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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Last year was a very difficult year for my family, and 2019 has not started any better. Everywhere I turn I am forced to think about the challenges my family is facing. I know I am not alone in the way I feel. I also know that some of you may be living in your worst fear every day. I have spent the last several months trying to keep my head high and not talk about what is going on behind the scenes. I am a very private person when it comes to my family and I do not plaster my every thought on social media. However, keeping all of that inside of me has not been good for my health. I know how to recognize and control my stress but no matter what I tried, I could not escape it.Think Positive motivation

My family is one of the many dairy families across the United States experiencing farm stress. Living in the unknown of the farm takes away all of my positive energy and can be emotionally exhausting and draining every day. I have had to make a conscience effort to focus on the positives in my life and to let the negatives go. I was able to find an extremely wonderful handout from North Dakota State University Extension called 12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress. I had the amazing opportunity to hear Sean, the author, speak at a conference about rural stress. This resource not only applies to farm stress but to ALL stress that EVERYONE faces. The list focuses on the following physical, mental, emotional, personal, work, and financial wellness strategies, which will help enhance your mood, renew your energy and help you stay focused:

  1. Exercise 20 minutes or more daily (walk, swim, ride a bike, etc.)
  2. Get an annual medical checkup with a local health-care provider.
  3. Spend 10 minutes planning your day and priorities.
  4. Take regular 5- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge.
  5. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for daily.
  6. Share concerns with a counselor or other professional.
  7. Take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member.
  8. Get involved or stay connected with a friend or group of friends.
  9. Discuss needs of the farm operation but do not let them occupy all other aspects of life.
  10. Seek constructive feedback on your farm operation and ways to grow or improve.
  11. Create a family budget and seek to live within your means.
  12. Select three healthy habits you will try to practice daily. Start today!

Which three healthy habits could you begin doing today? So many times, we try to handle things on our own and in reality, we end up doing more damage than good. I strongly encourage you to figure out who is in your support network. Who do you feel comfortable sharing your personal struggle(s) with? I started focusing on the goodness in this world and the amazing people that surround me. My coworkers and friends have been wonderful! They’ve given me endless amounts of humor to lighten my mood, been a listening ear on tough days and have sent words of encouragement. Don’t feel like you have to hold your thoughts in any longer. Open up and focus on the positive outcomes in your bumpy ride.

 

Brotherson, S. (2017, September) 12 Tools for your wellness toolbox in times of farm stress. Retrieved from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/12-tools-for-your-wellness-toolbox-in-times-of-farm-stress

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

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Christmas candlePause. Breathe. Breathe again. Many of us are exhausted and stressed by this point at year’s end. Sometimes, we are so exhausted that we can’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of  having yourself a “merry little Christmas,” maybe we could work toward a mindful Christmas. Here are a few ideas to give yourself a mindful moment this season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate.

10 Finger Thanks

Think of ten things you’re thankful for as you count on your fingers. This may take some extra thought, but the benefits of a grateful heart are worth it! You can do this by yourself or with family and friends.

3 Senses

Pause and use three senses to observe your surroundings. Spend a minute on each sense. What are three things you can see? What are three things you can hear? What are three things you can feel? For more information, see the 3 Senses Mindfulness Activity. What would we see if we truly looked?

“Mindfulness is a love affair with life. You see the beauty in everybody and in everything.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do “You” this Holiday

Sometimes we try to please others and be who they think we should be. That can make a person miserable, and tired. Truth is, the best we can be is our best self. Honor your own desires and wishes. Maybe you just need a little time for yourself to gain perspective. Maybe you need a ‘long winter’s nap!’ This meditation from the Center for Mindfulness can help a person observe their own thoughts and emotions.

Breathe in Your Reality

When we stop comparing our life to the ideal we wish it was, and start accepting our own reality, we develop contentment and serenity. And we could all use a little more of that this holiday. When we start to accept our own reality, we may find treasures in our own situation we didn’t realize before.

 

Sources

American Psychological Association. (2018). “Managing Expectations.” https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations.aspx
Wong, J. & Brown, J. (June 2017). “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health.” Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

 

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

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

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One of my friends underwent a cancer biopsy this week. She is waiting the results of a pathology lab for diagnosis. Will it be cancer with a treatment plan of some sort, or will her results be benign?

Waiting on results from an important medical test or pathology report is enough to make anyone’s anxiety soar. It seems the waiting is sometimes worse than the diagnosis. The unknown. The period of limbo. Holding your breath… afraid to exhale.

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When the stakes are high, waiting on a diagnosis can escalate stress and take a toll on you. A study from the National Institute of Health found that awaiting diagnosis of cancer after a biopsy was associated with higher anxiety than waiting for invasive and potentially risky treatment. This stress can weaken one’s immune system and slow healing. The longer the wait time, the more anxiety tends to increase. Thanks to online medical portals and new technology in diagnosis, sometimes the wait time is shortened. Part of the struggle in the waiting is the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. Once you receive a diagnosis, you can at least work with your doctor to implement a treatment plan. But what can you do while you’re waiting?

journal

You can do some pre-diagnostic coping to help yourself reduce anxiety.

  • Do whatever has helped you reduce stress in the past.
  • Eat healthy during times of stress.
  • Distract yourself with a good book, a hobby, work, or a good movie.
  • Try meditation and journaling.
  • Keep the situation in perspective, don’t awful-ize it!
  • Mindful breathing can be a life-saver.
  • Find support in family, friends, support groups, mental health counselor and faith-based organizations.

As I write this blog article, my friend is still awaiting her results. She seems to be handling it well and when I asked her how, she responded… “I woke up the morning of my biopsy with this phrase in my head: ‘God’s got this, I’m just along for the ride.’” Her faith is a source of support for her, along with family, friends and co-workers. These same sources of support will continue to be there for her even after diagnosis, whatever it may be.

If you are awaiting medical results (or any other big potentially stressful news) surround yourself with support and don’t hesitate to ask for help. And keep breathing… deeply.

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

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Sources:

Barlage, L. Have you tried “Journaling” your Stressors?? Live Healthy Live Well. 2015, May 15.

Brinkman, P. Eating Better During Stressful Times. Live Healthy Live Well. 2015, May 7.

Carter, S. Don’t Awful-ize It! Live Smart Ohio. 2015, Sep 11.

Carter, S. Breathing… Live Smart Ohio. 2015, July 31.

Flory N & Lang E. Distress in the radiology waiting room. Radiology. 2011 Jul;260(1):166-73. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11102211. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Lang E, Berbaum K & Lutgendorf S. Large-core breast biopsy: abnormal salivary cortisol profiles associated with uncertainty of diagnosis. Radiology. 2009 Mar;250(3):631-7. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2503081087.

 

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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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