January 19, 2021 - 8:00am -- lehman.488@osu.edu

With all of the focus on our health these days, I realized that sometime there are things that I take for granted.  Generally, the following are some concepts that could improve my overall health and remind me that I need to take care of my whole body, not just one part of it, instead of being so focused on the virus.   Below are some suggestions from Ohio Buckeye Wellness that might prompt some thoughts for your consideration.  Talk with your family and see what you are doing well and what things might need to improve for the year ahead - working together as a family or with a friend makes accomplishing it much easier!  Select one or two to work on, and when you’ve got those down, then try another one or two.

*Commit in 2021  to making “just one change” for your and your family’s health.  For instance, maybe it’s eating more vegetables or less salt.  What’s one thing that everyone could agree on to improve everyone’s health?

*Be active 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to reduce your risk of chronic conditions and relieve stress. Walking, biking, swimming, dancing, exercising, or time spent in the barn are all good options.  What serves to elevate your heart rate and decrease the tension or stress?

*Take slow (deep) breaths when stressed. Be mindful of how to relax and teach your children techniques that work for you. Music or mindfulness practices can be very helpful at any age.

*Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night to reduce your risk of chronic conditions - children need 12-13 hours of sleep.  Review your habits and see what you can change to make this happen.  

*Watch less television to be more active.  Be selective about what is on, choose to watch certain programs then turn it off and choose to do something else. Read, play a board game, or tidy up before bedtime.

*Stop tobacco use to reduce your risk of cancer

*Choose healthier snacks such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts (almonds and walnuts are best for heart health).  Let your children help you prepare simple things in the kitchen - it’s a great way to learn life skills.

* Eat meals with your children at least five days a week.  It can help reduce their risk for substance abuse by 70%. Put TV, phones, and other electronics aside and have a conversation with your children no matter what their age.  Beginning young enhances the ritual and gives a great foundation for years to come.

* Use a smaller plate when eating to reduce calorie intake.  Slow down when eating and enjoy the flavors while trying to make half your plate fruits and vegetables. 

*Sitting is the new smoking - sit less, stand more.  Find ways at work to stand and be aware of how much sitting you might do in the evenings at home.  Stand during commercials or try an exercise routine at home.

*Think positive thoughts to feel emotionally better and behave in healthy ways.  Write notes to yourself of motivation or encouragement or share with others to spread the inspiration.

*Have an attitude of gratitude - count your blessings daily! If we look around, there’s always someone with a situation that is worse than ours.  Loss brings us to the realization that sometimes we don’t appreciate it until it’s no longer there.  At dinner time, have a conversation about things that you are grateful for and see how it changes the outlook on life.

*Make time for family and friends - both are so important in good times and when there are challenges.  Write notes, use technology, or just pick up the phone and reach out to someone you know.  Connecting with others during this time is so very important for our mental health and well-being.

*Drink water instead of soda or sugared drinks, at least 64 ounces a day is suggested for better health.

I’m guessing there’s at least one thing that we might choose to work on for the next couple of months.    Put this on the refrigerator or bulletin board at home as a reminder that we can work together and enjoy the time together as well as improving our overall health.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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