrate a World of Flavors, so it’s a perfect time to try new flavors from around the world that honor different cultural foods and traditions. The App provides many different cultural recipes including Caribbean Casserole, Chicken Mole, Eggs Foo Young, Simple Mexican Salad and Spicy Southern Barbeque Chicken, just to name a few!

If you’re ready to take things a step further, check out the Start Simple with MyPlate App to set personalized healthy eating goals and track your progress and achievements. Although this App is designed for Smart phones, anyone can take the MyPlate quiz available online to set healthy eating goals and find resources to achieve those goals. With all these helpful tools available from MyPlate, you can be on your way to “making every bite count” in no time!     

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2022). National Nutrition Month. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month

USDA MyPlate. Shop Simple with MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov/app/shopsimple

USDA MyPlate. Start Simple with MyPlate App. https://www.myplate.gov/resources/tools/startsimple-myplate-app

Written by Lillian Miller, Dietetics Student, Middle Tennessee State University and Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

I’ve always been curious about the outdoors but never really thought about how or what I do when I’m outside, until recently when a friend asked me, “How do you do nature?”  What a great question! It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when something is new or there is a shift in perspective, so here is a quick guide that will help get you started.

Before you get started here are a few things to keep in mind…first, it does not matter where you live…city country, or in an alleyway…nature IS all around us…if we just stop and notice.  Second, don’t overthink it. Just get out before you change your mind!  Stepping outside into your backyard might be a great place to start and when ready consider going to an Ohio park. Have the courage to turn off the TV and other devices and just go outside. Begin where you feel comfortable…for me it was in my own yard and only took a few minutes, so this does not have to be time consuming unless you want it to be. 

Once outside, you might be asking yourself “What do I do now?” Here are three simple ideas and a place to start:

blue skies, looking up at pine trees
Source: Gallup, S., March 29
  1. LOOK UP. As simple as this sounds…just look up. What do you see? Are you under the trees? Or the clouds?  As you look up, your thoughts begin to slow down, and you may begin to notice things you have not seen before.
  2. LOOK DOWN. What is under your feet? Mud? Grass? Tiny flowers?  Notice how you feel in this moment. Do you feel like sitting? Did you see something you wanted to take a closer look at? It is always amazing to me to see flowers or grass growing out of tiny little cracks in rock or concrete!
  3. LISTEN.  Stop and listen. What do you hear? Birds? Wind? Cars? Is it quiet?  Our senses come alive when we take the time to be still and we notice is amazing.   
Grass with single purple flower

Going into nature might feel a little awkward, but it gets easier the more you go out. For example, I started in my backyard and now this season I have walked the same path each day with my dog. We walk under the pines near the hospital and factories (in the city). I walked that path about 100 times and then one day, suddenly, I noticed that the pine trees I was walking under were all different!! It was a moment of awe and amazement for me!  From there my mind became more curious and found myself in nature more often, craving what few tend to stop and notice.  

I hope you find your way into nature.  Remember…don’t overthink it…just go! And remember to slow down, look up, look down, listen and look all around.

References:

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

Stanton, L. M. (2021). 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

Written by:  Shari Gallup, MS., Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Licking County, Ohio. Gallup.1@osu.edu.

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