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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

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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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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Does the month of December have you in a rush or panic to achieve the perfect holiday? Can you adjust your ideal holiday to be more realistic, so you don’t set yourself up for stress, disappointment or exhaustion?

Set Priorities

Set priorities before the whirlwind begins. Separate tasks you truly enjoy from those you do merely out of habit or obligation. What can you trim from your schedule to leave more time for the traditions that are most meaningful to you?

Let Go

Let go, of expectations, perfection, guilt, and traditions that no longer have meaning. Perhaps those expectations you feel pressure to live up to are created by you… let them go. Stop trying to create the “ideal” holiday, just enjoy your family and friends.

Be Transparent

Keep this in mind… those posts you see on social media or those family cards of the perfectly decorated home and perfectly dressed family… those are just illusions. My favorite Christmas letters are those that are a real description of the family’s holidays… Like when the cookies burned, the kids are squabbling, and the cat knocked over the tree…

Keep Perspective

Remember that this is just a season. If something does not live up to your expectations, it’s not the end of the world. Focus on the things that ARE going right in your life and acknowledge that this stressful situation will pass.

Picture of gingerbread cookies ready to be baked

Trim Your Schedule

Decide ahead of time how many social events you’ll attend. Don’t feel as though you must accept every invitation and stick to gatherings that you’ll enjoy the most.

Simplify

Cut your holiday card list in half, cut back on the number of gifts. Be selective – the gifts will mean more. Most people won’t notice the difference and will appreciate being able to simplify the holidays for themselves.

To help yourself set realistic expectations this year, ask yourself these questions…

  • When you reflect on past celebrations, what is most meaningful to you and your family?
  • How can you design your holidays to focus on what is meaningful, while letting go of those traditions that no longer have the same significance?
  • Clarify where your expectations are coming from… are these your expectations or someone else’s?
  • What is something you’d be willing to do differently this year to decrease your stress?
  • What is one thing you’d really like to do for yourself this holiday season?

The American Psychological Association has an entire webpage dedicated to this season. It’s called the Holiday Stress Resource Center and provides some great ideas on how to keep your expectations and stress in check.


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

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

Sources:

“Managing Expectations.” American Psychological Association. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations

Wickam, J. (2014). “Coping with holiday stress — Keeping our expectations realistic.” Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved 10/17/2019 from https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/coping-with-holiday-stress-keeping-our-expectations-realistic

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Woman holding head
Do you ever feel like a hamster in the wheel just spinning around and around? Or like the world around you is always demanding something more from you? Life has a way of swallowing us up if we don’t manage our schedules. As I look at my monthly calendar, I feel overwhelmed by doctor’s appointments, volleyball games, meetings and more meetings, evening work programs, my daughter’s high school homecoming, house repairs, conference presentations, deadlines, webinars, family obligations, and traveling out of town for work 15 out of 26 days. 

As part of my job, I encourage people to practice healthy time management and stress management. Clearly, I have fallen victim to NOT practicing what I preach. I would like to say without hesitation, that I have not experienced first-hand how life responsibilities and demands can quickly create feelings of stress. That would be a lie. I am keenly aware of the warning signs and symptoms related to increased stress in my life. Like many people, I sometimes choose not to listen to my body’s cues.

Headaches and muscle tension are symptoms I experience when I am overwhelmed. The Cleveland Clinic identifies these other physical symptoms related to stress:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it.”
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face, or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach and/or diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Do you know how stress affects you? I encourage you to take some time to identify the signs and symptoms you experience related to stress. Once you know your own warning signs, it will be easier to manage stress. There are a variety of ways to cope with stress.  The key is choosing what works for you and what fits your lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic offers these stress management tips:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Set aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

If you practice healthy stress management techniques but your symptoms continue or worsen, please seek assistance from a healthcare professional. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available to anyone. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all calls are confidential.

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

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

References:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/clause-law-flood-stress-burnout-3213670/

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baby looking into an empty barn

Take a quick minute and think about how you are feeling today. What mood are you projecting to others around you? Are you projecting happiness/unhappiness, joy/depression, or love/anger?

There were times for me this last year where I was projecting worry, fear and nervousness. The beginning of the year I was trying to focus on positive things in my life. I live on a dairy farm and I knew the end was in sight for the farm. Right before Easter all of our milk cows were sold. Watching everything your family has worked for be sold is heartbreaking to live through. Now we have to find a new normal as we grieve the animals we lost. I would not be honest if I told you I was experiencing joy every day. It’s not uncommon for me to experience sadness, depression, or frustration. How do I find joy in the midst of a storm?

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams journals the discussion between the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu answering the question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? Their discussion provides us with their foundation for lasting happiness known as the eight pillars of joy. The pillars are split into two groups of “mind” pillars and “heart” pillars.

Pillars of the Mind

  1. Perspective- look at situations from different perspectives
  2. Humility- we are a small piece of something bigger
  3. Humor- laughter is the best medicine
  4. Acceptance- accept reality so change may begin

Pillars of the Heart

  1. Forgiveness- end the cycle of retaliation
  2. Gratitude- focus on what is good and right and appreciate the precious moments
  3. Compassion- by focusing on others our own problems seem less important
  4. Generosity- we feel happy when we give

Putting these pillars into practice is extremely difficult and often times easier said than done. What I can tell you is that by keeping these pillars in my mind while I go about my daily life makes the tough times a little more bearable. I have them written down and keep them where I can easily reference them when I need to. It’s helped me to project hope and has brought a smile back to my face.

I encourage you to show compassion to your farming community. There are multiple dairy farms across the United States that are closing their barn doors for the last time. There have been at least four in my own county this year. In Ohio, we’ve had historic rainfall this year and many farmers are finding themselves with flooded fields and little to no crops. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, And Environmental Sciences are working tirelessly to address the 2019 agricultural challenges. If you, or someone you know needs farm assistance in getting questions answered or is unware of the resources available to them then I encourage you to check out this specific link https://go.osu.edu/agcrisis and/or pass it along. 

Bohlen, A. (2019, February 14). Staying positive in tough times. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/02/14/staying-positive-in-tough-times/

Lama, D., Tutu, D., & Abrams, D. (2016). The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. New York City, NY: Avery Publishing Group.

Stefura, B. (2014, October 13). Don’t let stress get the best of you! Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/10/13/dont-let-stress-get-the-best-of-you/

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

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

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