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Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness’

Each year I select a word for the upcoming year. It isn’t something I do lightly. I spend time considering what I want to focus my intentions on for the upcoming year. Instead of making numerous New Year resolutions, use this word to set goals or intentions in each area of your life. They can all circle back to your word.

Here are some real-life examples of my journeys this year. One journey this year includes physical wellness. With hip replacement surgery this summer, I truly appreciate the complexities of the body and how important this journey of physical activity and wellness. Physical activity helps all of us. It is a stress reliever and can help you strengthen both your body and mind. If you are new to movement, start slowly and add activity to your day. Not sure you are ready to move more? Check out this website for reasons to get started.  

Another journey for me has been my emotional and mental health. I’m working on emotional wellness by reducing stress, counseling, and practicing mindfulness. Writing in my gratitude journal helps me appreciate life so much more. This simple practice can improve your health and happiness.

The final journey I’ll share is my transition from work life to retirement. I’ve worked since I was 5 years old. My first work memory was my dad asking me to fill the pop cooler at our little grocery store, Treber Grocery. I worked there until we sold the store after my dad’s death when I was 17 years old. This early work experience taught me the value of hard work, customer service and taking care of people. That philosophy has sustained me throughout my work career. I have tried to emulate some of my words of the year: strength, kindness, and balance. As I shift towards retirement or “rewirement” I know that this will be another journey – more free time, fewer work demands and reduced work stress. More time for personal reflection, travel and creative expression to name a few!

The National Institutes of Health has several Wellness Toolkits to help you get started on your Wellness Journey. What are you waiting for?

Your Journey awaits! Feel free to share in our comments about your wellness journey.

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

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

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October is emotional wellness month!  What exactly is emotional wellness?  Emotional wellness encompasses the feeling of happiness and success. It is learning how to deal with the ups and down of life, coping with challenges and having control of your life and a sense of purpose.  When you are emotionally well you function more effectively in your workplace, community, and in relationships. 

Mental Health America (MHA) reports that over 40 million Americans suffer from at least one mental health problem.  Prolonged untreated mental health problems may lead to more severe psychological and physical health conditions such as: insomnia, hypertension, headaches, shortness of breath, impulsivity, and muscle aches.  Mindfulness, along with a healthy lifestyle, and stress management can help you deal with mental health problems.  Treatment can include medication along with healthy habits, yoga, meditation, and counseling.

Make your life better by establishing healthy habits. To encourage holistic health, focus on healthy habits which make you feel good!

  • Mindfulness:  Be mindful, focus on the specific moment you are in.
  • Journaling:  Write down your joys.
  • Meditate/Yoga
  • Laugh!  Laughing releases, the happy juice — endorphins. With endorphins surging through our bloodstream, we’re more apt to feel happy and relaxed. With each laugh, therefore, we’re relieving stress, reducing anxiety, and increasing our stores of personal energy.
  • Say “NO” without guilt.  Learning to set boundaries and spending time for yourself is imperative for self-care.
  • Read Books
  • Seek therapy
  • Communicate with others your feelings and needs.
  • Focus on the good.

American Psychological Association, (2018) Stress Effects on the Body. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body

Miller, K. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science.  Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Powers-Barker, P., (2016).  Introduction to Mindfulness.  Ohioline: Ohio State University Extension. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Written by:  Kellie Lemly M.Ed., Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D. Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Darke County, scammahron.5@osu.edu

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On Saturday, I rushed through the kitchen and announced to my household: “Don’t follow my example. I’m trying to do too many things at once but here’s what I need you to do ….”  Some of the tasks I was trying to accomplish were putting groceries away in the refrigerator, reminding the kiddos what to get ready so we could leave for an event, and I needed to return a text with timely information. I thought I might have pulled it off until the next morning. Three food items that should have gone in the refrigerator were still sitting in the grocery bag on the counter. Ugh! I hate that I wasted time and money on food that was planned for the week.

Before I blame this pressure to multitask on modern expectations, the following quote is attributed to Mozart (1756 – 1791): The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time. The temptation to multitask is strong but the hidden costs of multitasking can build up. While we might feel like we are getting a few things done at once, research has shown that our brain is switching between the tasks and has to constantly re-focus on each new task. The challenge is “even though multitasking is wildly inefficient, it feels productive”.

