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Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Recently, at girls’ night, a discussion was held about the challenges many faced this past year during the pandemic.  Isolation, fear, contact restrictions, financial, illness, loss and food insecurities were discussed.  The conversation quickly changed to activities that began during the pandemic  we have enjoyed and wish to continue.   Quality time spent with family and friends was a common theme.  Many shared their own rituals which include:

  • Curbside pickup.  Ordering from the drugstore to the grocery store allows more time to spend at home and shop less.  This eliminates impulse shopping!
  • Started a group text with our three adult children and their spouses to keep in touch and check in with each other.
  • Monthly family “Zoom chats”.  This started when we could not get together for the holidays and has continued monthly.  We all look forward to these monthly family sessions and catch up on the comings and goings.
  • Shared photos of recipes we prepared and included the recipes. This has expanded our cooking techniques and improved our meals!
  • Started to play the piano again. Each night before bedtime we sing our favorite songs together.  We find it very calming and have continued the practice.
  • My teenage daughter comes into my home office daily and we have a quick chat.
  • Zooming with my sisters located in Las Vegas, London, and New York City.  We spend every Saturday together for the first time in our adult lives.
  • During the month of October, we watched one scary movie each night.   On Halloween we held an awards show called The Scaries.  Movies are a family favorite and a great way to connect and celebrate during the quarantine.
  • We started taking weekend walks in the woods.  With playgrounds and indoor activities closed, we tried to visit all the nearby forest preserves and state parks.  We have enjoyed our walks immensely.
  • My two daughters came home for a few months last fall.  They both enjoy cooking and the show Chopped.  We created our own version of the show.  I collected ingredients to use and made-up baskets for each daughter to create an entrée and dessert.  My husband and I judged the results and we all had tons of fun!
  • Two weeks before Christmas, my musical family shared an outside concert with our neighborhood.  With a trumpet, flute, keyboard, and violin we played several songs to a social-distanced crowd.  It was magical!
  • We started taking daily long walks-rain or shine.  We look forward to these daily walks and enjoy the quality time together and the beauty of nature.
  • We love playing pickleball and purchased a portable sturdy pickleball net online.  Using sidewalk chalk, we measured a regulation court on our cul-de-sac and started playing family tournaments.  This summer we have expanded and invited friends and neighbors to join us.
  • On Christmas Eve, we scheduled a Zoom sing along of our favorite Christmas songs and everyone in our family across the country sang together and enjoyed our time together.

We all learned the importance of being creative with limited resources and space at home.  We appreciate these small acts of kindness and are grateful to family and friends that help boost our emotional wellbeing.  What family activity did you create during the pandemic you hope to continue?

Please share below on comments your favorite family activity.

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

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

References:

Rituals in the Time of COVID-19: Imagination, Responsiveness, and the Human Spirit – PubMed (nih.gov)

A Crowd-Sourced Database of Coronamusic: Documenting Online Making and Sharing of Music During the COVID-19 Pandemic – PubMed (nih.gov)

Hope During COVID-19 Lockdown – PubMed (nih.gov)

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A little over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all probably familiar with the symptoms of this disease. According to the CDC, fever, cough, body chills, muscle soreness are some of the symptoms of COVID-19. Many of these symptoms are the same as the common cold or seasonal flu, expect for one… the loss of taste and smell.

About 86% of people who test positive for COVID-19 report losing their ability to taste or smell. Scientists are looked for an inexpensive and consumer-friendly way to track our sensitivity to taste and smell to measure COVID in the community.

Researchers at Ohio State University have found a potential solution- candy! In a new study, researchers plan to distribute candy that is the same size and color but is actually eight different flavors. Each day the participants will smell and then eat one piece of candy. Participants will track the smell, taste, and flavor strength of the candy in an app. If there is a difference in the participants report, the app will ask them to quarantine and to schedule a COVID test. The hypothesis is that the candy could be used as a useful tool to capture the loss of sense of smell or taste.  

A sense of smell is often overshadowed by other senses, we do not even have great words to describe different smells! Unless you have experienced a sudden loss of smell yourself, you may not even have realized how much it colors the world around us.  Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 later express a newfound appreciation for a sense of smell.

