Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

COVID-19, social distancing and recent stay at home orders have impacted all aspects of life, including our finances. Protecting health has been a top priority in recent times.  We all need to be following guidelines and making our best efforts to stay physically and mentally healthy to prevent disease. Maintaining financial health during these times is also critically important. Financial wellness is an aspect of wellness that focuses on the successful management of finances. Improve your financial wellness today with these tips:

  • Create a budget. Take a close look at your spending and adjust your budget accordingly.  Saving wherever possible will help your budget in the future.
  • Establish an emergency fund. If you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. If you have money set aside for non-essential spending or travel, consider using these monies for emergencies instead. Any amount you can put aside to help support you and your household during an emergency will make an impact on your finances.
  • Pay down high-interest debt. If you have any high-interest debt (besides credit card debt) a personal loan or similar and your income has not yet decreased, consider paying off that debt now. The benefits of reducing debt are immense as this provides financial freedom.
  • Consider a balance transfer. Transferring any credit card balances to a 0% for 12-18 months is an option.  Look for no- or low-fee transfers and do your research on any new credit cards before committing. This will give you time to pay down the balance interest free which will free up more cash on hand for the unexpected and add to an emergency fund.
  • Look at your investments. Fight the urge to take a loss and withdraw all your money from the market. For mid-long-term time, it is important to stay the course.  No one can predict what will happen short term, yet over the long run, the economy and markets will come back.
  • Consider insurance options. Some insurance rates may have dropped offering discounted rates. Contact your insurance providers to see if you are eligible for a discount or lower rate. Compare rates with different providers.
  • Talk with your family about money. Discuss how market fluctuations are normal and be open about any negative impacts on your finances. Discuss ways you can save money as a family.
  • Get your credit reports.  AnnualCreditReport.com provides a yearly free credit report.  Read over your reports carefully for any suspicious activity.  If your reports reveal negative borrowing habits from your past, brainstorm ideas to correct them and improve your score.

Practicing financial wellness can have positive mental health benefits, including boosted self-confidence. Take charge of your finances today and be prepared for the future.

For free financial assistance, contact us at:  go.osu.edu/FinancialAssistance

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:

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Preparing a Net Worth Statement. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5245

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Some Options for Resourceful Living. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5248

Read Full Post »

Today is often considered the “unofficial” start to summer. That means longer days and warmer weather for getting outside. However, this summer brings a new and unsettling guest: COVID-19. To help you stay safe while you are outdoors, the Ohio Department of Health and the National Recreation and Park Association have made the following recommendations:

  • Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on personal hygiene. Wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, and stay home if you have any symptoms.
  • Follow recommendations for face masks and physical distancing.
  • Only go outdoors with those who live under the same roof.
  • Visit places that are close to your home. Refrain from travel that requires you to stop along the way or be in close contact with others.
  • If a parking lot is full or blocked, move on. Do not park in grass or on roadways.
  • Warn others of your presence and step off trails to allow others to pass safely.
  • Expect public restrooms to be closed.
  • Bring water or drinks. Drinking fountains should not be used.
  • Bring a bag for trash and leave no trace.
COVID-19: Physical Distancing in Public Parks and Trails

Plan Your Trip Before Heading Out

Currently, most outdoor spaces in Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests, natural areas, and preserves are open. This includes trails, dog parks, docks, fishing piers, and boat ramps.

At this time, state lodges, visitor centers, playgrounds, and rest rooms remain closed. Visit Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for the most up to date information about what state facilities are open and closed.

If you plan to go somewhere other than an ODNR facility, do some research before leaving. Most places have a website or a Facebook page with updated visitor information.

Expect places to be crowded. If you step off a trail, avoid poison ivy or tall grass that might have ticks. Practice sun safety to protect your skin and your eyes.

