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Posts Tagged ‘Wellness’

Recently, at girls’ night, a discussion was held about the challenges many faced this past year during the pandemic.  Isolation, fear, contact restrictions, financial, illness, loss and food insecurities were discussed.  The conversation quickly changed to activities that began during the pandemic  we have enjoyed and wish to continue.   Quality time spent with family and friends was a common theme.  Many shared their own rituals which include:

  • Curbside pickup.  Ordering from the drugstore to the grocery store allows more time to spend at home and shop less.  This eliminates impulse shopping!
  • Started a group text with our three adult children and their spouses to keep in touch and check in with each other.
  • Monthly family “Zoom chats”.  This started when we could not get together for the holidays and has continued monthly.  We all look forward to these monthly family sessions and catch up on the comings and goings.
  • Shared photos of recipes we prepared and included the recipes. This has expanded our cooking techniques and improved our meals!
  • Started to play the piano again. Each night before bedtime we sing our favorite songs together.  We find it very calming and have continued the practice.
  • My teenage daughter comes into my home office daily and we have a quick chat.
  • Zooming with my sisters located in Las Vegas, London, and New York City.  We spend every Saturday together for the first time in our adult lives.
  • During the month of October, we watched one scary movie each night.   On Halloween we held an awards show called The Scaries.  Movies are a family favorite and a great way to connect and celebrate during the quarantine.
  • We started taking weekend walks in the woods.  With playgrounds and indoor activities closed, we tried to visit all the nearby forest preserves and state parks.  We have enjoyed our walks immensely.
  • My two daughters came home for a few months last fall.  They both enjoy cooking and the show Chopped.  We created our own version of the show.  I collected ingredients to use and made-up baskets for each daughter to create an entrée and dessert.  My husband and I judged the results and we all had tons of fun!
  • Two weeks before Christmas, my musical family shared an outside concert with our neighborhood.  With a trumpet, flute, keyboard, and violin we played several songs to a social-distanced crowd.  It was magical!
  • We started taking daily long walks-rain or shine.  We look forward to these daily walks and enjoy the quality time together and the beauty of nature.
  • We love playing pickleball and purchased a portable sturdy pickleball net online.  Using sidewalk chalk, we measured a regulation court on our cul-de-sac and started playing family tournaments.  This summer we have expanded and invited friends and neighbors to join us.
  • On Christmas Eve, we scheduled a Zoom sing along of our favorite Christmas songs and everyone in our family across the country sang together and enjoyed our time together.

We all learned the importance of being creative with limited resources and space at home.  We appreciate these small acts of kindness and are grateful to family and friends that help boost our emotional wellbeing.  What family activity did you create during the pandemic you hope to continue?

Please share below on comments your favorite family activity.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

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

References:

Rituals in the Time of COVID-19: Imagination, Responsiveness, and the Human Spirit – PubMed (nih.gov)

A Crowd-Sourced Database of Coronamusic: Documenting Online Making and Sharing of Music During the COVID-19 Pandemic – PubMed (nih.gov)

Hope During COVID-19 Lockdown – PubMed (nih.gov)

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How are you feeling today? In a world full of 24-hours news that tends to focus on negative events, an ongoing global pandemic, and growing divisiveness, “happy” might not be the first emotion that comes to mind. According to NORC at the University of Chicago, only 14% of American adults said they were very happy in 2020, which is the lowest percentage since the poll has been conducted over the past 50 years.

Closeup of diverse senior adults sitting by the pool enjoying summer together

If you find yourself in the 86% of adults who are not feeling very happy, is there anything you can do about it? The wonderful (and happy) news is that the answer to this question is an enthusiastic “YES!” Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. Scientists in the field have found proven ways to increase a person’s level of happiness.

Action for Happiness is a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom and their mission is to create more happiness in the world. In a joint endeavor with Vanessa King, they developed the Ten Keys to Happier Living, a framework based on the latest research relating to physical, psychological, and mental wellbeing. The first 5 keys focus on daily life and how we relate and interact with the external world, while the last 5 keys focus on qualities that are internal and shaped by our attitudes. The Ten Keys are:

  1. Giving: Do things for others
  2. Relating: Connect with people
  3. Exercising: Take care of your body
  4. Awareness: Live life mindfully
  5. Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  6. Direction: Have goals to look forward to
  7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotions: Focus on what’s good
  9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger

You can remember the ten keys because together, they spell out GREAT DREAM. You can download a free, in-depth guidebook that provides an introduction, an image, a question, a quote, and practical action ideas for each key.

