With snow falling early in many areas of the state, gardeners may have been caught off guard. Make sure your yard is ready for winter by finishing the last few tasks. Consider these tips and links from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac.
If natural precipitation is sparse and the ground is not frozen, water evergreen trees and shrubs to ensure they are well hydrated.
Winterize lawn mowers and rototillers by draining the gas or adding a fuel stabilizer. Be sure to follow manufacturer recommendations.
Clean and sharpen garden tools and treat them with oil or other rust-inhibiting products.
Disconnect hoses from water spouts to avoid freezing damage.
If you haven’t mowed your grass for the final time, cut it to a height of 1-to-1½ inches to minimize disease problems.
Apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer after the last mowing for early greening next spring.
For a complete list of tips for putting the yard and garden to bed, click here.
For general gardening tips, visit garden.usu.edu where you will find information on gardening courses, drought resources, and the Extension Gardener’s Almanac with monthly tips.
Helping Your Child Adapt to Changes
The past few years have been full of change, adjustment, and relearning. While we are all learning to navigate these changes in addition to other normal life challenges, parents also have the added responsibility to help their children. Consider these tips on how to help your child successfully navigate changes.
Be open and honest. Children look to caring adults for advice and guidance. Talk about potential changes and what they can expect. Be as open as possible with them about your thoughts and feelings, while also being sensitive to what they can understand developmentally. Acknowledge their fears and answer their questions the best that you can.
Help children explore their feelings about change. Encourage children to use writing, drawing or other creative methods to explore their feelings about changes.
Involve children in decisions about change. While they may not be able to control changes they are experiencing, including them in decisions can help them feel more in control.
Keep their routine as normal as possible. Children need stability and structure. Daily, predictable routines can provide comfort, stability, and dependability to children, especially during times of change.
Put yourself in their shoes. When compared to adults,children have limited experiences. Some things that are very important to them may seem insignificant to adults that have more experience and perspective.Make an effort to see situations from your child’s perspective and respond with empathy.
Get support. Work together with teachers and child care providers to support children through big changes. When needed, seek professional help for support.
Change is inevitable and will happen to everyone. By following these tips, you can know you are doing what you can to support youth in adapting to changes successfully.
By Naomi Brower, Extension Professor and AJ Evans, USU Extension Intern
Don’t be Spooked If Spiders Creep Indoors This Fall
As fall temperatures cool, spider encounters in homes become more common. This happens as spiders near the end of their life cycles and are searching for mates and places to lay their egg sacks. Fortunately, these encounters do not need to be scary, as most species of regional spiders are not risky to humans.
Spiders are highly beneficial to the environment and people. They are predators of insects and are also an excellent food source for insects and wildlife that we often enjoy, including praying mantises, birds, and mammals. The vast majority of spiders are also unaggressive and can even be considered docile. They come in a wide array of colors and shapes, and their diversity in ecology and behavior is truly incredible. So, perhaps they should be appreciated more than feared.
Common spiders you may see this fall include cellar spiders, wolf spiders, and hobo spiders.
Cellar spiders are named because of their habit of gathering in dark, cool, and moist places – usually cellars. Their cobwebs can often be seen in ceiling joists forming large mats. Having only six eyes and a “violin” pattern behind their eyes, these spiders can resemble brown recluse spiders to the untrained eye. Cellar spiders are not dangerous to people.
Wolf spiders are aptly named because of their hunting methods of stalking, ambushing, pouncing, and capturing prey. This is a contrast to other spiders that use webs to capture their prey. Wolf spiders have an easily identified eye pattern – four smaller eyes on the bottom, two large eyes in the center, and two smaller eyes on top. Giant wolf spiders (1.5” to 2” in diameter) are commonly encountered in Utah in the fall. Like other wolf spiders, they are not of medical concern.
