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Posts Tagged ‘stress management’

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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The holidays are a time for eating delicious food and spending time with friends and family. Studies show the average American gains one pound during the holiday season.  If you are on a special diet due to elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol, holiday foods can be tricky.  No one food or beverage is good or bad, but some have more health properties than others.

Review the following five holiday foods to indulge in this year (and the seven to limit consumption of) to ensure a healthy holiday season.

NICE Holiday Foods

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tangerines
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts

Eat these lighter, nutrient rich foods more often during the holiday season. Make it a challenge to try and get the healthiest version of each dish available.

NAUGHTY Holiday Foods

  • Egg Nog
  • Pecan Pie
  • Gravy/Sauces/Dips
  • Cheese Cake
  • Fudge
  • Croissants
  • Coffee Beverages

These foods and drinks are special occasion foods to enjoy on a limited basis. Reach for these foods less often or modify the recipes to make the dishes healthier.  Choose wisely during the holidays.  Plan ahead for holiday parties, drink water prior to eating out, and eat the “naughty foods” in moderation.

Take care of yourself this holiday season, and remember that fitness, stress management and sleep also play important roles during the holidays!

Written by: Beth Stefura, RD,LD, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

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

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/doet/healthy-holidays-8/holiday-food

Healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/files/hpHTSHolidayTips.pdf

 

 

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Why do you listen to music? Take a moment to think about where you are at, what you are doing or how you are feeling when you choose to play music.
People listen to music:
• for a boost and to relieve stress
• to keep them awake during a long car journey
• to help them relax or fall asleep
• to soothe their baby
• to dance with their children or family
• to break up the work day
• to run faster
• to deal with a break up
• to influence their creativity

While we know music helps us daily to accomplish tasks, change our moods, deal with problems, relax, exercise and even celebrate – it can also be a therapy.

Music and rhythmic sounds have been used as healing powers for centuries throughout the world. It is only recently that modern physicians have rediscovered how music can help emotional and physical health and wellness through music therapy. Through music’s rhythm, order and predictability, it can help people express themselves and improve speech, walk, and move better, and improve memory. Music therapy can also help relieve pain, anxiety and long term illnesses (cancer, stroke, heart disease, respiratory conditions) or help with a progressive disease such as Parkinson’s.

Research has also shown that:

  • Music helps the brain produce a calming substance and slow down your body when it’s overactive.
  • Listening to music can have a real effect on various parts of the brain such as memory and vision.
  • Music really can change our mood and even help us concentrate.
  • While listening to music, patients’ blood pressures and heart rates became more stable.
  • Listening to pleasurable music is good for your heart because it can produce ‘musical chills’ which trigger the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine.

Even though the science of music therapy is still in the early stages it has shown to have a significant positive impact on our health and well being.

Ah, the healing power of music – that’s music to my health – and your health too!

Graceland gate

Writer: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, Heart of Ohio EERA, heer.7@osu.edu

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

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/rm-quiz-health-benefits-music

http://www.webmd.com/balance/music-therapy

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/cancer-and-music/bgp-20056417

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/health-benefits-of-music.htm

Photo credits:

Stocking around – http:///www.freeimages.com/photo/522119

graceland memphis tennessee gates musical notes –

http://pixabay.com/en/graceland-memphis-tennessee-gates-395039

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