Find New Places to Explore

If you need help finding new places to explore, try these tips:

  • Start local. Ask neighbors and friends to recommend their favorite places to explore. A quick internet search can help you find local destinations, depending on what you want to do. Try a search such as “places to hike near me” and you will quickly find destinations, reviews, and images.
  • Visit Ohio Trails Partnership. Click the “Find a Trail” tab to find destinations based on geographical regions.
  • Diversify your destinations. In addition to state wildlife areas, forests, and nature preserves operated by ODNR, there are also private nature centers and preserves. For recommendations, try a search such as “nature areas near me.”

Get Outside and Experience the Great Outdoors

Remember to be safe and do some homework before leaving home. Be sure to check the CDC, ODH, and ODNR websites since COVID-19 updates happen frequently. Then, get outside, breath in some fresh air, and reap the physical, mental, and psychological benefits of being outdoors. Enjoy!

Sources:

Cloth Face Coverings (Masks) COVID-19 Checklist. Ohio Department of Health. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/checklists/english-checklists/cloth-face-coverings-covid-19-checklist

Dolesh, R.J. and Colman, A. (2020, March 16). Keeping a Safe Physical Distance in Parks and on Trails During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.nrpa.org/blog/keeping-a-safe-social-distance-in-parks-and-on-trails-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Ducharme, J. (2019, February 28). Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health. Retrieved from https://time.com/5539942/green-space-health-wellness

Social Distancing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

Symptoms of Coronavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

WRITTEN BY: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County.

REVIEWED BY: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension.

Read Full Post »

Over the last two months, the topic of global financial reset has shown up on news feeds alongside headlines about the COVID-19 pandemic, economic shutdowns, and stay at home orders. In our households, we have experienced an unprecedented schedule shift that has changed the way we do work, school, social activities, and yes, even finances. Reload reset technology update digital

This disruption of what was previously considered normal can also provide an opportunity to reset, to review and bring back processes that work for our families.  Assessing what works and what needs adjusting might be seen more clearly in times of disruption, and a reset becomes possible. For some, it has been a slower time with the ability to save money. For others, it has been a chaotic time that may include the loss of income or increased expenses.

The wellness of the family unit can be defined in many domains, financial wellness is one of them. When life brings a new chapter: marriage, empty nest, downsizing, new job, new home and perhaps even a global pandemic; it is a good time to look at financial wellness and make decisions to stay the course, set a new course or reset a course that is not working for us.

Take time to reset:

  • Reset the spending plan. Does your family follow a spending plan? A spending plan is a basic financial process to match income to expenses to meet family goals. If your spending is more than your income adjustments must be made, sometimes temporarily, and sometimes as a new normal.
  • Reset family goals. Family goals may or may not be about money. Schedule a family meeting to check in on the thoughts, dreams, and goals of individual family members. Work together to create family goals that the family can achieve together. When built together, the whole family including children are invested in the outcome. When goals involve a financial shift, family members are more likely to support the spending plan reset to achieve the goal they helped create.save-3402476_1920
  • Reset spending patterns. One possible advantage of global disruption is that we have had an opportunity to see our daily and weekly patterns more clearly through the forced change in our routine. The drive-through coffee on the way to work, ball games, and even dinner out with a movie contribute to our spending but may not always reflect our goals or our spending plan. Depending on the situation, these may be a type of spending leaks. Consider what expenses may not be as important as you once thought, or where savings can be created.

OSU Extension provides a direct educational response to your financial well-being questions. Have you struggled to identify spending leaks or complete financial goal setting? These and many other questions can be submitted privately through our financial tip line.  An Extension Educator will respond directly to you. Follow this link to submit a question: go.osu.edu/financialadvicesurvey

Working together, you can re-establish financial wellness for your family. Starting now allows you to emerge from an uncertain time of change with a new financial perspective and goals.

Written by: Melissa J. Rupp, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Fulton County

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

Read Full Post »

An important seasonal topic that can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic is growing and eating fresh local produce. Good news: whether you grow a garden or not, local Ohio farmers are committed to supplying us with fresh produce during the growing season.