“I’m trying to do too many things at once”. The next time that thought pops into my brain, or the words come out of my mouth, what can I do? I can take a mindful pause. It will not “waste” any time to pause, take a few deep breaths or even do a one-to-three-minute mindfulness practice. The immediate, rushed pressure of the moment will diminish. It will be easier for my brain to determine the order of the tasks or if I can delegate a task or if I can save a task until another time. Don’t follow my example when I’m trying to rush and multitask. Go ahead and follow my example when I take a pause, decide what needs to be done first and then do one thing at a time. 

Sources:

Carter, C. (2020). Three ways to help your kids succeed at distance learning: How can parents support their children at the start of an uncertain school year?. Greater Good Science Center. Berkeley University of California. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_to_help_your_kids_succeed_at_distance_learning

Guided Meditations. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations#english

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A., & Ostergren, M. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Graphics Interface Conference.  

Powell S. K. (2016). Mindfulness, Multitasking, and You. Professional case management21(2), 61–62. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCM.0000000000000141     https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26844712/

Wang, Z., & Tchernev, J. (2012). The “myth” of media multitasking: Reciprocal dynamics of media multitasking, personal needs, and gratifications. Journal of Communication 62 (2012) 493–513 © 2012 International Communication Association

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

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Celebrating the 4th of July reminds us that we are amid the middle of Summer.   The warm weather and sunny days are a perfect time to think about improving our self-care.  Take a little extra care of yourself and change up your routine to enjoy all this season has to offer.  Here are some suggestions to help you get started, get outside, and enjoy the sunshine:

  • Abandon the couch and relax outdoors.  Take a blanket or lawn chair and something to read and set up a retreat to enjoy being outdoors on a beautiful sunny day!
  • Take a walk. A walk is a great way to clear your head and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.  Invite a friend and get your exercise while catching up.
  • Visit your local farmer’s market. Take advantage of seasonal produce and local vendors. A trip to the farmer’s market can be a great opportunity to try new foods,  incorporate healthier options into your diet and enjoy local produce.
  • Gardening is a great way to meditate, enjoy the outdoors and get some sunshine.   It is an opportunity to spend time with your family and make new friends.
  • Tidy one small space in your home or office.    Organize a drawer or your desktop– even having one space clean and free of clutter helps you feel calmer.
  • Make a summer playlist. There are many great summer tunes to enjoy.   Music is an easy way to improve your mood and motivate you to get moving.
  • Have a picnic. Enjoying a meal outside is an easy way to get fresh air and sunshine. 
  • Try a new exercise.  Try a new outdoor activity.  Hiking, pickle ball or swimming are frequent outdoor activities.  Remember to use sunscreen and bug spray!   
  • Participate in community events.  Search online or in the newspaper for events going on around town. Consider outdoor movies, yard sales, festivals, farmer’s markets, or concerts.  Making fun plans is exciting and gives you something to look forward to.
  • Start a journal. Writing can be a great way to express how you feel and check-in with your emotions. Or create a drawing or doodle journal.  Document summer1
  • Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend – family member or grandparent.
  • Go exploring.  Look into areas you have not visited in your community.  Find a new part of town you have never visited and visit. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Try meditation or create a list of 10 things you are thankful for daily.
  • Complete a needs assessment.   How was last week?  How can you make next week better?  Do you need more sleep?  Prepare some healthy meals in advance and freeze.  Take a moment to reflect and decide what is needed to take better care of yourself. 

Use these ideas to complete your own self-care checklist this summer.  Small changes to your routine can improve your self-care practice and overall mood. Focus on new ways you can be active, get outside and get involved with your community. Have a great summer!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu

References

https://extension.illinois.edu/global/summer-self-care-series

Self-care: 4 ways to nourish body and soul – Harvard Health

Self Care 101 | Psychology Today

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When was the last time you fell in love? Maybe it was when you found a special someone, got a new puppy or saw a beautiful grand-baby for the first time. What about falling in love with nature? It only takes a moment to stop and notice things happening in nature, and the good news is you do not have to be a naturalist to reap the benefits of bringing nature into your daily life!

Experiencing nature can be a simple as stopping to notice the big, puffy white clouds in the sky or watching the sun set from your window. The other day I found beautiful bright pink pinecones on a tree that I walk by every single day and never noticed. When we stop and notice the little things in nature, we begin experiencing a deeper connection to something more.

Pink pinecones
Photo source: Shari Gallup, 2021. “Pink Pinecones.”

