Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Inhale. It means to breathe in. Slow or controlled breathing is often used to reduce heart rate, calm emotions, and lower stress. This controlled breathing technique has been around thousands of years in yoga, meditation, and other health practices. I saw this advice recently reminding me to inhale during this holiday season, and I loved it.

When I saw the admonition to inhale, I took it as a reminder to take it all in. That is the inhale; be purposeful in choosing what to take in and what to pass on. Our holiday schedule looked extra hectic this year with one daughter dancing in a professional nutcracker production, a new college student rejoining our family for her extended break, travel for work and a visit from my parents. I knew with all this I had to be extra careful about what I inhaled.

Taking that same definition of inhaling and applying it to our holiday busyness can be difficult. We are often rushing from event to event, and tackling a never-ending list of holiday fun. Advice is always easier to give than take in and follow. Several friends shared with me what they do to inhale the holidays. These can be simple, such as:

Spending a quiet morning before everyone is up, enjoying coffee and the Christmas tree and remembering why we celebrate the holiday. ~ Sarah

Making an effort to turn off the TV and put away phones so that family time can be enjoyed. ~ Amanda R.

Spending some quiet time and making sure to get quality sleep. ~ Jessica

Making an effort to start each day with an intention and not rushing out the door. ~ Amanda W.

Admiring a Christmas tree in the darkness and taking a moment to be grateful. ~ Lorrissa

Taking a few minutes after work to take some deep breaths, and reflect and center before joining family and evening activities. ~ Amanda B.

Other ideas included some simple planning to emphasize the events and traditions that matter most, such as:

Making a December bucket list of the most important activities and traditions and hanging it up for the family to see. This makes it easy to say, “This isn’t a priority for us” when things come up. ~ Becky

Make an effort and a plan to focus on small acts of kindness and simple holiday experiences.  Leaving treats for a mail carrier, dancing to Christmas music, or driving around to look at lights, have these things planned out so they can be included and enjoyed. ~ Amber

Besides having a plan and making simple changes, prioritizing and self-care can help with your holiday inhale. Other ways to inhale include:

Reflect on what is important to your holiday celebrations. Realize that this may change over time. Thinking about what is most important will help you to be intentional when choosing how and who to spend your time with. It is hard to make your holiday meaningful if you don’t decide before the rush starts what gives it meaning.

Ask for help. Let your family know how they can support or help with holiday tasks and plans. Accept their offers to contribute. This will help involve them, as well as lighten your workload. This can also be a way to share traditions or teach skills with children and other family members.

Keep in mind the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, pace yourself. If adding an extra party or gift to your schedule causes you stress, then don’t. The parties, events, gifts that you do choose to participate in- inhale! Be present as you experience and participate in them.

Take care of yourself. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Extra social gatherings can be fun, but do not compromise your physical, mental or financial wellness by doing too much. Acknowledge that you cannot do everything for everyone. Practice saying “no” without guilt.

Do not throw out your routine. Do your best to make healthy food choices, relax, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Sticking to your routines will help with your endurance and patience as you manage the holiday.

Most importantly, whatever you do this holiday season, enjoy the inhale!

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

Reviewers: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, Dunfee.54@osu.edu

Sources:

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Butanis, B. (2014, June 9). Ten Tips for Enjoying the Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/ten_tips_for_enjoying_holidays.html.

Keep it Real This Season. (2019, December 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/05/keep-it-real-this-season/.

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017, December 1). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Retrieved from https://breathe.ersjournals.com/content/13/4/298.

Read Full Post »

Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day
Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day

It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing. For many, the holidays are a time of joy and excitement, but for others, the holidays are filled with sorrow and grief. While many of us look forward to get-togethers and celebrations with family and friends, others may dread these occasions because they are reminded of the losses they have experienced.

