Posts Tagged ‘managing stress’

When I asked if your home office is killing you – I’m not asking if your dog drives you nuts because he barks at every delivery truck going down the street, or your children need food/homework help/or fight every time you get on a Zoom. I’m asking if you need a better desk, computer set up, chair, or lighting?

I’m sure many of you are like me – your work told you a couple days ahead that you would be working from home – you needed to gather your laptop, monitor, key board, cords, mouse, any files, resources — and take them home. At the time you probably thought you would be working from home for a couple weeks – maybe a month? Now approximately 12 weeks later – they are still encouraging work from home and are suggesting that it will likely continue in part for at least the next several months.  At this point you may start to think a little more about what you need to make this home-office a little more ergonomic if you haven’t already.

To make your home office more ergonomic:

  • Use a separate key board, monitor, and mouse – not just your laptop. The top of your monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. If you need to, raise your laptop screen with a box or books.standing desk with raised monitor
  • Use an actual office chair or make your chair more comfortable by adding a cushion on the seat and rolling a towel or pillow to create lower-back support.
  • Use the 20-20-20 Rule to prevent digital eye strain. This is good at your home or work office. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a computer monitor, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. Locate your monitor about an arm’s length away to help as well. Consider adjusting brightness and using night light settings to reduce exposure to blue lights.
  • While it is fun to sit on the porch in a lounger on a beautiful day with your laptop or curl up on the couch with a blanket on a rainy day – limit the time that you do this. Having your legs in a horizontal position for an extended period of time can lead to muscle numbness.
  • Take breaks – just like you do at your regular office. Get up every 30 minutes and walk to get a drink, take a bathroom break, or just do a lap down the hall.
  • Find time to stand up – stand when talking on the phone, for part of your daily Zoom, or when listening to the next training you need to complete. Consider moving your laptop to the kitchen counter (and raise it with a box) so you can stand for a bit each day.
  • Support your feet with a box or books if they do not touch the ground when working. This will reduce stress on your spine.

Many things you can do to make your home office better use objects you already have around the house. If you need to ask for approval to purchase an external keyboard, go ahead, it is important to your health. Check to see if your workplace has an ergonomics department – many companies do, where they can provide products and even funds to improve your office. Take advantage of the good things about working in a home office too. After all you can throw a great lunch in the slow cooker in the morning, walk the dog during your break, wear flip-flops every day, and even open the window for fresh air and sunshine.

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

Reviewer:  Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Photo credit: Misty Harmon

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I admit I am a book addict, and reading is by far my favorite hobby. If I miss more than one day of reading, I start to get grouchy. Reading relieves my stress. When I heard there was a “National Book Lovers Day”, I felt I had to share a few of the benefits that I find, and that research also supports.

If you are reading this you likely won’t say, “Why should I read?” You realize that while your brain is technically an organ, you can think of it like a muscle and if you don’t use it – you will lose it. This is important for all ages. The mental stimulation of reading prevents or slows the progression of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Research supports that reading just six minutes a day can reduce a person’s stress level by up to 68% (more than listening to music, playing video games, or going for a walk). Baby sitting on an adult's lap is looking at a book

Reading aloud to children, and even prenatally, can improve their language skills, build vocabulary, and prepare them to learn. There is strong research that shows children who read independently score higher on achievements tests and display more empathy. Remember that reading is contagious, if children see you reading books they are more likely to read books as well.

How to celebrate Book Lovers Day:

  • Visit the library – renew your library card, sign out regular books or e-books, or take part in a program.
  • Attend a book or author festival – while you probably won’t be able to do it this week, it may be an idea for your next vacation or girl’s trip. Several years ago I took a road trip with my daughter to Kentucky to an author event so she could meet a favorite author. It was interesting to meet the authors and we stocked up on books. There are all types of themes – children’s, romance, teens, or authors from a specific state, for example.
  • Give the gift of books – baby shower, birthday, secret pal, or even your parents. Books are a loved gift for people of all ages. You may need to do a little research to find out what they like before you shop or order.
  • Host or join a book club – but make sure you actually read at least some of the books.
  • Follow your favorite authors on social media – they often give books away and may actually be signing at a book store or library in your area. Birdhouse shaped book exchange cabinet
  • Reread a favorite book or read a classic you may have missed – reading it again may bring back memories from your youth. Look at a listing of classic (nonfiction, children’s, religious, historical, etc) books that everyone should read? How many have you read?
  • Donate books – donate used books to a non-profit, the hospital waiting room, the local book sale for scholarships, or an elementary school. Several teachers I know have asked for friends and family to sponsor a child in their class the last few years by giving the child their own new book for the start of the year.
  • Make sure you read the book before you watch the move – many movies are based on books, why not read it before you watch to see how close they are to the original.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas for ways to celebrate “National Book Lovers Day” or discover the benefits you experience from reading. I know my husband would probably comment that I read enough to have no stress at all.

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

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.