Nature has a way of calming and healing the human mind and body. Have you ever noticed that you feel happier when you spend time in nature?

Spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Research done in hospitals, offices and schools found that the presence of a plant in a workroom can decrease stress and anxiety, and office plants have been shown to reduce employee sick days and improve work productivity.

It is easy to let daily life go by with the busyness of ballgames, work, and other activities, but it only takes a moment to stop and “smell the roses.”  If it is not possible to get outside, here are a few ways to bring nature inside:

Bring plants indoors: I keep a mint plant on my desk and between meetings, I scratch the leaf to release the oil scent and take a few deep breaths in through my nose. My eyes naturally begin to close, and I become calm. Plants help reduce stress and tension. Choose plants that you enjoy and that are easy to grow indoors, or bring in fresh flowers and place them in a container where you can see them.  

Bring the smell of nature indoors: Bring in aromatic flowers, herbs, or pinecones, or use diffusers, candles, or sprays in natural scents like pine, citrus, lavender, or lemon.

Watch the birds:  Set up a bird or suet feeder near a popular window, grab a pair of binoculars if you have one, and watch nature from indoors. There is a lot of great information available from the National Audubon Society if you are new to bird watching, and there are many benefits to becoming a bird nerd

If you want to fall in love with nature, start with something small at first, or choose just one of the suggestions above and go slow…that’s the whole idea!

If you would like to learn more, please join me for a free class on Nature and Nutrition on June 9th at noon!  Register at https://go.osu.edu/wellnessweds.

Written by Shari Gallup, MS, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County and Laura Stanton, MS, Family and Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County.

Sources:

Beans, Laura (2014).  Study Shows Living Close to Nature Improves Mental Health. https://www.ecowatch.com/study-shows-living-close-to-nature-improves-mental-health-1881858780.html

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (2015). #PlantsDoThat. https://consumerhort.org/plantsdothat-3/

University of Minnesota. Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing. Healing Environment. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/healing-environment  

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It has been almost a year working from home. I look back on the year and have realized how much I have grown practicing self-care. I am going to be honest I can promote and share self-care practices, but it doesn’t come easy for this mom of four! Looking back on the first few weeks working from home learning all the technology, transitioning the kids to virtual schooling, I remember feeling scattered, unable to focus, nervous, and completely overwhelmed! These feelings made me even more frustrated because I am a working mother of four, and an educator. I take pride in my ability to be flexible and adaptable in any given situation. They now have a term for this feeling, pandemic paralysis, a loss of function or movement of your limbs or an emotional way, where you procrastinate, you can’t move, you can’t act, and you’re not doing the tasks that you need or have to do.

One day in the afternoon when I was feeling overwhelmed, all I could think of was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In our house a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not the literal sandwich that you may be thinking of! I have 12 yr. old triplets and at one time I could hold all three of them in my lap. Since they have outgrown my lap we have come up with a ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich’. I am the sticky peanut butter and two of them are the slices of bread and then we have the jelly on top! Feeling anxious, I stopped everything I was doing went and laid on my bed and said, “I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, and they came running and we laid there with our legs and arms all intermingled. We giggled, smiled, and talked as we laid there all snuggled together. Afterward I felt so much better. I no longer felt anxious and was able to go back to working.

Did you know when you are hugged it relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and releases endorphins.  This can reduce tension and soothe aches and pains. Hugging increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These are the happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure and happiness which boost our mood and relieves stress and anxiety. Research has shown that hugs can boost immunity, lower stress, increase self-esteem, and reduce depression.

The day I was feeling the need for a hug I had my children. But if you are feeling the need for a hug and have no one to hug, you can trick your brain and give yourself a hug.  By hugging yourself your brain will release the same hormones and you will have the benefits of a warm hug.

How To Hug Yourself:

  1. Wrap your arms around yourself. Bring your left arm across your chest and place your left hand on your right shoulder or upper arm. Bring your right arm across your chest, placing your hand on your left shoulder or upper arm. You can reverse the order, just find a position that is most comfortable for you.
  2. Give yourself a nice big squeeze. Press both arms into your body. Mimic the pressure that you feel when you get a reassuring bear hug.
  3. Hold for as long as necessary. Sometimes a quick hug is all you need, while other times you might want a lingering, gentle hug.