When we talk about loss and grief, most people think of the loss of a loved one, which is certainly a common reason for grief. However, there are many reasons people may feel loss or grief. I teach Successful Co-Parenting and we explain how going through a divorce may cause similar feelings due to the loss of all the things/ideas/plans/people the couple had together that are not going to happen now. When someone retires, they may have mixed emotions of happiness that they have more time to do the things they want and/or sorrow about feeling that they have no purpose or meaning anymore. With all the weather issues of the past couple years and with fluctuating commodity prices, many farmers/farm families have been forced to give up their way of life. Some have had to sell their farms and/or animals in order to survive the uncertainty that mother nature and the future brings. Loss of a job or unemployment can also trigger feelings of grief.

flooded farm field
Flooded farm field

According to the HelpGuide article, Coping with Grief and Loss, grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

So, as we go through the holiday season and beyond, it’s important that we recognize and understand that grief and the grieving process looks different for everyone. Here are some tips from AARP for dealing with grief during the holidays:

  1. Only do what feels right– decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle.
  2. Accept your feelings, whatever they might be– however you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs.
  3. Call on your family and friends– be honest about how you’d like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it’s OK.
  4. Focus on the kids– many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs.
  5. Plan ahead– create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring.
  6. Scale back– if the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help.
  7. Give– it’s amazing how in times of grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is to give to others.
  8. Acknowledge those who have passed on– when we are grieving a loss of someone very close to us, it can be helpful to participate in a related holiday ritual in his or her memory.
  9. Do something different– acknowledge that things have changed; indeed, the holiday will not be the same as it was ever again.
  10. Skip it– if you feel that it will be too much for you and you’d like to simply opt out of participation in a holiday, let family and friends know.

By using some of these tips, hopefully the holidays don’t have to be a time of sorrow and grief. If you or someone you love exhibits any of the following symptoms, seeking professional help is advised:

  1. Feel like life isn’t worth living.
  2. Wish you had died with your loved one.
  3. Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it.
  4. Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks.
  5. Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss.
  6. Are unable to perform your normal daily activities.

Here’s hoping that you can find some joy and comfort over the holidays and in to the new year!

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

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

Sources:

Curiel, Ashley. (2016). The Least Wonderful Time of the Year? Good Therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/holidays-least-wonderful-time-of-year-1216164

Goyer, Amy. (2012). Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season. AARP. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-12-2012/death-loss-christmas-holidays-goyer.html

Pappas, Stephanie. (2019). Unique pressures put America’s farmers under stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/farmers-under-stress

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Job Loss and Unemployment Stress. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress.htm

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Coping with Grief and Loss. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

Photos:

https://pixabay.com/photos/rainy-christmas-grief-child-kid-83136/

https://pixabay.com/photos/arable-field-flood-wet-ground-406153/

https://pixabay.com/photos/pants-bag-list-wrench-job-search-1255851/

Read Full Post »

Does the month of December have you in a rush or panic to achieve the perfect holiday? Can you adjust your ideal holiday to be more realistic, so you don’t set yourself up for stress, disappointment or exhaustion?

Set Priorities

Set priorities before the whirlwind begins. Separate tasks you truly enjoy from those you do merely out of habit or obligation. What can you trim from your schedule to leave more time for the traditions that are most meaningful to you?

Let Go

Let go, of expectations, perfection, guilt, and traditions that no longer have meaning. Perhaps those expectations you feel pressure to live up to are created by you… let them go. Stop trying to create the “ideal” holiday, just enjoy your family and friends.

Be Transparent

Keep this in mind… those posts you see on social media or those family cards of the perfectly decorated home and perfectly dressed family… those are just illusions. My favorite Christmas letters are those that are a real description of the family’s holidays… Like when the cookies burned, the kids are squabbling, and the cat knocked over the tree…

Keep Perspective

Remember that this is just a season. If something does not live up to your expectations, it’s not the end of the world. Focus on the things that ARE going right in your life and acknowledge that this stressful situation will pass.

Picture of gingerbread cookies ready to be baked

Trim Your Schedule

Decide ahead of time how many social events you’ll attend. Don’t feel as though you must accept every invitation and stick to gatherings that you’ll enjoy the most.

