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I recently spent 8 days in Costa Rica with a group of extension professionals from 10 other states learning about the culture and the history of the country. I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiencosta-rica-country-side.jpgces of my life. You might think, OF COURSE, how could being in a tropical paradise not be wonderful?! Especially since Ohio and much of the Midwest has been experiencing unpredictable weather, to say the least. But, the weather aside, the whole journey was full of wonderful experiences.

This trip was not about sitting on the beach or in the mountains at some all-inclusive resort basking in the sun or the mountain air. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture of the country and getting outside of our comfort zone to learn about people, who at first glance may appear to be different from us and what we know. As we traveled around the country to the various locations (we stayed in 4 different accommodations), we were able to gain a better understanding of how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) live and work.

Our group of 33 were divided into smaller subgroups for different activities throughout the week. We went on a variety of outings designed to increase our cultural awareness and to challenge us in our leadership philosophies and ideas. Our first task was to go to the Central Market in San Jose to check prices of various items and purchase them (we donated all the items to different organizations we later visited). We then had to compare the cost of these items as they relate to the average minimumgreen-house-e1524004828723.jpg wage in the United States versus in Costa Rica. While the cost of the items was somewhat comparable to prices in the U.S., when you look at the minimum wages, the discrepancy was very large. This required us to think about the proportion of the wages in Costa Rica that go toward necessities versus the proportion in the U.S.

The Central Market outing was just the first of many that would challenge us to achieve a common goal while trying to overcome the language barrier in this foreign country. As we traveled around Costa Rica and participated in different activities, the most overarching theme that our entire group observed was how patient and gracious all of the Ticos we encountered were with our groups. Few of us were able to speak and/or understand Spanish, so at times, there was a lot of patience required. Every group related that the Ticos were incredibly helpful, patient and gracious.

A large part of this leadership program involves reflecting on the experiences and lessons we have learned. As we reflected in our large group and in smaller groups, we all wondered what someone traveling to the United States would experience. How would any of us handle trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English or at least not well? Would we have the same patience and understanding that the Ticos had with us? I can honestly say that before this trip, the answer for me would be no. I would not have had the patience and understanding that was shown to me and the others. One of the things I have taken away from this experience is to have more patience. Patience with others, but also patience with myself.

While this trip was for business, when I travel for personal reasons, I try to make it a point to find local places to eat and shop. My Costa Rica experience has taught me that I can do more to enrich my travel experiences. I have not usually lodged in places that allow me to experience the local culture as much as some others might. I will make a more concerted effort to choose places that allow me to have a more immersive experience, since one of the main reasons I like to travel is to be expcosta-rica-food.jpgosed to local culture and to learn about the people and the area.

So, whether you are traveling across the state, across the country, or across the globe, challenge yourself to experience at least a little bit of the local culture. You may just learn some things about yourself by experiencing things that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable to you.

 

WRITTEN BY: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.417@osu.edu

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Harmon

SOURCES:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2015/january/the-benefits-of-cultural-immersion/

https://global.upenn.edu/pennabroad/about-penn-abroad/academic-and-cultural-immersion

https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Fact-Sheet_Travel-Jobs.pdf

 

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all-is-wellWhat comes to mind when you hear the terms well or wellness? For most people, these words bring thoughts of physical health. Some of you will think about mental health. Most people, when given time, realize that there is more to being well than just physical and mental health. Some may even be able to name several areas of wellness. Many people may not realize that there are actually eight dimensions of wellness, though.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the eight dimensions of wellness are:

  1. Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
  2. Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
  3. Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
  4. Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
  5. Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
  6. Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
  7. Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
  8. Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

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For about a month, I have been participating in a program offered through my employer/health insurance to help increase my emotional well-being. There are up to five areas that anyone who participates can choose to complete. Each area has suggestions for things you can do. For example, one challenge is to find. Some things listed include: going to the library to check out a book or DVD, attending a live event or stopping by a new coffee shop. It is fun trying to complete each challenge. It also helps remind me that even on those hectic days, I need to take some time to take care of myself.

There are small and simple things you can do to help become more well in each area. Here are some examples:

  • Emotional—unplug from phone, social media and your computer for 10 minutes each day, light your favorite candle and make time for friends and family
  • Environmental—keep your office and home clean and organized, find a favorite place or spot to visit and get involved in cleaning up your community or neighborhood
  • Financial—shop at thrift stores, limit unnecessary spending and develop a budget
  • Intellectual—read for pleasure, choose creative hobbies and participate in local/community events
  • Occupational—attend conferences to stay current in your profession and explore opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Physical—participate in regular exercise/physical activity that you enjoy, eat balanced, nutritious meals and snacks and get adequate sleep
  • Social—be genuine with others, join a club or organization and use good communication skills
  • Spiritual—volunteer, pray, meditate or find a quiet place for self-reflection

You may be wondering how well you really are. Take this assessment to get a better idea. After completing it, you can figure out which areas you need to work on and in which ones you are already strong. Click here for additional information and resources on how to strengthen your dimensions of wellness.