Knowing ten ways to increase your happiness is a great start. Now comes the fun part: trying out these keys for yourself. Commit to trying one of the keys today and make plans to try the others over time. Not only will you have fun and learn new things, but you have the potential of joining that small and fortunate group of people who report being very happy. As the Dalai Lama has said, Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

A final note: Positive psychology recognizes that not everyone feels happy all the time nor does it dismiss real problems that people experience. If you have a difficult time feeling happy, even when you keep trying, reach out to a friend, a professional, and/or a support service, like Ohio CareLine. Also keep in mind that many medications can have mental health side effects. Don’t struggle alone and remember that asking for help is a sign of great strength.

Resources:
To learn more about happiness and find additional educational resources, visit https://go.osu.edu/mental-health-and-well-being-warren-co

References:
Action for Happiness. (n.d.). Great Dream: Ten Keys to Happier Living. https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/530511/ten_keys_guidebook.pdf

King, V. (2016). 10 Keys to Happier Living. London, United Kingdom: Headline Publishing Group.

NORC (2020). Issue Brief: Historic Shift in Americans’ Happiness Amid Pandemic. NORC at the University of Chicago.
https://www.norc.org/PDFs/COVID%20Response%20Tracking%20Study/Historic%20Shift%20in%20Americans%20Happiness%20Amid%20Pandemic.pdf

Peterson, C. (2008, May 16). What is positive psychology, and what is it not? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-good-life/200805/what-is-positive-psychology-and-what-is-it-not

Stanton, L. (2020, December 10). Serious mental health side effects related to Singulair. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension.
https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/12/10/serious-mental-health-side-effects-related-to-singulair

Stanton, L. (2021, July 13). How happiness protects heart health. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension.
https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/07/13/how-happiness-protects-heart-health

Written by: Laura M. Stanton, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, MS, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

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On Saturday, I rushed through the kitchen and announced to my household: “Don’t follow my example. I’m trying to do too many things at once but here’s what I need you to do ….”  Some of the tasks I was trying to accomplish were putting groceries away in the refrigerator, reminding the kiddos what to get ready so we could leave for an event, and I needed to return a text with timely information. I thought I might have pulled it off until the next morning. Three food items that should have gone in the refrigerator were still sitting in the grocery bag on the counter. Ugh! I hate that I wasted time and money on food that was planned for the week.

Before I blame this pressure to multitask on modern expectations, the following quote is attributed to Mozart (1756 – 1791): The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time. The temptation to multitask is strong but the hidden costs of multitasking can build up. While we might feel like we are getting a few things done at once, research has shown that our brain is switching between the tasks and has to constantly re-focus on each new task. The challenge is “even though multitasking is wildly inefficient, it feels productive”.

“I’m trying to do too many things at once”. The next time that thought pops into my brain, or the words come out of my mouth, what can I do? I can take a mindful pause. It will not “waste” any time to pause, take a few deep breaths or even do a one-to-three-minute mindfulness practice. The immediate, rushed pressure of the moment will diminish. It will be easier for my brain to determine the order of the tasks or if I can delegate a task or if I can save a task until another time. Don’t follow my example when I’m trying to rush and multitask. Go ahead and follow my example when I take a pause, decide what needs to be done first and then do one thing at a time. 

Sources:

Carter, C. (2020). Three ways to help your kids succeed at distance learning: How can parents support their children at the start of an uncertain school year?. Greater Good Science Center. Berkeley University of California. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_to_help_your_kids_succeed_at_distance_learning

Guided Meditations. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations#english

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A., & Ostergren, M. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Graphics Interface Conference.  

Powell S. K. (2016). Mindfulness, Multitasking, and You. Professional case management21(2), 61–62. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCM.0000000000000141     https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26844712/

Wang, Z., & Tchernev, J. (2012). The “myth” of media multitasking: Reciprocal dynamics of media multitasking, personal needs, and gratifications. Journal of Communication 62 (2012) 493–513 © 2012 International Communication Association

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

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Choices of peanut butter on a shelf

As an Extension Field Specialist, I have coached traditional food pantries where food is pre-selected to help them transition to a client-choice model where food is chosen based on preferences and needs. Client-choice pantries provide a more dignified experience for people and can be more efficient at preventing food waste since unwanted items aren’t discarded. For many low-income Americans, choosing where and how to grocery shop might be viewed as a privilege reserved for those with greater incomes. The same could be said for people living in developing countries where food, water, and material resources aren’t as abundant. For those of us fortunate enough to have the privilege of choice, we face the challenge of having too much choice. Whether it be food, clothing, TV stations, housing, spouses, lifestyle, investments, hobbies, or even medical procedures, having too many choices can lead to isolation, paralysis in decision making, anxiety, and depression. At the societal level too much choice might lead to waste, tribalism, and perhaps public health problems.

Sometimes we are faced with so much choice that we don’t know what to choose and we become almost paralyzed in our decision making. We are afraid to make the wrong choice, and feel as if we need to further investigate all of the options, which takes time (something I seem to have less of). As a result, we sometimes put off big decisions. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new insulin pump for my diabetes but there are so many products. In addition, working with insurance to purchase the new product is a headache, so I have yet to make a decision.

Another challenge is choice inflates our expectations and sometimes deflates our satisfaction if we think we made the wrong choice. For example, I was trying to decide between two restaurants the other night, one Indian, the other Mexican. I went with the Mexican and it was good, but part of me wondered if the Indian would have been better. As a result of this thinking, I wasn’t as happy with my experience and I likely missed out on some of the enjoyment of the outing. Although this example seems trivial, all of the choices we make everyday and the sometimes resulting stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction could lead to mental and physical health problems.

At the societal level, too much choice contributes to many small and large-scale problems. Material goods such as food, electronics, and clothing are discarded because people have the option of newer and better choices. I’ve wasted leftover food because I’ve had the choice of eating out. Too much choice might lead to tribalism, isolation, and less cohesion. Growing up, my family had three channels on TV. We watched whatever was on as a family. Now, my three kids are plugged into their phones watching their own shows, etc. I hardly get to talk with them. Thirty years ago, our nation was more cohesive and less tribal. Everyone watched the world series for example, since there weren’t as many options for sports. In terms of public health challenges, we have so many choices for fast food, unhealthy snacks, etc that obesity is more common than ever. We can choose whether or not to get vaccinated, which places others at risk for disease.

What to do? There are two dimensions of wellness to consider for guidance: spiritual and environmental. Spiritual wellness can help people become satisfied and grounded with who they are and with choices they make. Some traditions teach that desires and cravings lead to suffering and seek to reduce these states of mind. Environmental wellness can help people reduce consumption, or reuse new products etc. and thus not feel stressed about getting the newest and greatest item out there.

Obviously, choice is a good thing, and I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where we don’t have any choices. However, we need to reflect on the consequences of having too much choice for our own health, and the health of our families and communities. In any event, I hope this was helpful in some way and I am glad you “chose” to read this…….

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension, remely.4@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Remley, D., Franzen-Castle, L., McCormack, L., & Eicher-Miller, H. A. (2019). Chronic Health Condition Influences on Client Perceptions of Limited or Non-choice Food Pantries in Low-income, Rural Communities. American Journal of Health Behavior43(1), 105–118. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.5993/AJHB.43.1.9

Schwartz, Barry. The Paradox of Choice. TED talk. Accessed on 7/20/21 at The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz – YouTube

William and Mary University. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Accessed on 7/19/21 at The Eight Dimensions of Wellness | William & Mary (wm.edu)

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. When people think about heart health, they often think about the impact of diet and exercise. However, a growing body of research has also established a connection with positive thinking, optimism, and happiness.

For example, do you tend to view the cup as half empty or half full? If you view the cup as half full, you are less likely to develop heart disease than if you view the cup as half empty. While negative emotions such as depression and anger are risk factors for heart disease, optimism and happiness seem to protect the heart.

In one study, people with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease while people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk. In another study, women with the highest levels of optimism had a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease than those with negative attitudes. In this study, optimism was defined as feeling hopeful and confident about the future.

Cheerful diverse people together in a park

How can the connection between positive psychology and heart health be explained? Three possible explanations are:

  1. Lifestyle: Happy people tend to sleep better, eat better, smoke less, and get more exercise; all behaviors that lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. Physiology: Happiness produces positive chemical changes and reduces stress hormones.
  3. Genetics: People who are predisposed to happiness may also be predisposed to have lower rates of heart disease.

If you tend to see the cup half empty, don’t despair! Research suggests that negative people feel happier when they:

  • Express gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Practice being optimistic.
  • Initiate random acts of kindness.
  • Engage in mindfulness activities.
  • Visualize their best self.
  • Savor joyful events.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Get outside.

Medical professionals advocate that you should devote 15 to 20 minutes a day doing something that brings you joy. What can you commit to doing every day to increase your happiness and take care of your heart at the same time? We would love to hear your ideas and plans.

If you still find yourself searching for happiness but not quite achieving it, you should reach out and talk to a health care professional. Together, you should consider environmental factors that could be impacting you, such as your diet, lack of sleep, or potential mental health side effects from medication.

To learn more about the importance of happiness and your health, join us for Happiness 101 on August 25, 2021 at 12noon. To register for this free, 30-minute Wellness Wednesday Webinar sponsored by Live Healthy Live Well, visit: go.osu.edu/WellnessWeds

Written by: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu.

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 8). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Davidson, K. W., Mostofsky, E., & Whang, W. (2010). Don’t worry, be happy: positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: the Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey. European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1065–1070. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862179

Kim, E. S., Hagan, K. A., Grodstein, F., DeMeo, D. L., De Vivo, I., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2017). Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 185(1), 21–29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209589

Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372–1378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612445312

Pitt, B. & Deldin, P.J. (2010). Depression and cardiovascular disease: have a happy day—just smile!, European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1036–1037. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehq031

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Celebrating the 4th of July reminds us that we are amid the middle of Summer.   The warm weather and sunny days are a perfect time to think about improving our self-care.  Take a little extra care of yourself and change up your routine to enjoy all this season has to offer.  Here are some suggestions to help you get started, get outside, and enjoy the sunshine:

  • Abandon the couch and relax outdoors.  Take a blanket or lawn chair and something to read and set up a retreat to enjoy being outdoors on a beautiful sunny day!
  • Take a walk. A walk is a great way to clear your head and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.  Invite a friend and get your exercise while catching up.
  • Visit your local farmer’s market. Take advantage of seasonal produce and local vendors. A trip to the farmer’s market can be a great opportunity to try new foods,  incorporate healthier options into your diet and enjoy local produce.
  • Gardening is a great way to meditate, enjoy the outdoors and get some sunshine.   It is an opportunity to spend time with your family and make new friends.
  • Tidy one small space in your home or office.    Organize a drawer or your desktop– even having one space clean and free of clutter helps you feel calmer.
  • Make a summer playlist. There are many great summer tunes to enjoy.   Music is an easy way to improve your mood and motivate you to get moving.
  • Have a picnic. Enjoying a meal outside is an easy way to get fresh air and sunshine. 
  • Try a new exercise.  Try a new outdoor activity.  Hiking, pickle ball or swimming are frequent outdoor activities.  Remember to use sunscreen and bug spray!   
  • Participate in community events.  Search online or in the newspaper for events going on around town. Consider outdoor movies, yard sales, festivals, farmer’s markets, or concerts.  Making fun plans is exciting and gives you something to look forward to.
  • Start a journal. Writing can be a great way to express how you feel and check-in with your emotions. Or create a drawing or doodle journal.  Document summer1
  • Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend – family member or grandparent.
  • Go exploring.  Look into areas you have not visited in your community.  Find a new part of town you have never visited and visit. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Try meditation or create a list of 10 things you are thankful for daily.
  • Complete a needs assessment.   How was last week?  How can you make next week better?  Do you need more sleep?  Prepare some healthy meals in advance and freeze.  Take a moment to reflect and decide what is needed to take better care of yourself. 

Use these ideas to complete your own self-care checklist this summer.  Small changes to your routine can improve your self-care practice and overall mood. Focus on new ways you can be active, get outside and get involved with your community. Have a great summer!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu

References

https://extension.illinois.edu/global/summer-self-care-series

Self-care: 4 ways to nourish body and soul – Harvard Health

Self Care 101 | Psychology Today

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Beach clean-ups can be exciting events with a large turnout where volunteers remove lots of waste. Sometimes there are bulky items; car tires, shopping carts, or shoes that people have left behind. I attended a clean-up recently and I am proud to report that there was little litter. My fellow Ohioans are removing the waste they bring with them. Since there were no big messes to clean up, we were able to spend more time on smaller things.

We spent two hours picking through the natural debris for small pieces of plastic. There were bottle caps, sandwich bags, and broken pieces of foam. For many of the plastic pieces, the source was unidentifiable. Trash found in and around our Great Lakes is called marine debris.

Plastic is the most common type of marine debris found in the ocean and our Great Lakes. Lake Erie breaks plastic down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics.  Microplastics are plastic pieces less than five millimeters long. The smaller the plastics, the harder they are to clean up and remove from the environment.