Vegetable gardening offers easy access to fresh, in-season produce for all ages and abilities. Ohio State University Extension suggests:

  • It’s OK to dream big and start small. Whether you grow in containers on a patio, in a school or community garden plot or in your front or back yard, make the best choices for your growing space, interest and goals.
  • Learn about the plants you would like to grow.
  • Know your local resources like your county Extension office.
  • Be familiar with potential challenges and possible solutions. Your county Extension office might have a Horticulture Hotline. If not, there’s a state-wide Ask A Master Gardener site.
  • Use food safe practices in the garden, from the garden to the kitchen and in the kitchen.
  • Enjoy yourself and your fresh produce.
  • Share your success stories and share your extra produce.   
Bee in Nasturtium

While vegetable gardening is a timeless topic, we will note a few things special to the 2020 growing season:

  • Please respect social distancing and other recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health. This is especially important at community places such as stores to purchase supplies and also when visiting and working at community garden sites.
  • Follow all previous recommendations for food safety. Although Covid-19 transmission from food has not been shown, everyone should continue to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods. 
  • Most likely, different local services as well as national and international ones will be disrupted due to COVID-19. For example, we encourage gardeners to do a soil test but sites like University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory share the following message: “All onsite work at the Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Lab has been temporarily suspended due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  We are not accepting new samples for analysis at this time.  Current turnaround time is not known.”  The OSU Extension FactSheet on Soil Testing includes a list of both private and public labs and some of the labs are accepting soil samples. Please reach out directly to the labs for their current hours and services provided. Reach out to local stores and greenhouses to know their current shopping and sale practices as well.
  • Gardening offers many benefits. In 2020, we hope that your garden can offer some stress-reduction, fresh air and tasty treats!

Writer: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Links from post:

Beam, B. (2020). Directory of Lucas Food Producers. Ohio State University. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://u.osu.edu/localfoodproducers/

Boggs, J.. Meyer, C., Gao, G. and Chatfield, J. (2017). Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/2020  https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1132

Darnton, J., and McGuire, L. (2014). What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening? Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/20 from

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Food Safety for Consumers, Specialty Crop Producers and Marketers during Covid-19 (2020). Retrieved 05/08/2020 from

https://fcs.osu.edu/news/covid-19-updates-and-resources/food-safety-consumers-specialty-crop-producers-and-marketers

Hill, M., (5 May 2020). Considerations for vegetable gardening. Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from https://wayne.osu.edu/news/considerations-vegetable-gardening

North Carolina State University, (2020) Handling Covid-19, Guidance for Community Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/20 from https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/COVID/OSU_Community%20Gardens_COVID-19_042120.pdf

Powers-Barker, P. (2018). Fresh, Safe Garden Produce, Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/powers-barker-1osu-edu/fresh-safe-garden-produce/

Photos: pixabay and Lawrence, E. (2020)

Read Full Post »

When my March 19th blog Certainty in Uncertain Times posted, I was unsure what was going to happen with my work, my community, our state, or our nation. With so many unknowns, I could not allow myself to go down the road of “what if’s”, so I chose to focus on things I knew were steadfast. Even as I wrote that blog, I realized I have many privileges. I have realized even more over the past several weeks just how fortunate I am.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png

While we have learned a lot about Coronavirus and flattening the curve, there are still many unknowns. When will a vaccine be developed? How long will we have to maintain social distancing? Am I or my family going to contract the virus? How will the economy rebound? All these unknowns and more can cause anxiety and other emotions. It is important to recognize and try to manage these thoughts and feelings if we are to move through these challenges.

My husband and I are fortunate to work for organizations that are supportive of their employees and our overall health and well-being. My supervisor checks in with me regularly. We are encouraged to do things to take care of ourselves and our families. Rearranging our work hours if needed, taking time off, engaging in professional development opportunities (virtually of course), adjusting our workloads, and other reasonable accommodations are all possibilities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png

My children are older and can take care of themselves, do their own homework, and even help around the house, so I have been able work from home with little to no interruptions. Some colleagues and many of you have young children who need more time and attention. My kids understand the reasons for all the changes, though they are not happy about them. We have conversations about the different ramifications of our current situation and what the future might look like.

