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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

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:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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We have all been impacted one way or another by the Coronavirus pandemic. During a health crisis, taking preventative measures is important. The CDC has listed precautions people should be taking right now. These include washing your hands, staying away from people who may be sick, and protecting your nose and mouth with an appropriate mask. Another way to protect yourself from sickness is keeping your immune system strong, which is your body’s defense against illnesses.

The Cleveland Clinic notes 3 vitamins to boost your immune system:

Vitamin C: found in many fruits especially melons, berries, and citrus, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, anFresh Vegetablesd spinach.

Vitamin B6: found in chickpeas, green vegetables, chicken, and fish.

Vitamin E: found in spinach, seeds, and nuts.

Additionally, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states these nutrients listed will also help boost your immune system:

Vitamin D: found in fortified milk and juice, eggs, and fatty fish.

Zinc: found both in animal and plant sources such as meat, beans, tofu, and nuts,

Beta carotene: found in plant foods such a potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and mangos.

Probiotics: found in cultured dairy and fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

Protein: both animal and plant-based sources, such as nuts, eggs, meat, beans, and fish.

Eating healthily during a pandemic can be tough but having long-lasting food on-hand is a great way to ensure you and your family are fed when practicing social distancing. There are also ways to focus on consuming the food listed above to keep those immune systems in tip-top shape. Before you stock up on all the frozen and non-perishable foods you can find, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Frozen meals: Be sure those frozen meals include some of the foods listed above, for example fruits and vegetables.

Pasta: Add some razzle dazzle to pre-packaged pasta meals such by adding vegetables to the dish or pair it with your favorites on the side. You can also try this stir fry recipe that includes meat and vegetables with packaged ramen noodles for a yummy twist.

Canned goods: great way to add some fruits, vegetables, and beans to any meal. And make sure your canned soup has vegetables in it for extra nutrients, and always look for the no-salt added version.

Smoothies: Make a smoothie with your favorite frozen fruit and be sure to use a little yogurt and orange juice for some added nutrients.

Snacks: Snacking is inevitable! Snack on things such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hummus, raw veggies, and more!

Below are two family fun snack and meal recipes that are sure to give you those nutrients that could give your immune system that extra boost!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

All in all, you eat your way to a stronger immune system. Note that supplements are not recommended unless necessary. And always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian first. We will get through this uncertain time together!

About the author: Carmen Bell is a senior Nutrition and Food Science-Dietetics student with a Health and Human Performance minor at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a part of the MT Nutrition Team where she works to provide nutrition education to children, students, faculty, and staff on campus. Beginning summer 2020, she will be an Iowa State University Dietetic Intern and upon completion of the program will continue her process of becoming a registered dietitian. In the future, she will obtain her master’s degree in Leadership in Nutrition and wants to work will all ages on their health.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

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Monday I shared that to celebrate my 40th birthday my friends and I joined forces to fill our local communities with random acts of kindness.  We spread our kindness amongst 20 states and 5 countries and we all learned many lessons along the way.

Small Acts Big Changes

One part I enjoyed about this project was the variety of acts that were done. Some acts influenced many people such as a donation to a food bank. Other acts were smaller yet still inspiring.  A simple act can have a large impact on a person when done at the right time with the right intentions. One act of small kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. Any act of kindness can be contagious and inspire others to pass on another kind act. It is hard to measure the impact of one simple act, so never think an act is too simple or small to spend time on.

One of the kindest acts someone ever did for me was to show up at my house with a plate of cookies as I was going through a tough time. She set those cookies on my counter, sat on the floor and played with my eight-month-old baby. She might not remember that day, but I will never forget it.  A plate of cookies and a half-hour of time, something I remember more than ten years later.

Missed Opportunities

 Often I find myself second-guessing a kind idea or intention I have. I will overthink something so long that an opportunity passes me by and I promptly switch to beating myself up for missing an opportunity. I was so inspired by my friends and what they were accomplishing that acting on a kind deed became easier for me to do. It became more second nature and I was more confident offering to help someone or pass on a compliment.

More Gratitude

Kindness promotes gratitude. Being kind to others encourages one to consider what is positive in their own life. As we went through forty days I noticed this happening in our group. We started posting about how others were being kind to us and the deeds that made our days a little better. Some of these acts happen so frequently or regularly we forget to show gratitude for them. For example, I noticed the bus drivers who get my children to school safely every day, the mailwoman who reliably delivers my mail, the people at the gym whose positivity make working out fun, and drivers on the road who let me over or wave me on at a stop sign.