References:

Dunfee, L. (2019). Am I in Control or is My Stress? Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/01/am-i-in-control-or-is-my-stress/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Lamburg, E., (2020). Health Benefits of Hugging, Backed By Science.  The Healthy. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/benefits-of-hugging/

Ocklenburg Ph.D., S., (2018). 3 Surprising Ways Hugging Benefits Your Well-Being, Psychology Today.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-asymmetric-brain/201812/3-surprising-ways-hugging-benefits-your-well-being

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MEd, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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Yahtzee, Yatzy, Play, Cube, Craps, Fun, Leisure, Tricky
Yachtzee-like game

This afternoon my daughter comes into the living room and asks, “Where is the Yahtzee?” I was a little miffed. Why would I be upset that my 17-yo wants to do something that doesn’t involve technology? Let me explain. My parents recently came home from Florida to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and for a couple medical appointments and they are staying with us. My mom likes to play Yahtzee, so the kids usually end up playing it with her. I was miffed because I would LOVE for my kids to play games with me! I have to basically beg or threaten them to get them to play a game. My “kids” are ages 23, 21, and 17.

Since my parents are usually in Florida during the winter, I am happy to have them here. As I listened to my older son, my daughter, and my mom laughing and hooting downstairs, I couldn’t help but smile. You see, it is moments like these that I realize, the little things really are the big things. As much as I wanted to go down and join in the fun, I didn’t want to interrupt this grandparent-grandchildren bonding time. So, I sat upstairs with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart, listening to them play Yahtzee. I am very happy that my kids get to have the fun experiences they do with both sets of their grandparents.

Corona 19, Mask, Spring, In The Spring I'M Back, Family
Family with masks on

According to research by the American Psychological Association, happy memories from our childhood, especially of our parents, have been linked to better health later in life. I would never claim to be the best parent, but I hope that my children have more fond memories than not. That the times when I was or am frustrated with them or someone or something else are not overshadowed by the absolute love I have for them and incredible joy it has been and still is to be their mother.

I remember the day I brought each of my kids home. I could not believe that the hospital was just letting me walk out the door with this new life without some type of license or certification demonstrating some level of parenting proficiency. I mean, I can’t legally drive a car without a license. I had to take a class to learn how to save a life, but I was able to just walk right out the door with this tiny human.

When I hear parents of young children complaining or apologizing for their kid’s interruptions on Zoom meetings, I tell them that there is no need. When they are frustrated with their child, I remind them that it will pass. For those of us with grown children, we know all too well how quickly time passes. While you are wishing for them to sleep through the night, to say their first word, to become potty trained, etc. etc., you may be missing out on lots of little things. Little things that some day you will realize were the big things. As I read over this blog about mindful parenting that I wrote, I cannot believe it has been almost 3 years! Time ticks on.

As Bonnie Ware observed while working for hospice, the things people regret when they are faced with death, have little to do with the things we worry most about most of our life. When questioned about regrets patients had or things they would do differently, these were the five most common themes:

Pictures, Memories, Nostalgia, Saudade, Old Photos
Black & white pictures
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So, as we continue to endure this pandemic and all the challenges, try not to forget to embrace the people and the moments that you have, instead of focusing on when we will get back to “the way things were.” Because I guarantee you, there are little things happening right in front of you, that someday you will realize were the big things.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, OSU Extension Educator, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2018, November 5). Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/11/happy-childhood-memories

Harmon, M. (2018, March 30). Mindful parenting: Enjoy every moment. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/harmon-416osu-edu/mindful-parenting-enjoy-every-moment/

Meyer, M., & Kandic, A. (2017, October 30). Grandparenting in the United States. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177109/

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (n.d.). How the Covid-19 vaccine works. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/patient-care/covid-19-vaccine/how-the-covid-19-vaccine-works

Ware, B. (n.d.). Dying regrets, wise advice and life lessons. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-02-2012/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.html

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Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Promotes mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Barred Owl. JPEG file.

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.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 sat for what seemed like a frustrating amount of hours and minutes every day… zooming, teleworking, watching television, healing from back pain (exacerbated by long hours on the computer)… almost immobilized by fear, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation… and I felt guilty… why wasn’t I connecting more with my teen children, who are struggling through this pandemic with their own issues; connecting more with my husband who is a teacher and so exhausted from teaching all day, trying to motivate his students to hold it together, that he is crashed out napping in the other room? Why wasn’t I more effective with supervising my work teams? Is this all that life has right now? Is this what the next several months will be like? Maybe.