Author:  Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County

References:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016). The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Available at https://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness

http://umatter.princeton.edu/sites/umatter/files/media/wellness-self-assessment.pdf

Roddick, M. (2016). The 8 Dimensions of Wellness:  Where Do You Fit In? Available at https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/8-dimensions-of-wellness-where-do-you-fit-in-0527164

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sitting1Like obesity or smoking prior to it, “sitting” looks to be the latest lifestyle challenge with a current focus in the news. A recent study suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time increases risk for chronic disease, even among people who exercise regularly. Researchers conducted a review and meta-analysis of published research to evaluate the association between sedentary time and health outcomes.

Evidence showed that prolonged sitting is associated with negative health outcomes and mortality. The most pronounced outcomes were in people who never exercise or do so only occasionally. Excessive sitting can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Even exercising the recommended half-hour a day may not be enough to ward off the long term effects of sitting.

The human body is meant to move, not sit still. “The leg muscles are the largest in the body, in terms of skeletal muscle,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. “When you sit, you’re deactivating them.” Our metabolism begins to slow down in as short a time frame as one hour. As it declines, the body becomes less efficient at removing sugar and fat from the bloodstream, causing them to build up and insulin levels to spike.

TV watching is the most widely studied form of sedentary activity because people tend to have a good idea of how much television they watch. It’s estimated that every hour spent watching TV shortens your lifespan by 22 minutes. Yikes!

And even if you’re not a big TV watcher, it’s likely you’re still sitting. Looking at an iPad, computer, video game, or even relaxing with a book are most likely done in the sitting position. Time spent sitting at your desk at work or in a car is a little harder to quantify, but adds to the daily total. Medical consensus? Too much sitting is deadly—no matter what kind.

Tips to Reduce Sedentary Time

Are there opportunities in your daily routine to move more? Review the following suggestions to see if any of these tips will work for you.

• Take a 1-3 minute break every half hour to stand or move around.
• Stand up while watching TV. Even better, use the opportunity to walk on a treadmill, swing a hula hoop, or do some push-ups.
• Invest in a standing desk at work. If a purchase is not possible, think about sitting on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair for part of the day. Balancing on a ball helps strengthen core muscles.
• Set the alarm on your phone or get an app that will give you regular dings to remind you to get up and move. Sometimes when we’re really involved in a project or assignment, it’s easy to lose track of time.
• Repetition. Once you make movement a priority, it will be easier to remember to get UP.

Bottom Line
There’s a quote that asks, ‘What fits your busy schedule better: Exercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours?” When stated in those terms, exercise (even if it’s just standing) doesn’t look so unappealing, does it?

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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

Sources:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19346988

http://www.sedentarybehaviour.org/tag/peter-katzmarzyk/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

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13 December 31 - Work Life BalanceGenerally, it is assumed that if an employee is absent, his or her productivity must be suffering.  Conversely, if the same employee is putting in extra time and skipping vacations, he or she must be highly productive.  But these assumptions are not always true.  A recent study conducted by England’s Manchester University, showed that overworking creates more stress and lessens personal time.  This has a trickle-down effect, and employees are actually less productive than if they had just worked their assigned hours and taken scheduled vacation time.

The phenomenon is dubbed “presenteeism,” a first cousin to employee absenteeism (Named by Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at ManchesterUniversity in England).  Presenteeism, simply put, is when people come to work but aren’t functioning fully because they have physical or mental health problems.

Data suggests that presenteeism is a larger productivity drain than either absenteeism or short-term disability.  Given the seriousness of the situation, employers and employees need to take a proactive stance.

             Here are a few tips to address the issue of presenteeism.

  • Strike the work-life balance.  Achieving a balance means different things to different people, but it’s important to achieve a balance that is comfortable for you and your family.
  • Support and maintain regular work hours.  Working long hours or taking work home on a routine basis is strongly discouraged.
  • Honor vacation time and sick leave provisions.  Make it a habit to use your full annual leave.
  • Plan your day.  Work from a to-do list.  Take 10 minutes each morning to identify those things that need to be accomplished.
  • Recognize your peak energy times.  Do the tough tasks when your energy level is at its highest.  Save routine work for low points of the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep.  Your body cannot make up for lost sleep or rest time because it’s not physiologically possible.
  • Preserve your days off.  Make your days off strictly personal time. Ignore errands and chores.  Focus on yourself, relax and refresh.
  • Eat a balanced diet.  Workaholics are known to skip meals, thus eating poorly.
  • Exercise.  Set aside time each day to give your body the proper physical conditioning it needs.

As you begin 2014, make a resolution to work so you can live and have a comfortable life.  Remember that you don’t live to work.  Don’t make work your life.

Written by:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, PerryCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lindimore, Office Associate, OSU Extension, MorganCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

References

Farrell, P. (2013, May). The Real 800-Pound Gorilla of Presenteeism. Retrieved December 18, 2013 from blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/the-worst-kind-of-presenteeism/

Hochschild, A. (1997).  The time blind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Holt.

Hummer, J., Sherman, B., & Quinn, N. (2002, April).  Present and Unaccounted for. Occupational Health Safety.  2002 Apr; 7 1 4):40-2, 44, 100.

Johns, G. (2009). Presenteeism in the workplace: A review and research agenda Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31 (4), 519-542 DOI: 10.1002/job.630

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1999).  The Work-Family Research Agenda in Changing Contexts. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 4, 382-393.

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1996).  Balancing the work and family interface: A European perspective.  Human Resource Management Review, 5, 289-305.

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