It was no surprise when our governor announced that schools will not resume this year. My high school sophomore daughter is not happy, but she is a high-performing student, so completing school on-line is not really an issue. This is not the case for many. The adjustment for her and my college sophomore son has been the hardest part for me. Neither of them expected to end the year this way, but at least they have two more. For the seniors and their parents, it’s a different story. They have not had the celebrations and the closure that comes from all the “lasts”.

As restrictions are starting to lift in several areas, many people may be anxious about transitioning back to work and back to the usual routines of daily life. I am co-chair of the Work/Life/HR sub-committee of the COVID-19 Transition Team for our college. The concerns of faculty, staff, and students about returning to work or school is critical to our planning. NAMI Ohio gives these tips to help with the transition back to work:

  1. IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
  2. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
  3. EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
  4. GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG

As our team and thousands of similar groups across the state and the nation begin to plan for a return to work, the health and safety of employees is at the forefront. Many organizations are considering the physical safety of their buildings, as well as the cultural and social aspects of returning to “business as usual.” These are just a few of the things our team will be considering as we provide recommendations to our Dean. While I must consider many unknowns as part of this team, I remain focused on the present and on the things I can do right now to help myself, my family, my colleagues, and my community to continue to be resilient in the face of the challenges we still face.

What have you found effective in coping with the COVID-19 changes?

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Reviewer: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). How to Improve Mental Health https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=april_22_2020

Grabmeier, J. (2020). Survey shows how Ohioans’ views on COVID-19 have evolved. Ohio State News. https://news.osu.edu/survey-shows-how-ohioans-views-on-covid-19-have-evolved/

Harmon, M. (2020). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Johnson, A. (2020). Tips to Manage Anxiety When Returning to Work. NAMI Ohio. https://mailchi.mp/namiohio/helpathome-1389521?e=93084d4f8d

O’Neill, S. (2020). Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Allen, J. & Macomber, J. (2020). What Makes an Office Building “Healthy.” Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-makes-an-office-building-healthy

Scammahorn, R. (2020). A Time to Build Resilience. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/04/27/a-time-to-build-resilience/

Read Full Post »

A toddler sitting in the grass with plastic Easter eggs

Yesterday was Easter. Under normal circumstances, my family would gather at my grandparents house in observance of the holiday for an after-church lunch, and then an egg hunt for the little ones. This year was noticeably different. My husband and I watched a live-streaming church service from home and then ate lunch in our kitchen with our 1 year-old son. We did, however, take our son out for his first egg hunt! My grandparents watched from their porch while my husband and I helped our son find eggs they “hid” in their yard.

Reflecting on Easter 2020, I found the activity of naming gratitude and loss to be a helpful way to identify and process the various emotions I have experienced this season. We all have experienced loss this season, with some losses being bigger than others. Many have felt the impact of canceled vacations, sports seasons, concerts and other events. Some have lost loved ones. Family traditions and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, weddings and other events have been modified. It is normal and natural to experience grief associated with these losses. Naming your losses is a way to identify and validate the emotions you feel as you grieve.

Don’t stop with naming losses, however; take time to make a list of things for which you are grateful as well! Pairing a list of gratitude with your list of losses does not minimize the impact of your loss, and it can help you remain hopeful and optimistic during difficult times. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of gratitude practice on overall health, ability to cope with stress and outlook in general.

In my reflection regarding this holiday weekend, I took time to appreciate the opportunity I had to visit with my grandparents, even though it was a non-traditional visit. My son is happy and healthy, which is a true blessing.

What are you grateful for this season?