Before going to work my partner and I must track symptoms like temperature and sense of smell to report it to our employers. In addition to taking our temperatures, we have also started smelling things with a distinct scent, like coffee or kimchi to test our sense of smell. Have you started checking your sense of smell? Would you be willing to add “eat a piece of hard candy” to your to-do list if it could predict early signs of COVID infection?


Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Cuyahoga County, woelfl.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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Rainbow, Weather, Nature, Mood, Natural Phenomenon
Rainbow over green fields

When I wrote my blog Certainty in Uncertain Times in March, little did I know how many things would change over the next 8 months. I didn’t know I would still be working primarily from home, not see my colleagues for a year except on Zoom, all the conferences I attend would be virtual, do teaching mostly via Zoom, and despite it all, my family and I would be doing mostly well. It seems like yesterday I was packing things up from my office that I would need to work from home for a couple weeks.

While the changes have been difficult, I continue to focus on things I can control. My colleague wrote a blog in March about flattening the curve and my family has practiced the recommendations provided by the experts. Thankfully, our efforts have kept us healthy so far. While it has not been easy, we continue to focus on the reasons we choose to make these small sacrifices. We cannot control others, but we can do our part.

As challenging as it has been, there have been opportunities to grow my comfort zone. I have collaborated with colleagues from across the state to provide a variety of webinars, classes, and other projects. I have participated in professional development opportunities virtually, I have learned more about Zoom than I ever imagined I would, and I have embraced things (like Zoom) that I might never have.

As much as I have adapted and grown, it has not been all fun and games. I miss my co-workers, my colleagues, my participants, and my community partners. Not interacting with people face to face is hard for me and it has been the most difficult and stressful part of this entire situation.

OSU’s Chief Wellness Officer Bern Melnyk developed the acrostic COPE with COVID early in the pandemic to help people deal with stress:

Control the things that you can, not the things you can’t

Open up and share your feelings

Practice daily stress reduction tactics, including physical activity

Engage in mindfulness; be here now; worry will not help!

Count your blessings daily

Overturn negative thoughts to positive

Volunteer to help others

Identify helpful supports and resources

Do your part to prevent spread of the virus

Horizon, Sky, Sunset, Ocean, Water, Sea, Beach, Orange
Sun setting over the ocean

There are days when this is easier than others. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips to help increase resilience:

Get connected. Build strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends to provide needed support and acceptance.

Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider skills and strategies that helped.

Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future.

Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.

Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action.

As we continue to deal with challenges and changes, we can look for positive ways to grow and move forward. While it may seem that it has been a long time and that it may never end, this too shall pass, eventually. This quote from Friedrich Nietzche sums up my feelings, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” I hope you can focus on your why to help you get through your how.

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

Reviewed by:  Melissa J. Rupp, OSU Extension Educator, Fulton County  rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

Harmon, M. (2020, January 28). How Comfortable are You? Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/30/how-comfortable-are-you/

Lobb, J. (2020, March 13). Flattening the Curve. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/16/flattening-the-curve/

Harmon, M. (2020, March 19). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, October 27). How to build resiliency. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

Melynk, B. (n.d.). COVID-19 Resources. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://wellness.osu.edu/chief-wellness-officer/covid-19-resources

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With the holiday season almost here, discussions are being held to determine the best practice to celebrate without putting ourselves in the path of the coronavirus.  Older adults need to be exceptionally careful, especially those with high blood pressure, heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.  These Seniors face a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19.

In-Person or Virtual?

Holidays are a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate the season.  It is understandable that many still want to get together and celebrate the season.  Your decision on whether to stay at home or get together face to face needs to be based on your own health, risk factors and how your community (or the area you plan to visit) is faring.  Before you make your plans, check local transmission rates.  According to researchers at John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there should be a two-week decrease in COVID-19 cases and a low overall rate (less than 10 per 100,000 people over 14 days).  

If you are in an area with high levels of COVID-19, it is wise to stay home even if you are otherwise in good health and have no preexisting conditions according to practitioners at the Cleveland Clinic.

Virtual Holiday

Should you choose to celebrate this holiday separately from your family and friends, make it memorable.

