Time in Nature and Mental Health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

A previous post examined a variety of leisure activities and mental health (1).

In this post, we look at time spent in nature and its impact on self reports of good health and well-being (2).

Who was studied? (2)

19,806 participants from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey (2014/15–2015/16). (2)

What was studied? (2)

Researchers (2) looked at the relationship between time spent in nature in the last 7 days (in 60 min categories) and self-reported health (Good vs. poor) and subjective well-being (High vs. low) (2).

What were the results? (2)

  • The authors (2) found that Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact ≥120 mins (2).
  • Positive associations peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain (2).
  • It did not matter how 120 mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week). (2)

What are some caveats?

  • This was a cross-sectional study design, which tells us about association, not cause and effect.
  • Benefits remained even when accounting for living in a low green space area (2).
  • Other research (3) indicates health benefits of walking in a forested area for ~16 minutes and viewing for ~14 minutes.

What are some examples of other healthy leisure activities (4)?

  • Spending quiet time alone
  • Visiting others
  • Eating with others
  • Doing fun things with others
  • Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation
  • Vacationing
  • Communing with nature
  • Playing or watching sports
  • Hobbies

Also consider:

  • Working out or taking exercise classes
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering
  • Participating in an activities based student organization
  • Journaling
  • Drawing/coloring/painting

Anything else that can help?

In addition to leisure activities, the following activities can also help with physical and emotional health, wellness, stress:

sleep habits, etc.) (4)

  • Avoiding harmful habits(smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, poor or inadequate nutrition, etc) (4)
  • This balance might vary from person to person.

Are there any campus resources on play?

Could spending time in nature benefit you?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/09/27/leisure-academics-and-mental-health/
  2. White MP, Alcock I, Grellier J, et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):7730. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3.
  3. Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T. & Miyazaki, Y. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ Health Prev 15, 18–26 (2010).
  4. Pressman, S. D, et. al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosomatic Medicine: September 2009 – Volume 71 – Issue 7 – pp 725-732 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978Top of Form

 

Electronic Gaming and Mental Health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Electronic gaming is very common among young adults and comes in many forms including smartphones, tablets, computers, game consoles, etc.

By some estimates, the market size for electronic gaming is almost the same size as the movie industry.

Almost 90% of people ages 16 to 24 play video games (1); and almost half were at risk of video game addiction (2).

While many adults engage in gaming in healthy ways, gaming addiction has been linked to insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress among college students (3).

One study looked at  gaming addiction, and depression (4).

Who was studied?

3267 undergraduate students from United States, China and Singapore(4).

What was studied?

Rates of addictions to Internet use, online gaming, and online social networking,

Their association with depressive symptoms (4).

What were the results?

31% of male students were addicted to online gaming, compared to 13% of female students (OR = 0.522, 95% CI = 0.440-0.620) (4)

37.3% of female students were addicted to social networking compared to 27.8% of male students (OR = 1.543, 95% CI = 1.329-1.791). (4)

Regarding depression rates:

  • Among students with online gaming addiction depression rates were 65.5% for students in United States, 70.8% for China, and 69.6% for Singapore. (4)
  • Among students with internet addiction, depression rates were 76.5% for students in United States, 88.9% for China, and 75.9% for Singapore. (4)
  • Among students with online social networking addiction, depression rates were 68.8% for students in United States, 76% for China, and 71% for Singapore. (4)

What are some signs of Internet gaming disorder?

While there is no uniform criteria, some signs could include (5,6):

  • Preoccupation. (The individual thinks about previous gaming activity or anticipates playing the next game; internet gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life.)
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms when internet gaming is taken away. (These symptoms are typically described as irritability, anxiety, or sadness, but there are no physical signs of pharmacological withdrawal.)
  • Developed Tolerance—the need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in games.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to control the participation in gaming.
  • Continued excessive use despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
  • Mislead/deceive family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of gaming.
  • Use as escape or relieve a negative mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety).
  • Loss of interest in previous hobbies and entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of gaming.
  • Jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in electronic gaming.

What are some caveats?

