Reducing stress in abnormal times

Edith Lovett Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Our Brenda Williams, who has been an employee of the Pulaski County Extension Office for several years, will be retiring on June 5. We invite you to a "drive-by" and help us celebrate this occasion on Friday, June 5 from 1:00 to 2:00. As you drive by, the Extension Office Staff will be on the porch to serve you punch and cake. A basket will also be available for cards and notes you may want leave for Brenda. If you can't join us on this day, you can also leave cards in the green tote located on the front porch of the office.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our concept of a "normal life," and as a result, has increased many of our stress levels. It is important for us to find ways to reduce our stress, as it can be easy for us to get caught up in the moment and let it take control over our lives and diminish our quality of life. A particularly effective way we can ease stress is through mindfulness. This technique can help you return your focus to what is important.

Mindfulness requires you to purposely pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. The most common method is to focus on breathing in and out, clearing your mind of thoughts. You can also focus on your physical self, your surroundings or your movements as you do a normal daily activity such as walking. Mindfulness helps you re-center and reduce external distractions. It allows you to evaluate yourself and your reactions to stressors around you.

Set a time each day to focus on your breathing in and out, clearing your mind of thoughts. It has been suggested that you try mindfulness for 12 minutes each day. These 12 minutes can easily be broken down to 3-4 minutes sessions each day.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been around since the 1970s, and numerous scientific studies have shown its effectiveness, as well as other positive benefits including a decrease in anxiety and depression. Some studies have shown mindful eating can be a tool for weight management.

You can practice mindfulness anytime or anywhere as long as you turn your focus inward and allow distractions to fade away. For more information on mindfulness, contact the Pulaski County Extension office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

The Pulaski County Extension Office is available to help you, even though we are not meeting with groups. If you need publications on canning, need your canning lid gauge tested or other educational material, just let us know. You can call the office at 679-6361 and leave your message.

Our local farmers still have those "sweet, fresh, strawberries" for sale at their farms. If you need strawberry recipes, just call your local Pulaski County Extension Office. Don't forget to support our local farmers. Enjoy this delicious salad over the holiday.

Scrumptious Strawberry Salad

5 cups spinach

1/2 large cabbage head, chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup halved red grapes

1 pint sliced strawberries

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans (optional)

Dressing:

3/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt or plain regular yogurt

3 tablespoons honey

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Yield: 8, 2-cup servings

Combine all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Prepare salad dressing by mixing all ingredients together in a jar, cover, and shake well to combine. Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss to combine.

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