  • Connect via a digital platform, such as Zoom.  This allows you to do everything from sitting at your Thanksgiving dinner table, watching grandkids open presents or singing favorite songs on a computer.
  • Overhaul your traditions.  Mix up a favorite holiday recipe and send out to everyone! 
  • Create new virtual traditions.  Host a game night on an app called Pogo.  Or watch your favorite holiday movie simultaneously via an app called Netflix Party.
  • Schedule several virtual tours for the holidays. The Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art offer many options.

Face to Face Celebrations

In person celebrations are not perfectly safe.  However, a few steps can reduce risks significantly.

  • Wear a mask.  Social distance and wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay as local as possible.  Stay within a 2-hour drive from home.  This minimizes the need to stop along the way.
  • Plan for small and short.  The fewer people you are with, the lower the overall risk.  Keep indoor get-togethers under 10 people and limit to 1 hour. 
  • Bring your own.  Ideally, everyone should have their own food and utensils.  Takeout is an option.  Ask for food to be packed in separate containers for each person.
  • Try staggered eating times, so people from the same household can eat together at the same table.  Consider eating with spaced-out seating.
  • Limit alcohol.   The more people drink,  it is challenging to stay masked and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Skip the singalongs.  When people sing, small aerosol particles are released into the air and may propel the virus into your 6-foot safety zone.
  • Wash your own dishes to limit cross-contamination
  • Paper plates are safer to use than regular dishes
  • Wipe and sanitize common areas
  • Do not use serving utensils or pass dishes

Remember to pass on the hugs and keep everyone safe.   Be Well this holiday season.

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:

Centers of Disease Control:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Illinois  Department of Health:

https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/holiday-season-safety-tips

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Flu or COVID-19?

The flu season is fast approaching.  If you are sick can you tell if it’s COVID-19 or the seasonal flu?  What is the difference?

Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19: 

Woman coughing and has warm clothes on and looks cold and not feeling well.

Flu (Influenza) Symptoms:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache  
  • Fatigue

COVID-19 Symptoms:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Congestion or runny nose

Many of the symptoms are similar, as both have a dry cough, fever, headaches, body aches, and fatigue.  However, with COVID-19 you may have shortness of breath which usually does not happen with the flu.   Another common COVID-19 symptom is loss of taste or smell.  In some people the fatigue can be so bad they do not get up to drink or eat, which increases the risk of dehydration. 

When unsure what you have, you should consult with your health care professional.  If you have any of these symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • confused
  • bluish lips or face
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • may be dehydrated

Please go to the emergency room and get check out.  These symptoms can have severe complications or lead to them. 

What about the flu?  Influenza can be serious in certain people such as young children, older adults, and those with immunocompromised conditions as they are more at risk for serious complications. For anyone over the age of 6 months the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the annual flu shot.   You may think why bother getting the flu shot this year.  However, any time we can reduce our risk of serious complications and problems we should take our health care providers advice.  If you are unsure if you should take the flu shot, please talk it over with your health care provider as they have better knowledge of your health status.  

Person giving a shot to someone in the arm.

Don’t put off getting the flu shot.  It may take two weeks before it’s effective.  Many pharmacies are offering it free, so there is no excuse.  With getting the flu shot you increase your chances of avoiding the flu. 

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Lorrisssa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Belmont County

References: 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (2020).  Seasonal Flu Shot. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.

Mayo Clinic, (2020).  Flu Shot: Your Beat Bet for Avoiding Influenza, Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=heart-health

Tolliver, S. (2020). A Cold, the Flu or COVID-19:  What’s the difference? The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center,  Available at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/cold-flu-or-covid19?utm_source=osuwmc_marketing_allpatient&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=202009_corp_covidemails

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As the world finds its way through the uncharted waters of this pandemic, you may find yourself navigating your own course. With stay-at-home orders, canceled events and limited gatherings, we are all experiencing isolation and loss on some level. Perhaps you have even suffered from depression at some point this year. You’re not alone.