Simplify

Cut your holiday card list in half, cut back on the number of gifts. Be selective – the gifts will mean more. Most people won’t notice the difference and will appreciate being able to simplify the holidays for themselves.

To help yourself set realistic expectations this year, ask yourself these questions…

  • When you reflect on past celebrations, what is most meaningful to you and your family?
  • How can you design your holidays to focus on what is meaningful, while letting go of those traditions that no longer have the same significance?
  • Clarify where your expectations are coming from… are these your expectations or someone else’s?
  • What is something you’d be willing to do differently this year to decrease your stress?
  • What is one thing you’d really like to do for yourself this holiday season?

The American Psychological Association has an entire webpage dedicated to this season. It’s called the Holiday Stress Resource Center and provides some great ideas on how to keep your expectations and stress in check.


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

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

Sources:

“Managing Expectations.” American Psychological Association. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations

Wickam, J. (2014). “Coping with holiday stress — Keeping our expectations realistic.” Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/coping-with-holiday-stress-keeping-our-expectations-realistic

Read Full Post »

Christmas candlePause. Breathe. Breathe again. Many of us are exhausted and stressed by this point at year’s end. Sometimes, we are so exhausted that we can’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of  having yourself a “merry little Christmas,” maybe we could work toward a mindful Christmas. Here are a few ideas to give yourself a mindful moment this season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate.

10 Finger Thanks

Think of ten things you’re thankful for as you count on your fingers. This may take some extra thought, but the benefits of a grateful heart are worth it! You can do this by yourself or with family and friends.

3 Senses

Pause and use three senses to observe your surroundings. Spend a minute on each sense. What are three things you can see? What are three things you can hear? What are three things you can feel? For more information, see the 3 Senses Mindfulness Activity. What would we see if we truly looked?

“Mindfulness is a love affair with life. You see the beauty in everybody and in everything.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do “You” this Holiday

Sometimes we try to please others and be who they think we should be. That can make a person miserable, and tired. Truth is, the best we can be is our best self. Honor your own desires and wishes. Maybe you just need a little time for yourself to gain perspective. Maybe you need a ‘long winter’s nap!’ This meditation from the Center for Mindfulness can help a person observe their own thoughts and emotions.

Breathe in Your Reality

When we stop comparing our life to the ideal we wish it was, and start accepting our own reality, we develop contentment and serenity. And we could all use a little more of that this holiday. When we start to accept our own reality, we may find treasures in our own situation we didn’t realize before.

 

Sources

American Psychological Association. (2018). “Managing Expectations.” https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations.aspx
Wong, J. & Brown, J. (June 2017). “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health.” Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

 

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

Read Full Post »

christmas-2411764_1280Recently my extended family went through a time of crisis. My own immediate family was one of many who stepped in to help. The aftermath of this crisis left many of my immediate family members exhausted and/or sick. After about 5 weeks of one type of sickness or another at my house, I remember thinking… “It doesn’t matter to me what our Christmas looks like this year, I just want my kids to be healthy.” I know that feeling of wanting things to get back to “normal.”

Yesterday at every store I encountered there was someone dealing with some sort of crisis: family illness, loved one in the hospital, recent passing of a parent, and even a pet emergency. This time of year when many people are already experiencing more stress than they can handle, an added crisis is sometimes enough to push us to the edge. Having just dealt with crisis, and knowing how much it means to be the recipient of kindness and caring, I tried my best to offer encouragement and positive thoughts with these folks who are dealing with so much.

We may never know what others around us are dealing with. Maybe that impatient person behind you in line is in crisis right now. Maybe that fast driver is trying to see his baby in NICU after a long day at work. What if that weary person next to you is undergoing cancer treatment? What if… a kind word from you can bring a smile? What can you do today to be an encourager and spread some holiday cheer?

