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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

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

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

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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I recently re-read an older study that found those who had watches had higher levels of stress and heart disease. The conclusion was that those who checked their watches were more worried about being places, being on time, etc. This study reminded me of my behavior when I lost my watch, and felt lost for a while. In fact I kept checking my wrist to see what time it was. I can’t say that I was less stressed without my watch, or at least from my recollection. I wondered if the watch example relates to other monitoring, or checking activities we do every day like weighing ourselves, setting alarms, checking e-mails, getting dings on each new text, traffic alerts of a broken down car ahead, using a steps counter, monitoring heart rate, sitting time, blood pressure, or blood sugars? There are even devices that measure stress! Are all of these “feedback” devices important and necessary to our health and quality of life?

As a type 1 diabetic, I check my blood glucose about 3 times per day and make adjustments to what I eat, do, or how much insulin I take. I’ve been considering a continuous blood glucose monitor that will check my sugar automatically every 5 minutes so that I would be better able to manage diabetes. It should make me healthier, right? This watch study keeps popping into my mind as I contemplate purchasing this device. I should have better blood sugar levels, but what about my stress? Will my obsession with blood sugars numbers outweigh any gains with improved bio-metrics?

Like anything in science, we have to be careful about overgeneralizing one study and applying the results to other things in life. Comparing the stress of obsessing over time to blood sugar monitoring might be a stretch, but I think we need to be concerned about the broader context of the impact of technology on our mental health. Is it really important to know how many steps I got in before noon, or the sleep patterns that a Fitbit monitors? Do all of these things help us be healthier, or more stressed, and prone to anxiety and depression?

Mental health experts are all asking these very questions. Mindfulness exercises might be an approach that can help us deal with the frenzied pace of life, and the constant feedback that many of these devices offer. Mindfulness is a mind and body practice that centers on the connections between the brain, mind, body and behavior. Benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety and rumination
  • Improved attention, memory and the ability to focus
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Increased immune system
  • Relationship satisfaction and promotion of empathy and compassion

Take a break from your  “devices” and practice the following:

  • Breathing exercises can be done individually, or by listening to an instructor or an audio guide of a breathing exercise. Unlike when breathing is an automatic function, this mindful technique encourages taking a moment to be present, and focus on completely inhaling and exhaling air in and out of the lungs. Afterwards, this exercise usually leads to the healthy default of deeper, slower breathing.
  • A Body Scan simply means noticing each part of the body without judgement. It can be done sitting or lying down and helps with awareness of each part of the body and how it feels at the moment.
  • Imagery exercises help picture a calming place for relaxation. This technique, also called visualization, focuses on a positive mental image to replace negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation includes tensing and relaxing different muscle groups of the body to decrease physical tension in the muscles. The tensing and releasing encourages letting go of physical stress.
  • Yoga, tai chi or other physical activity that helps focus on the body and current movements offer a physical focus on the meditation. They offer physical benefits as well as mental relaxation.
  • Mindful Eating promotes taking the time to slow down to enjoy food by using all the senses. This can encourage feelings of gratefulness, fullness and greater enjoyment of food.

Consider other stress management techniques and consider taking “digital device holidays,” immerse yourself in nature, go hiking, camping but be sure to unplug every now and then. Take off your watch, step counter, turn off your phone, TV, computer, and everything else that involves electronics. Set a goal to unplug a few times a week or month.

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). OSU Factsheet HYG 5242 “Stress Coping Methods” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Levine, R.V., Lynch, K., Miyake, K. et al. J Behav Med (1989) 12: 509. doi:10.1007/BF00844822

Powers-Barker, P. (2016).  OSU Factsheet HYG-5243-0 “Introduction to Mindfulness” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243-0 

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Do you find yourself running from one activity or commitment to another? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Do you get to the end of your week and wonder where it went? If so, maybe it is time to reestablish your priorities.

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs unloaded. Organizational and time management skills can help youcalendar-1868106_640 be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. David Goldsmith in his book, “Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future” recommends scheduling only up to 60% of your day. That leaves you a cushion of 40% for interruptions, delays and the unexpected. We tend to be over-optimistic about what we can accomplish in a day. This principle applies to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding that balance, but here are some things to consider:

Set priorities… and that means making tough choices… letting something go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child… ask yourself if it fits into the 60% of your life. Does it align with your family’s priorities?

Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the family calendar, check with your spouse to avoid unnecessary time crunches.

Realize you cannot do everything. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have.

Say no. We probably kick oursfamily-2149453_960_720elves more often for saying yes when we should have said no. Such a little word and yet so much power to free up the schedule. There is a great Live Smart Ohio blog for points to consider about overscheduled kids .

 

Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

Sources:

Chapman, S & Rupured, M. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042), University of Georgia Extension, April 2014.

Goldsmith, D. Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future. BenBella Books, Inc., Oct 23, 2012.

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It’s that time of year when the buzz words of gratitude and gifts circulate. We strive to be grateful for the things we have and show gratitude for the things we receive. It is also astress time when we wait with excitement to see what gifts we will receive, and the reaction of those we love when they open their gifts. Just as important as gratitude and gifts during the holiday season we should also introduce the idea of guided imagery.  What is that?  What could it possibly have to do with the Holiday Season?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, guided imagery is “any of various techniques (as a series of verbal suggestions) used to guide another person or oneself in imagining sensations and especially in visualizing an image in the mind to bring about a desired physical response. It is often times used a tool to reduce stress, anxiety and pain.

The Holiday Season is a time for family, friends, joy, peace, gratitude, love, sharing, caring and giving.  However, it can also be a time of stress, anxiety, remembering a lost loved one, arguments, pain, exhaustion, regret and financial challenges.  Therefore, what better time than the Holiday Season to understand what guided imagery is and to utilize it?

Ohio State University’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center states that “guided imagery practices can help patients relax, improve sleep, prepare for surgery, experience greater clarity, compassion and gratitude and feel more calm, confident and comfortable. The Center offers the following free guided imagery recordings in the following topics for practice of guided imagery.

  • Accessing Inner Intuition and Wisdom
  • Autogenic Training
  • Breathing Deeply for Relaxation and Stress Reliefmug
  • Comfort in the Face of Grief and Loss
  • Easing Pain
  • Prepare for
    Procedure
  • Prepare for Surgery
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Relaxation
  • Relaxation for Children
  • Relaxation Imagery with a Pool of Light
  • Safe Place
  • Skill Master
  • Sleeping Deeply, Easily, Restfully

During the Holiday Season, please take time for YOU and listen to a “guided imagery exercise to promote your health and well-being.  So, close your eyes and remember, all you have to do is breathe”.

“Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice.  We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne”.
– Alice Childress

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, O
hio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:

The Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/guided-imagery

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

 

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Yoga for Kids?

What is yoga? The word yoga comes from ancient Indian language of Sanskrit word meaning ‘union.’ Yoga is the coming together of body and mind. Yoga is performing a series of poses and also about breathing and relaxation, which makes people feel more calm, clear-minded and refreshed. Yoga has been around for about 6,000 years, so it must work! We have long known that yoga provides many benefits for adults. But did you know yoga also has many benefits for kids? Yoga engages the whole child – mind and body working together. Studies show a correlation between yoga practice and positive outcomes for children and teens.

Physical Fitness

Doing a yoga pose helps to build strength, flexibility and balance. This helps add to the 60 minutes of recommended physical activity for children.

Mental Health

Learning to breathe deeply triggers relaxation in the body and brings feelings of both peace and energy. Yoga also helps to build confidence in your mind and body.

Academics

Children who are physically fit perform better in school than children who are not. Yoga practice has been tied to fewer discipline issues and better behavior.

Self Awareness

During yoga, one has to listen to his or her own body to know if a certain position is painful or too difficult. It also helps one learn to be more aware of the sensations in his or her body. Yoga helps improve concentration and can even foster compassion for self and others.

yoga for kids logo

Want to get started with yoga for your child? There are many organizations that offer yoga for children. You might look for yoga at local recreation centers, fitness studios and community centers. Look for an instructor that has been trained specifically in yoga for children. Some schools even teach yoga during class as a way to teach the children to clear their mind and re-focus. You might find yoga in youth-serving organizations such as 4-H. This week in Columbus, Ohio, 36 Extension Educators and staff were trained by the University of Arkansas’ 4-H Yoga for Kids to teach yoga to children and teens.