  • Further study is needed in the area of internet, and gaming addiction.
  • To learn more about internet addiction, click here.
  • While this study shows that males were more likely to have gaming addiction and female students were more likely to have internet addiction, newer research indicates that this gap appears to be narrowing.
  • For other studies on men and mental health, click here, and here.
  • To learn more about disparities of men, suicide, and mental health, go here:  Movember National Men’s Health Campaign.

Any other useful links?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Brand J. (2012). Digital Australia (2012). National Research Prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association. School of Communication and Media, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University.
  2. Hussain Z, Griffiths MD, Baguley T. Online gaming addiction: classification, prediction and associated risk factors. Addict Res Theory. 2012;20:359-371.
  3. Younes F, Halawi G, Jabbour H, et al. Internet addiction and relationships with insomnia, anxiety, Depression, stress and self-esteem in university students: a cross-sectional designed study. PLoS One. 2016;11:e0161126
  4. Catherine So-Kum Tang, PhD, Yee Woen Koh, PhD, and YiQun Gan, PhD Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health Vol 29, Issue 8, pp. 673 – 682 First Published November 30, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539517739558
  5. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and StatisticalManual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013Section III (“Emerging Measures and Models”) of DSM-5 (1, pp. 795–796).
  6. Andrew K. Przybylski, Ph.D., Netta Weinstein, Ph.D., Kou Murayama, Ph.D. Internet Gaming Disorder: Investigating the Clinical Relevance of a New Phenomenon. Am J Psychiatry 2017; 174:230–236; doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16020224.

Leisure, academics, and mental health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

In a national survey of over 31 thousand college students, about 31% of college students report stress impacting their academics, followed by anxiety (25%), and depression (16%). (1).

Excessive stress can also lead to depression and anxiety (2).

Leisure activities can play a role in stress management which can help with academics and with mental health.

What is leisure?

One definition of leisure activity is pleasurable activities that individuals engage in voluntarily when they are free from the demands of work or other responsibilities (3).

Are there studies on leisure activities and wellbeing?

A study by Trainor and colleagues looked at leisure activities and psychological well being (4).

Who was studied?

947 students were asked about social, non-social and unstructured leisure activities as well as measures of personality.

What were the results?
spare-time use may be related to well-being only insofar as individuals who are psychologically healthy tend to be involved in structured, supervised, goal oriented, leisure activities, such as sports with others and playing music with healthy peers (4).

What are some caveats?

This is a small cross sectional study which can tell us about association but not cause and effect.

The study was published in 2012, and newer leisure activities have become common, which may or may not be healthy (social media, online-gaming, active video gaming, interactive phone apps, etc).

What are some examples of healthy leisure activities (5)?

  • Spending quiet time alone
  • Visiting others
  • Eating with others
  • Doing fun things with others
  • Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation
  • Vacationing
  • Communing with nature
  • Playing or watching sports
  • Hobbies

Also consider:

  • Working out or taking exercise classes
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering
  • Participating in an activities based student organization
  • Journaling
  • Drawing/coloring/painting

Anything else that can help?

In addition to leisure activities, the following activities can also help with physical and emotional health:

  • Healthy lifestyle habits(healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, relaxation skills, healthy

sleep habits, etc.) (5)

  • Avoiding harmful habits(smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, etc) (5)
  • This balance might vary from person to person.

Different people might benefit from different types of play during leisure time. What type of play is best for you?

Are there any campus resources on play?

Any other useful resources on campus?

Learn more about play:

https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/22/mental-health-benefits-of-leisure-activities/

https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2016/09/28/study-play-and-leisures-impact-on-mood-stress-and-wellbeing/

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2017. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association; 2018.
  2. Khan S, Khan RA (2017) Chronic Stress Leads to Anxiety and Depression. Ann Psychiatry Ment Health 5(1): 1091.
  3. Zhang J, Zheng Y.  How do academic stress and leisure activities influence college students’ emotional well-being? A daily diary investigation. J Adolesc. 2017 Oct;60:114-118. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 23.
  4. Trainor, P. Delfabbro, S. Anderson, A. Winefield. Leisure activities and adolescent psychological well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 33 (1) (2010), pp. 173-186.
  5. Pressman, S. D, et. al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosomatic Medicine: September 2009 – Volume 71 – Issue 7 – pp 725-732 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978Top of Form