Person sitting with hands folded, displaying stress symptoms

A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the stress from pandemics can bring about these responses:

  • Fear and worry about health (your own and loved ones’)
  • Fear and worry about your job or finances
  • Concern about loss of support services you depend upon
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Decline of chronic health conditions
  • Increase of mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances

With all of these stressful thoughts, it’s no wonder we may be feeling anxious, which can lead to depression. And while there is so much that is out of our control, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Cope with stress

  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Just knowing the facts can reduce stress and help you feel more empowered.
  • Learn what to do if you are sick. The first step is to contact your healthcare professional.
  • Find out where to get treatment, support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take a break from news and social media. Constantly hearing news of the pandemic adds to your stress.
  • Distract yourself from the stress of the pandemic by taking up a new hobby or something that adds purpose or joy to your life.
person walking on road near woods

Take care of yourself

Connect with others

  • Talk with people you trust about your feelings and concerns.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting in different ways: online, social media, phone or mail.

This pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel endless at times. Until then, use these tips to take care of yourself and to live healthy AND well!

Sources:

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

Robinson, L. and Smith, M. “Dealing with Depression During Coronavirus.” HelpGuide.org. Last updated: May 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Panchal, N. et. al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The Kaiser Family Foundation. August 2020.  https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

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

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

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Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on Pexels.com

Over the last few weeks I have been pondering a difficult decision. With all the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, I honestly do not know how I feel about my children returning to school – whether that means virtual learning or in the classroom.  

Many of these feeling came when our school district distributed a survey regarding back to school. I assumed it would be a survey with many questions regarding the return to school with several questions regarding virtual and classroom attendance. I was surprised the survey was one question: Are you sending your child to school or will they be doing virtual learning? This left me with racing questions! How can they have 75 students on a bus and social distance? How can they logistically serve the whole school lunch and maintain social distancing and food safety? If one student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 are they going to quarantine that class or the whole school? If I choose virtual learning, how engaging will it be?  

The decision of sending my children to school or learning virtually has been difficult. My husband and I are not alone. Parents across the world will make this decision, and even if it is different than ours, I am sure that this has been difficult for all parents! As parents navigating in an uncertain world, we need to support each other and our children. Here are some tips to help support your child going back to school whether they are returning to school or learning virtually:

  •  Empathize with your child(ren) and understand they may be feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19. Remind them that there are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and other safe such as washing our hands, not touching our face, and social distancing. 
  • Children do better with structure. Routine gives children a sense of security so even when there are abrupt changes, they know some things in their day will be the same. Allow your children to help design the schedule.  
  • Encourage your child(ren) to feel their emotions. Just like us they are missing out on events that are important to them. Acknowledge their feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness when they have missed out on ball games, dances, sleepovers with friends, etc. In a child’s eyes these are major losses. Tell them it is ok to feel the way they do. 
  • Find distractions and balance. Kids need relief from feeling frustrated. Be creative with your distractions. You can have a family game night, picnic supper outside, virtual play date with friends, or listen to music and dance!

As parents we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious too. Make sure you exercise self-care, so your children can rely on you to provide safety and security. 

Written by: Kellie Lemly, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Resources:

Bailey, B. (2020, March 18).  COVID-19:  Five Helpful Responses for families.  Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://consciousdiscipline.com/covid-19-five-helpful-responses-for-families/?mc_cid=2df75cbd90&mc_eid=ca6418d16f

UNICEF, (2020). Supporting your child’s mental health as they return to school during COVID-19. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, (2020). Schedules and Routines. On Our Sleeves. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves/find-help/tools-for-you/coronavirus/schedules

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I have been de-cluttering my home for the past three months. Rather, I have been trying to de-clutter! At the same time, I have had to manage my finances in “new” ways to meet the continuously emerging needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. I took a trip down memory lane as I opened my Hope Chest to add and subtract items.

What is a Hope Chest? Historically, the term hope chest symbolizes hope in a marriage. The hope chest itself is an important vessel that a newly married woman could one day hand down to her own daughter. Traditional cedar hope chests were also used to help protect fabrics and to give the items inside a pleasant aroma. Key words include vessel and a symbol of hope.

What would a 2020 Hope Chest need to look like and contain? In these changing times, the vessel needs to live in a virtual world and be an action of hope.

Ohio State University Extension designed a Hope Chest to “help people help themselves” amidst these uncertain times.  A temporary or transitional spending plan is needed to build hope and manage financial stress.