Young woman sitting looking out window

Have you been here? When there are things you must do, but you just can’t move? This phenomenon has been termed “pandemic paralysis” recently by psychologists and popular press. This paralysis can leave us feeling defeated, deflated and depressed.

And then one evening that just seemed to drag on endlessly, I got up and cleaned the bathroom in my home. That felt motivating in and of itself, as it had been too long-neglected. So I cleaned another bathroom, then the kitchen. I asked my husband for help on a project I couldn’t do by myself. Then my kids came home and my daughter asked for help with studying, and my son needed to talk through an issue that was bothering him. And I had energy and desire to assist. I re-connected with a sense of purpose even in my own home. With the next workday, I was re-committed to the teams and staff I support and supervise. I want to help others be their best self, contributing to the best team. I reached out to a couple friends and acquaintances to check on how they were doing.

How can we switch from that time paralyzed on the couch to feeling productive and worthwhile? Sometimes, we just need to do something. Living with the uncertainty of so many issues in this pandemic can be exhausting and paralyzing. But take heart, there are some things we can do.

Start with what you CAN do. Try to impact some things you can control.

Shift from worry and problem-focused thinking to solution-focused thinking. Focus on aspects of a problem that you can do something about, and you’ll enter a mode of active problem-solving.

Chunk your time – This term is used by mental health professionals to help people understand how to break tasks into smaller, more do-able segments. Creating just the right size chunk of a task helps you feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps us not to feel so overwhelmed, which can snuff out any degree of motivation. This is a good approach to ‘one day at a time’ or ‘one moment at a time.’

Deal with your emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Try to deal with those negative emotions instead of ignoring them. Allow yourself to experience these emotions during times of uncertainty, and they will eventually pass.

If you struggle greatly with the need for control and certainty, perhaps that is something to learn to let go of. Helpguide.org has lots of practical tips and a meditation.

If you literally don’t have the strength to get up, get some help. Call your doctor, talk to a licensed mental health practitioner. Please reach out to someone!

If you can impact your immediate environment enough to make a small, motivating change, you can create that power in your own life. The power of now. The power of the positive. The power of finding purpose. What if the ‘something’ you do is so much greater than cleaning a bathroom? What if what you decide to do is help someone beyond your family, reaching out to those in need. How much more will that help you feel empowered to do something? Do anything!

Other Live Healthy Live Well Blogs to help on this topic:

Sources:

Cloyd, S. “Productivity: The Time Chunking Method.” Rhodes College Academic and Learning Resources. https://sites.rhodes.edu/academic-and-learning-resources/news/productivity-time-chunking-method

Robinson, L and Smith, M. 2020. “Dealing with Uncertainty During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/dealing-with-uncertainty.htm

“Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” 2021. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/brycelab/covid-19-guidance-for-our-spinal-cord-injury-community/your-mental-health-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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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By: Kellie Lemly

This year has been a whirlwind of emotions to say the least.  The pandemic has challenged each and everyone of us!  And yet here we are ​putting one foot in front of the other coming into the holiday season! 

I found myself looking forward to Thanksgiving with family and friends, once again Dealing With Disappointment with the restrictions due to the coronavirus.  I had to stop myself and focus on the “here and now” realizing I have many things to be grateful for.

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation and being thankful for what it is. Research has shown expressing gratitude can improve mood, alleviate stress and depression. Over time practicing gratitude can offer benefits such as, optimism, positivity, and mindfulness.

It is difficult trying to find that glimmer of gratitude when you have been struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few tips on ways to practice being grateful.

  • Mindfulness: Be mindful, focus on the specific moment you are in.
  • Guided imagery: Use positive mental images to influence how you feel.
  • Journaling: Write down the joys of daily life.
  • Think about the people who have inspired you.
  • Focus on the good, the things people have done for you.
  • Meditate 
  • Pray
  • Think about something that has happened to you that was positive and how it would be different if that event didn’t happen.
  • Say “thank you” ​

This year we have all struggled with disappointment, loss, and adaptation. We have all given up precious and valuable moments. However, despite everything this year has thrown at us,  I have realized that there are so many little things I am grateful for!

Brown, J., & Wong, J. (n.d.). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Greater Good Magazine: Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

Miller, K. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science.  Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Powers-Barker, P., (2016).  Introduction to Mindfulness.  Ohioline: Ohio State University Extension. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MS, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

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