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Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

When did you last take a vacation day?

I’m not asking when you last took a vacation; instead, when did you take a day off for yourself?

Sadly, over half of Americans end the year with unused vacation days, collectively sacrificing 662 million days off. The Project Time Off report found that compared to employees who use all of their vacation time, employees who end the year with unused vacation time are lower performers: they are less likely to have been promoted within the last year and less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years. Furthermore, those who fail to use their vacation time report feeling more stressed than those who use all of their vacation time.

While I don’t always take vacations, about once a month I take a vacation day to spend time with my nephew. I call these days my mental health days. They provide me with a mental break from my work and allow me to spend time in a low stress environment. My nephew and I almost always spend time together outside, and we sometimes do activities together like coloring or reading story books. I find great joy in watching this little man explore the world around him!

A young boy playing outside in a play house

Playing “house” with my nephew

For me, these days are pre-planned. I believe that it’s important to take time for yourself to do activities that you enjoy to help prevent and cope with stress, and I try to practice that in my personal life. If this is a new concept to you, identify a few stress coping strategies you might use to take time for yourself when you need it, such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Working on a project in your home or yard
  • Doing yoga, tai chi or another physical activity
  • Pursuing a craft or hobby
  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude or meditation

Additionally, you might find that you have days when it makes sense to use a sick day as a mental health day. Just as there are days when you find it better to call in sick to work than attempt to power through the day because you feel lousy physically, we all have days when anxiety and stress are too distracting to perform our best. When this is the case, go ahead and call off – and don’t feel guilty about doing so! If you had the flu, no one would blame you for calling off sick. Learn to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

 

Sources:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). Stress Coping Methods. Ohioline. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Morin, A. (2017). How to know when to take a mental health day. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201707/how-know-when-take-mental-health-day

Zillman, C. (2017) Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/

 

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

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

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I recently spent 8 days in Costa Rica with a group of extension professionals from 10 other states learning about the culture and the history of the country. I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiencosta-rica-country-side.jpgces of my life. You might think, OF COURSE, how could being in a tropical paradise not be wonderful?! Especially since Ohio and much of the Midwest has been experiencing unpredictable weather, to say the least. But, the weather aside, the whole journey was full of wonderful experiences.

This trip was not about sitting on the beach or in the mountains at some all-inclusive resort basking in the sun or the mountain air. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture of the country and getting outside of our comfort zone to learn about people, who at first glance may appear to be different from us and what we know. As we traveled around the country to the various locations (we stayed in 4 different accommodations), we were able to gain a better understanding of how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) live and work.

Our group of 33 were divided into smaller subgroups for different activities throughout the week. We went on a variety of outings designed to increase our cultural awareness and to challenge us in our leadership philosophies and ideas. Our first task was to go to the Central Market in San Jose to check prices of various items and purchase them (we donated all the items to different organizations we later visited). We then had to compare the cost of these items as they relate to the average minimumgreen-house-e1524004828723.jpg wage in the United States versus in Costa Rica. While the cost of the items was somewhat comparable to prices in the U.S., when you look at the minimum wages, the discrepancy was very large. This required us to think about the proportion of the wages in Costa Rica that go toward necessities versus the proportion in the U.S.

The Central Market outing was just the first of many that would challenge us to achieve a common goal while trying to overcome the language barrier in this foreign country. As we traveled around Costa Rica and participated in different activities, the most overarching theme that our entire group observed was how patient and gracious all of the Ticos we encountered were with our groups. Few of us were able to speak and/or understand Spanish, so at times, there was a lot of patience required. Every group related that the Ticos were incredibly helpful, patient and gracious.

A large part of this leadership program involves reflecting on the experiences and lessons we have learned. As we reflected in our large group and in smaller groups, we all wondered what someone traveling to the United States would experience. How would any of us handle trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English or at least not well? Would we have the same patience and understanding that the Ticos had with us? I can honestly say that before this trip, the answer for me would be no. I would not have had the patience and understanding that was shown to me and the others. One of the things I have taken away from this experience is to have more patience. Patience with others, but also patience with myself.

While this trip was for business, when I travel for personal reasons, I try to make it a point to find local places to eat and shop. My Costa Rica experience has taught me that I can do more to enrich my travel experiences. I have not usually lodged in places that allow me to experience the local culture as much as some others might. I will make a more concerted effort to choose places that allow me to have a more immersive experience, since one of the main reasons I like to travel is to be expcosta-rica-food.jpgosed to local culture and to learn about the people and the area.

So, whether you are traveling across the state, across the country, or across the globe, challenge yourself to experience at least a little bit of the local culture. You may just learn some things about yourself by experiencing things that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable to you.

 

WRITTEN BY: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.417@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Amanda, Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Harmon

SOURCES:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2015/january/the-benefits-of-cultural-immersion/

https://global.upenn.edu/pennabroad/about-penn-abroad/academic-and-cultural-immersion

https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Fact-Sheet_Travel-Jobs.pdf

 

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listIt’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?

I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!

For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.!  If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?

The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge.  There are  two basic strategies that can help you be successful:

1st Set realistic goals

  • Choose one or two achievable goals.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
  • Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.

2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.

  • If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
  • Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
  • If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
  • Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.

As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.

Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days.  Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.

Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection!  Remember, you want this to be a new-years-resolutionlifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County

References:

http://moneysmarts.iu.edu/tips/basics/new-years-resolution.shtml

http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statisticshttp://extension.usu.edu/htm/news-multimedia/articleID=4157

http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2016/be-successful-in-keeping-new-year2019s-resolutions

http://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/2013/01/31/new-years-resolution-solutions/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_three_most_important_tactics_for_keeping_your_resolutions

 

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Playing GamesDo you remember any these games? Red Rover, Simon Says, Hop Scotch, Four Square, Kick- the- Can, Hide-and-Seek, Tether Ball or Tag? I recently asked my sister about the games we played as kids. She quickly fired off the names of these games for me. We have many fond memories of playing outside, especially in the summer, from the time we got up to dusk or dark.
We had a TV of course but our main source of entertainment was being outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood and our siblings. We created games, enjoyed friendly competition, and learned about teamwork by playing together.

Being physically active helps us feel better, burns calories and can contribute to a sense of well being. Now is a great time to explore ways that you and your family can be more physically active.
Here are a few suggestions you can try:
• Take family walks in the evening after dinner.
• Play tag, hop scotch or kick-the-can with your kids or grandchildren.
• Dance to your favorite music.
• Plant a family garden.

Play a Game
• Limit screen time to two hours or less each day. This includes TV, computers, cell phones, and video games.
• Exercise while watching TV. Challenge family members to stretch and move during commercials or during the program.
• Stand for meetings. Instead of sitting during the entire meeting, stand up and burn a few extra calories.
• Schedule a walking meeting at work – you can walk, talk, plan and be productive while getting some physical activity.
• Take a fitness ball to work and sit on it for brief periods during the day.
• Stretch and move with a fit band during webinars or conference calls.
Run, Jump and Play

• Walk, run, swing, bike or play at your local park or bike trail.
• Visit a state or national park. Check out the National Park Service website for informative videos, information, and details about National Parks located near you. http://www.nps.gov
Be creative and explore ways to increase your physical activity. Think about games you may have played as a child, plant a garden, take a bike ride or walk to the park. Make physical activity fun and enjoy the spring weather!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources:
Healthy Ohio Program http://www.healthyohioprogram.org/
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov

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