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Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness’

sunrise shining through trees with snow on the ground

Whether you love the wintertime for the beauty and possibilities that a fresh snowfall brings, or dread it for the cold temperatures and less daylight, it is important to give some thought to your wellness plan this winter. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Take time to be still. Learn to keep calm and be mindful in the present moment.
  • Do one thing at a time. Instead of trying to manage multiple tasks simultaneously all day long, give yourself the ‘brain break’ of doing just one task at a time. It’s harder than it sounds! During the writing of this article, I had to close my email, silence my phone and I still had 6 ‘distractions’ from my own thoughts that could have caused me to start working on multiple things. Instead, I made a note about each item to complete later.
  • Take a technology break. The constant notifications we get from all our electronic devices make it difficult to focus and be still.
  • Create something new! This could be a piece of art, a musical number, a new recipe. The act of creating can light up other parts of your brain that may be yearning for use.
  • Practice self-care. There is no substitute for eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep. Give your body what it needs.
  • Find ways to relax. Try meditation, yoga, massage, or take a walk in the woods.
  • Get outside. There is no substitute for natural light. If you work during the day, try to go for a walk during a break or lunch. Find a winter outdoor activity you enjoy like walking, hiking, tubing, ice skating or snowshoeing.
  • Invite the birds into your yard. Did you know that bird watching can help you feel more relaxed and happy? Providing bird seed and a heated water bath is sure to attract feather friends.
two birds at a bird feeder in the snow
  • Get moving. Physical activity works your muscles and expends energy. Exercise not only makes us stronger, it improves mood. Try a new type of indoor exercise like tai chi, pilates or line dancing.
  • Connect with others. It’s natural for some people to want to ‘hibernate’ during the winter. It’s important to connect with others. Make a date with a friend or family member.

For more ideas, check out these articles on finding joy in winter and beating the winter blues. Set a goal yourself this winter to be well. What is one small change you can make?

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

Reviewer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu

References:

Lobb, J. Opt Outside to Beat the Winter Blues. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 7 Jan 2021.

Powers-Barker, P. I Can’t Control the Winter Weather. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 24 Jan 2022.

Stanton, L. Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 30 Nov 2021.

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The sun shining behind a tree in winter.

The Winter Solstice occurs the moment the sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, which is the maximum tilt away from the sun. The significance of this event is that, in terms of sunlight, everyone living in the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and longest night of the year. This typically occurs around the 21st or 22nd of December every year.

In meteorological terms, the Winter Solstice marks the official start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the Winter Solstice will take place on Wednesday, December 21st (at 4:48 PM to be exact).

Here are four ways you and your family can observe and celebrate the Winter Solstice, indoors and outdoors:

Winter shadows in the snow.

1. Look At Your Shadow
If it is a sunny day, go outside around noon and check your shadow on the Winter Solstice. Even better, measure your shadow and remember how long it is. You can measure your shadow on other days of the year, but it will never be as long as it is on the Winter Solstice. This is because the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and therefore, casts the longest shadows of the year. Visit this NASA link to see a beautiful image that shows how the sun moves across the sky throughout the year and creates a fascinating pattern called an analemma.

2. Attend a Winter Solstice Celebration
Many parks, nature centers, and other outdoor venues hold Winter Solstice events. For example, in southwest Ohio, Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve holds an annual sunrise celebration. On the morning of the Winter Solstice, the sun strategically rises through a gap in the Fort Ancient earthworks. In central Ohio, OSU Chadwick Arboretum hosts an annual candle-lit labyrinth walk in the evening. For events close to you, try a quick internet search to find a Winter Solstice celebration near you.

3. Read About the Winter Solstice
Make a trip to your local library to find children’s books about the Winter Solstice. Snuggle up, light a fire or a candle, drink hot cocoa, and read a book together. Some book suggestions are:

  • The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
  • The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden

4. Rest and Reflect
Paying attention to nature and the four seasons is a healthy way to be mindful. It gives you an opportunity to be fully present in the moment and recognize that life is about change. We change and the seasons change. Pausing to recognize the shift that occurs at the Winter Solstice can connect us to the people, traditions, and memories that have come before us. The cold days and the long nights are perfect for rest, reflection, and setting your intentions for the new year and the next season of life.

Wishing you a wonderful and cheerful Winter Solstice! May the coming days bring warmth, light, and peace.

Winter Solstice Greetings image

Written by: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, powers-barker.1@osu.edu.

