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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Choices of peanut butter on a shelf

As an Extension Field Specialist, I have coached traditional food pantries where food is pre-selected to help them transition to a client-choice model where food is chosen based on preferences and needs. Client-choice pantries provide a more dignified experience for people and can be more efficient at preventing food waste since unwanted items aren’t discarded. For many low-income Americans, choosing where and how to grocery shop might be viewed as a privilege reserved for those with greater incomes. The same could be said for people living in developing countries where food, water, and material resources aren’t as abundant. For those of us fortunate enough to have the privilege of choice, we face the challenge of having too much choice. Whether it be food, clothing, TV stations, housing, spouses, lifestyle, investments, hobbies, or even medical procedures, having too many choices can lead to isolation, paralysis in decision making, anxiety, and depression. At the societal level too much choice might lead to waste, tribalism, and perhaps public health problems.

Sometimes we are faced with so much choice that we don’t know what to choose and we become almost paralyzed in our decision making. We are afraid to make the wrong choice, and feel as if we need to further investigate all of the options, which takes time (something I seem to have less of). As a result, we sometimes put off big decisions. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new insulin pump for my diabetes but there are so many products. In addition, working with insurance to purchase the new product is a headache, so I have yet to make a decision.

Another challenge is choice inflates our expectations and sometimes deflates our satisfaction if we think we made the wrong choice. For example, I was trying to decide between two restaurants the other night, one Indian, the other Mexican. I went with the Mexican and it was good, but part of me wondered if the Indian would have been better. As a result of this thinking, I wasn’t as happy with my experience and I likely missed out on some of the enjoyment of the outing. Although this example seems trivial, all of the choices we make everyday and the sometimes resulting stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction could lead to mental and physical health problems.

At the societal level, too much choice contributes to many small and large-scale problems. Material goods such as food, electronics, and clothing are discarded because people have the option of newer and better choices. I’ve wasted leftover food because I’ve had the choice of eating out. Too much choice might lead to tribalism, isolation, and less cohesion. Growing up, my family had three channels on TV. We watched whatever was on as a family. Now, my three kids are plugged into their phones watching their own shows, etc. I hardly get to talk with them. Thirty years ago, our nation was more cohesive and less tribal. Everyone watched the world series for example, since there weren’t as many options for sports. In terms of public health challenges, we have so many choices for fast food, unhealthy snacks, etc that obesity is more common than ever. We can choose whether or not to get vaccinated, which places others at risk for disease.

What to do? There are two dimensions of wellness to consider for guidance: spiritual and environmental. Spiritual wellness can help people become satisfied and grounded with who they are and with choices they make. Some traditions teach that desires and cravings lead to suffering and seek to reduce these states of mind. Environmental wellness can help people reduce consumption, or reuse new products etc. and thus not feel stressed about getting the newest and greatest item out there.

Obviously, choice is a good thing, and I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where we don’t have any choices. However, we need to reflect on the consequences of having too much choice for our own health, and the health of our families and communities. In any event, I hope this was helpful in some way and I am glad you “chose” to read this…….

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension, remely.4@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Remley, D., Franzen-Castle, L., McCormack, L., & Eicher-Miller, H. A. (2019). Chronic Health Condition Influences on Client Perceptions of Limited or Non-choice Food Pantries in Low-income, Rural Communities. American Journal of Health Behavior43(1), 105–118. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.5993/AJHB.43.1.9

Schwartz, Barry. The Paradox of Choice. TED talk. Accessed on 7/20/21 at The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz – YouTube

William and Mary University. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Accessed on 7/19/21 at The Eight Dimensions of Wellness | William & Mary (wm.edu)

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In a month, on my 49th birthday, my youngest child starts the first day of her last year of school. As a mom, I have mixed emotions. I’m excited for her and all she has and will accomplish, yet I am sad that my baby is a senior. Where did all of those years go? Just yesterday a social media memory reminding me that she passed her driver’s test popped up. It seems like yesterday when she was in the driveway practicing her maneuvering (parallel parking) over and over in preparation. Now, she drives herself wherever, whenever she wants.

My mom teaching my daughter how to drive her stick shift car

As she enters this year of “lasts,” I too will be entering a year of lasts. This will be my last year in my 40’s.  I can remember thinking about my last year in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be experiencing another birthday! As I have said, “I want to get older, but I don’t want to get old.” In my 22 years working in healthcare, I saw younger people who were much older than their chronological age and older people who were younger than theirs. I decided very quickly that I wanted to be the latter. I’m sure my children would say I am old, though.

