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It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy, or several, for people to start talking about an issue. With the recent celebrity suicides, one can hardly go through the day without seeing or hearing something about mental health or suicide. While these losses of life are tragic, the fact that the media and ordinary people are talking about mental health and suicide is a step in the right direction.

mental-health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming nearly 45,000 lives. It was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In the same year, there were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress can contribute to one’s risk. Government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, the media and community organizations working together is important for preventing suicide.

The CDC suggests that states and communities can:

  • Identify and support people at risk of suicide.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.
  • Promote safe and supportive environments. This includes safely storing medications and firearms to reduce access among people at risk.
  • Offer activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone.
  • Connect people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare.
  • Expand options for temporary help for those struggling to make ends meet.
  • Prevent future risk of suicide among those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

My job involves helping to meet the needs of the people in my county and my state. Reducing the stigma related to mental health is one thing I have been promoting. I work in an area where mental health services can be few and far between and where the stigma associated with seeking treatment is still quite prevalent. Many people view mental health issues as being a weakness of character or will instead of the medical issue that it is. One of the ways I have been promoting mental health awareness is by teaching Mental Health First Aid.R

Mental Health First AidR gives you the tools and knowledge to assist someone having a mental health emergency much like regular first aid or CPR do for a medical emergency. You are not expected to diagnose or treat someone with a mental health issue; just as you would not be expected to perform surgery on someone you have given first aid. Mental Health First AidR also encourages people to pay attention to the words they use when talking about mental health issues. Since language can be very powerful, when we use nonjudgmental words, a person with a mental health issue or someone thinking about suicide is more likely to reach out for help.

If you would like more information on how you can become a mental health first aider, you can search for a course near you at: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/.

 

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

Reviewer: Candace J. Heer, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Morrow County; heer.7@osu.edu

 

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/mental-health-wellness-psychology-2019924/

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (May 2018). Suicide. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June 7, 2018). Suicide rising across the U.S. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/

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I recently spent 8 days in Costa Rica with a group of extension professionals from 10 other states learning about the culture and the history of the country. I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiencosta-rica-country-side.jpgces of my life. You might think, OF COURSE, how could being in a tropical paradise not be wonderful?! Especially since Ohio and much of the Midwest has been experiencing unpredictable weather, to say the least. But, the weather aside, the whole journey was full of wonderful experiences.

This trip was not about sitting on the beach or in the mountains at some all-inclusive resort basking in the sun or the mountain air. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture of the country and getting outside of our comfort zone to learn about people, who at first glance may appear to be different from us and what we know. As we traveled around the country to the various locations (we stayed in 4 different accommodations), we were able to gain a better understanding of how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) live and work.

Our group of 33 were divided into smaller subgroups for different activities throughout the week. We went on a variety of outings designed to increase our cultural awareness and to challenge us in our leadership philosophies and ideas. Our first task was to go to the Central Market in San Jose to check prices of various items and purchase them (we donated all the items to different organizations we later visited). We then had to compare the cost of these items as they relate to the average minimumgreen-house-e1524004828723.jpg wage in the United States versus in Costa Rica. While the cost of the items was somewhat comparable to prices in the U.S., when you look at the minimum wages, the discrepancy was very large. This required us to think about the proportion of the wages in Costa Rica that go toward necessities versus the proportion in the U.S.

The Central Market outing was just the first of many that would challenge us to achieve a common goal while trying to overcome the language barrier in this foreign country. As we traveled around Costa Rica and participated in different activities, the most overarching theme that our entire group observed was how patient and gracious all of the Ticos we encountered were with our groups. Few of us were able to speak and/or understand Spanish, so at times, there was a lot of patience required. Every group related that the Ticos were incredibly helpful, patient and gracious.

A large part of this leadership program involves reflecting on the experiences and lessons we have learned. As we reflected in our large group and in smaller groups, we all wondered what someone traveling to the United States would experience. How would any of us handle trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English or at least not well? Would we have the same patience and understanding that the Ticos had with us? I can honestly say that before this trip, the answer for me would be no. I would not have had the patience and understanding that was shown to me and the others. One of the things I have taken away from this experience is to have more patience. Patience with others, but also patience with myself.

While this trip was for business, when I travel for personal reasons, I try to make it a point to find local places to eat and shop. My Costa Rica experience has taught me that I can do more to enrich my travel experiences. I have not usually lodged in places that allow me to experience the local culture as much as some others might. I will make a more concerted effort to choose places that allow me to have a more immersive experience, since one of the main reasons I like to travel is to be expcosta-rica-food.jpgosed to local culture and to learn about the people and the area.