Yoga for children tends to be a little more active, fun and even silly compared to adult yoga classes, but why not make the animal sound that matches the pose you’re in, like frog, cow, dog or gorilla? Children can do yoga by themselves at home, with family and friends. The whole family can have fun doing yoga together. You can try out yoga together with your child at home with a good DVD or online video. Yoga is a great way to be physically active and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

WRITTEN BY: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

REVIEWED BY: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Clark County, Ohio State University Extension

SOURCES:

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This time of year is always magical from a gardening perspective. Perennials and bulbs are blooming, greenhouses are open and neighbors are planting their annuals. Nothing brings us out of our winter blahs faster than the scent of hyacinths and lilacs or the beauty of daffodils and tulips. Did you know that flowers serve more than just an aesthetic purpose? They also can improve our overall well-being.

Lilacs

Planting or keeping flowers around the home and in the workplace greatly reduces a person’s stress levels. Natural aesthetic beauty is soothing to people, and planting ornamental flowers around the home environment is an excellent way to lower levels of stress and anxiety. People who keep flowers in and around their home feel happier, less stressed, and more relaxed. As a result of the positive energy they derive from the environment, the chances of suffering from stress-related depression are decreased as well. Overall, adding flowers to your home or work environment reduces your perceived stress levels and makes you feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Flowers can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life; bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and an increase in your perceived happiness.

Having plants, going for a walk in the park, or even looking at a landscape poster can produce psychological benefits, reduce stress, and improve concentration. Flowers cut from the garden add a pop of color to the living areas in the home. Bringing potted plants into your work space helps improve productivity, as well as an increase in creativity and job satisfaction.

Flowers

Don’t have a green thumb, struggling with some plants, or just beginning to plant?  Want some creative tips for new projects? The National Gardening Association has tons of information to help you out.  Allow the outdoors to bring out your natural beauty. Behold the powers of flowers!

Sources:

http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/health-and-well-being-benefits-of-plants/#.VzyCdrgrK70

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-mindfulness/200903/plants-make-you-feel-better

www.garden.org

www.onegreenplanet.org

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

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

 

 

 

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When my daughter was a toddler, she had a talking toy Bullwinkle Moose that said “walking is good for you!”  For years it was a bit of a family joke and every time we went for a walk, someone had to quote Bullwinkle.      walking_focus_destress

Now, science is firmly behind the concept that walking really is good for you!  Among others, the American Heart Association promotes the positive benefits of walking. The simple of activity of walking can:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids profile.
  • Maintain your body weight and lower risk of obesity.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes.

What do you need to start walking?  Basically you just need comfortable supportive shoes and a safe place to walk.

The Mayo Clinic gives some suggestions for starting and maintaining a walking habit.

  • Set yourself up for success! Have a simple, attainable goal. Maybe the first week you plan to walk 5 minutes at lunch time.  Once that becomes a habit, gradually add time to your walk.
  • Track your progress. It can be very motivating to see how many miles you have walked in a week, month or year. You can record this in a journal, a spreadsheet or an online app.
  • Make it enjoyable. Some people like to walk alone, listening to music or just enjoying some “me” time. Others prefer to walk with a friend or two. Find out what works for you.
  • Vary your routine. Plan a couple of different routes – walk outside when possible or join others walking at the gym or local mall. If you’re walking alone, let someone know where you will be walking. Keep your cell phone in your pocket for emergency calls! If you have a light or whistle, take it with you.
  • If you miss a day or two, don’t give up! Remind yourself how good you felt when you were walking regularly and ease back into it.

While walking is a relatively low risk activity, you still want to think of preventing injuries to yourself. If you haven’t been active, start slow and gradually add to your time, distance and speed.  To avoid blisters, some studies have shown that synthetic fiber socks can be better than cotton socks which absorb moisture and increase friction. Shin splints (pain on the front of your lower leg) and knee pain can be prevented or minimized by wearing proper, supportive footwear and stretching and strengthening the supportive muscles.

Remember, every step you take helps you lead a healthier life. So, get up, lace on your walking shoes and get going!

walking shoes

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension, Franklin County rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension ,Pickaway County treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
The American Heart Association.  Walking, Take the first step.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walking_UCM_460870_SubHomePage.jsp

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