Hobo spiders are one of the most common indoor spiders found in northern Utah. It is currently undetermined if their bite causes necrotic lesions in humans. Hobos cannot be identified by color alone, but they can be identified by the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab (UPPDL) at USU. Visit the website at extension.usu.edu/pests/uppdl/ for information and instructions on how to submit a sample. Remember that there are related spiders that look similar to hobos. Grass spiders are often responsible for the small funnel webs abundant in shrubs and grass, and they are not harmful to people.
If you have been bitten, the only way to confirm the spider’s identity is to collect it and have it identified. You can rarely identify spider bites based on symptoms alone, especially if the bite marks are no longer visible. If you experience a reaction to a bite or have symptoms that mimic a severe bite, seek medical attention. Overall, spiders in Utah carry a very low risk when you consider their abundance, presence, and behavior.
By: Nick Volesky, Utah State University Extension Integrated Pest Management team, Nick.Volesky@usu.edu, with information from Zach Schumm and Ryan Davis, former Extension arthropod diagnosticians
Working Through Religious Differences in Marriage
Disagreements with someone you love can be challenging. The conversations can be uncomfortable, especially about firmly held beliefs. Differences in religious beliefs or spirituality can even become a source of pain and discontent if not addressed in a respectful and accepting manner.
According to the Pew Research Center, the religious landscape of the United States is rapidly changing. With adults who identify as non-affiliated, atheist, or agnostic increasing yearly, changes and differences in religiosity and spirituality have the potential to negatively impact relationships. This is further complicated because these things affect more than Sunday worship, including decisions on parenting, finances, and friendships. Even couples practicing the same religion may not agree on religious or spiritual practices, including how often to attend church service or engage in church activities. It is important for couples to recognize the pitfalls and potential for hurt when engaging in a mixed faith relationship or when one partner’s beliefs change, no longer aligning with their spouse’s beliefs.
In spite of the challenges that come from significantly different beliefs, there are many mixed-faith marriages and relationships that thrive.
Consider these tips from John Gottman, psychologist, author, and relationship expert, to help navigate religious differences in intimate relationships.
1. Explore your own relationship with your faith. There is a difference between identifying with a religion or spiritual practice and engaging in that faith. Explore your religious or spiritual identity and what that means to you. It is necessary to understand your own faith identity in order to navigate the differences with your partner. Here are some questions to consider:
Did you grow up in a religious or spiritual household? If so, what was practiced? What was your experience like?
What brings you peace? What helps you get through hard times?
Which aspects of your religious or spiritual beliefs do you hold onto tightly?
Which aspects do you feel more flexible about?
2. Acknowledge the differences and what they will mean for your life together. Avoidance is not a sustainable option. It is important to identify the differences that may affect you so you can plan together on how to best manage them as a couple. According to Gottman, 69% of problems in relationships are perpetual, meaning they are not solvable. While that number sounds high, it is reassuring to know that this is normal and includes happily functioning couples. Instead of trying to change the other person’s mind or beliefs, approach these conversations with curiosity and interest, try to understand your partner’s point of view, and realize that this is an opportunity to increase your love for them.
The way you start a conversation can predict how the rest of the conversation will go or be perceived. Be intentional in your tone of voice and the words you use to initiate a conversation. Using soft start-up techniques such as “I messages” and positive statements to start conversations allows your partner to better receive and understand what you are saying.
3. Share stories Sharing stories is a great way for you and your partner to get to know each other better. Share about your cultural and religious experiences in a way that is not threatening and invites understanding.
4. Participate before negotiating. It’s important to show genuine interest and curiosity in your partner’s beliefs and practices. Go with them to their religious events and services. This is not a promise to leave your own beliefs and convert, but it is a powerful way to communicate that you value them and are embracing who they are.
5. Make Repairs. Mistakes are inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up, just apologize and move forward. Well-used humor (not sarcasm) can help ease tense moments. The main goal of making a repair is to determine what when wrong (without blaming) and resume being on the same team to address an issue instead of treating each other as the issue that needs to be fixed.