So, whether you are traveling across the state, across the country, or across the globe, challenge yourself to experience at least a little bit of the local culture. You may just learn some things about yourself by experiencing things that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable to you.

 

WRITTEN BY: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.417@osu.edu

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Harmon

SOURCES:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2015/january/the-benefits-of-cultural-immersion/

https://global.upenn.edu/pennabroad/about-penn-abroad/academic-and-cultural-immersion

https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Fact-Sheet_Travel-Jobs.pdf

 

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The holiday season is one of the most giving and positive times of the year. Many people have the ‘Spirit of Giving’ during this festive time. The students of Somerset Elementary School are no exception. A few of weeks ago the principal, and some of the students stopped by our office to deliver poinsettias. They were going to businesses and residences in the community to spread some positivity with the flowers and a little note. The students of Somerset Elementary; however, have been practicing positivity for a couple years. They piloted the Positivity Project for Northern Local School District last year. The district implemented the project in the other two grade schools this year due to the great results from Somerset Elementary.

The visit from the students inspired me to encourage others to be more positive. Overall, I tend to be a positive person, but positivity does not come naturally for everyone. Some people have to work harder at it, but we all can become more positive with some small changes. To become more positive, try some of these tips from the Mayo Clinic:

Identify areas to change.Positivity Project

Check yourself.

Be open to humor.

Follow a healthy lifestyle.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Practice positive self-talk.

With practice, you may be able to develop a more positive attitude and become less critical of things around you.

There are many health benefits  to having a positive outlook/attitude for you. These may include:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced risk for heart disease
  • healthier weight
  • better blood sugar levels
  • lower rates of depression
  • lower levels of distress
  • greater resistance to the common cold
  • better psychological and physical well-being
  • better coping skills during stressful times
  • longer life span.

One study showed that the most optimistic group of women had a nearly 30% overall reduced mortality compared to the least optimistic group.

Gratitude can also help with developing a more positive outlook/attitude. People who are more grateful tend to have a more positive demeanor. If we can continue the practice of gratitude that many people seem to have during the holiday season all year long, it may help us to become more positive overall. The week after our office received the visit and the flowers from the students, I walked over to the school to deliver a Thank You note to the principal to share with the students. I wanted to make sure that the students understand that their gesture was appreciated and acknowledged. I will be sharing this blog with the principal as well so that he can show the students how they were my inspiration for writing it. The simple gesture of positivity by them, has already spread beyond their little school and town.

When you find yourself struggling to be or to remain positive (as we all do at times), remember Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Sometimes just re-framing the situation can help us to see things in a more positive light.

Comment on your favorite tips to stay positive.

 

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

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Photo Credit:  Debbie Goodrich, Office Associate, Perry County OSU Extension.

Sources:

https://posproject.org/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950?pg=2

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/08/positive-emotions-your-health

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/12/optistic-women-live-longer-are-healthier/

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/positive-thinking/

References:

Bryan, Jeff & Erwin, Mike (2017). #OtherPeopleMatter, The Positivity Project.

Mayo Clinic Staff (February 18, 2017). Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) News in Health (August 2015). Positive Emotions and Your Health Developing a Brighter Outlook.

Feldscher, Karen (December 7, 2016). How power of positive thinking works, Harvard Gazette.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking (2016). Pursuit of Happiness, Inc.

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all-is-wellWhat comes to mind when you hear the terms well or wellness? For most people, these words bring thoughts of physical health. Some of you will think about mental health. Most people, when given time, realize that there is more to being well than just physical and mental health. Some may even be able to name several areas of wellness. Many people may not realize that there are actually eight dimensions of wellness, though.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the eight dimensions of wellness are:

  1. Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
  2. Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
  3. Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
  4. Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
  5. Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
  6. Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
  7. Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
  8. Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

Print

For about a month, I have been participating in a program offered through my employer/health insurance to help increase my emotional well-being. There are up to five areas that anyone who participates can choose to complete. Each area has suggestions for things you can do. For example, one challenge is to find. Some things listed include: going to the library to check out a book or DVD, attending a live event or stopping by a new coffee shop. It is fun trying to complete each challenge. It also helps remind me that even on those hectic days, I need to take some time to take care of myself.