This year of lasts will be filled with lots of happiness and joy, as well as LOTS of tears, especially on my part. My kids make fun of me for crying at the drop of a hat. My colleague recently wrote a blog about the benefits of crying, so as the tears stream down my face, and they for sure will, I will not worry so much about hiding my tears. While I certainly don’t want to rain on her parade as these exciting events occur, I am mourning these last moments with my last child. I find myself thinking about all the things I wish I would have done while my kids were young and here all the time. Had I known how fast time would pass, I would have made more emotional deposits. While it’s never too late to start, I wish I would have worried less about cleaning the house or whatever else I thought was important.

Though all of the decisions my daughter will face over the next year will be exciting for sure, they may also be stressful. The American Psychological Association gives these symptoms of stress that you may see in your child:

  • Irritability and anger:  Stressed-out kids and teens might be more short-tempered or argumentative than normal.
  • Changes in behavior:  Sudden changes can signal that stress levels are high.
  • Trouble sleeping: A child or teen might complain of feeling constantly tired, sleep more than usual, or have trouble falling asleep.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: An adolescent may suddenly drop the ball on homework, forget obligations, or start procrastinating more than usual due to stress.
  • Eating changes: Eating too much or too little can be reaction to stress.
  • Getting sick more often: Stress often shows up as physical symptoms. Children who feel stress often report headaches or stomachaches and might make frequent trips to the school nurse.
My mom, my 3 kids, and me

As my daughter and I navigate this next year, I want to support her as she prepares for the next stage of life. We toured one of her 3 college picks last month, we will be touring a second one next week and the final one during fall. As I have watched her two older brothers make a few mistakes along the way, I know she too will make her own mistakes. These tips from AARP can help parents to maintain a healthy relationship with their children as they enter into and navigate adulthood:

  • Observe respectful boundaries.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Do what you love together and intimacy will follow.
  • Set ground rules for how to disagree.
  • Make room for the significant others in their lives.

I’m not too worried about my daughter and her ability to handle this next year, though I’m not sure about me. While the ultimate job of parenting is to put ourselves out of a job, I hope my children always want me to be part of their lives even when they are responsible, productive, well-adjusted adults who no longer need my guidance or reassurance.

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

Reviewed by: Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2019, October 24). How to help children and teens manage their stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/child-development/stress  

Fishel, E., & Arnett, D. J. J. (2013, April). Parenting Adult Children, Friendship with Grown-Up Kid. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/parenting-adult-children-family-relationships.html

Quealy, K., & Miller, C. C. (2019, March 13). Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/upshot/parenting-new-norms-grown-children-extremes.html?.%3Fmc=aud_dev&ad-keywords=auddevgate&gclid=CjwKCAjw3MSHBhB3EiwAxcaEu8XfiLpibGmTN7PCkXe2x6aXx8W8tmUtlXmcAUyEfZ_dgOyHSxt_NBoCVj8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

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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

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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

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In July  I set an out of office message.

“I am out of the office on vacation. I will be seeing national parks, family, friends, and the Rocky Mountains; I will not be seeing emails.”

And I left.  For two whole weeks! It was glorious and much needed.  

My daughters enjoying the North Rim of the Grand Canyon July 2020

According to research done by the U.S. Travel Association, Americans left 768 MILLION vacations days unused in 2018. That statistic surprised me given how often a friend, neighbor, or colleague says, “I need a vacation!” in conversation.

Allow me to persuade you on why you should use your vacation days:

Are looking for better physical or mental health? Want to achieve a goal you’ve set? Take a vacation!!!

Several studies have shown that taking time away from your job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who use their vacation time have lower stress and less risk of heart disease.

You may be familiar with stress when it comes to your job. Vacation helps with that too! Stress contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can alter our brain structure. This can contribute to anxiety and depression.  Time away from work can increase feelings of calm and relieve stress.   This allows our brains to heal in ways it can’t when it is under pressure.

Physically, the benefits are positive too.   For both men and women, the New York Times reported, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.

People who vacation also have a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve their goals. One study three days after vacation found subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved as compared to before vacation found.  These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation. Returning to work can increase mental focus, creativity, and productivity. 

If you are thinking that your current budget or financial situation does not allow a vacation at this time, allow me to point out none of this research says WHERE or WHAT you have to do for these benefits. Those benefits are available when you take a break from work! A Caribbean island may sound relaxing, but there is plenty of relaxation to be found close to home. Recently the popularity of staycations has grown.  You may be missing some great destinations right in your backyard.  Stay close and get creative if you have to, just don’t add your vacation days to that 768 million. 

Wherever your vacation takes you, we hope it is relaxing!

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

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

Resources:

COVID 19: Staycation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dhr.delaware.gov/benefits/covid-19/documents/eap-staycation-ideas.pdf

Harmon, M. (2020). It’s Vacation Time. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Scienceshttps://livehealthyosu.com/2020/06/29/its-vacation-time/

Importance of taking vacation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/thrive/importance-of-taking-vacation

Kim, A. (2019, August 16). A record 768 million US vacation days went to waste last year, a study says. Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/unused-vacation-days-trnd/index.html

US TravelAssociation (2019). PAID TIME OFF TRENDS IN THE U.S. Retrieved from https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/Paid%20Time%20Off%20Trends%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=8%2E15%2E19%2DPress%2DVacation%20Days%20Release&utm_campaign=pr

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I feel like I have a lot on my plate right now, maybe more than that jam packed month of May.  Which in May of 2019 that was saying a lot. . .

Now my plate is full! Full of balancing home and work, bored kids, canceled activities, trying to socialize, staying involved with social issues, questioning my already made decisions, checking in on the mental health of my family, finding time for hobbies, and more.  This list could go on!

Life is hectic right now in a way it never has been before. 

I’ve learned in my (more than a) few years as an adult that I can’t control what is swirling around me but I can control my response to it.  My favorite new series of words to string together to help me with this mindset: and that’s ok!

 

Today was a hard day being a parent. . . and that’s ok!

I completely dropped the ball on that. . . and that’s ok!

I didn’t cross anything off on my list today. . . and that’s ok!

I feel sad today. . .and that’s ok!

I’m having a hard time processing all the events right now. . . and that’s ok!

The dishes are piled all over the kitchen. . . and that’s ok!!

 When we tell ourselves and those around us that we love that it’s going to be ok we are creating HOPE.  We don’t know how long it will be ok.   We don’t have to commit to how it will be ok, but we can create HOPE and we all need that hope right now. 

With just a few changes in our words and thoughts, we can build HOPE right now in our families and community:

  • Join with others in your community who can provide emotional support and encouragement by texting, calling, or by dropping a letter in the mail.  We had some friends drop by some simple treats one evening.  We had an enjoyable visit with them at a safe distance while wearing masks.
  • Reach out and ask a good friend or a family member how they have maintained hope in troubled times. They may offer some helpful suggestions.
  • Make a list of your strengths and talents, and then list your options and resources. Help family members do the same. Ever heard of count your blessings?  You’ll be surprised and grateful when you start to add them up.
  • Learn the true facts about the crisis or economic situation, so you don’t just act on people’s opinions. Look for reliable and unbiased sources of information. 
  • If you are feeling suicidal, get help. Reach out to your family or call SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Holding on to some HOPE right now might be just what we need to make it through tough times, exist together, and pull ourselves from so much uncertainty.  Or maybe you need something completely different right now. . . .and that’s ok too.

Written by:  Alisha Barton, OSU Extension Educator, Miami County barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, PhD, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents. (2007). Retrieved from https://www.maine.gov/ems/sites/maine.gov.ems/files/inline-files/coping_in_hard_times_parents.pdf

Marrison, E. (2020, May 20). It’s Time to Unplug. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/05/21/its-time-to-unplug/

 

(2020). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/location/ohio

GALILEO@UGA Subject Guides: Finding Reliable Sources: What is a Reliable Source? Retrieved 2020, from https://guides.libs.uga.edu/reliability

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pinwheel

COVID 19 has added stress to our lives in a way that just a few month’s ago was unimaginable. Now more than ever, it is important for parents to take care of themselves so they can take care of their children. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We know that when families are experiencing stress, children are more likely to be abused or neglected.

Protective Factors are “conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities”. Strengthening Families identifies 5 Protective Factors to help families build resiliency and support:

  1. Parent Resilience: No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but building parental resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress.
  2. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Having accurate information about raising young children and appropriate expectations for their behavior help parents better understand and care for children.
  3. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: A child’s ability to interact positively with others, to self-regulate, and to effectively communicate his or her emotions has a great impact on the parent-child relationship.
  4. Social Connections: Friends, family members, neighbors, and other members of a community provide emotional support and concrete assistance to parents. Social connections help parents build networks of support.
  5. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Parents need access to the types of concrete supports and services that can minimize the stress of difficult situations, such as a family crisis, a condition such as substance abuse, or stress associated with lack of resources.

We all face challenging times in our lives, but when we have supports in place, we have the tools we need to accept, adapt or overcome them.  Building your own resilience is one way to support your child because it gives them stability and confidence in knowing that they can rely on you. Creating this type of environment for your child makes them feel safe and builds self-reliance, problem solving and self-regulation which are skills they will use throughout their lives. For more about resilience check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r8hj72bfGo.

For ideas and strategies to maintain your sanity and support your children during the pandemic, check out this Parent’s Guide to Surviving COVID-19 from the Brookings Institute or these resources from our co-workers at Iowa State University Extension https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/disaster-recovery.

Writer: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

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

Sources:

Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families (2018). About Strengthening Families and the Protective Factors Framework. https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/About-Strengthening-Families.pdf

Gail Innis, Protective Factors: What are they and how can they help families? February 17, 2014, Michigan State University Extension, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/protective_factors_what_are_they_and_how_can_they_help_families

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I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in an environment that is structured, orderly, neat, and reliable. I enjoy having a procedure for everything I do. However, the past week has been anything but predictable. Like you, my home and work schedules and routines have flown out the window! As a result, I have been overwhelmed with stress and my reaction has been emotional eating.

Emotional eating is when you consume foods in response to your emotions rather than eating when you are hungry. Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, boredom, sadness and even positive events such as wedding and parties all can result in emotional eating.  Happy or sad, most of us correlate comfort food with making us feel better. Ice cream after a breakup, a bag of chips when we are bored, too many helpings of dessert at Thanksgiving all result in the potential to over-eat.

With everything going on in our lives right now, how do we take steps to stop emotional eating?

Journaling or a Food Diary: For me it is a food diary. Writing down what I eat, how much, and what I am feeling as compared to if I am really hungry shows me the patterns I develop connecting my stress/mood to food.

Mindful Wellness: Practicing mindful wellness has also shown to be a great way to tame your stress and encourage mindful eating.  When you slow down, pace yourself and enjoy your food using all of your senses, you are able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab unhealthy foods, decide if you are really hungry, and choose to eat healthy during the stressful times. MyPlate Kitchen is a great resource to find healthy and affordable meals and snack ideas.

Build a Support Network: Thankfully I work with an amazing group of people at OSU Extension, and I know that I can call on them, a friend or a family member if I am having a really bad day. Having a support network helps your efforts to change your eating habits and improves your chance of success! It may also be helpful to join a support group specifically for individuals with similar emotional eating behaviors to learn better ways of coping.

Substitute other activities for eating: This could look like a taking a walk, reading, calling an old friend, playing with your cat or dog, giving yourself a break, or if you are like me, cleaning and organizing. Doing something that reduces your stress, fights boredom, or takes away the temptation to emotionally eat and substitutes a healthier behavior is a great way to reduce emotional eating.

We are currently in a phase of constant change; we can’t control everything, but we can control how we choose to cope with our emotions.  My goal is to make better choices when I am stressed, reduce my emotional eating, and enjoy the here and now rather than live in the past or worry about the future. May your goal help you to grow and learn as you learn healthy way to adjust to our ever-changing world.

Sources:

Brinkman, P., (2016). Eating Healthy During Stressful Times. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5244

Harvard Healthy Publishing, (2020). Why Stress Causes People to Overeat. Harvard Mental Health Letter retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Mississippi State University Extension, (2017). Stress and Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from http://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/information-sheets/is1783.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, (2019). Stress Management. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-591106

Powers-Barker, P. (2016) Introduction to Mindfulness. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

The Mayo Clinic, (2020). Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

University of Rochester Medical Center, (2020). Emotional Eating; How to Cope. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4517

Photo credit: Dylan Lu on Unsplash

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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During this time of uncertainty, I am choosing to focus on the things that remain the same. I am still a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, a friend, an educator, and much more. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and my community still need me, maybe more than ever. With all the changes and unknown, I am keeping as many things as I can consistent.

