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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

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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Labor Day is a perfect reminder that in order to celebrate the work and achievement we have had in the past year, we need a break to reflect. Technology and the strive to always do more (and better than anyone else); can develop a bad habit of never disconnecting from our work. Working all the time may lead us to burnout and even less creativity. As Whitney Johnson says “Only after a break can you have a breakthrough”.

After looking at over 50 studies, journal articles, or books on workaholism, researchers classified workaholics as those who: Woman Relaxing in Rocking Chair

  • Work beyond what is reasonably expected.
  • Give up family, social, and recreational activities persistently for work.
  • Think about work all the time.

Numerous workaholics will become over stressed, anxious, and even have health problems; although not all do. Some workaholics seem to find a way to balance their lives. We should all strive to be productive in our work, but not move over to the dark-side of the workaholic. Whether it is Labor Day itself, a weekend, or vacation day we all need to recharge our batteries. Our brain needs to shut down, we need adequate sleep, and we need a little quiet time. If you have been focusing on a big project at work or home, you may need a break to clear your mind and get ready for the next project. Here are some “Un-Labor Day” ideas to help you recharge your batteries:

  • Actually use your holidays, vacation days, sick days, and weekends as recreation or relaxation.
  • Turn off the TV, computer, or tablet and listen to your favorite music.
  • Journal (by actually writing down, not on your phone) things you have to be thankful for.
  • Meditate or do yoga.
  • Just relax in a hammock, on the beach, or on a blanket under the stars.
  • Take a drive on a back road with a view – may it be the waterfront, mountains, or farm fields.
  • Turn technology off for the day. If your work email goes to your phone, cut back on the times you look at it after work or on the weekend. Keep count of the times you normally check email per day and see if you can’t go to once or twice a day (maybe eventually not at all on the weekend). To break this habit you may need to turn your alerts off.
  • Fix a favorite recipe and share it with your friends, family, or neighbors.
  • Sign up for a new class, not one related to work, but a hobby you want to learn or fitness. Actually put the schedule on your calendar and phone and say “I have class then, I can’t attend that meeting tomorrow night” rather than adding on to your already busy day.

What can you do to “Un-Labor” your day? If you ask my family and friends, they will tell you I work too much and need to heed the advice and take a break to recharge my batteries too.

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

Reviewers: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County.

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Just like journaling your physical activity, expenses, or the foods you eat – journaling your stressors and how you react is also a good idea. Research has shown that writing about what stresses us improves our mood and even boosts the immune system. When you journal or write down your stressors, no one will disagree or criticize you, which can be a good way to get swirling thoughts out of your mind. Talking with others and reaching out to professional help is important, but may not be easily available to all of us. Journaling

Try in the next few weeks to journal your stress for a 5 to 7 day period. Track what causes you stress and what you do. When you find out about a big project that is due, do you head to the vending machines or do you stop eating all together? Do you take a walk to clear your head? Or do you skip your Zumba class? Once you know your current reactions, you may be able to choose some new coping techniques to get through the next crisis.

Other techniques to help you handle your stress:

  • Laugh – a good belly laugh can help. Try comics, funny YouTube videos, comedy movies or TV shows.
  • Be Physically Active – all forms of exercise will ease depression and anxiety.
  • Establish Boundaries in Your Life – choose not to check work email at home or after a certain time, don’t answer the phone during family time or meals, or promise to only look at Facebook once a day.
  • Use Your Vacation or Personal Days – don’t let the company keep them. Use that time to recharge.
  • Find Your Relaxation Zone – Take time for at least one thing you really enjoy like music, reading, crafting, golf, fishing, playing cards, or gardening.
  • Avoid the Bad Habits – Avoid excessive snacking, caffeine, too much or too little sleep, smoking, and anger. They will only make things worse in the long run.

Try journaling your stressful situations and reactions, or just writing when things are really bothering you, then let us know what you think. Did it help?

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

Reviewers: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County and Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County.

 

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Feeling stressed? What are you eating? Most of us reach for comfort foods when we are stressed, stressed woman such as cookies, cake, candy and other high sugar, low fiber foods. These foods are not good choices to prevent chronic inflammation from developing and affecting our body. High levels of chronic inflammation are believed to cause rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Even low amounts of inflammation can increase your risk of obesity and the effects of aging. Prolonged chronic inflammation increases our risk of cancer, heart disease and other diseases. One study on postmenopausal women found that those eating a healthier diet reduced their risk of death from any cause by 60% and had an 88% reduced risk of death from breast cancer.

What should we eat to avoid inflammation building up in our body? Three eating patterns provide reliable assistance along with allowing individual choices of food. Those three eating patterns are the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet. my plate Each of these has some differences but all three emphasize certain patterns.

All three eating patterns encourage us to eat:
• Plenty of vegetables and fruit.
• whole grains
• Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy
• Seafood and plant proteins

They also encourage us to reduce eating:
• Empty calories including foods with added sugar, or drinking excess alcohol
• Refined grains
• Saturated fat foods
• High sodium food

What would a daily eating plan include?
• Vegetables – 2 to 4 cups
• Fruits – at least 2 cups a day
• Whole grains – 3 to 4 ounces a day
• Fish/Seafood – 8-16 ounces a week for Omega-3
• Nuts and soy – 4-6 ounces a week
• Olive oil – 1 -2 Tablespoons a day.
• Dairy (1% or skim) – 1-3 cups a day
• Alcohol – 0-1 drink a day

Limit the amount of red and processed meats you eat to less than 12 ounces a week and keep added sugars to less than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men a day.

Make it a goal to eat lots of fiber by eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. fruits-veggies This will increase the anti-inflammatory properties from these foods. Add some garlic, onion, pepper and other herbs for additional anti-inflammatory properties.

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

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed
OSU Extension

References:
Orchard, T. [2015]. Eating healthy under stress: improving diet quality to lower chronic inflammation. webinar for Your Plan for Health, Ohio State University

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springhealth

Spring has arrived!  Imagine warmer days, flowers blooming and the smell of fresh cut lawns!  It’s also the perfect time to take inventory of our health.

  • Schedule appointments and health screenings.  Talk with your doctor to determine a health plan that works for you.
  • De-clutter your medicine cabinet.  Medication should be stored in a dry, cool cabinet.  Check the expiration dates of all medications.   Check with the drug stores or police departments to learn how to dispose safely of old medications.
  • Discard old makeup.  Most products have a one year shelf life.  Throw out products that have an odor or separation of ingredients.
  • Find your calm.  Learn to decrease stress instantly.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, envision a place that is peaceful.
  • Choose in-season, local produce.  Visit a farmers’ market and gain nutritional benefits with spring produce.
  • Go outside-talk a walk and benefit from physical activity and the wonders of the arrival of spring.
  •  Improve your happiness – get rid of clothes in your closet that don’t flatter you.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t want.  Research reveals that helping out others improves our happiness.

Take these steps to help improve your overall health and enjoy spring!

Author:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD.  Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/spring-clean

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Autumn

Stress often gets a bad rap. In small doses, stress serves as a motivator to get things done.  It also gives us the ability to run faster and think more quickly when facing an emergency. Yet, if you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price.

Protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process.

Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

  • Pain of any kind
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Weight issues
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema

Managing stress is about taking control and taking charge. Take charge of your emotions, thoughts, schedule, and your environment.  Strengthening your physical health will help you cope with the symptoms of stress.

There are a number of techniques that are useful to reduce stress. Here are a few of these ideas:

  • Set aside relaxation time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of sleep

Find something that calms you and get in the right mindset to face these challenges. Managing your stress will bring balance to your life.  While we may not be able to control all the stressors in our lives, we can change how we react to them!

Writer: Beth Stefura, MEd., RD, LD, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Mahoning County.

Reviewer: Liz Smith, M.S. RDN,LD, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed

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