6. Consider therapy. Talking about faith is deeply personal and can be hard, despite our best efforts. Some differences might seem impossible to overcome. Seeking the help of a professional can provide relief. Find a therapist who specializes in helping interfaith couples. It is unlikely that you will change someone else’s views, feelings, or beliefs on the topic of religion or spirituality, but you can practice respecting each other’s beliefs and purposely refrain from criticizing or attempting to sway them.
Gottman maintains that disagreements provide an opportunity for increased intimacy and connection, and religious differences provide an opportunity for increased respect, understanding, and love.Working Through Religious Differences in Marriage
By: Elizabeth Davis, Utah State University Extension professor, Elizabeth.Davis@usu.edu
October Yard and Garden Tips
Autumn is officially here, and there is much to look forward to – pumpkins on the porch, apple cider, cooler temperatures, and walks through crunchy leaves. But before you get too comfortable, don’t forget there are yard and garden end-of-season tasks to complete. Here are tips from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac to help. Included are links to fact sheets and videos for further information.
Control tough perennial weeds such as field bindweed (a.k.a. morning glory). Refer to this list of weed control options.
Mow grass to a height of 1-to-1½ inches at the end of the season to minimize disease problems.
Apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer after the last mowing (late October to early November) for early greening next spring.
Pests and Problems:
Send diseased vegetable plants and leaves to the local landfill.
Use burlap or other soft materials to wrap evergreens to prevent snow breakage.
Treat stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums) for coryneum blight at 50% leaf drop.
Clean up and discard all fallen fruit to reduce overwintering sites for disease and insect pests.
For more tips, visit garden.usu.edu. Here you will find information on gardening courses, growing and maintaining the yard and garden, drought resources, and the Extension Gardener’s Almanac with tips for each month.
By: Utah State University Extension horticulturists
Stress vs. Anxiety: Understanding the Difference
Regardless of your background, socioeconomic status, education, or talents, you will inevitably experience stress as a normal part of life. However, when the stress turns into persistent anxiety, it is important to get extra help. So what is the difference between stress and anxiety? What can be done to alleviate the discomfort caused by these feelings? This fact sheet will outline the differences between normal day-to-day stress and persistent anxiety, specifically Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and how to deal with them both.
Stress is the body’s reaction to a threatening situation, challenge, or demand in the present (ADAA, 2016b; Vorvick, 2016). It is especially common when circumstances require change (Mishkova, 2013). Stress can also occur when doing something new or exciting, even though these things are often seen as positives. Stress can be helpful to an extent, such as helping you to avoid danger or meet a deadline, although chronic stress (i.e., stress that does not go away) can cause problems. This is because when the body experiences stress, hormones are released that make the body more alert, the muscles more tense, and the pulse increased (Vorvick, 2016), and thus prepared to react fast to the threat (APA, n.d.). When the body stays like this for an extended period of time, it can become harmful to the body and lead to health problems (Vorvick, 2016).
Anxiety results from situations that cause nervousness, fear, or worry, especially about the future. We all feel anxiety from time to time, but when it becomes a daily occurrence that disrupts day-to-day functioning, it is problematic (Mishkova, 2013). When worrying takes up much of one’s day and the worrying is not proportionate to the actual severity of the stressor, it is classified as being excessive (Glasofer, 2017). There are several forms of anxiety disorders, including phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and social anxiety. However, for the purposes of this fact sheet, the focus will be on generalized anxiety disorder (also referred to as GAD; Mishkova, 2013). According to the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (more commonly referred to as the DSM-5; ADAA, 2016c; Glasofer, 2017), GAD is identified in adults as experiencing three or more of the following symptoms on the majority of days for at least 6 months, in addition to excessive worry on most days that is difficult to control:
Sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or too little, sleep not restful)
In order to be diagnosed with GAD, these symptoms cannot be caused by any other condition or substance, and must interfere with daily life (Glasofer, 2017). Those who experience anxiety disorders have difficulty tolerating uncertainty and feel that their worrying helps to keep bad things from happening. This way of thinking is what makes it so difficult to let go of the worrying. Those with GAD tend to expect the worst from situations. This worry is different than normal stress because it is persistent regardless of the situation, whereas normal worry is situation-related. In the United States, in any given year, approximately 3.1% of the population will experience GAD, with women being twice as likely to be affected. Biological factors and stressful life experiences have been found to contribute. The impact of GAD can range from mild to severe, with some people being able to live very highly functioning lives, while others are immobilized by even the smallest of tasks (ADAA, 2016a).