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

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

Sources:

Griffin, B.R. (2020). Naming loss and gratitude with young people in these uncertain days. Fuller Youth Institute. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/naming-loss-and-gratitude-with-young-people

Miller, K.D. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

 

Read Full Post »

person in black sweatshirt looking in window at her grandmother

Through a window, via Facetime and a cell phone — that is how people are saying goodbye during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know, we experienced this last week.  Two of us experienced this with a death of a family member within 24 hours of each other. One death from COVID-19 and another from natural causes, yet the final goodbyes were said without physical touch or personal intimacy with the families.

Susan’s Story
The last day of March 2020 ended with many tears. I received word that my Aunt Patty had died from complications of COVID-19. She was an active and healthy woman with a life-long passion for learning. She made history by becoming the first lay female Catholic Chaplain assigned to a U.S. Military Hospital.

Patty was in the hospital for two days prior to her death.  No visitors were allowed to see her. When Patty took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, her daughter was awoken to a phone call saying her mother was dying, but she would not be permitted to be in the room with her because of the danger of the disease spreading. 

The family requested a priest be present to perform the Last Rites.  This is usually done face to face with the priest anointing the sick. However, the priest was barred from being in the same room with Patty. He performed this religious sacrament over an intercom while the nurse held Patty’s hand. Patty’s daughter said her goodbye to her mother and a final “I love you” over the phone. Those were her last moments with her mother. A funeral is currently not possible because of the government’s limit on 10 people or less being together.  The family is planning a traditional funeral mass to be celebrated in four to six months from now.

Girl with hand on forehead - a screen shot from a facetime phone call

Shannon’s Story
On April 1,2020, I never imagined that I would have to say goodbye to my Baba (the name some Russian grandchildren call their grandma) through a FaceTime chat with my sister. Ohio had a “Stay at Home” order in place, and traveling to New York was out of the question.

I found out that the facility where Baba lived was not allowing anyone in the room.  This was the opposite of what I had expected. I had always envisioned Baba’s family surrounding her, playing games, and talking, as we held her hand,  being next to her. 

However, due to this awful COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, that was not possible. Baba lived on the first floor of a nursing home. Her children, as well as grandchildren were able to send their love and communication with her only through her window. 

My sister said, “I  taught her  how to say ‘I love you’ through her glass window. So that’s what we did. We smiled, we cried, we said we love each other, and we blew kisses. All through a glass window. I would have risked getting what she had.. Just to have been there with her while she passed. To have held her hand, to have told her it’s okay, you’ve been strong all your life.”

Girl sitting in a chair looking into a window

The night before our grandma passed, my sister called me. She was outside of Baba’s window in the rain and cold, face pressed against the glass, looking at her grandma. My sister only had a sweatshirt on, but refused to leave the window. She told me that nobody should have to die alone.

Through the FaceTime chat with my sister, I could see Baba periodically glance up, and gently smile at my sister.

 My sister said, “It got to the point where there were no more times she looked over. There were no more times she opened her eyes.” My sister didn’t want her grandma to wake up and see she was  alone.

The hardest thing for my family was to walk away from that window, knowing it was the last time any of us would ever see our Baba alive. I cried because I couldn’t be there physically and hold her had. I wanted to tell her one last time I love her.

Later that night, my mom had called to let me know that Baba had passed.

A burial for Baba was held two days after she passed. Only 7 people were able to attend, all practicing social distancing. It was unusual for my close-knit family not to be able to give hugs to one another during this very emotional time. For me, not being able to attend her burial was very difficult. My mom and sister called me after the burial, and we grieved together over the phone.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES, Ohio State University, Wood County

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

Photo Credits:
Photos taken by Shannon Smith and Kristy Smith

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  2. https://mhanational.org/covid19
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/07/828317535/coronavirus-is-changing-the-rituals-of-death-for-many-religions
  4. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/09/30/healthy-brain-aging/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html
  6. https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/OHOOD/2020/04/02/file_attachments/1418062/Signed%20Amended%20Director%27s%20Stay%20At%20Home%20Order.pdf
  7. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/covid19/
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »