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Posts Tagged ‘stress management’

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”   Winston Churchill

As we move into the new year let’s think about the “Power of Positivity” and the role that it can have for a potentially wonderful 2020.

smiling woman

Did you know that positive people are more resilient, adaptive, innovative, healthy and engaged in their work? They have more successful relationships too. Positive people also have fewer colds, longer lives, more successful marriages, have fewer heart attacks, a higher pain tolerance, and even have more friends. Makes sense, who wants to spend hours with people who grouch and complain all the time? Of course, if the negative person is your mother, you can’t say I’m never spending time with you again.

A study from Michigan State University found that negative workers become more mentally fatigued and defensive. They are also less productive. Several studies have found that those negative workers may cost the US Economy $250 to $300 million per year in lost productivity. Research also finds that positive teams are more effective, efficient, and successful. They outperform other teams in work speed and quality.

My personal favorite positivity author is Jon Gordon. He combines research with messages that are easy to understand and make me think. He has a number of books that you can borrow from your local library, download on an e-reader, or purchase if you really like them. He also has free online video’s and newsletters. In one of his more recent newsletters he challenged readers to “Be Positively Contagious”. He states that emotions are contagious – so sincere smiles, kind words, and encouragement will spread through your home, workplace, school, or organization. While negativity can infect others. If you are having a negative day, think about taking a sick day for an attitude adjustment. In the same way you don’t want to infect others with the flu, why infect them with your negative attitude?

I challenge you as we move into 2020 to find ways to build your own positivity and encourage others to be more positive too. Possible tools include:

  • Accepting that change is part of life.
  • Trying the “No Complaining Rule” – Can you avoid complaining for even a day? Build to a week?
  • Use the “Tell Me Something Good” Technique – When family or friends are sharing, encourage them to tell you something good that happened and not focus on the negative.
  • Watching positive/humorous shows, movies, or videos that make you laugh.
  • Use affirming/positive self-talk.
  • Let go of things you can’t control.
  • Smile more, even a fake smile will reduce your heart rate and blood pressure!

“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Tom Schulman

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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Inhale. It means to breathe in. Slow or controlled breathing is often used to reduce heart rate, calm emotions, and lower stress. This controlled breathing technique has been around thousands of years in yoga, meditation, and other health practices. I saw this advice recently reminding me to inhale during this holiday season, and I loved it.

When I saw the admonition to inhale, I took it as a reminder to take it all in. That is the inhale; be purposeful in choosing what to take in and what to pass on. Our holiday schedule looked extra hectic this year with one daughter dancing in a professional nutcracker production, a new college student rejoining our family for her extended break, travel for work and a visit from my parents. I knew with all this I had to be extra careful about what I inhaled.

Taking that same definition of inhaling and applying it to our holiday busyness can be difficult. We are often rushing from event to event, and tackling a never-ending list of holiday fun. Advice is always easier to give than take in and follow. Several friends shared with me what they do to inhale the holidays. These can be simple, such as:

Spending a quiet morning before everyone is up, enjoying coffee and the Christmas tree and remembering why we celebrate the holiday. ~ Sarah

Making an effort to turn off the TV and put away phones so that family time can be enjoyed. ~ Amanda R.

Spending some quiet time and making sure to get quality sleep. ~ Jessica

Making an effort to start each day with an intention and not rushing out the door. ~ Amanda W.

Admiring a Christmas tree in the darkness and taking a moment to be grateful. ~ Lorrissa

Taking a few minutes after work to take some deep breaths, and reflect and center before joining family and evening activities. ~ Amanda B.

Other ideas included some simple planning to emphasize the events and traditions that matter most, such as:

Making a December bucket list of the most important activities and traditions and hanging it up for the family to see. This makes it easy to say, “This isn’t a priority for us” when things come up. ~ Becky

Make an effort and a plan to focus on small acts of kindness and simple holiday experiences.  Leaving treats for a mail carrier, dancing to Christmas music, or driving around to look at lights, have these things planned out so they can be included and enjoyed. ~ Amber

Besides having a plan and making simple changes, prioritizing and self-care can help with your holiday inhale. Other ways to inhale include:

Reflect on what is important to your holiday celebrations. Realize that this may change over time. Thinking about what is most important will help you to be intentional when choosing how and who to spend your time with. It is hard to make your holiday meaningful if you don’t decide before the rush starts what gives it meaning.

Ask for help. Let your family know how they can support or help with holiday tasks and plans. Accept their offers to contribute. This will help involve them, as well as lighten your workload. This can also be a way to share traditions or teach skills with children and other family members.

Keep in mind the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, pace yourself. If adding an extra party or gift to your schedule causes you stress, then don’t. The parties, events, gifts that you do choose to participate in- inhale! Be present as you experience and participate in them.

Take care of yourself. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Extra social gatherings can be fun, but do not compromise your physical, mental or financial wellness by doing too much. Acknowledge that you cannot do everything for everyone. Practice saying “no” without guilt.

Do not throw out your routine. Do your best to make healthy food choices, relax, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Sticking to your routines will help with your endurance and patience as you manage the holiday.

Most importantly, whatever you do this holiday season, enjoy the inhale!

Writer: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewers: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, Dunfee.54@osu.edu

Sources:

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Butanis, B. (2014, June 9). Ten Tips for Enjoying the Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/ten_tips_for_enjoying_holidays.html.

Keep it Real This Season. (2019, December 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/05/keep-it-real-this-season/.

LifeCare Inc. (2011). Managing Holiday Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/Conquering_Stress_Handout_1.pdf

Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017, December 1). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Retrieved from https://breathe.ersjournals.com/content/13/4/298.

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"If you want to reach your goals, you must shrink the size of your but." - Toby Mac #speaklife

July was a big month for me. After evaluating and reflecting on my personal wellness in a blog post in June, I decided it was time to act. Motivated in part by the meme pictured above, which I initially saw on a friend’s social media page, I knew it was time to stop making excuses for my lack of inactivity and re-invest in my personal well-being.

In June, I had identified coping with stress as a priority area for my overall wellness. I knew I needed to either resume an exercise routine (my former go-to method for coping with stress) or identify an alternative stress coping strategy. I decided to resume exercising, and I set a SMART goal for myself to re-establish a routine. 

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. My goal was to attend at least one fitness class for a week for a month. This goal was:

Specific – I stated what I wanted to accomplish.

Measurable – At the end of the month, I could tell whether I had achieved my goal by looking at my fitness class attendance.

Attainable – Because I did not have a current routine when I set this goal, I started small by challenging myself to attend just one class a week.

Realistic – In setting this goal, I knew I had the time and financial resources to attend fitness classes at a convenient location for me.

Timely – My goal was for the coming month.

I am proud to say that I met my goal, and now I am working toward a new goal of attending two or more fitness classes each week this month!

Before setting and achieving this goal, I was not entirely inactive; I used resistance bands and my own body weight to do simple strength training exercises while at work, and I took walks around my neighborhood when I was able. But, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, while some physical activity is better than none, engaging in moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity is key to experiencing substantial health benefits.

Regular moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity:

  1. Reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes such as coronary heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease; and  
  2. Promotes brain health by reducing anxiety and depression risk while improving sleep quality and overall quality of life.

The guidelines state that the benefits of physical activity generally outweigh the risk of adverse outcomes or injury. However, if you are starting a new physical activity routine, make sure to choose types of activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level, knowing that you can increase your activity over time to meet your goals. If you have a chronic condition and/or are unsure about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for you, take time to consult with a health care provider before setting a goal or beginning a routine.

