Strategies for a Successful End of Semester

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

In academics as with many other aspects of life, successful performance requires a series of steps over time that may or may not appear to be connected.

With multiple deadlines,  projects, exams,  etc all due around the same time; the end of the semester can be a high stress time for students.

Luckily there are a series of science-backed strategies that students can apply to be their best physically, mentally, cognitively, and emotionally to maximize chances of academic success.

What health related activities should I INCREASE my chances of academic success at the end of the semester?

Here are 5 things to increase:

  1. Improve your sleep because poor sleep and poor grades go together (with resources to improve sleep):

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/12/31/poor-sleep-and-poor-grades-might-go-together/

  1. Fruit and vegetable consumption improves mental/emotional well-being:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/03/25/fruits-and-vegetables-might-increase-your-odds-of-mental-well-being/

  1. Consider adding these brainpower boosting foods: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/30/food-for-academic-brain-power/
  2. Consider Practicing gratitude exercises to feel better fast: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/05/31/gratitude-exercises-to-feel-better-fast/
  3. Improve stress management: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/01/dealing-with-too-much-stress/

What health related activities should I DECREASE to improve my chances of academic success at the end of the semester?

Here are 5  things to decrease:

  1. Too much caffeine worsens stress level and brain function:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/

  1. Excessive digital media usage can worsen inattention symptoms:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/08/30/digital-media-and-inattention-symptoms/

  1. Reduce/avoid alcohol intake because it can impact your academic performance:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/02/26/alcohol-and-grades/

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/06/21/study-alcohol-might-cause-brain-changes/

  1. Cannabis can negatively impact your brain:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2014/11/17/marijuana-4-hidden-costs-to-consider/

  1. Nicotine use can increase depression and anxiety:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/15/does-smoking-increase-anxiety-and-depression-if-i-quit-will-i-feel-better/

Additional resources if your functioning is limited by your mental health, or if you need additional help:

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.

 

Gratitude strategies to feel better fast

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

One definition of gratitude is a state of mind where one feels and expresses thankfulness consistently over time and across situations (1).

Gratitude exercises can be quick, easy and can help improve happiness, stress, and depression (2, 3).

A study of 814 college students showed that students with higher gratitude levels were less depressed, had lower suicidal-ideation, and higher self-esteem (4).

What are some ways to use gratitude strategies/exercises to feel better fast?

  • Quick gratitude journal: write one or more things that you are grateful for on a daily basis.  As a way to make it part of a daily routine, could you consider thinking about gratitude during an activity that you do everyday.  Learn more here.
  • Consider giving 1 genuine compliment per day to someone.
  • Could you make a bulletin board with images and words that make you feel grateful.  This could be placed where you could see it regularly.
  • When walking, could you consider using your 5 senses to find something that you are grateful for?
  • A book about positive psychology: Authentic Hapiness by Martin Seligman.
  • Harvard’s link on gratitude exercise (click then scroll down the page):  http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

What are some resources to improve mental health?

Some people may need to practice this for a while before seeing major benefits.

Could gratitude practices help you feel better?

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. Emmons, R. A. & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength:
    Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 56–69.
  2. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/12/
  3. Oleary K, Dockray S. The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 21, Number 4, 2015, pp. 243–245.
  4. Lin CC. The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, depression, and suicidal
    ideation among undergraduate students.  Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2015, 56, 700–707. DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12252

Does smoking increase anxiety and depression? If I quit, will I feel better?

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA, OSU-CCS Psychiatristrainbow cigarette (3)

Most students know about harmful effects of smoking cigarettes including the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, breathing problems (1). Students may also know that stopping smoking reduces these health risks (2-3).

Most people may not know that smoking contributes to anxiety and depression and that you can feel good and increase happiness by quitting smoking.

 

This study (4) analyzed mental health inforation across 26 studies and looked at positive and negative changes in mental health before and after quitting smoking cigarettes.

What did the study show?
When compared to smokers, 7 weeks to 9 years after quitting smoking, those who quit smoking reported a DECREASE in:
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Mixed anxiety and depression
• Stress
When compared to smokers, 7 weeks to 9 years after quitting smoking, those who quit smoking reported an INCREASE in:
• Psychological quality of life 0.22 Positive affect significantly 0.40
• This improvement occurred whether or not participants had anxiety or depression before quitting smoking.

But I thought people smoke to be less anxious and depressed?
• When they have not smoked for a while, smokers experience irritability, anxiety, and depression (6, 7)
• These feelings are relieved by smoking (5) thus creating the perception that smoking has psychological benefits, while in fact it is smoking that caused these psychological disturbances in the first place.

How can I quit smoking?

http://swc.osu.edu/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs/quit-tobacco/

http://tobaccofree.osu.edu/resources/

http://smokefree.gov/
http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/index
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/smokelesstobaccoandhowtoquit/index

You may want to talk to your doctor/prescriber about medications and nicotine replacement as additional options that can help you quit.

Is smoking worth anxiety, depression and feeling bad? Is it zapping your energy level? How good will you feel after you stop smoking for good?

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. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: a
report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2004.

2. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health benefits of smoking cessation.
US Department of Health and Human Services, 1990.

3. Pirie K, Peto R, Reeves G, Green J, Beral V. The 21st century hazards of smoking and
benefits of stopping: a prospective study of one million women in the UK. Lancet
2013;381:133-41.

4. Taylor G, et al. Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis. OPEN ACCESS. BMJ 2014;348:g1151 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g1151 (Published 13 February 2014)
5. Parrott AC. Does cigarette smoking cause stress? Am Psychol 1999;54:817-20.

6. Hughes JR. Effects of abstinence from tobacco: valid symptoms and time course. Nicotine
Tob Res 2007;9:315-27.

7. Guthrie SK, Ni L, Zubieta JK, Teter CJ, Domino EF. Changes in craving for a cigarette
and arterial nicotine plasma concentrations in abstinent smokers. Prog
NeuroPsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2004;28:617-23.