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As we approach the holiday season with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting our daily lives, it is time to consider how to celebrate safely.

"Tips for Celebrating Safely This Thanksgiving" Infographic from the Public Health Communications Collaborative. Available at https://publichealthcollaborative.org.

This year may present the perfect opportunity to tweak old traditions and try something new! The CDC has provided guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while celebrating the holidays. The safest way to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe is to celebrate virtually or with members of your own household. If you chose to gather with extended family, friends, or others this season, know that small, outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. Those planning to host or attend in-person holiday celebrations might consider whether and how to take the activities outdoors and make them memorable!

If your holiday celebration typically includes time spent in the living room or basement watching a football game or parade on TV with friends and family, might you be able to set up a projector screen or TV in the backyard and continue this tradition? If you don’t have the backyard space to host a gathering while allowing for adequate social distancing, is there a local park or outdoor spot where you could meet family for a picnic or hike? If you’re worried about cold weather, there are ways to keep warm while outdoors. You could:

  • Play games while social distancing to get moving and warm up
  • Sit and chat around a fire pit or outdoor heater
  • Bundle up with blankets, coats, mittens, hats, and other winter accessories
  • Sip on a cup of hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or cider

If you are the host of the gathering, encourage guests to bring their own food, beverages, and utensils to minimize sharing and the potential for cross contamination. If you opt to make food or beverages available, consider single use options or designate one person to serve the food so multiple people are not handling utensils and dishes.

Since many gatherings will be smaller this year, and because guests are encouraged to bring their own food, hosts may not need to cook a whole turkey, ham, or other large meal – the perfect opportunity to break from tradition and try new holiday recipes. Roasted turkey breast with vegetables, for example, makes a delicious meal for a family of six.

Holiday celebrations this year will be different for all of us.  With a little planning and creativity, you can find ways to experience comfort and happiness with loved ones – and you may even find a new tradition worth keeping!

Written by: Ashley Markowski, Dietetic Intern at Cedar Crest College

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

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Kistler, S.E. (2020). How to plan winter holidays in a pandemic. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/covid-and-planning-thanksgiving-christmas-holidays


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picture of an apple

No it won’t, but it might help if you get infected, and over time might help your overall quality of life. I saw an interesting post on social media suggesting that following a healthy diet might protect us from coronavirus in addition to social distancing, wearing masks, etc. Science right now doesn’t support the idea that there is one “super-food” or special diet that can protect us from viruses, bacteria, and or other pathogens. Rather, having good dietary patterns, in addition to other healthy habits gives us better chances for positive health outcomes if we do get infected.

At the heart of immunity is the chemical process of inflammation that occurs in the body after exposure to a foreign pathogen. The response is complex involving white blood cells, antibody and antigens, clotting factors, and chemical signals that increase blood flow and blood vessel permeability. Nutrients we get from foods that are critical to this process include Vitamins C, D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein. Following the dietary guidelines and eating a variety of nutrient dense plants, meats, and fish ensures that you would get enough of these vitamins and minerals to support the immune response.

The gut microbiome is also important to the immune system. Bacteria in the colon break down fiber into substances that are helpful to your immune system. These bacteria are supported by prebiotic foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Probiotic foods such as yogurt can also be helpful. Alcohol, highly processed and fatty foods like sweets, chips, fried foods, and red meats aren’t helpful to colon bacteria thus weakening the immune system.

Following the dietary guidelines is one of the best ways to ensure that your immune system can succeed. Some high-risk groups though, such as the elderly, pregnant women, the critically ill, and low-come households may be at risk for dietary deficiencies and therefore should consider vitamin supplements in consultation with a physician. Multi-vitamins have not been proven to be effective in otherwise healthy individuals and are not a substitute for healthy eating. There is some evidence however that Vitamin D supplements might be especially helpful to many to promote immunity and protect against chronic disease.

Other factors that can improve your immune system include:

  • Avoiding too much alcohol
  • Getting 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Getting 150 of moderate physical activity every week
  • Quitting tobacco products
  • Practicing mindfulness techniques when stressed

Wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands frequently as recommended might prevent the coronavirus. Adopting one or two new healthy habits will also give you better chances of positive health outcomes in case you get sick, as well as give you a higher quality of life.  Consider setting a SMART goal to improve your health. Now is the time to get healthy!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Fairfield County, OSU Extension

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health. Nutrition and Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity

United States Department of Agriculture. Choose Myplate. Retrieved on 8/3/20 from https://www.chooseMyplate.gov

Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin D. Retrieved on 7/30/2020 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

BeWell Stanford. Setting A SMART goal. Retrieved on 7/30/2020 from https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

 

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stay at home

With so many aspects of our lives disrupted recently, a lot of people may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed over the current stay-at-home order.  Many are learning how to work from home, navigate through the home-schooling process, and balance the many changes in daily routines.

We all live busy lives.  This new “style” of life has altered our everyday routines and is likely impacting work life/home life balance.