According to Psychology Today, Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s interests. In performing the selfless act, a person may undercut their selfish interests. This process can lead to more gratitude.

 Did we change the world? No. This reminds me of the song lyric; I can’t change the world but I can change yours. I don’t know if we permanently changed anyone’s world. I like to think we lightened a few loads, and added some extra smiles to our communities and that is enough. It is enough because it changed us.

When you can, hold the door, let someone over on the freeway, smile at a stranger. Do what you can where you can to make your corner of the world a little kinder- it is enough!

Sources:

I Can’t Change the World, but I Can Change Yours. (2019, November 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/11/04/i-cant-change-the-world-but-i-can-change-yours/.

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

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I turned forty this year. That is a big milestone to celebrate and yet I did nothing except manage to stay alive 14,600 days in a row. Nevertheless, the fact that forty came for me and I am somewhat excited means that this milestone deserves a celebration. I grew up with a dad in the Air Force, and we moved every four years or less. My spouse is an Air Force civilian and we’ve spent his career calling different places in the US and around the world home. This means that my friends are scattered all over the world. Gathering them together for a celebration would have been impossible.

 Last year I took on the “Kindness Boomerang” book as my resolution. It may be the only resolution I have kept my entire life. The book supplies an idea for a kind act and a quote for every day of the year. Even if I was unable to complete the suggested act, I still found inspiration in the daily quotes such as:

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions.” Amelia Earhart

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can so something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

I combined social media and the book and found a way to celebrate with my friends all over for forty days! I asked all my Facebook friends to sign up for a day to share a small act of kindness for 40 days leading up to my birthday. The response was overwhelming. Many friends responded, and for those 40 days shared their kind act on our Facebook group. We covered some distance. We had participants in all corners of Ohio, 19 other states and covering the globe in Germany, Japan, Italy, Finland, and Spain. We had a lot of fun, strengthened connections and learned a few things along the way.

Health benefits from being kind?

Do you want more energy or to feel happier? Raise your hand if you want to live longer! Are you looking to decrease feelings of depression or anxiety? Be kind!!

Research proves kindness is good for health. About half of the participants in a research study reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.

People who practice kindness regularly have 23% less cortisol, (the stress hormone) than the average population. A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that generous people are happiest overall. There are many other health benefits of being kind; lower blood pressure, reduced pain and increased positivity.

Next post we cover lessons learned about opportunities for kindness, the impact of small acts and my final thoughts on the project.

Sources:

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

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In the near future, your doctor may prescribe getting outside and embracing nature. Your doctor may suggest that you participate in green exercise, or they may write a nature prescription.

Green exercise includes any physical activity that takes place outdoors. Think about taking a walk in nature, exploring a park, or discovering a new forest area.

Michigan State University Extension has an interesting article about the benefits of green exercise. Some of these benefits may include:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

According to research from the University of Washington, exposure to trees and other natural features provide positive changes to our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Driftwood

While visiting Whidbey Island, Washington, I enjoyed finding this artistic piece of driftwood and rocks. Someone left this “gift of nature” for anyone who came upon it to enjoy. If we take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature, we may find that our stress levels are reduced, our mind calms and we feel more positive.

I love being outdoors – it is good for me both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature helps me slow down the pace and embrace the beauty of nature.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you need a little more motivation to get started? Join Ohio State University Extension for their free October webinar series on Hiking and Health. Register by September 24th at go.osu.edu/HikingHealth . You will enjoy learning about topics such as food safety on the trail, proper gear selection, plant identification, tick prevention and proper hydration techniques.

Sources:

American Heart Association (2018). Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety.

Fogel, A. (2010). Green Exercise. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201009/green-exercise

Green Cities, Good Health. University of Washington. https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/

BBC News (2018). ‘Nature’ being prescribed by GPs in Shetland. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-45758016

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

Tiret, H. June, 2017. Green exercise can improve physical and mental health. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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

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Have you finished your holiday shopping for the year? Or, like me, do you tend to put off shopping until the last minute because there are people on your list that are hard to gift? When lacking creative ideas for those hard-to-gift individuals, many of us default to items such as clothing, electronics and gift cards. This year, maybe it’s time to think outside the box and give gifts that promote health and self-care!