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

  1. Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants
  2. Identify realistic/SMART goals
  3. Gather current financial spending and saving information
  4. Evaluate COVID-19 pandemic emergency resources
  5. Develop a “new” Accounting for Your Money calendar
  6. Get through the next 6-months using Accounting for Your Money calendar
  7. Re-evaluate and adjust the transitional spending plan monthly

Directions for use of “Accounting for Your Money” Hope Chest

Begin by reviewing Steps 1 through 7 to obtain an overall picture of the components of the Hope Chest. After reviewing the components, you are ready to begin completing the steps.

Complete Steps 1 and 2 within a week. For Step 3 collect spending records before you add the information to the “Spending Tracker Tool” and “Income and Benefits Tool”.

Steps 4 and 5 include evaluating resources and developing a transitional spending plan.

Steps 6 and 7 will occur over the next 6 months. Completing all the steps will help manage your spending and saving habits.

Work on the steps with your family members/co-spenders and discuss your basic wants and needs. Determine how to best spend your money during the pandemic. Your family will be empowered to meet the new challenges brought about by the pandemic emergency and ease future financial stress.

Post evaluations of this program indicate that most individuals who complete the seven-step process reveal they have/find additional money to use for meeting personal goals.

Click here to “make money now” and start filling your Hope Chest!

Written by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County jenkins.188@osu.edu

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

References:

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

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2020). Your Money Your Goals at consumerfinance.gov/practitioner-resources/your-money-your-goals


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COVID-19 is the largest global disruption since World War II.  Sudden illness, disability, death, financial insecurity, virtual graduations and postponed weddings are all traumatic events that some have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trauma is experienced in many forms. Personal tragedy, violent crime, job loss, bullying, abuse, divorce, and natural disasters are just a few examples of trauma. Any traumatic event can take an emotional toll on an individual with the feelings of shock, confusion and fear it may bring. In addition, continuous news coverage and social media provide constant images of tragedy, suffering and loss. This repeated exposure may create traumatic stress for many individuals who did not experience the trauma themselves.

People respond to trauma in various ways.  Many show resilience while others are affected with a loss of security leaving them vulnerable.  Often, the response is physically and emotionally draining.  Many are overcome with grief and struggle to focus, sleep or control anger. 

Here are tips to help overcome trauma and begin the recovery process:

  1. Speak up.  Many have difficulty talking about trauma.  Consider reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, someone from your church or anyone you are close to and trust.  Start slowly.  Not all details of the trauma need to be shared. 
  • Do not blame yourself.  Self-blame is a common effect of trauma.  Work to accept that most traumas are out of your control.
  • Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Engage in activities that keep your mind occupied. You might choose to read, watch a movie, cook or take a walk in nature.
  • Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. After a disaster, getting back to a routine that includes normal eating, sleeping and exercising habits will help you minimize traumatic stress and anxiety.
  • Get connected.  Look for a support group in your area.  Often these groups meet weekly and discuss coping strategies and ways to become resilient.
  • Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while traumatized will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you have regained your emotional balance, and you are better able to think clearly.
  • Eat well.  Choose a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids which can help you better cope with the ups and downs that follow a tragic event.
  • Limit your media exposure to the traumatic event. Do not watch the news or check social media just before bed, and refrain from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.

Learning healthy and effective coping skills can help you live a fuller life and manage symptoms you may be experiencing with trauma.  Start today living your best life.

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

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

References:

National Institute of Mental Health (2020). Coping with Traumatic Events. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/coping-with-traumatic-events/index.shtml U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019). Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence

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Stand Up Paddle, Sup, Water Sport, Modern, Paddling

In 2018, 768 million vacation days went unused in the United States. As someone who has never lost a day of vacation (I have carried days over from one year to another), I do not understand not using vacation time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job, in fact, I LOVE my job; however, I also love my time away. When this blog posts, I will be taking vacation. Though we do not have any plans, just having some time away from work will be nice.

