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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

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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If you had asked me last year my definition of wellness, I would have said eating right, exercising and lowering my risk of getting sick. However, wellness has many aspects and is connected to more than just those three areas. This last year has taught me how important some of those other areas are to my health and well-being.

The Ohio State University uses an integrative approach to wellness that promotes nine dimensions of well-being. Their student wellness center identifies each of the areas and gives a description.

wellness wheelEmotional Wellness
The emotionally well person can identify, express and manage the entire range of feelings and would consider seeking assistance to address areas of concern.

Career Wellness
The professionally well person engages in work to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment, consistent with values, goals and lifestyle.

Social Wellness
The socially well person has a network of support based on interdependence, mutual trust, respect and has developed a sensitivity and awareness towards the feelings of others.

Spiritual Wellness
The spiritually well person seeks harmony and balance by openly exploring the depth of human purpose, meaning and connection through dialogue and self-reflection.

Physical Wellness
The physically well person gets an adequate amount of sleep, eats a balanced and nutritious diet, engages in exercise for 150 minutes per week, attends regular medical check-ups and practices safe and healthy sexual relations.

Financial Wellness
The financially well person is fully aware of financial state and budgets, saves and manages finances in order to achieve realistic goals.

Intellectual Wellness
The intellectually well person values lifelong learning and seeks to foster critical thinking, develop moral reasoning, expand worldviews and engage in education for the pursuit of knowledge.

Creative Wellness
The creatively well person values and actively participates in a diverse range of arts and cultural experiences as a means to understand and appreciate the surrounding world.

Environmental Wellness
The environmentally well person recognizes the responsibility to preserve, protect and improve the environment and appreciates the interconnectedness of nature and the individual.

I like to think of these nine dimensions in relation to a wheel. When each area is full and evenly distributed around the wheel, it runs smoothly and is strong. However, if areas are missing or less than full then we have a weak, bumpy rolling wheel. Completing a self-assessment shows areas that are thriving and other areas that need greater attention. In examining your own well-being, where could you use some improvements? I encourage you to use that information and set a wellness goal for the next month. Make it something that won’t be too hard to accomplish. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or add one more glass of water to your daily beverage intake. This makes it easier to create a plan towards a healthier well-balanced you.

 

Mazurek Melnyk, B., & Neale, S. (2018). Wellness 101: 9 dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today13(1), 10–11.

The Ohio State University Office Of Student Life. (2018). Nine Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/nine-dimensions-of-wellness/

 

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

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness. Ohio State University Extension,  remley.4@osu.edu

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Stress is something that every person encounters in life; relationships, weddings, jobs, births, finances, vacations, deaths, etc. all create stress.  Some events might be happy, positive events, like having a baby, but they still can be stressful.  According to the Mayo Clinic, stress effects our bodies physically, mentally and behaviorally.

Common effects of stress on your body:road sign - one pointing right with the word stress and one point left with the word relax

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior:

  • Overeating or underrating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

If stress isn’t managed properly it can wreak havoc on your body.  Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Kim Goodman says “Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, low tolerance levels and interpersonal relationship challenges.”    Our ability to effectively cope with stress is determined by how we respond to it.  Jack Canfield developed a formula to explain this concept E (event) +R (response) = O (outcome).  He states “every outcome you experience in life is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event in your life.  Likewise, if you want to change the results you get in the future, you must change how you respond to events in your life…starting today”.   Here is an example of putting this formula into practice:  you’re stuck in traffic (E) + you cuss, beep your horn and yell out the window (R) = your angry, anxious, experience muscle tension and your blood pressure increases (O).  Now let’s use the same scenerio but change our response and see if the outcome is different.  You’re stuck in traffic (E) + you turn on some music, maybe return phone calls or spend the time contacting a friend you haven’t had time to connect with (R) = you remain calm and relaxed and your productive.   It really isn’t about the event/situation, rather it’s about YOUR response to it that determines what the outcome will be and whether stress controls you or you control your stress. 

So what are some self-care practices that will help improve the way we respond to different events/situations?

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Take time for yourself

Remember, you have a choice in how you respond to stress and the toll it will take on your physical, mental and behavior health.  So choose wisely!

Resources:

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

https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/why-stress-management-important-self-care-tips-anyone-can-put-practice

https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/the-formula-that-puts-you-in-control-of-success/

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Taking-Care-of-Yourself

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

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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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