Sources:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2007, June 17). Astronomy Picture of the Day. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070617.html

Stanton, L. (n.d.) Mindfulness. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/mindful-warren-co

Stanton. L. (n.d.). Nature matters. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/nature-matters

Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E. & Richardson, M. Mindfulness and nature. Mindfulness (9), 1655–1658 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0883-6

Photo Credits:

© Björn Buxbaum-Conradi. Sun shining behind a tree in winter. Adobe Stock.

@ Lizzy Komen. Winter shadows in the snow. Adobe Stock.

@ Teddy and Mia. Winter Solstice greeting. Adobe Stock.

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Little boy with brown hair wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt running though a sprinkler. 
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Actor, Leslie Jordan shared in his book, How Y’all Doing?, “Happiness is a choice. Happiness is a habit. And happiness is something you have to work hard at. It does not just happen.”

Is this true? Can you coach yourself to be happy(ier)? According to Drs. Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term Positive Psychology in 1998, yes you can. By focusing on “strengths and behaviors that build a life of meaning and purpose…emphasizing meaning and deep satisfaction, not just on fleeting happiness,” you can work to enhance your happiness through gratitude (Psychology Today, 2022).

Gratitude is strongly associated with one’s level of happiness. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis (Harvard Health, 2021).

Black sign with white letters that says "Good Vibes Only" 
Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash
  • Keep a gratitude journal. There is no right way or wrong way to journal. List the people, places, and things for which you are grateful, or write about them in a story-telling fashion.
  • Write letters and thank you notes. When you express your gratitude by writing a letter, you are being an active participant in your happiness, investing in seeking out the goodness and joy that surrounds us.
  • Thank someone mentally. If you are on a time crunch and don’t have time to write a personal letter, just thinking about the person or action you are grateful for helps to maintain the pattern of reflecting on the positive impacts on your life.
  • Practice mindfulness. According to Psychology Today, “Monitoring your ongoing experience may make you feel happier by helping you slow down to appreciate things or to notice more of the happy things that are going on around you.”
  • Count your blessings. Spend just a few minutes each day listing all the blessings you have encountered. Cultivating this state of appreciation creates the habit of focusing on what you have rather than what you do not.

You do have the ability to impact your overall level of happiness! Practice the simple steps of gratitude on a daily basis and see if you find more contentment, joy, hope, and happiness in your life!

Sources:

Azar, B. (2011). Positive Psychology Advances, with Growing Pains. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/04/positive-psychology#:~:text=Positive%20psychology%20%E2%80%94%20a%20term%20coined,the%20cover%20of%20Time%20

Carter, C. (2005). Count your blessings. . Greater Good in Action: Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/count_your_blessings

Greenberg, M. (2020). The Surprising Reason mindfulness makes you happier. Psychology Today. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/202001/the-surprising-reason-mindfulness-makes-you-happier

Harvard Health. (2021). Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier#:~:text=In%20positive%20psychology%20research%2C%20gratitude,adversity%2C%20and%20build%20strong%20relationships.

Jordan, L. (2001). How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived. Harper Collins Publishers; New York. ISBN 978-0-06-307619-8

Psychology Today, (N.D.). Positive Psychology. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology

Sutton, C. (2019). Letters of Gratitude: How to write a message of appreciation. Positive Psychology.  Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-messages-letters-lists/

University of California, Berkeley, (2022). Gratitude Journal. Greater Good in Action: Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/gratitude_journal

Written by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County 

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Woman cooking with a skillet, surrounded by thought bubbles including the phrases "Small bites", "Slow down:", "Remove distractions" and "Use your senses".

What exactly is mindfulness? The definition would include a description of being conscious and aware or fully aware of yourself in the present moment. Therefore, mindfulness can also be incorporated into mealtimes. As the holiday season has commenced and festivities surrounding food are plentiful, practicing mindful eating can help you get through the feasts, focusing more on how you feel rather than what you are eating.

Unlike typical diets, mindful eating focuses on the sensual awareness and experience of food rather than restricting or removing it. Practicing mindful eating is about becoming more aware of your eating habits and listening to signals the body provides, such as feelings of hunger, fullness, and satiety. When practicing, you consciously choose to be fully present with your meal—paying attention to the process of eating and how you feel in response, without judgment. Eating should be a pleasant experience, and meals should be enjoyed, especially during the holidays. Mindful eating encourages you to be fully engaged during mealtime, allowing the moment and food consumed to be savored and reducing the negative feelings associated with restricting or overeating.