Welcome To Our Home, Welcome, Tablet, An Array Of

My younger son, a college sophomore, just returned “home”. While our house is certainly familiar, this is not his HOUME. That’s not a typo, it’s the way home is spelled at OU/Ohio University. My daughter, a high school sophomore, nor the rest of us, were expecting him to be home now. It’s nice having him home, but it is going to be an adjustment. Additionally, my older son, a college graduate, is living here while working and deciding his next step. Needless to say, our once near empty nest, has filled back up. While the sudden changes will take some adjustment, we are family and we will get through it.

My husband and I are working from home. Next week, my older son will be as well and my younger son resumes his college classes on-line. It makes me a little anxious, but with some planning and preparation, and a lot of patience, all will be fine. Some people think schedules are for younger kids, but with four adults REQUIRING internet and some peace and quiet, we are going to HAVE to develop a schedule. Knowing ahead of time when each of us needs to be on conference calls or doing classes will help alleviate some stress and last-minute scrambling.

Office Work, Studying, Office, Working, Computer

With much focus on the adults, I don’t want my teenage daughter to feel like her needs and feelings are not important. She is still an integral part of our household, so we will include her in the planning. I will also check in with her daily to see if she has any homework assignments. I will ask how her friends are doing and we will talk as a family about the current situation. My daughter has mentioned a few times that she and her friends are bored, and they would rather be in school. So, as the weeks continue, I will look for ways to help keep her involved and engaged. The CDC gives these tips to help support teens and younger kids:

  1. Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  2. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  3. Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  4. Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  5. Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

While we are going to be home pretty much 24/7 for the near future, I am focusing on how we can adapt and grow in the face of this challenge. I hope we each use this experience as a growth opportunity. Perhaps focus a little more on how to stretch ourselves, do things in a new way, help someone we don’t know, be a little more forgiving and patient of ourselves and others, because right now we are all outside of our comfort zone.

What are you planning or doing during this uncertain time?

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

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

REFERENCES:

Lisa, A. (2019) Moving Back Home After College A Survival Guide for New Grads & Parents.  AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.  https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/how-to-survive-moving-back-home-after-college/

Greenbaum, Z. (2019) The future of remote work. American Psychological Association.  https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/10/cover-remote-work

Melnyk. B. (2020) How to Talk to Your Children about the Coronavirus and Ease their Anxiety. Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University.  https://wellness.osu.edu/story/children-covid-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020) Manage Anxiety & Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fcoping.html

Harmon, M. (2020) How Comfortable are You? Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/30/how-comfortable-are-you/

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A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague and asked, “Hello, how are you?” My colleague enthusiastically responded, “I’m great!”

This response caught me off guard. It was not what I expected. I was used to hearing tired and busy. To be honest that was the response I was used to replying with as well.

Have you noticed how tired and busy are becoming a common response when asked how are you doing? I understand it. Those two words rule my routines some days. How can we move past tired and busy?

It’s possible that a medical condition may be contributing to your tired. Allergies, depression, sleep apnea, low iron, thyroid issues and more can increase fatigue. If a possible health condition is causing your fatigue, extra sleep or exercise may not be the answer. A conversation with your family doctor can rule this out and help you make the changes you need personally.

Looking at your sleep health and hygiene may help reduce your tired. According to Harvard University, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nearly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended amount. When sleep is reduced or cut short our bodies don’t have time to complete what is needed and the result is that we wake up unprepared for the day.

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are often the first line of defense to combat tired, but these common solutions may be contributing to feeling tired. Caffeine is a stimulant but can have an opposite effect. Studies show that while some energy drinks may increase alertness for several hours, participants were often more tired the following day. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia or make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is also known to increase anxiety, nervousness, stress levels, and jitteriness. Studies have shown that it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.

Can the way we look at things contribute to our “tired and busy”? I think so! For example,

instead of looking at a long to-do list as something you HAVE to do consider the perspective that you GET to. Look carefully at your list. What are you busy with? Sincerely, the answer to “busy” may be doing less. It is hard to slow down when there are a million things to accomplish. A long critical look at a calendar and to-do list can be influential in what to keep and what can go. A slowdown may also be the answer in the way you do things. Slowing down could mean being present, and being mindful of whatever you are doing at that moment.

In addition to examining my schedule and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would focus on a positive aspect of my life when responding to the question, “How are you?” 

I probably will be tired or busy every time someone asks me that question, but shifting my focus when responding will help me. Will you join me in responding with something besides tired or busy when asked how you are doing?  

MedlinePlus. (2019, April 30). Caffeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

Phillips, D. T. (2016, April 27). Slow down to get ahead. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/slow-down-to-get-ahead/

Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

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

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

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