Here are some ideas for random acts of holiday kindness:

  1. Give up your spot in line.
  2. Donate money to an organization or charity.
  3. Pay for someone else’s coffee.
  4. Send cards to those in military service
  5. Take a meal to someone who needs it.
  6. Donate food to your food bank.
  7. Donate pet supplies to a shelter.
  8. Help someone with a chore.
  9. Do yard work or shovel for a neighbor.
  10. Donate books you no longer need.
  11. Pick up litter.
  12. Leave a popcorn surprise for strangers to find.
  13. Donate toys to a children’s hospital.
  14. Donate new pajamas for children in foster care.
  15. Feed the birds.

What other ideas can your family come up with? This could be tonight’s dinner topic! When your children see you sharing kindness with others, they will likely adopt this compassionate behavior. In fact, one study showed teens who helped others felt more positive about their own lives. Families can enjoy sharing some holiday kindness together.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by:  Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County.

Source:

American Psychological Association. 2017. “What makes kids care? Teaching gentleness in a violent world.” Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/kids-care.aspx

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

It’s that time of year when the buzz words of gratitude and gifts circulate. We strive to be grateful for the things we have and show gratitude for the things we receive. It is also astress time when we wait with excitement to see what gifts we will receive, and the reaction of those we love when they open their gifts. Just as important as gratitude and gifts during the holiday season we should also introduce the idea of guided imagery.  What is that?  What could it possibly have to do with the Holiday Season?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, guided imagery is “any of various techniques (as a series of verbal suggestions) used to guide another person or oneself in imagining sensations and especially in visualizing an image in the mind to bring about a desired physical response. It is often times used a tool to reduce stress, anxiety and pain.

The Holiday Season is a time for family, friends, joy, peace, gratitude, love, sharing, caring and giving.  However, it can also be a time of stress, anxiety, remembering a lost loved one, arguments, pain, exhaustion, regret and financial challenges.  Therefore, what better time than the Holiday Season to understand what guided imagery is and to utilize it?

Ohio State University’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center states that “guided imagery practices can help patients relax, improve sleep, prepare for surgery, experience greater clarity, compassion and gratitude and feel more calm, confident and comfortable. The Center offers the following free guided imagery recordings in the following topics for practice of guided imagery.

  • Accessing Inner Intuition and Wisdom
  • Autogenic Training
  • Breathing Deeply for Relaxation and Stress Reliefmug
  • Comfort in the Face of Grief and Loss
  • Easing Pain
  • Prepare for
    Procedure
  • Prepare for Surgery
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Relaxation
  • Relaxation for Children
  • Relaxation Imagery with a Pool of Light
  • Safe Place
  • Skill Master
  • Sleeping Deeply, Easily, Restfully

During the Holiday Season, please take time for YOU and listen to a “guided imagery exercise to promote your health and well-being.  So, close your eyes and remember, all you have to do is breathe”.

“Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice.  We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne”.
– Alice Childress

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

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

Sources:

The Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/guided-imagery

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

 

Read Full Post »

nna

 

The holidays are a time for eating delicious food and spending time with friends and family. Studies show the average American gains one pound during the holiday season.  If you are on a special diet due to elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol, holiday foods can be tricky.  No one food or beverage is good or bad, but some have more health properties than others.

Review the following five holiday foods to indulge in this year (and the seven to limit consumption of) to ensure a healthy holiday season.

NICE Holiday Foods

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tangerines
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts

Eat these lighter, nutrient rich foods more often during the holiday season. Make it a challenge to try and get the healthiest version of each dish available.

NAUGHTY Holiday Foods

  • Egg Nog
  • Pecan Pie
  • Gravy/Sauces/Dips
  • Cheese Cake
  • Fudge
  • Croissants
  • Coffee Beverages

These foods and drinks are special occasion foods to enjoy on a limited basis. Reach for these foods less often or modify the recipes to make the dishes healthier.  Choose wisely during the holidays.  Plan ahead for holiday parties, drink water prior to eating out, and eat the “naughty foods” in moderation.

Take care of yourself this holiday season, and remember that fitness, stress management and sleep also play important roles during the holidays!

Written by: Beth Stefura, RD,LD, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/doet/healthy-holidays-8/holiday-food

Healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/files/hpHTSHolidayTips.pdf

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »