Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

sun shining on a bed of wildflowers

As health restrictions are lifting from the pandemic, I have been able to interact with more people in person. When others ask how I’m doing, I say “fine” … but what I really want to say is “meh.” I’m doing okay… not depressed… but not great either. I find that I really have to psyche myself up for another week of work, and for certain tasks at work and home. I usually rise to the occasion, but it takes a lot of energy to overcome the urge to seek the solitude or even the isolation that I thought I couldn’t wait to escape.

A colleague pointed me to an enlightening article on languishing and it captured so much of what I have felt in the past few months. Psychologists describe languishing as slightly withered, wilted or faded. The pandemic has left a lot of people feeling this way. Initially, the pandemic may have incited feelings of fear, anxiety, dread and paralysis… and as these feelings have faded, they have left languish in their wake.

Emory University Professor Corey Keyes has been publishing about languishing since 2002, but it took the pandemic to bring greater attention to this work. Keyes describes languish as the absence of feeling good about life and lacking purpose or meaning in one’s life. Languish is the middle ground between depression and optimal well-being or flourishing. While depression is clinically diagnosable with the presence of certain behaviors, languish is feeling indifference, emptiness, and stagnation. Keyes’ research found languish to be a predictor of developing depression and anxiety as well as increased risk of suicide attempts. We need to acknowledge and treat languish so it doesn’t turn into depression later, and so we can live our best lives.

How do we move from languishing to flourishing? Thankfully, there are research-backed steps we can take. In fact, there are entire programs at universities dedicated to helping others flourish: The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, and The Wellbeing at Work project at the University of Notre Dame. Here are some of their highlights:

Name your feelings – It helps to identify emotions and give them a name. Once you identify languish and name it, you can start to deal with it. You might start to notice examples of it all around you in family members, friends, co-workers.

Find your flow – Flow can be described as feeling fully engaged or even engrossed in an activity that motivates and excites you. For me recently, that has been home improvement projects, from the smallest detail like a broken switch plate cover, to larger re-wiring or painting projects. As long as I have something to keep me focused, I can find my flow. As one project concludes, I line up another. Perhaps the activity that will get you into flow is learning something new. The act of learning a new task or skill can engage your brain and sharpen your focus.

Free yourself from disruptions – Give yourself what your brain might be craving: time to become engrossed in an activity and let it captivate you. We find joy and purpose when we can gain a sense of progress on an activity or task.

Focus on a small goal – Is there a goal you can set to increase your skills or strengthen your resolve? Find a challenge that is meaningful to you and commit time to it each day.

Cultivate gratitude – Recognize and savor the good in your present situation. Imagine your best possible self, and volunteer or provide acts of kindness for others to make your best self a reality.

Start wherever you are… and if that is languish, decide to take a small step toward blooming and flourishing. If languish is like a fading photograph, then imagine steps toward flourishing as a color touch-up, bringing vibrancy back into your life. Share your journey with someone, as you just might help them out. It could be refreshingly authentic to answer ‘meh’ next time someone asks how you are doing.

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

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

Sources:

Grant, A. (2020). There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing. New York Times. Published April 19, 2021, Updated May 5, 2021

Keyes, C.L. (2002). The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222. doi:10.2307/3090197

Keyes, C. L., Dhingra, S. S., & Simoes, E. J. (2010). Change in level of positive mental health as a predictor of future risk of mental illness. American journal of public health100(12), 2366–2371. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2010.192245

VanderWeele, T.J. (2017). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 31:8148-8156.

Read Full Post »

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 phenomena 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 work day, 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

Read Full Post »

Rainbow, Weather, Nature, Mood, Natural Phenomenon
Rainbow over green fields

When I wrote my blog Certainty in Uncertain Times in March, little did I know how many things would change over the next 8 months. I didn’t know I would still be working primarily from home, not see my colleagues for a year except on Zoom, all the conferences I attend would be virtual, do teaching mostly via Zoom, and despite it all, my family and I would be doing mostly well. It seems like yesterday I was packing things up from my office that I would need to work from home for a couple weeks.

While the changes have been difficult, I continue to focus on things I can control. My colleague wrote a blog in March about flattening the curve and my family has practiced the recommendations provided by the experts. Thankfully, our efforts have kept us healthy so far. While it has not been easy, we continue to focus on the reasons we choose to make these small sacrifices. We cannot control others, but we can do our part.

As challenging as it has been, there have been opportunities to grow my comfort zone. I have collaborated with colleagues from across the state to provide a variety of webinars, classes, and other projects. I have participated in professional development opportunities virtually, I have learned more about Zoom than I ever imagined I would, and I have embraced things (like Zoom) that I might never have.

As much as I have adapted and grown, it has not been all fun and games. I miss my co-workers, my colleagues, my participants, and my community partners. Not interacting with people face to face is hard for me and it has been the most difficult and stressful part of this entire situation.

OSU’s Chief Wellness Officer Bern Melnyk developed the acrostic COPE with COVID early in the pandemic to help people deal with stress:

Control the things that you can, not the things you can’t

Open up and share your feelings

Practice daily stress reduction tactics, including physical activity

Engage in mindfulness; be here now; worry will not help!

Count your blessings daily

Overturn negative thoughts to positive

Volunteer to help others

Identify helpful supports and resources

Do your part to prevent spread of the virus

Horizon, Sky, Sunset, Ocean, Water, Sea, Beach, Orange
Sun setting over the ocean

There are days when this is easier than others. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips to help increase resilience:

Get connected. Build strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends to provide needed support and acceptance.

Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider skills and strategies that helped.

Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future.

Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.

Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action.

As we continue to deal with challenges and changes, we can look for positive ways to grow and move forward. While it may seem that it has been a long time and that it may never end, this too shall pass, eventually. This quote from Friedrich Nietzche sums up my feelings, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” I hope you can focus on your why to help you get through your how.

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

Reviewed by:  Melissa J. Rupp, OSU Extension Educator, Fulton County  rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

Harmon, M. (2020, January 28). How Comfortable are You? Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/30/how-comfortable-are-you/

Lobb, J. (2020, March 13). Flattening the Curve. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/16/flattening-the-curve/

Harmon, M. (2020, March 19). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, October 27). How to build resiliency. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

Melynk, B. (n.d.). COVID-19 Resources. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://wellness.osu.edu/chief-wellness-officer/covid-19-resources

Read Full Post »

As the world finds its way through the uncharted waters of this pandemic, you may find yourself navigating your own course. With stay-at-home orders, canceled events and limited gatherings, we are all experiencing isolation and loss on some level. Perhaps you have even suffered from depression at some point this year. You’re not alone.

Person sitting with hands folded, displaying stress symptoms

A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the stress from pandemics can bring about these responses:

  • Fear and worry about health (your own and loved ones’)
  • Fear and worry about your job or finances
  • Concern about loss of support services you depend upon
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Decline of chronic health conditions
  • Increase of mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances

With all of these stressful thoughts, it’s no wonder we may be feeling anxious, which can lead to depression. And while there is so much that is out of our control, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Cope with stress

  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Just knowing the facts can reduce stress and help you feel more empowered.
  • Learn what to do if you are sick. The first step is to contact your healthcare professional.
  • Find out where to get treatment, support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take a break from news and social media. Constantly hearing news of the pandemic adds to your stress.
  • Distract yourself from the stress of the pandemic by taking up a new hobby or something that adds purpose or joy to your life.
person walking on road near woods

Take care of yourself

Connect with others

  • Talk with people you trust about your feelings and concerns.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting in different ways: online, social media, phone or mail.

This pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel endless at times. Until then, use these tips to take care of yourself and to live healthy AND well!

Sources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html  

Robinson, L. and Smith, M. “Dealing with Depression During Coronavirus.” HelpGuide.org. Last updated: May 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Panchal, N. et. al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The Kaiser Family Foundation. August 2020.  https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

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

Read Full Post »

person in black sweatshirt looking in window at her grandmother

Through a window, via Facetime and a cell phone — that is how people are saying goodbye during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know, we experienced this last week.  Two of us experienced this with a death of a family member within 24 hours of each other. One death from COVID-19 and another from natural causes, yet the final goodbyes were said without physical touch or personal intimacy with the families.

Susan’s Story
The last day of March 2020 ended with many tears. I received word that my Aunt Patty had died from complications of COVID-19. She was an active and healthy woman with a life-long passion for learning. She made history by becoming the first lay female Catholic Chaplain assigned to a U.S. Military Hospital.

Patty was in the hospital for two days prior to her death.  No visitors were allowed to see her. When Patty took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, her daughter was awoken to a phone call saying her mother was dying, but she would not be permitted to be in the room with her because of the danger of the disease spreading. 

The family requested a priest be present to perform the Last Rites.  This is usually done face to face with the priest anointing the sick. However, the priest was barred from being in the same room with Patty. He performed this religious sacrament over an intercom while the nurse held Patty’s hand. Patty’s daughter said her goodbye to her mother and a final “I love you” over the phone. Those were her last moments with her mother. A funeral is currently not possible because of the government’s limit on 10 people or less being together.  The family is planning a traditional funeral mass to be celebrated in four to six months from now.

Girl with hand on forehead - a screen shot from a facetime phone call

Shannon’s Story
On April 1,2020, I never imagined that I would have to say goodbye to my Baba (the name some Russian grandchildren call their grandma) through a FaceTime chat with my sister. Ohio had a “Stay at Home” order in place, and traveling to New York was out of the question.

I found out that the facility where Baba lived was not allowing anyone in the room.  This was the opposite of what I had expected. I had always envisioned Baba’s family surrounding her, playing games, and talking, as we held her hand,  being next to her. 