While the chaotic holiday season can frequently lead to binge eating, overeating, and stress eating. However, if you allow yourself to be fully present at mealtimes, you will be more likely to appreciate the food on your plate, take more time to eat, and be more in tune with the body signaling its satiety. If you are interested in the practice, consider the following techniques gathered from research on mindful eating:

  • Eat slower – take more time to chew and take breaks between bites to evaluate your feelings and thoughts on the meal.
  • Eat away from distractions such as the television or other electronics – distractions can cause mindless eating. Removing them can aid in determining triggers and allow for reflection.
  • Become aware of your body’s hunger cues and let those guide your choices on when to begin and stop eating – our brains may not signal fullness for up to 20 minutes, so take time to determine your level of satisfaction before going back for seconds or dessert.
  • Use all your senses when eating – focus on the appearance, smell, and flavors of all foods you eat to appreciate the nourishment you are providing your body.

Besides promoting better enjoyment and appreciation for food, mindful eating has been proven to aid in weight management and provide various health benefits. Studies have also suggested positive outcomes for those with chronic disease and eating disorders, but practicing mindfulness is advantageous for everyone!

Trying anything new for the first time can be difficult. Mindful eating is a practice that requires patience and continuous training to develop, but there are resources available to help you progress. While beginning your practice of mindful eating to prepare for seasonal gatherings is an ideal starting point, you will likely develop long-lasting skills and habits that will benefit you long after the hectic holiday season ends.

Sources:

Cleveland Clinic. (2022). What is Mindful Eating? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mindful-eating/

Mathieu, J. (2009). What Should You Know about Mindful and Intuitive Eating? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)01699-X/fulltext

Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum: a publication of the American Diabetes Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556586/#:~:text=Mindful%20eating%20(i.e.%2C%20paying%20attention,carbohydrates%2C%20fat%2C%20or%20protein.

Written by Kylee Tiziani, Bluffton University dietetic intern, with edits by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

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Paper turkey with words written on paper feathers

November is National Gratitude month and with Thanksgiving quickly approaching we often take time to reflect on aspects of our lives for which we are grateful. Every year in November my cousin’s family creates a paper turkey of gratitude. They do this every evening before dinner with the family and any guest, writing what they are thankful for that day on a paper feather and add it to Mr. Turkey. The end result is a fantastic visual representation of the family’s gratitude. The practice of gratitude leads to a variety of positive outcomes. I challenge you this year to express your gratitude not just on one day, or for one month, but throughout the year.

Author and researcher David Horsager, says the single greatest commonality in happy people is gratitude. Furthermore, those that are thankful are more content and fulfilled.

Other benefits of expressing gratitude:

  1. Builds stronger relationships
  2. Increases positivity
  3. Decreases anxiety
  4. Improves physical and psychological health
  5. Enhances empathy
  6. Reduces aggression
  7. Improved self-esteem

Gratitude can be an example of a mindfulness practice. “Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn. Here are a few tips to practice gratitude as mindfulness:

Open journal with pencil
  • Observe – when do you say thank you is it reactionary, as an afterthought, an expression with emotion and sincerity.
  • Write a thank you note.
  • Journal – note 3-4 items you are thankful for monthly, weekly, daily.
  • Create a collage – pictures or items to express your gratitude.
  • Gratitude flower or tree – write out something you are grateful for on a paper leaf or petal and create a design. Like my cousin’s paper turkey.
  • Reflection or guided gratitude meditation.

Written by: Laura Halladay, NDTR, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Greene County

Reviewed by: Megan Taylor, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Union County

Sources:

Allen, S. (2018, March 5). Is gratitude good for your health? Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_gratitude_good_for_your_health

Giving thanks can make you happier. (2021, August 14). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Horsager, D. (2020, November 25). The greatest secret of the magnetic person. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://trustedge.com/the-greatest-secret-of-the-magnetic-person/

Oppland, M. (2022, August 06). 13 most popular gratitude exercises & activities. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-exercises/

Thrive tip: Well-being through the practice of gratitude. (2022, February 06). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://hr.wustl.edu/well-being-through-the-practice-of-gratitude/

Picture Credit:
Paper Gratitude Turkey provided by Jill Dow
Journal Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

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Fall is a beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy all the sights, colors, and sounds of nature. All of this can be a treat for our senses. Connecting to your senses can be a simple way to reduce stress. Tapping into all five senses can immediately provide calming and healing powers.  Incorporate one of these sensory experiences into your day and enjoy finding something new about fall to love:

people walking in woods

Vision:

Have a scavenger hunt: look for items found in the woods or at a park, in your neighborhood, or stay in your own backyard.