These gifts do not have to be expensive or forceful; rather, they serve as small suggestions that can go a long way toward promoting health and wellness. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Perhaps a friend has mentioned wanting to be more fit in the past, but she can’t seem to find the motivation to hit the gym. You could purchase cute and comfortable athletic outfits in her favorite colors that she might like to use!
  • Maybe your significant other can’t seem to shake his sugary soda fix because he doesn’t enjoy the taste of plain water. A good suggestion would be to buy a water bottle with a fruit infuser to encourage him to drink more water!
  • Maybe your father has been trying to control his carbohydrate intake, but he loves eating pasta multiple times a week. A vegetable spiralizer might allow him to enjoy the taste of Italian-style food with more fiber, vitamins and minerals and fewer carbohydrates and calories!

For more healthy holiday gift suggestions, see the infographic below. Don’t forget to consider gifts to promote lifelong healthy habits in the children on your list, too!

Give the Gift of Good Health this Holiday Season. Physical Activity: Equip your loved ones with the tools they need to continue their fitness journey or give them the push to start a new lifestyle. Gift ideas include resistance bands, hand weights, a yoga mat, gym bag, towel, athletic wear, socks, and water bottle with infuser. Cooking: Sleek new cooking gadgets can encourage your friends and family to experiment with new healthful cuisine. Homemade meal mixes can also be a heartfelt and economic option. Gift ideas include fresh herbs, veggie dip mix, homemade soup mix (like the friendship soup mix recipe available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/mix-it-up-to-expand-your-gift-giving-dollar-with-food-mixes-in-a-jar), a vegetable spiralizer, a healthy magazine subscription, recipe book or cookbook, slow cooker, or petite wine glass.

With the New Year just around the corner, these gift ideas can help keep your loved ones on track toward their potential resolutions in the upcoming year. They are just a few examples of how to give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season, a gift that keeps on giving for years to come!

 

Written by: Katie Minnelli, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Medical Dietetics

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

Sources:

Barlage, L. (2016). Give children gifts that encourage healthy habits. Live Healthy Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/12/08/give-children-gifts-that-encourage-healthy-habits/

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015). Healthy Gift Guide – 17 ideas for giving “the gift of health”. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

Schuster, E. (2018). Give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.  https://www.sneb.org/blog/2018/11/26/general/give-the-gift-of-health-and-self-care-this-holiday-season/

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When was the last time you paid attention to something you ate?

That might seem like a silly question, but all too often, we rush through our meals and snacks without stopping to think about what we’re doing: how our food looks, smells and tastes. I have to admit, even as a dietitian and food educator, I am just as guilty as the next person! I often eat lunch at my desk while working, since my office does not have a formal break room or lunch hour. Consequently, because my mind is focused on tasks other than eating, I consume my lunch without noticing its taste, appearance or texture.

pasta-salad-1967501_1920One day while eating lunch at my desk, though, I was struck by the saltiness of an olive in a bite that I took of Mediterranean pasta salad. The taste caused me to pause, eat my lunch one bite at a time, and pay more attention to the dish. In this instance, I was practicing mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention in the present moment without judgement. Mindful eating is the practice of being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience as you eat (tastes, smells, textures, etc.) and the thoughts and emotions you have about your food. When you eat mindfully, you:

  • Use all your senses
  • Acknowledge your responses to food (i.e. like, dislike or neutral) without judgement
  • Become aware of hunger and satiety (fullness) cues

When you practice mindful eating, you allow yourself to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. And, not only do mindful eaters tend to enjoy their food more than distracted eaters; research suggests that mindful eating can help with weight control and also steer people away from processed food and other less-healthful food choices. The underlying premise here is that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the stomach and register fullness after eating, so slowing down your eating may help you to realize when you’re full before you overeat.

If you tend to eat too quickly and need some strategies to slow down, try: cutlery-908480_1280

  • Eating with your non-dominant hand
  • Putting your fork down between bites
  • Taking a sip of water between each bite
  • Using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them
  • Putting away cell phones and other electronic devices
  • Practicing gratitude for your food as you think about where it came from and all the people who worked to bring it to you
  • Eating with others and having a conversation over your meal

 

Sources:

Carter, S. (2013). Mindful Eating. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/10/21/mindful-eating/

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

University of New Hampshire, Office of Health Education and Promotion. Mindful Eating. https://www.unh.edu/health/ohep/nutrition/mindful-eating

 

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

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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When talking about grilling safety, I usually think about food safety – cooking foods to safe temperatures to prevent food borne illness, proper handling before and after cooking, etc.  However, two weeks ago, I stepped out onto my patio when I noticed a large cloud of smoke in the sky. As I looked around, I watched as a home in my neighborhood went up in flames. The quickness and intensity of the fire was overwhelming.  

