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Posts Tagged ‘self care’

How are you feeling today?  Are you overwhelmed, anxious or even feeling lost?   

You are not alone…

Try not to think about events of today, or tomorrow or the next month…only focus on this moment, right now. And in this moment, YOU have the power within to calm yourself with one small thought, touch, or breath. 

There are techniques you can use when you need a moment of calm that you can do anytime, anywhere with no special tools required. Two of my favorites include:

A Simple Touch

Human touch matters. Research shows that our body releases a hormone called, oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, when the skin is touched. Have you ever heard about the “20 Second Hug?” When hugged, the body releases oxytocin which provides us with a sense of security, soothes stressful emotions, and sends calm to our body. 

But what if you do not have someone near to hug? Then you can hug your dog or animal! Yes…oxytocin is produced from hugging and petting our animals too! And if you still don’t have anyone to hug there is more good news! Our body does not recognize if someone else is hugging you or you are hugging yourself!  Here’s how:

  • Cup your hands in your face and say “It’s going to be ok” or
  • Cross your arms and give yourself a hug and say “May I be strong.”
  • Put your hand over your heart and say “May I be safe.”

This may feel awkward at first, but the body responds to our self-compassion by physical touch from ourselves or others!  So… hug away when stressed

2. Just Breathing

The “4,7,8 Breath” also known as the tranquilizer or relaxing breath is one of my favorites, because it works! This is the “perfect, portable stress” reliever and can also be done anywhere, anytime, and no equipment needed.  Here’s how:

Steps to the 4, 7, 8 Breath:

  1. Completely exhale through your mouth making a WHOOSH noise.
  2. INHALE through your nose for a count of 4.
  3. HOLD your breath for a count of 7.
  4. EXHALE through your mouth making a WHOOSH sound, for a count of 8.

These 4 steps are considered one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. It is a simple as that…and you are on your way to calm.  By practicing these remarkably simple and easy tools, you will learn to quickly and easily comfort yourself during times to stress.

Here is a fact sheet with these techniques all on one sheet which I hope you will use. Which technique do you think you will try when you need a moment of calm? Do you have any other favorite techniques to share?” I would love to hear from you.

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Embrace the 20 Second Hug for Better Health – https://enell.com/blogs/blog/embrace-the-20-second-hug-for-better-health

Hugs Heartfelt in More Ways Than One: Harvard Health – https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_brief_Hugs_heartfelt_in_more_ways_than_one

Neff, Kristen – Self-Compassion – https://self-compassion.org/

Learning to Keep Calm fact sheet – https://licking.osu.edu/covid-19-resources

Video: Breathing 4,7,8 Breath – https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

 

 

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I have officially made it through one week of working from home and I’m going to be honest with you: It feels like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog’s Day with no end in sight. I have three small children under the age of eight that demand a lot of my time and energy. I’m trying to find a new routine for our family during the temporary stay at home order. Sometimes, I feel that what I’m doing seems mundane. There are times where I feel like a broken record, repeating the same phrases continually. I know that I have put myself on the backburner. I’m often exhausted after helping everyone else and I don’t have the strength to do anything for me. My mind and body have given me signs that I need to take time for myself, such as these signals:

  1. Nothing sounds fun anymore
  2. Wanting to eat “All the things”
  3. Feeling overwhelmed by little things
  4. Snapping at loved ones
  5. Wanting to hide in the bedroom… or bathroom… or closet…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes to the bathroom for a little peace and quiet. Those five signals are letting me know that I’m not taking care of myself. I feel guilty scheduling time for myself, but know I shouldn’t. Someone once explained it to me using this analogy:

When flying on an airplane they tell you that if the cabin pressure changes you must put your own air mask on first. Then, you help the others around you. This is no different for us, we need to take care of ourselves first so we can better help the ones around us.

I know I will be a stronger, healthier person if I take time to refuel and recharge. In no way, shape, or form can I take an hour every day or spend lots of money on self care. However, there are things I can do that just take a few minutes and require items I already have on hand. Implementing these small ideas and changes can make all the difference in the world:

a person meditating
  • Sit on a porch and watch the clouds go by
  • Call a friend just to chat and check-up on them-no agenda needed
  • Exercise. Go for a run, walk up a flight of steps or take a walk around the block.
  • Breathe. Take a few minutes to take some deep breaths and clear your mind.
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Read a book
  • Take a nap
  • Soak in the bathtub
  • Wake up 30 minutes before the rest of your house
  • Temporally unplug from electronic devices
  • Listen to positive, uplifting music
  • Mediate or pray

For additional ideas and resources check out Why “Me” Time Matters When It Comes to Your Happiness.

My challenge to myself is to make “me” time a priority and schedule my time everyday. I will hold myself to it just like I would any other meeting. I would love to hear what your “me” time consists of.