Create some art: make a nature rubbing with paper and crayons. Collect interesting items such as bark or leaves and place them under the paper and rub them on top with a crayon.  Consider placing interesting leaves in a bowl or vase and enjoying for the season or arranging them in a frame.

Smell:

Pay attention to the new smells that come with the season. Bring your attention to the grass, flowers, and air of fall. Notice the difference between a sunny and rainy day and talk about these with your children or grandchildren noting the differences they perceive.

Taste:

Fall offers a variety of new taste experiences, including pumpkin, cinnamon, and more. Pay attention to how these seasonal flavors make you feel.

Touch:

Fall can provide new and exciting textures to explore. Grasses have different and new textures as the season changes. Acorns, leaves, bark, moss, pinecones, feathers, and more can all have interesting textures to explore.

Sound:

Crunching leaves, new bird sounds, and others can contribute to the exciting sounds of fall. Take some time to simply sit and observe the unique sounds of the season.

Try taking a sensory walk incorporating all these senses and enjoy the multi-sensory benefits of fall. Using all our senses to explore a new season can greatly enhance the experience of fall and provide fall memories that last!

Written by: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension.

Resources:

Globokar, L. (2020, November 27). Learn how reconnecting with your senses helps you to manage stress. Forbes. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lidijaglobokar/2020/11/30/learn-how-reconnecting-with-your-senses-helps-you-to-manage-stress/?sh=32696bec1544

Whitney-Coulter, A. (2022, January 26). Use your five senses to connect with nature. Mindful. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/sense-the-benefits-of-nature/

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I’ve always been curious about the outdoors but never really thought about how or what I do when I’m outside, until recently when a friend asked me, “How do you do nature?”  What a great question! It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when something is new or there is a shift in perspective, so here is a quick guide that will help get you started.

Before you get started here are a few things to keep in mind…first, it does not matter where you live…city country, or in an alleyway…nature IS all around us…if we just stop and notice.  Second, don’t overthink it. Just get out before you change your mind!  Stepping outside into your backyard might be a great place to start and when ready consider going to an Ohio park. Have the courage to turn off the TV and other devices and just go outside. Begin where you feel comfortable…for me it was in my own yard and only took a few minutes, so this does not have to be time consuming unless you want it to be. 

Once outside, you might be asking yourself “What do I do now?” Here are three simple ideas and a place to start:

blue skies, looking up at pine trees
Source: Gallup, S., March 29
  1. LOOK UP. As simple as this sounds…just look up. What do you see? Are you under the trees? Or the clouds?  As you look up, your thoughts begin to slow down, and you may begin to notice things you have not seen before.
  2. LOOK DOWN. What is under your feet? Mud? Grass? Tiny flowers?  Notice how you feel in this moment. Do you feel like sitting? Did you see something you wanted to take a closer look at? It is always amazing to me to see flowers or grass growing out of tiny little cracks in rock or concrete!
  3. LISTEN.  Stop and listen. What do you hear? Birds? Wind? Cars? Is it quiet?  Our senses come alive when we take the time to be still and we notice is amazing.   
Grass with single purple flower

Going into nature might feel a little awkward, but it gets easier the more you go out. For example, I started in my backyard and now this season I have walked the same path each day with my dog. We walk under the pines near the hospital and factories (in the city). I walked that path about 100 times and then one day, suddenly, I noticed that the pine trees I was walking under were all different!! It was a moment of awe and amazement for me!  From there my mind became more curious and found myself in nature more often, craving what few tend to stop and notice.  

I hope you find your way into nature.  Remember…don’t overthink it…just go! And remember to slow down, look up, look down, listen and look all around.

References:

Gallup. S.L. (2021). Falling In Love with Nature. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/19/falling-in-love-with-nature/

Stanton, L. M. (2021). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Written by:  Shari Gallup, MS., Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Licking County, Ohio. Gallup.1@osu.edu.

Reviewed by:  Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

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Based on the title of my blog, you might think it’s focused on yoga, tai chi, or some other form of gentle movement often associated with mindfulness. While all of these can be beneficial, mindful movement can include much more.