Plastic marine debris can have negative impacts on our bodies and those of other living organisms. Animals can mistake plastics for food. The smallest animal on our planet, zooplankton, has been shown to ingest microplastics. We also eat, drink, and breathe microplastics every day. 

One study found that microplastics were in 90% of table salts. Another study estimates that we consume a credit card worth of plastic each week. We do not yet know all the harmful effects of consuming plastic, but scientists say that it likely exposes us to harmful chemicals.

We can make an impact by seeking opportunities to reduce or cut plastics products from our lives. When eliminating is not possible, be sure to dispose of items properly and in ways that reduce the risk of entering our environments. Lakes in Ohio are some of the best resources we have available. Our individual choices can help keep our Great Lake and our bodies healthy!


Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Cuyahoga County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County

References

Bartolotta, J. F. (2018, March 18). Plastic is Fantastic… Or So We Thought. Ohio Sea Grant College Program. https://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/products/twn25/plastic-is-fantasic-or-so-we-thought.

Loria, K. (2019, August 13). How to Eat Less Plastic. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/health-wellness/how-to-eat-less-plastic-microplastics-in-food-water/.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2008, November 14). What is marine debris? NOAA’s National Ocean Service. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/marinedebris.html.

NOAA. What are microplastics? National Ocean Service website, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html, 04/13/16.

Parker, L. (2021, May 3). Microplastics found in 90 percent of table salt: potential health impacts? Environment. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/microplastics-found-90-percent-table-salt-sea-salt.

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As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a meme that said, “Laughter is like a windshield wiper, it doesn’t stop the rain but allows us to keep going.” I had not thought of laughter like that, but I recently found this saying to be accurate.

Life is well, unpredictable. Sometimes you laugh your way through the day because there were many joyous or humorous events. Other times if you did not laugh at the obstacles thrown at you, you would cry. Why does laughter have a healing property? And if laughter is the best medicine, why don’t we laugh more?

Laughter therapy is not new, in fact it has been unofficially in practice for centuries. However, in the past 70 years more research has been focused on the use of laughter to help relieve pain, stress, and anxiety and improve a person’s sense of overall well-being. Researchers have found laughter may significantly increase a person’s level of hope. The hope the person felt helped reduce the severity of the stressors in their life.

Biologically, the act of laughter increases your oxygen levels, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins, or happy juice, released by your brain. This results in a good, tranquil feeling that sooths tension and aids in muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress.

Spontaneous laughter, also known as genuine laughter, in addition to psychological benefits, has been linked to increase tolerance of pain in both adults and children.  Self-induced, or simulated laughter, like that practiced in Laughter Yoga, has shown decreases in blood pressure, cortisol levels, depressive symptoms, and an increase the perception of life satisfaction.

So how can you increase your daily dose of laughter?

They Mayo Clinic suggests you can try:

  • Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos, greeting cards or comic strips, that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies, books, magazines or comedy videos on hand for when you need an added humor boost. Look online at joke websites. Go to a comedy club.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
  • Consider trying laughter yoga. In laughter yoga, people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.
  • Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock, knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and add a few jokes to your list that you can share with friends.

Your challenge is to pick a way to incorporate laughter into your daily life. You just might find, like a wiper blade, it does not stop the rain, but it can make the journey much more enjoyable.

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Sources

Dexter, L., Brook, K. & Frates, E. (2016). The Laughter Prescription. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125057/

Texas A&M University. “Humor Can Increase Hope, Research Shows.” ScienceDaily. Feb. 11, 2005. (June 1, 2009) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050211095658.htm

The Mayo Clinic. (2019, April 5). Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

University of California – Los Angeles.(2009, June 1). Watching Funny Shows Helps Children Tolerate Pain Longer, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024100905.htm

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In July  I set an out of office message.

“I am out of the office on vacation. I will be seeing national parks, family, friends, and the Rocky Mountains; I will not be seeing emails.”

And I left.  For two whole weeks! It was glorious and much needed.  

My daughters enjoying the North Rim of the Grand Canyon July 2020

According to research done by the U.S. Travel Association, Americans left 768 MILLION vacations days unused in 2018. That statistic surprised me given how often a friend, neighbor, or colleague says, “I need a vacation!” in conversation.

Allow me to persuade you on why you should use your vacation days:

Are looking for better physical or mental health? Want to achieve a goal you’ve set? Take a vacation!!!