University of California, Santa Barbara, https://geog.ucsb.edu/10-benefits-of-reading-why-you-should-read-every-day/.

Rasmussen College, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/.

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Why Hobbies are Important!

Quilt block

Did you know it is good for your physical and mental health to have a hobby? Sometimes we get so busy with work or our family that we forget to have time for ourselves, which usually allows the stress in our lives to build. Hobbies provide physical and mental health benefits by giving us an alternative place to focus our time and mental energy, reinvigorating us. Other benefits from hobbies may include:

  • A Sense of Accomplishment – If you are having trouble finishing a difficult task at work, you may find satisfaction by completing a project on your own like a quilt, painting, finishing a book, or a 5K.
  • Social Support System – Often hobbies involve things you can do with others, be it volunteering with Relay for Life or Habitat for Humanity, or joining a just for fun sports league like softball.
  • Preventing Burnout – A hobby may provide fun and something to look forward to after a hard day at work or a stressful time taking care of family members.
  • Improved Physical Health – Studies show that when you engage in enjoyable free time activities you have lower blood pressure and a lower Body Mass Index (or BMI) even if the hobby isn’t necessarily active.
  • Better Work Performance – Studies also have found that employees who have creative hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and are often more creative with work projects.

Children benefit from hobbies by having a higher self-esteem, learning patience and social skills, and developing critical thinking skills and creativity. Encourage Woman and child measuring ingredients

younger children to try several activities as hobbies – think something physical, creative, and mental (geocaching, crafting, music, cooking, or even magic). While some children may consider gaming to be a hobby, encourage them to have other hobbies that don’t use a computer or TV to limit screen time.

Hobbies provide both physical and mental health benefits to adults and children. A hidden benefit for adults may be that companies report looking for employees who have hobbies. They feel these employees are more balanced, less stressed, and more creative at work. What hobby is your favorite? Comment below. Personally I’m a reader, reading is food for my soul.


United States Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

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

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.

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Holiday spending can put a lot of stress on you and your wallet.  In this economy, you cannot possibly give your children or grandchildren everything they want.  Instead of adding more stress to your life by having bills pile up in the New Year, this holiday season can be made special by giving more of yourself, and your time.  Think of thoughtful gifts that do not have to cost a lot in money but are truly given from the heart.

Start by making a list of all the things that you want to do for the holidays.  This may include a list of names of those you will give gifts to, holiday decorations that you want to buy, and special events that you want to attend.  Then put dollar figures beside each of these activities.  Set realistic dollar figures for each of your budget items.  Make them reasonable and affordable for you family. For example you might have a budget of $15-$20 per person for gifts, $50 for special events, and $75-$100 for decorations.

Much of our holiday spending is impulsive.  Shop with a list and stick to it.   Avoid using credit cards if possible so as not to incur debt that will haunt you in the New Year.  Take advantage of sales by shopping early in the season.  Don’t be that last minute shopper.

As an alternative to purchasing gifts, consider giving gifts of items that you already have and give gifts from your heart.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Consider giving a special piece of jewelry or glassware that a daughter or granddaughter admires.
  • A start from a plant that a friend would like to have.  Buy a pretty pot and give this new plant to your friend.
  • Do you make jams and jellies or other canned items that friends and relatives would like?  Make decorative jar toppers and give canned items as gifts.
  • Old photos that relatives would like to have.  Make copies and put into an album as a holiday gift.

Don’t think you have to break the bank to make the holidays special.  These gifts from the heart can be the most treasured gifts to receive.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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filing systemIs the fact that you receive so much information everyday stressful to you? Does the information needed to make a decision or remain informed about a topic flood in from too many sources/places? Is too much information filling your time and making it impossible to digest it all? How can you de-stress and avoid information overload?
Below are a few ideas of ways to help you avoid being overloaded:
Set up a filing system using only topics that are important and of interest to you. These will be topics that you care about. You might find that once you have this set up, if articles, pamphlets or booklets don’t fit the categories you have you will not save them.
Select your subscriptions carefully. If you delete or set aside newsletters every time they come and never get around to reading them you may want to be taken off the subscription list.
Combine items with like content into one document. Attach a reference list to the document.
Go through the newspapers, magazines and journals when they arrive. Tear out articles of interest and throw out the remaining items.
Keep a file or envelope of points of interest. This can include new books, websites, social media sites etc.. Once a month go through this file and obtain anything useful. Bookmark useful websites for quick locating.
Sometimes calling or stopping in to talk to someone is quicker and less work than e-mailing them. When e-mailing we spend a lot of time clarifying our message costing us more time and energy.
Unless the information is not likely to change, discard it at the 5 year point.
Divide the reading or research by joining or starting a book or journal club.
When you do read an article or book write an abstract so you do not have to re-read it the next time. This will save you time later.
These tips may not save you from information overload all the time, but hopefully at least one tip or more will be useful while decreasing your stress of overload!
Source: RD411.com
Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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