Sources:

Stanford BeWell. Achieving your SMART health goal. https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all accomplished? If that sounds like “the story of your life,” you are certainly not alone!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a training in energy management offered by my employer. At the training, I learned that the average person’s energy capacity peaks around age 25 or 30, but demands on our time increase with age. Many of those demands are due to responsibilities we choose to take on, such as raising families and taking promotions at work. However, that doesn’t lessen the squeeze we feel trying to do more in less time. While we are unable to add more hours to the day no matter how hard we work, experts suggest that managing energy rather than time can help you feel more satisfied and less stressed in your life. It may also improve your physical, mental and social health, since we tend to sacrifice sleep, relationships, exercise, healthy eating and more when we feel caught up in the demands of day-to-day life.

To begin managing and maximizing your energy, see the infographic below to learn about the four different dimensions of energy and strategies you might use for improving each of them in your own life.

The 4 Dimensions of Energy. #1 - Physical. Increase the quality of your energy by getting enough sleep (aim for 7-8 hours per night), staying active (aim for at least 150 minutes per week), and drinking water instead of sugar sweetened beverages. #2 - Emotional - Increase the quality of your energy by spending time with positive people, completing a random act of kindness, and making meaningful contributions to team efforts. #3 - Mental - Increase the focus of your energy by slowing down, taking time to breath, process and reflect, and practicing mindfulness. #4 - Spiritual - Increase the force of your energy by practicing gratitude, creating a personal mission statement, and setting boundaries in your personal and professional life.

As you review the dimensions, take inventory of whether you are engaging in energy promoting or energy depleting behaviors in each realm. To maximize energy, you need to recharge yourself every time you expend a significant amount of your energy. This means incorporating energy promoting behaviors into your routine in place of any energy depleting behaviors that you regularly engage in, despite how hard it may seem to make a change. But, rather than viewing the change as “one more thing” you have to do, try to view the change as an investment in yourself. You might ask yourself the following reflection questions to identify realistic, attainable changes you could make:

  1. Who or what is getting my energy?
  2. Is my energy flow aligned with what I want or value in life?

If the answer to the second question is “no”, it might be time to make a change in the direction of your energy flow. Your life will feel more purposeful and meaningful when your energy flow aligns with your ultimate life goals and values. Take some time today to evaluate whether you are using your energy in a way that invigorates and revitalizes your whole self.

 

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

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

 

Sources:

Schwartz, T. and McCarthy, C. (2007). Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time

The Ohio State University College of Nursing (2018). Are You a Health Athlete or a Nurse Athlete? https://healthathlete.org/

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business (2017). Ross Professor Shares 11 Ways to Boost Your Energy and Get More Done. http://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/news/ross-professor-shares-11-ways-to-boost-your-energy-and-get-more-done/

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simplify

2019 is here. January is the perfect time to focus on the creation of a simpler life. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, there are no outdoor chores such as yard work to worry about yet, and the cold weather allows us the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Imagine having more time to do the things you enjoy with less stress!  Simplifying allows you to have more control of your life, reduces wasted time, incurs less stress, and increases opportunities for more happiness.

Learning to simplify your life can completely change your life for the better. We are all trying to manage life, work, finances, family, etc.  This can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Why not create a plan to simplify this year by choosing one or more of the following suggestions to begin with:

  • Simplify your Commitments
    • Look at your calendar. Is there an activity every single day? Reevaluate these activities, based on their value and reduce them.
  • Simplify your Shopping
    • If you are overspending due to impulse shopping, create a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Simplify your Entertainment
    • There are hundreds of channels to choose from as well as websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, and video games. Make it a priority to spend at least some of your time detached from technology. Do you really want to look back on 2019 and know that your biggest accomplishment for the year was how many shows you binge-watched??
  • Simplify your gadgets
    • We all have an abundance of gadgets, cleaning supplies and digital services. Downsize and use what you determine is absolutely needed. Only use one type of calendar for schedules.
  • Simplify your budget
    • Reduce expenses, create a spending plan, and stop unnecessary spending.
  • Simplify your health
    • Eat healthy food
    • Get enough sleep
    • Exercise
    • Get outside every day
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Reduce intake of sugar/junk food
    • Reduce stress
  • Organize one section of your home
    • Choose one area of your home or workspace to organize. It will make a huge impact on your peace of mind every time you enter it to see the clutter and possessions reduced.

Enjoy 2019!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201807/5-ways-simplify-your-life

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/change-your-life-pick-one-thing-and-do-it

 

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Christmas Tree

My Christmas Tree

I love the holiday season. The hustle, the bustle, the decorations and most importantly spending time with my family, friends and loved ones. I enjoy making home decor and gifts for others. But….. sometimes I take on a little more than I should and find myself stressed out. I bet I am not the only one who is over-committed.

It can also be common for our health goals to take a backseat to the celebrations and obligations of the season. Do you want some tips and ideas to relax and enjoy the holidays in a healthier way this year? Join the CALM Down for the Holidays email wellness challenge for healthy living tips and encouragement to help you make the most of this holiday season.

The “CALM Down for the Holidays Challenge is an on-line challenge designed to help you explore ways to simplify the upcoming holiday season. Messages will include tips to help you:

  • Find your Quiet Place
  • Reduce Stress
  • Move More
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Explore Gratitude
  • Feather Your Nest
  • Eat Healthy Meals
  • Reflect on Wellness/Self Care
  • Simplify Holiday Routine
  • Improve Sleep Habits

Do you need a little extra motivation to help you get started? Are you stressed for time and need ideas to help you fit activity into your day? If so, join me for this Challenge!

Each week you will receive two free e-communications, containing wellness and reflection tips. In addition, a checklist will be available for download to help participants track their progress. Pre- and post- online surveys collect comments to improve future challenges and track participant progress. You will also have access to additional information on Blogs, Facebook and Wellness Text Messages.

Interested in participating in this on-line challenge? 

Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/calmpick18You will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of November 19th. While Facebook™ will be utilized; participants only need to have an email address.

Sample of Challenge Check Off

Challenge Check Off

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

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

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I enjoy walking during my lunchtime. When I do, this break away from my desk refreshes me. It helps me re-focus as I breathe in the fresh air and take a few minutes to get out of the “work mode”.

A few weeks ago, while crossing the railroad tracks behind my office, I noticed that someone ran through the railroad crossing bar in their haste to “beat the train”.  I see this happen every few weeks – someone hears the signal that a train is approaching; they speed up and try to get through the tracks before the cross bar comes down. It always surprises me that we are in such a hurry that we would risk our lives to save a few minutes.

Rail Road crossing bar hit by a vehicleAs my picture shows, the person made it through without being hit by a train but they damaged the safety bar at this railroad crossing – I’m sure their car was also damaged. We called the number of the RR company and the sheriff to report this violation.

I saw another example of stress, haste and anxiety during my morning commute this week. While at a red light, I glanced over at the driver beside me. She covered her face/eyes with her hands as she realized something that she remembered she needed to do. She pulled into a place of business to text, turn around or get re-focused. I was happy she decided to pull over and handle the situation she faced. This was a safe solution to her dilemma.

Why is this important? In the frantic pace of our lives, we make quick and impulsive decisions that may affect many lives in a negative way. Check out these stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at U.S. Department of Transportation:

Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist’s home.  Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.

A calculation of NHTSA statistics on the rate of deaths per collision in vehicle/vehicle crashes versus the Federal Railroad Administration statistics of deaths per collision in vehicle/train crashes reveals:

A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. 

What can you do to pause the hectic pace of your life? 

  • Practice a savoring walk where you avoid distractions and focus on your surroundings.
  • Explore mindfulness practices to help you tame your mind, relax, or re-focus.
  • Slow your pace and practice walking meditation. This relaxed pace can help you focus on your surroundings and the sensations you experience.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Tai Chi, meditation, yoga or focused breathing can help you cope with stress.

How can you pause and savor your life? Share your comments below.

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

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

Sources:

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/savoring_walk#

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Harvard%20Now%20and%20Zen%20Reading%20Materials.pdf

https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/04/11/taming-stress-using-stress-busters/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml#pub4

https://oli.org/about-us/news/collisions-casulties

https://oli.org/education-resources/driving-safety-tips

https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/mindfulness-practices

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