As a runner, I have struggled with an Achilles tendon injury for years. There have been times when I had to forego running altogether for several months at a time. After diligently doing things to heal, I have been able to resume running. When I have had to take breaks, I had to remind myself to start slowly and to gradually increase my distance. This is not and has not been easy. I have re-injured myself from going too far too soon and from not being mindful when moving my body. I have been back to running for a couple years with little trouble, though I must constantly remind myself to be mindful while running.

I recently started training for a marathon, a bucket list item before I reach the ½ century mark later this year. Even though I have a training plan/schedule, I also have to be flexible and listen to my body, particularly my left foot/heel as I am increasing my distance. I am keenly aware of how my usual state feels and when I notice it becoming altered, I must stop running and walk for a bit to give my muscles and my heel a rest from the repetitive running movement. I do this so I do not re-injure myself due to poor body mechanics. By being mindful of my stride length, of how and at what point my foot hits the ground, of the terrain, of my posture, and of my pace, I can continue running injury free.

Another part of mindful movement is paying attention to or noticing what’s happening around you at any given moment. Since I run primarily on the road, paying attention always, is imperative. By staying in the present moment, I am more aware of potential hazards, like holes in the road, icy patches, and speeding or distracted drivers. I also get to take in more of the scenery and beauty of the terrain. There is nothing better than running up a hill and then pausing to take in the view before heading down the other side. I notice different sounds, like cars in the distance or the wind picking up as it blows across the fields or through the trees and finally on me.

You may be thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, so what does this have to do with mindful movement? Well, mindful movement can be practiced ANYTIME you are moving!

Here are three easy steps to practice moving mindfully:

1.            Notice what is happening in the body.

2.            Recognize what is on your mind – notice troublesome thoughts we cannot stop. Recognize habitual patterns.

3.            Accept that feelings and thoughts are impermanent and just passing through. Allow them to be in the space you are noticing. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.

If you find resistance – just notice how that feels with a sense of kindness to yourself. Breathe into the blockage or difficulty with a sense of softness.

If your mobility is limited, notice what movements you can do with ease. Try to capitalize on movements that are OK for you, even circling your arms, hands, or feet, or flexing the wrists. Allowing, acceptance and kindness are key to any mindfulness practice, still or moving, sitting, laying down or standing.

How do you move mindfully?

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

Reviewed by Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Hardin County

Sources

Calechman, S., Bradley, C., Graham, L., Staff, M., Pratt, M., & Lagunju, O. (2022, February 4). Getting started with Mindful Movement. Mindful. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/getting-started-with-mindful-movement

Calechman, S., Bradley, C., Graham, L., Staff, M., Pratt, M., & Lagunju, O. (2022, February 4). Getting started with Mindful Movement. Mindful. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/getting-started-with-mindful-movement/

Dreskin, M., Smith, S., & Kane, D. (Eds.). (n.d.). The benefits of Mindful Movement. What Is Mindful Movement and What Are Its Benefits? | Mental Health & Wellness | Kaiser Permanente. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Renner, B. (2019, February 13). Mindfulness meditation too boring? try mindful movement to shed stress, anxiety. Study Finds. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.studyfinds.org/mindfulness-meditation-mindful-movement-stress-anxiety/

Seery, J. (2022, January 31). Mindful movement. Mindfulness Association. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/weekly-challenge/mindful-movement/

Work Well NYC. (n.d.). Improving Mind-Body Wellness Through Mindful Movement. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/olr/wellness/wellnesshome.page. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/olr/downloads/pdf/wellness/improvingmindbodywellnessthroughmindfulmovement.pdf

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Three young people standing outside, one looking through binoculars and one pointing

Recently, I met an 11-year-old who likes birds. Since I self-identify as a bird nerd, we started talking and I quickly realized this young person had a genuine curiosity and passion for birds. She told me she had checked out Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America from her school library and had no intention of returning it.

As a parent of teenagers, I struggle to get my kids off screens and out in nature, despite my constant reminders about the health benefits of getting outdoors. Here was a young person who wanted to get outside, so we made plans to go birding together.

And birding we did. The two of us spent 5 hours out in the cold on a gloomy, gray day and we had a blast. She brought (and I carried) the large, heavy Smithsonian library book with her. When we spotted a bird, she knew exactly where to find it in the book.