There are small and simple things you can do to help become more well in each area. Here are some examples:

  • Emotional—unplug from phone, social media and your computer for 10 minutes each day, light your favorite candle and make time for friends and family
  • Environmental—keep your office and home clean and organized, find a favorite place or spot to visit and get involved in cleaning up your community or neighborhood
  • Financial—shop at thrift stores, limit unnecessary spending and develop a budget
  • Intellectual—read for pleasure, choose creative hobbies and participate in local/community events
  • Occupational—attend conferences to stay current in your profession and explore opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Physical—participate in regular exercise/physical activity that you enjoy, eat balanced, nutritious meals and snacks and get adequate sleep
  • Social—be genuine with others, join a club or organization and use good communication skills
  • Spiritual—volunteer, pray, meditate or find a quiet place for self-reflection

You may be wondering how well you really are. Take this assessment to get a better idea. After completing it, you can figure out which areas you need to work on and in which ones you are already strong. Click here for additional information and resources on how to strengthen your dimensions of wellness.

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

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County

References:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016). The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Available at https://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness

http://umatter.princeton.edu/sites/umatter/files/media/wellness-self-assessment.pdf

Roddick, M. (2016). The 8 Dimensions of Wellness:  Where Do You Fit In? Available at https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/8-dimensions-of-wellness-where-do-you-fit-in-0527164

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friends

There are many different facets of health. We think of health as eating well and exercising, yet health also includes our social interactions and connections.

We all tend to get busy in our lives and lose contact with our friends and family. July is a perfect time to build stronger social ties with family and friends and reach out to others.  Social Wellness encourages us to develop better communications with our friends and family and to spend time nurturing our relationships and ourselves.  Respect yourself and others and develop a solid social support system.  Check in with your family and friends.

On-line social networking has grown because of our need to be connected. It allows us to read status updates and get a glimpse of what is going on with our friends and family.  Yet, it is important to have a full conversation to maintain social wellness.

Grow your social network. Consider your interests and hobbies and you are bound to meet new people that share the same interest.

Social Wellness is important including:

  • People who have strong social networks live longer
  • People with healthy relationships respond better to stress and have healthier cardiovascular systems
  • Healthy social networks improve the immunes system’s ability to fight off infectious disease

Reconnect this month with your friends and family to strengthen your bonds and improve your social wellness. Be Well!

References: https://www.butler.edu/health-wellness/social                                                    http://www.fsap.emory.edu › Workplace Resources › Wellness

 

Author: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County

Reviewer: Donna Green, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Erie County

 

 

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listIt’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?

I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!

For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.!  If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?

The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge.  There are  two basic strategies that can help you be successful:

1st Set realistic goals

  • Choose one or two achievable goals.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
  • Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.

2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.

  • If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
  • Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
  • If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
  • Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.

As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.

Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days.  Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.

Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection!  Remember, you want this to be a new-years-resolutionlifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County

References:

http://moneysmarts.iu.edu/tips/basics/new-years-resolution.shtml

http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statisticshttp://extension.usu.edu/htm/news-multimedia/articleID=4157

http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2016/be-successful-in-keeping-new-year2019s-resolutions

http://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/2013/01/31/new-years-resolution-solutions/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_three_most_important_tactics_for_keeping_your_resolutions

 

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3846351163_a4fd09c8da_mIt seems to be a trending topic, and one with real implications.  Now more than ever, we are realizing that when a person is hungry, he or she may have a lesser control on emotions and the actions that accompany the feelings.  #Hangry, and the meaning behind it, is popping up everywhere from candy bar commercials to memes on Instagram and Facebook.

A recent research study posted online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences relays that spouses were more likely to show higher levels aggression towards their wife or husband at times when their blood sugar levels were low.  An interesting model, the anger was measured with pins in voo doo dolls and blasting noise into headphones in accordance with the amount of fury being felt.  Haven’t many of us imaginarily wished we had a voo doo doll once or twice in our lives?

Knowing that communication and the emotions that are involved lead to positive or very negative outcomes that affect many, with guidance from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics here are 5 Tips for Preventing the Hangry Dilemma:

  1. Eat regularly scheduled light meals and snacks that include a variety of protein, fat and carbohydrate sources.
  2. Limit empty calorie foods that are mainly simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, and saturated or trans fats.
  3. Choose whole grains more often along with other high fiber foods like beans, vegetables, and nuts.
  4. Plan ahead by making a shopping list that you will stick to and a weekly menu that will lessen spur of the moment stops for fast-food.
  5. Maintain an active lifestyle replenishing your body with healthy foods such as fruits, yogurt, and low-fat granola and beverages such as water and milk.

Author:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Jamie Seger, Program Director, Ohio State University Extension, seger.23@osu.edu

Sources:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/diabetes-and-diet

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, http://www.pnas.org/content/111/17/6254.full

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