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Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

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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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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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

 

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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.

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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

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