It was delightful to bird with a young person who was excited and engaged. I look forward to birding with her and other young people in the future. After spending time with a young birder, it became clear to me why we should take young birders under our wing:

  • They are connecting with nature: Our young people are disconnected from the natural world. Studies found that 8- to 12-years-old spend 4 to 6 hours on screens every day, while teens spend up to 9 hours. Time spent on screens almost always equates to time spent indoors, disconnected from nature.
  • They can showcase their strengths: Birdability is a non-profit organization that “ensures that birding truly is for everybody and every body, regardless of disability or other health concerns.” Their blog has stories from birders who are autistic, color-blind, hearing-impaired, and mobility-challenged. One young birder described her ADHD as her birding superpower since she saw and heard so many details around her!
  • They benefit from Vitamin N (Nature): There are decades of research that show the positive impact that spending time outdoors has on our mental and physical health. Nature has unique health benefits to young people, especially when it comes to kids with ADHD, allergies, asthma, weight issues, and mental health challenges.
  • They are becoming environmental stewards: Children who spend time in nature are more likely to feel connected to nature as adults, and therefore, more likely to care for and protect the natural world.

After our birding outing, I purchased my new birding buddy her own copy of the Smithsonian Handbook. I am selfishly hoping the returned library book will inspire another young birder at her school. I also added a Birds of Ohio Field Guide to her collection so the next time we’re out birding, neither of us has to lug a 752-page handbook.

Additional Birding Resources:
To find more information about birds and birding, please visit: go.osu.edu/nature-matters-birds

25th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count photo

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Photo Credit: Kindel Media from Pexels

References:

Alsop, F. J. (2001). Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America: Eastern Region. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Wells, N. M. & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from Childhood Nature Experiences to Adult Environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(1), 1–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.16.1.0001

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

Scripps Health. (2022, January 10). Do Your Kids Spend Too Much Time in Front of a Screen? https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4688-do-your-kids-spend-too-much-time-in-front-of-a-screen

Stanton, L. M. (2021, February 11). Benefits of Being a Bird Nerd. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/02/11/benefits-of-being-a-bird-nerd

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Stanton, L. M. (2021, November 30). Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/30/wonder-and-wander-in-nature-this-winter

Tekiela, S. (2020). Birds of Ohio Field Guide. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications.

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A nice hot cup of tea can be so soothing on a cold winter day. When is the last time you enjoyed some tea? Can you remember a time when you enjoyed tea with a close friend or family member? I have a dear friend who just passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. We would enjoy many a conversation over a soothing cup of tea. Tea also reminds me of my grandmother. I used to watch as she put a little milk in her tea, and I loved to see the milk swirl as it dissipated in the tea.

Did you know tea can help us improve our health and wellness?

Tea has many health benefits. Specifically, it has been associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The substances in tea we have to thank for these health benefits are a type of nutrient called flavonoids. More specifically, the particular type of flavonoids found in tea are catechins. Catechins can do some amazing things like improve the function of our blood vessels and reduce the initial development of cancerous cells. While all kinds of tea contain catechins, green tea has three times more than oolong or black tea. For more information on how tea can benefit your health, check out this article from North Dakota State University Extension.

In addition to its physical health benefits, you can use the experience of drinking tea to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be practiced by paying attention to something in the present moment, and you can bring attention to something as simple as brewing and drinking a cup of tea. Using your senses is a great way to practice mindfulness. For example, with just one sip of tea you could:

Smell the tea before you brew it, whether you use a tea kettle or the microwave.

Watch the steam curl in the air as it rises from the cup.

Feel the warm cup in your hands.

Taste and savor the flavor of the tea as you sip it.

Feel the hot liquid as it travels down your esophagus.

Try that with a few more sips. Then, during your next cup of tea, expand your practice a little more.

For more details on how to practice mindfulness with a cup of tea, this article has great tips.

Whether you drink tea by yourself or with a loved one, take a moment to think about the benefits you are bringing to your mind and body. Maybe this new mindfulness practice could be ‘your cup of tea.’

Written by Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Fairfield County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Garden-Robinson, J. “Take Time for Tea: For Health and Well-being” (FN1328, Reviewed July 2021). North Dakota State University Extension. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/take-time-for-tea-for-health-and-well-being

Halliwell, E. “How to Be Mindful with a Cup of Tea” (Nov 2016) Excerpted from Into the Heart of Mindfulness. https://www.mindful.org/mindful-cup-tea/

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

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