Dealing with Stress and Anxiety
Stress can lead to anxiety and anxiety can lead to stress (Mishkova, 2013). Because of the relationship between stress and anxiety, it can be assumed that learning to better cope with either stress or anxiety would also help with the other. There are many selfhelp techniques for coping with the stresses and anxieties of day-to-day life, such as the following (APA, n.d.):
Get involved – This is a great way to surround yourself with a good social support network. In addition, serving helps you to feel good about yourself.
Take care of yourself – Get adequate sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly in order to give your body the best chance of functioning properly.
Focus on the positive – Avoid negative self-talk and focus on what you can do, instead of what you cannot do. Think about how you have successfully coped with stressful situations in the past.
Participate in activities you enjoy – Take time to step away from the stresses and worries of life to do something that you enjoy. Taking this kind of break will help you come back to the stressors with a clearer mind and renewed energy.
Apply relaxation techniques and meditation – Learning how to calm a troubled mind can be very helpful. Even just a few minutes spent relaxing the mind and body can be effective.
While these self-help techniques can be very useful, if the stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming, it interferes with your responsibilities and relationships, and/or you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it is time to seek professional help (Vorvick, 2016). Therapy and medication, either alone or in combination, have been found to be effective at relieving persistent stress and anxiety (ADAA, 2016a).
There are myriad causes of stress and anxiety in the world today. What causes one person to feel stress and/or anxiety may not be the same for another person (Mishkova, 2013). However, regardless of the cause or the severity, there is help available. Try learning some self-help techniques and seek professional help, if needed, in order to bring more peace and happiness to your life today.
Mishkova, G. (2013). Stress versus anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/youngadults/emotions/stre ss/stress_anxiety.html
Vorvick, L. J. (2016). Stress and your health. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm
Jennifer Viveros; Dr. David Schramm
What to Do When Your Child Misbehaves
Determining how to manage a child’s misbehavior can be a parenting challenge. It is frustrating when children ignore what they are asked to do, or they do just the opposite. Consider this information that explains why commonly used strategies don’t work and provides tips on what to do instead.
Strategies that are generally ineffective:
Threats. Threats are often used to get children to behave; however, when parents do not follow through on what they said was going to happen, they are teaching their children that they don’t really mean what they say. Examples of threats include: “You’d better stop crying right now, or else…,” or, “I’m going to take away your phone for good if you don’t put it away right now.” Telling your child that you will do something you never intend to do isn’t helpful because the child will likely test you to call your bluff.
Bribes. A bribe often includes a reward given before the desired behavior occurs. For example, “If I give you a piece of candy, will you stop screaming?” This teaches children that all they have to do to get what they want is misbehave and then promise to stop. Another example might be, “I will let you have extra screen time now if you promise to do your homework later.” This teaches a child that they simply have to say they will do something in the future to get what they want right now.
Spanking. Physical punishment, such as spanking, is ineffective and harmful to children. In fact, research has shown that spanking is associated with more aggression and problem behavior and an increased chance of mental health problems in children. One theory about why spanking doesn’t work is it teaches children that when the threat of physical punishment exists, they should behave, but once the threat is gone, they have no reason to behave appropriately.
Research-backed strategies that work:
Consequences. Consistent, logical consequences can be a valuable tool for changing a child’s behavior. They will begin to learn that their choice led to a result (good or bad). Parents can use positive consequences or rewards to reinforce desired behaviors and negative consequences to reduce the likelihood of undesired behaviors. Positive consequences can include earning privileges, doing a fun activity, or taking away a chore. Negative consequences might include doing extra work around the house or losing privileges.
Time out. Time out can be effective for both younger and older children. Although a time out is usually viewed as a consequence, it is actually a strategy that helps your child emotionally “reset.” When they are experiencing strong emotions, they are often unable to listen to you, think rationally, or do what you want. Once they have had time to calm down, they are more likely to follow through with your request.
Consistency. Consistency is critical when it comes to correcting behavior. Imagine how confusing it would be if your boss got mad at you for doing something one day and then watched you do the same thing the next day and didn’t mention it. The same thing happens to kids when they receive mixed messages. They are likely to learn much faster when we consistently respond the same way to the same behavior.
Finally, an important factor that influences our ability to correct our children’s behavior effectively is the quality of our relationship with them. The relationship can be improved by verbally recognizing positive behavior, letting children know you understand they are having a hard time before you correct their behavior, and making them feel like you are on their side no matter what. While you may need to correct undesired behaviors in the moment, focus on the long-term goal of building a positive relationship with your child. This will go a long way toward reducing how often you have to deal with negative behaviors in the future.
We all have personal boundaries that we want to be respected. This includes boundaries in romantic relationships, but how do we know if these rules we set are healthy? Healthy relationship boundaries exist when both partners feel respected and heard. Unfortunately, boundaries are often seen as controlling, when in fact open and honest conversations about your limits will create a healthier and more satisfying relationship (Cosio, 2014).
Every individual and every romantic relationship will have different boundaries that work best. To identify your boundaries, have a conversation with your partner where you both openly discuss your rules. Talk about why your boundaries are important, and let your partner respond with how it makes them feel (Barkin & Wisner, 2013).
Below are three types of boundaries and examples of each, to help get your conversation started with your romantic partner:
1. Physical Boundaries are your personal “bubble” of space and the physical touch you are comfortable with (Therapy Aid, 2016). To create healthy physical boundaries in your relationship, have a conversation with your partner about the physical space you need at different times. You can also talk about what types of physical touch you are comfortable with and when you are comfortable with public displays of affection.
2. Emotional Boundaries focus on how people make you feel (Therapy Aid, 2016). Sometimes in relationships, we overshare or mention something that is a sensitive topic to our partner; which can lead to emotional limits being crossed. To create healthy emotional boundaries, use I-statements when explaining your needs to your partner (e.g., “I feel safe when we share this kind of information with each other;” Selva, 2021).
3. Time Boundaries are how you spend your time (Therapy Aid, 2016). Sometimes it can feel like your partner expects too much of your time, and they may feel like you spend too much time on things other than the relationship. You can create healthy time boundaries by explaining to your partner when you need personal time and how they can help make sure you get it, as well as planning time to spend together one-on-one with full attention for one another (Barkin & Wisner, 2013).
Creating healthy boundaries is a gradual process; it can take time for both partners to adapt to the other person’s limits. Healthy boundaries will grow, change over time, and protect or even strengthen your romantic relationship as you continue to take the time to respect each other.
By Emma Cambell, BS & Ashley Yaugher, Extension Professional Practice Assistant Professor, PhD
Make Family Meals a Priority In September – and Keep the Habit
American families who eat one meal together every day are among the minority. In today’s fast-paced world, eating Sunday dinner as a family is a great tradition, but it is a giant step away from more regular time spent eating and socializing around the table – the norm just one generation ago.
In recognition of its importance, September has been named National Family Meals Month. Why all the fuss about sitting down together for a routine that may only last 15-20 minutes? The benefits are numerous.