Written by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

Sources:

Ebba, A. (2019, May 9). 5 Signs Your Brain and Body Are Begging for “Alone Time.” Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/time-for-alone-time#5

Shaw, G. (2015, September 4). A Women’s Guide to “Me” Time. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/womans-guide-to-me-time#1https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/time-for-alone-time#4

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depression

Depression is different for everyone.  Managing depression is challenging.  Often going to work, socializing with family and friends, or getting out of bed may feel like a struggle.  Here are some strategies to manage depression and live your best life:

  • Develop a Strong Support Groupsupport system
    • One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to create a strong social support. Stronger ties with family and friends are important.  Join a support group – online or join a group that meets in your area.
  • Reduce Stressstressed
    • When we are stressed, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is effective short-term as it helps to cope with what may be causing the stress in your life.   Long-term cortisol may result in elevated cortisol levels, which is linked to depression.  Keeping stress levels low will reduce cortisol levels and reduce your risk of depression.  Use stress-reducing techniques to overcome stress.
  • Improve Sleepsleep
    • Lack of sleep affects our moods. Recent studies find people with major depressive disorders experience sleep disturbances.  Often many find they cannot fall asleep and struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  Take charge of your sleep by avoiding caffeine at night, turning off electronics one hour before going to bed and if you read in bed use a dim light.
  • Eat wellmyplatedep
    • Choose good nutrition and take care of yourself. Improving your diet will be key to reducing your symptoms.   There is a link between essential nutrients that affect depression.  Zinc deficiency has shown in studies to increase symptoms of depression.  Good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains and dark chocolate.
  • Stop Procrastinationproc
    • Set goals and deadlines to manage your time well. Establish short-term goals and be diligent to achieve the most important items first.
  • Try Something Newnew
    • A new hobby, exercise or meeting a friend for lunch will have an impact on your symptoms. Read the local newspaper in your area to see what is happening around you and join in the activity.
  • Be Kindbekind
    • Simple kindness is powerful. Hold a door open for someone, let someone cut in front of you in traffic or return the cart to the store are all ways to show kindness.
  • Tackle Your Daily Choreschore
    • Take control of your daily chores. Start small and work on one project.  Moving around and seeing your progress is uplifting.
  • Create a Wellness Toolkittoolbox
    • A wellness toolkit is a set of tools to use when you are feeling blue. Create your toolkit with things you like to do and is inspiring.  Listening to your favorite music, talk a walk with your dog, take a warm bath, read a good book or call a friend are a few ideas.

Take time for yourself daily.  Each day dedicate energy towards your appearance.  There is value to the theory, “when you look good, you feel good.”  Treat yourself well.

This year we are creating a Live Well series.  Join us each month, as we discuss Living Well.

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

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County.  lobb.3@osu.edu

Resources:

https://medlineplus.gov/depression.html

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/depression

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9290-depression

https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/natural-treatments#1

 

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When did you last take a vacation day?

I’m not asking when you last took a vacation; instead, when did you take a day off for yourself?

Sadly, over half of Americans end the year with unused vacation days, collectively sacrificing 662 million days off. The Project Time Off report found that compared to employees who use all of their vacation time, employees who end the year with unused vacation time are lower performers: they are less likely to have been promoted within the last year and less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years. Furthermore, those who fail to use their vacation time report feeling more stressed than those who use all of their vacation time.

While I don’t always take vacations, about once a month I take a vacation day to spend time with my nephew. I call these days my mental health days. They provide me with a mental break from my work and allow me to spend time in a low stress environment. My nephew and I almost always spend time together outside, and we sometimes do activities together like coloring or reading story books. I find great joy in watching this little man explore the world around him!

A young boy playing outside in a play house

Playing “house” with my nephew

For me, these days are pre-planned. I believe that it’s important to take time for yourself to do activities that you enjoy to help prevent and cope with stress, and I try to practice that in my personal life. If this is a new concept to you, identify a few stress coping strategies you might use to take time for yourself when you need it, such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Working on a project in your home or yard
  • Doing yoga, tai chi or another physical activity
  • Pursuing a craft or hobby
  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude or meditation

Additionally, you might find that you have days when it makes sense to use a sick day as a mental health day. Just as there are days when you find it better to call in sick to work than attempt to power through the day because you feel lousy physically, we all have days when anxiety and stress are too distracting to perform our best. When this is the case, go ahead and call off – and don’t feel guilty about doing so! If you had the flu, no one would blame you for calling off sick. Learn to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

 

Sources:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). Stress Coping Methods. Ohioline. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Morin, A. (2017). How to know when to take a mental health day. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201707/how-know-when-take-mental-health-day

Zillman, C. (2017) Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/

 

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@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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