Several studies have shown that taking time away from your job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who use their vacation time have lower stress and less risk of heart disease.

You may be familiar with stress when it comes to your job. Vacation helps with that too! Stress contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can alter our brain structure. This can contribute to anxiety and depression.  Time away from work can increase feelings of calm and relieve stress.   This allows our brains to heal in ways it can’t when it is under pressure.

Physically, the benefits are positive too.   For both men and women, the New York Times reported, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.

People who vacation also have a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve their goals. One study three days after vacation found subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved as compared to before vacation found.  These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation. Returning to work can increase mental focus, creativity, and productivity. 

If you are thinking that your current budget or financial situation does not allow a vacation at this time, allow me to point out none of this research says WHERE or WHAT you have to do for these benefits. Those benefits are available when you take a break from work! A Caribbean island may sound relaxing, but there is plenty of relaxation to be found close to home. Recently the popularity of staycations has grown.  You may be missing some great destinations right in your backyard.  Stay close and get creative if you have to, just don’t add your vacation days to that 768 million. 

Wherever your vacation takes you, we hope it is relaxing!

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

Resources:

COVID 19: Staycation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dhr.delaware.gov/benefits/covid-19/documents/eap-staycation-ideas.pdf

Harmon, M. (2020). It’s Vacation Time. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Scienceshttps://livehealthyosu.com/2020/06/29/its-vacation-time/

Importance of taking vacation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/thrive/importance-of-taking-vacation

Kim, A. (2019, August 16). A record 768 million US vacation days went to waste last year, a study says. Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/unused-vacation-days-trnd/index.html

US TravelAssociation (2019). PAID TIME OFF TRENDS IN THE U.S. Retrieved from https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/Paid%20Time%20Off%20Trends%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=8%2E15%2E19%2DPress%2DVacation%20Days%20Release&utm_campaign=pr

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Last month I returned to work after the birth of my son. Since then, many people have commented – often with a hint of jealousy in their tone – on how quickly I “bounced back” after having a baby. The message they mean to convey with these words is that I was successful in returning to my pre-pregnancy weight. I do count this achievement as a success, as I was very intentional about staying active throughout my pregnancy to help with my labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. Physically, one might look at me and think that I am well, and in some respects that is true. I eat fairly healthfully and am maintaining a healthy weight. But, as my colleague Amanda explained in her recent blog What Does Wellness Mean to You?, there is much more to wellness than what meets the eye.

In her blog, Amanda introduced the nine dimensions of wellness and the wellness wheel (shown below) promoted by The Ohio State University Office of Student Life. She encouraged readers to reflect on where they stand within each dimension of wellness, perhaps by using the self-assessment questions suggested by the University of Lincoln-Nebraska.

wellness wheel

When I reflect on my own wellness at this point in my life, eating healthfully is a high point. However, within the physical dimension of wellness, I actually fall short in other regards. My activity levels now are much lower than they were prior to and even during my pregnancy. Additionally, I am not sleeping well; not because I lack opportunities to sleep, but because I struggle to quiet my mind enough to achieve a true state of rest. These struggles both contribute to and stem from a lack of emotional wellbeing. I recognize that at this point in my life, I have yet to establish effective ways to cope with stress, and that needs to be my priority right now. I used to exercise daily as a means to cope with stress and decompress after my work day. Now, there are new demands on my time that make this difficult to do. Consequently, I have trouble quieting my mind at the end of the day. This can easily turn into a vicious cycle, as sleep deprivation can contribute to further stress as well as reduced wellbeing in the social, intellectual, creative and career dimensions.

If you haven’t done so recently, take a few moments this week to evaluate where you stand within each dimension of wellness. What are your strengths, and where do you have room to improve? Perhaps a clear priority will emerge, as was the case for me. You can use your priority area to find small and simple things you might do to become more well in that area.

Wherever you stand, remember that we all have strengths and weakness. Be kind to yourself and others, and don’t be too quick to judge a book by its cover.

 

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

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

 

Sources:

Bohlen, A. (2019). What Does Wellness Mean to You?  Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/04/what-does-wellness-me-to-you/

Harmon, M. (2017). How Well are You? Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/08/18/how-well-are-you/

The Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center (2019). Nine Dimensions of Wellness. https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/nine-dimensions-of-wellness/

University of Lincoln Nebraska, Student Affairs (2019). 9 Dimensions of Wellbeing. https://resilience.unl.edu/9-dimensions-well-being

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