Luckily, no one was hurt, but the brand new home that the family had only lived in two months, was a total loss.

The cause of this fire?  Grilling in the garage!  I’ve seen people pull their grill into the garage to avoid rain drops but I don’t think anyone in our neighborhood will ever do that again. This gave a new meaning to me for the term grilling safety.

How can you protect your family from this type of loss?

The National Fire Prevention Association provides a great fact sheet with safety tips when grilling. 

Tips from them and others include: 

·         All BBQ grills should be used only outdoors.

·         The grill should not be placed near any part of the home, deck railings. Place it at least 10 feet from any structure.

·         Never grill inside a garage or carport.

·         Keep it clear of eaves and overhanging branches from nearby trees.

·         Keep the grill clean – remove grease buildup from the grills and trays below the grills.

·         Never leave your grill unattended.

·         Do not attempt to move a hot grill.  

There are also safety tips specific to the type of grill you are using. 

·         For a gas grill, check the gas tank for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

·         Always make sure the lid is open before lighting it.

·         For charcoal grills, use care when starting the coals. If using starter fluid, use only one made specifically for lighting charcoal.

·         Keep the lighter fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

·         When you finish grilling, cool the coals completely before safely disposing of them in a metal container. 

In addition to these tips, it is a good idea to keep a spray bottle of water close and also a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it! A fire can grow quickly and you won’t have time to read instructions if that happens.  

I really enjoy grilling out  in the summer with family and friends. I know that I will not forget these safety tips and hope that you keep them in mind the next time you fire up your grill. 

Sources: 

Grilling Safety, National Fire Prevention Association. (2016) https://www.nfpa.org//-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/Grilling_safety_Tips.ashx 

AgriLife Extension experts offer tips on grilling, food safety (July 2016), https://today.agrilife.org/2016/07/25/agrilife-extension-experts-offer-tips-on-grilling-food-safety/ 

Tips for summer grilling safety, (2015) http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/news/2015/tips-for-summer-grilling-safety 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu 

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The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

WRITTEN BY: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

 – Elizabeth Lawrence

Searching for more quality time with family and children?  Might they be your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students?   Want to “unplug” and become more physically active?  Are you looking to practice better health habits and eating?  Well, you can “plant these seeds” and teach children life skills, values, family history, health and other things as “more than a seed is planted in a garden.”

The benefits of gardening with children include:

  • Increasing responsibility, independence, leadership, empathygarden pic, teamwork, and problem solving as they plan, plant, and grow their garden.
  • Creating an awareness of where food comes from as they participate in the processes of growing, transporting, storing, and preparing foods.
  • Developing an understanding and appreciation of nature by interacting with soil, seeds, leaves, stems, plants, water, sun, pollinators, animals, and insects.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles by working in the garden.
  • Creating real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Reducing stress by appreciating the “colors,” “air,” and “morning.”

School programs can benefit from gardening with youth as well. In fact, research and studies about School Gardens show the following:

  • Education acquired in the garden can increase students’ overall academic performance and learn more effectively..
  • Students who engage in school gardens show significant gains in overall grade point average, specifically in math and science.
  • Teachers believe that implementing new learning styles can help students
  • Students expand their ways of thinking or habits of mind to include curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.

You can create a “learning laboratory” by gardening with children, which will teach them about themselves, their families, communities, and life.

Some final thoughts:

“You have the chance to plant a seed of something very special in the hearts, minds, and spirits of your children as you garden together.”  – Cathy James

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”  – Robert Brault

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.  Gardening with Children, Every Child Belongs in a Garden.
https://ceinfo.unh.edu/Community-Gardens/Gardening-Children

Colorado State University Extension.  Department of Human Development & Family Studies.  Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Gardening with Children.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/grg/feature/gardening.html

University of Illinois Extension.  The Great Plant Escape
urbanext.illinois.edu/gpe/links/index.html

Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  Learning Through the Garden.
https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1211/

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