COVID-19 has blurred the line between work and personal life for many. Millions have been teleworking since the epidemic started, where they were given little time to prepare for this new “normal”. Some people found themselves teaching and/or caring for younger children while trying to navigate this new work environment. I have older children who can care of themselves, but working from home has still been and continues to be an adjustment. I find myself working longer than usual on occasion since my office is now in my basement. When my schedule allows, I try to balance this with taking time during the day to get away from work. Maintaining balance and a separation of work and personal life is one thing that has enabled me to adjust to and to deal with some of the other stress related to COVID-19.

Even with the day-to-day balancing of work and personal life, it is important that we take time off to enjoy some “down time.” According to a report from the U.S. Travel Association, more than 55% of American workers indicated they had not used their allotted time off in 2017. When I first heard this statistic, I was amazed, but I was also curious as to why so many people do not use their vacation time. Here are some of the reasons:

Fear –No one else at their company can do the work and they will fall behind. They will miss out on important projects, decisions, or meetings. Pending layoffs, so they bank their vacation time to cash out should they lose their job. Can’t afford to pay for a vacation, so why even plan one?

Guilt–They feel badly about leaving the office for too long because their team might feel lost or overwhelmed. They feel badly that they can afford to pay for a vacation when others cannot.

Workplace Pressures–They aren’t sure or don’t think their company wants them to use their vacation time. Those who worried that taking vacation would make them appear less dedicated or replaceable were much less likely to use all their vacation time (61 percent left vacation time unused, compared with 52 percent who didn’t worry about this). Even when physically away from the office, they are expected to check and reply to e-mail, participate virtually in meetings and check voice messages. So why use vacation time?

Khobar, Fishing, Cycle, Alone, Saudi, Saudi Arabia

This same research shows that paid vacation is the most important benefit, besides health care to workers. So, why don’t people take their vacation? When the culture of a company does not encourage people to use vacation, they are much less likely to do so, compared to companies that foster a culture of taking time off. This lack of communication from the company combined with the above reasons, leads to employees not using their vacation time. I work for an organization that supports employees taking time off from work. My direct supervisor is on vacation this week and she lets us know ahead of time that she will not be available during this time and who we can contact should we need anything while she is off. Our Director also has told us about taking vacation time and not being available. Having people in leadership positions who encourage and support time off helps to reinforce my desire for time off.

Research shows that time away from work has numerous benefits for the person as well as the organization. These include:

Vacation is relaxing.

Breaks make you more productive.

A change of pace boosts creativity.

Even though the recent events and the current situation may have caused people to change plans, cancel gatherings, or postpone trips, we still need time away from work. The infographic below provides some insight as to people’s ideas about vacation this summer.

While we are not traveling any kind of distance due to COVID-19, we will be taking a few day trips and getting outside to enjoy some of the many benefits of being in nature. How are you spending your vacation time?

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Perry County

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

Pictures:

https://pixabay.com/photos/stand-up-paddle-sup-water-sport-1545481/

https://pixabay.com/photos/khobar-fishing-cycle-alone-saudi-2234307/

Sources:

Frye, L. (2018). More People Are Taking Time Off, and That’s Good for Business. SHRM. Found on 6/26/2020 at:  https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/workers-taking-more-vacation-.aspx

Robert Half. (2020). The State of Summer Vacations. Found on 6/26/2020 at: https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/the-state-of-summer-vacations?utm_campaign=Press_Release&utm_medium=Link&utm_source=Press_Release

Seppala, E. (2017). Why You Should Take More Time Off from Work. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved on 6/26/2020 from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_should_take_more_time_off_from_work

Timo E Strandberg, Veikko Salomaa, Arto Y Strandberg, Hannu Vanhanen, Seppo Sarna, Kaisu Pitkälä, Kirsi Rantanen, Salla Savela, Tuula Pienimäki, Emmi Huohvanainen, Sari Stenholm, Katri Räikkönen, Reijo S Tilvis, Pentti J Tienari, Jussi Huttunen, Cohort Profile: The Helsinki Businessmen Study (HBS), International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 45, Issue 4, August 2016, Pages 1074–1074h, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv310 U.S. Travel Association. (2019). Study: A Record 768 Million U.S. Vacation Days Went Unused in ‘18, Opportunity Cost in the Billions. Retrieved on 6/26/2020 from: https://www.ustravel.org/press/study-record-768-million-us-vacation-days-went-unused-18-opportunity-cost-billions

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