Utah State University Extension’s Create Better Health Utah (SNAP-Ed) program lists a few of the benefits – especially for children whose families eat together five or more times a week as opposed to those whose families eat together two times or less each week:
* Nutrition and physical development – Kids eat more fruits and vegetables, get a wider variety of nutritious foods, have lower rates of childhood obesity and make healthier food choices when they are on their own.
* Emotional development – Youth are better able to manage negative emotions, are at less risk of developing eating disorders, and have more positive interactions with others.
* Social development – Children learn important turn-taking skills, have improved communication skills and learn appropriate ways to share thoughts, feelings and opinions.
* Academics – Kids are more likely to earn A’s and B’s in school, and they develop larger vocabularies – even more than those who read together with their parents.
* Behavior – Youth are much less likely to use marijuana, alcohol or tobacco or have friends who use these substances. They are also less likely to engage in other risky behavior such as premarital sex.
If a family is new to the idea of eating meals together, there will undoubtedly be a few challenges. For example, it may be unrealistic to go from zero meals together to one every day. So, set a realistic goal all family members can agree on – it may just be Sunday dinner once a week, and that is a great start. If dinner isn’t the best option, perhaps family breakfast time on Saturday may work better for you.
Here are some additional tips for making family mealtime a positive experience:
* Plan meals ahead of time.
* Schedule a set time for meals.
* Involve all family members in the meal preparation and clean up.
* Turn off the TV, phones and all other electronic devices.
* Have pleasant conversation and leave discipline and other negative emotions for another time.
Additional helps are available from Create Better Health Utah, including conversation starter ideas and making meals fun using themes (e.g., Taco Tuesday). In addition are ideas for menu planning with recipes, such as citrus chicken salad, oatmeal nut pancakes and honey glazed chicken. You will also find tips on preparing foods, eating healthier and incorporating physical activity in your day.
Learn more about family mealtime and eating healthy on a limited budget here. You can also contact your local USU Extension office to find out about upcoming classes taught by Create Better Health ambassadors in your area.
National Preparedness Month: Be Prepared to Create “A Lasting Legacy”
It is well known that preparation can help overcome fear, and since September is National Preparedness Month, now is a great time to evaluate your preparedness supplies and plans. This year’s theme, “A Lasting Legacy,” means that the life you’ve built is worth protecting, and preparation can help you do that.
The website: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit has an option to download a printable Basic Disaster Supplies Kit. The list also has suggestions for “unique needs” that include pets and elderly adults.
Recommendations for the Basic Disaster Supplies Kit include:
Water – 1gallon per person per day for at least 3 days for drinking and sanitation
Food – at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable foods
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air as well as plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off windows and doors if sheltering in place becomes necessary
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities such as natural gas
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Other items can be included, but adding size and weight to the kit may require additional portable totes or backpacks. Things to consider adding include pet supplies, changes of clothing and sleeping bags. A complete list is found at the link above.
Remember that assembling a kit is not a one-and-done task; it requires regular maintenance. You may consider placing a recurring reminder in your calendar to update and replenish the kit. Canned and packaged food will expire, batteries will lose power, and you may think of things to add or adapt to better suit your current situation.
The link also describes where to store your kits – namely in three locations:
Home: Keep the kits in a designated place and have them ready in case you have to leave quickly. Make sure all family members know where they are kept. Consider including a list of pre-determined additional valuables that can be located and loaded in 5-15 minutes if there is time, space, and transportation available. The list can be taped to the container top or stored in a pocket of the backpack.
Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medications and comfortable walking shoes. These should be stored in a “grab and go” container in an easily accessible location.
Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your vehicle. It can be similar to your work kit, but you may also want to include some form of shelter and source of warmth should you need to leave your car.
The key to facing potential disasters is to be prepared and informed. Being proactive and preparing now will help reduce the fear of being hungry, cold or injured in the future.
By:Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 435-586-8132