However, due to this awful COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, that was not possible. Baba lived on the first floor of a nursing home. Her children, as well as grandchildren were able to send their love and communication with her only through her window. 

My sister said, “I  taught her  how to say ‘I love you’ through her glass window. So that’s what we did. We smiled, we cried, we said we love each other, and we blew kisses. All through a glass window. I would have risked getting what she had.. Just to have been there with her while she passed. To have held her hand, to have told her it’s okay, you’ve been strong all your life.”

Girl sitting in a chair looking into a window

The night before our grandma passed, my sister called me. She was outside of Baba’s window in the rain and cold, face pressed against the glass, looking at her grandma. My sister only had a sweatshirt on, but refused to leave the window. She told me that nobody should have to die alone.

Through the FaceTime chat with my sister, I could see Baba periodically glance up, and gently smile at my sister.

 My sister said, “It got to the point where there were no more times she looked over. There were no more times she opened her eyes.” My sister didn’t want her grandma to wake up and see she was  alone.

The hardest thing for my family was to walk away from that window, knowing it was the last time any of us would ever see our Baba alive. I cried because I couldn’t be there physically and hold her had. I wanted to tell her one last time I love her.

Later that night, my mom had called to let me know that Baba had passed.

A burial for Baba was held two days after she passed. Only 7 people were able to attend, all practicing social distancing. It was unusual for my close-knit family not to be able to give hugs to one another during this very emotional time. For me, not being able to attend her burial was very difficult. My mom and sister called me after the burial, and we grieved together over the phone.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES, Ohio State University, Wood County

Reviewer: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Photo Credits:
Photos taken by Shannon Smith and Kristy Smith

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  2. https://mhanational.org/covid19
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/07/828317535/coronavirus-is-changing-the-rituals-of-death-for-many-religions
  4. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/09/30/healthy-brain-aging/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html
  6. https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/OHOOD/2020/04/02/file_attachments/1418062/Signed%20Amended%20Director%27s%20Stay%20At%20Home%20Order.pdf
  7. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/covid19/
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process

Read Full Post »

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented action in regard to temporary business restriction and closure. Within the last week, Governor DeWine has ordered the closure of all dining rooms of bars and restaurants; closure of bowling alleys, movie theaters, recreation centers and similar businesses; and the closure of barbershops and nail salons.  Yesterday’s “Stay at Home” Order from Ohio Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, orders that all non-essential business and operations must cease by midnight tonight. These orders have affected tens of thousands of Ohioans. In just three days last week, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services received 77,817 claims for unemployment benefits. Compare this to two weeks ago when only 2,905 claims were filed.

If you find yourself without a job, I encourage you to visit “COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide” which has been compiled by OSU Extension. It features Individual Resources, Employee Resources, Small Business Resources, Available Ohio Food Access Options, Financial Wellness Resources & Consumer Protection, and Finding Local Resources.

University of Wisconsin Extension also has a website for “Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times” with a special section dedicated to the financial effects of COVID-19 for individuals, families and businesses. There is also a section called “Dealing with a Drop in Income” that answers questions like “Where do you start if you can’t pay bills?” and “Deciding Which Debts to Pay First.”

Another resource I especially appreciate from The University of Delaware offers advice for Surviving a Family Crisis. Losing income from a job is not inherently more manageable for an individual than a family. However, there are different challenges when multiple people are involved. The University of Maryland Extension also offers some ideas for talking with children about needs and wants.

I have been inspired this week as acquaintances, who are now without work, have shared their struggles in positive ways on social media. They’ve shared their fears and disappointments, but even more, they have shared the encouraging words and even mentioned financial help they’ve been receiving from others. It has been motivating for me to see the support that people are receiving. It has caused me to act and help others who may be facing more uncertain times than I am, even if it is in small ways.

If your job is secure, consider what you can do to financially bless a friend or acquaintance during this time. I’ve heard some great suggestions to set aside the money you might normally spend on gasoline or parking or other daily expenses and use that to make a donation in your community.If you are in a difficult place, please know that many people want to help right now. Let others know your needs, even if that is a listening ear for you to voice your concerns without judgment.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

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

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2020)  COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide. at https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/covid-19-financial-resource-guide

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Financial Resources to Help Get Through COVID-19. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/covid-19-financial-resources/

Olive, P. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. (March 2020) Dealing with a Drop in Income. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/files/2019/01/Drop-in-income-2020-state-version-new-logo.pdf

Park, E. and Nelson, P.T., Surviving A Family Crisis. (2012) (Ed) Families Matter! A Newsletter Series for Parents of School-Age Youth. Newark, DE: Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. at https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/surviving-family-crisis/

University of Maryland Extension (2013) Helping Your Child Become Money Smart. Factsheet FS-962. at   https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/publications/FS-962%20Helping%20Your%20Children%20to%20%20Become%20Money%20Smart_0.pdf

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fJTqyZMOh18

Read Full Post »