Recently, at a conference I attended, the keynote speaker Theresa Glomb gave an inspiring talk on improving work life. This theme also relates to our overall daily lives and provides a relevant message with easy action steps. Consider using these four steps to improve your stay at home work life:

  • Work Hard
  • Have Fun
    • Create a positive home environment.
    • Use technology to stay connected to family, friends and neighbors. Video chat play trivia games or start a virtual book club. Remember to monitor children’s usage on any digital social app.
    • Use technology to learn something new. Take an online cooking class, watch a virtual concert or experience zoos, museums and aquariums online.
    • Choose a book to read a chapter out loud each night with your family.
    • Play board games, card games or do a jigsaw puzzle.
daffidols
  • Choose Kind
    • Text a co-worker and ask how their evening was last night.
    • Give a compliment for a job well done.
    • Express gratitude to essential workers (first responders, health care professionals, etc.) who are on the front lines.
    • Practice self-care. Exercise daily, using online physical activities if needed. Stick to your sleep routine and eat healthy meals.
  • Be Present     
    • Uni-task. Pay attention by focusing on the task at hand.
    • Engage in mindful practices daily.
    • Stay positive.
    • Reflect on one good thing that happened at the end of each day at dinner.

These changes are temporary and when things return to normal, we will all have learned valuable lessons to continue to use daily.

Written by:   Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County.  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Theresa Glomb. https://www.theresaglomb.com/

Ohio Department of Health. Stay at Home Order FAQs. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/stay-at-home-information/stay-at-home-order-frequently-asked-questions

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented action in regard to temporary business restriction and closure. Within the last week, Governor DeWine has ordered the closure of all dining rooms of bars and restaurants; closure of bowling alleys, movie theaters, recreation centers and similar businesses; and the closure of barbershops and nail salons.  Yesterday’s “Stay at Home” Order from Ohio Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, orders that all non-essential business and operations must cease by midnight tonight. These orders have affected tens of thousands of Ohioans. In just three days last week, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services received 77,817 claims for unemployment benefits. Compare this to two weeks ago when only 2,905 claims were filed.

If you find yourself without a job, I encourage you to visit “COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide” which has been compiled by OSU Extension. It features Individual Resources, Employee Resources, Small Business Resources, Available Ohio Food Access Options, Financial Wellness Resources & Consumer Protection, and Finding Local Resources.

University of Wisconsin Extension also has a website for “Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times” with a special section dedicated to the financial effects of COVID-19 for individuals, families and businesses. There is also a section called “Dealing with a Drop in Income” that answers questions like “Where do you start if you can’t pay bills?” and “Deciding Which Debts to Pay First.”

Another resource I especially appreciate from The University of Delaware offers advice for Surviving a Family Crisis. Losing income from a job is not inherently more manageable for an individual than a family. However, there are different challenges when multiple people are involved. The University of Maryland Extension also offers some ideas for talking with children about needs and wants.

I have been inspired this week as acquaintances, who are now without work, have shared their struggles in positive ways on social media. They’ve shared their fears and disappointments, but even more, they have shared the encouraging words and even mentioned financial help they’ve been receiving from others. It has been motivating for me to see the support that people are receiving. It has caused me to act and help others who may be facing more uncertain times than I am, even if it is in small ways.

If your job is secure, consider what you can do to financially bless a friend or acquaintance during this time. I’ve heard some great suggestions to set aside the money you might normally spend on gasoline or parking or other daily expenses and use that to make a donation in your community.If you are in a difficult place, please know that many people want to help right now. Let others know your needs, even if that is a listening ear for you to voice your concerns without judgment.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

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

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2020)  COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide. at https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/covid-19-financial-resource-guide

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Financial Resources to Help Get Through COVID-19. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/covid-19-financial-resources/

Olive, P. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. (March 2020) Dealing with a Drop in Income. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/files/2019/01/Drop-in-income-2020-state-version-new-logo.pdf

Park, E. and Nelson, P.T., Surviving A Family Crisis. (2012) (Ed) Families Matter! A Newsletter Series for Parents of School-Age Youth. Newark, DE: Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. at https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/surviving-family-crisis/

University of Maryland Extension (2013) Helping Your Child Become Money Smart. Factsheet FS-962. at   https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/publications/FS-962%20Helping%20Your%20Children%20to%20%20Become%20Money%20Smart_0.pdf

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fJTqyZMOh18

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If you live in Ohio or are keeping up with national news, you likely know that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a series of orders last week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the state. Last Monday, DeWine declared a state of emergency to protect Ohioans from COVID-19 and to allow state departments and agencies to better coordinate their response to the virus. In a press conference on Wednesday, March 11, DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton to provide an update on the impact of the coronavirus in Ohio.

In her update, Acton used a chart to illustrate and explain how the precautions Ohio is taking to slow the spread of COVID-19 are intended to flatten the pandemic’s bell curve. By flattening this curve, the COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio will remain below a certain threshold, a threshold that represents the capacity of the healthcare system within the state of Ohio and the country at large. Below this threshold, the outbreak will remain manageable. Above this threshold, the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.

Although the governor’s directives are aggressive, and while they are certainly creating disruptions in the day to day lives of Ohioans, their purpose is to ultimately keep Ohioans safe and to not overwhelm the healthcare system. The governor’s orders may be difficult to follow, but keeping up with and abiding by state and national guidance to prevent the spread of disease is critical at this time. Specific measures the CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • avoiding large gatherings
  • practicing social distancing
  • working remotely to the extent possible
  • washing hands frequently
  • covering coughs and sneezes
  • staying home when sick

For additional resources, checklists and more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19 visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Hardin County

Sources: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Office of the Governor in the State of Ohio https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/news-releases

Ohio Department of Health https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/home/

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