Dealing with too much stress

What is stress?

Stress can be thought of as a response by the brain and body respond to any demand (1).

Some stress is useful in helping us perform in life, achieve goals, grow, etc.

Too much stress can harm both physical and emotional health in many different ways.

What does too much stress feel like?

Different people respond to stress in different ways.

 What are some common emotional responses to excessive  stress?

Too much stress can cause:

  • Changes in mood, sleep, irritability, body aches (3).
  • Changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, etc.

What are some unhealthy ways of dealing with too much stress?

  • Increasing use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs.
  • Unhealthy eating habits.
  • Increased behaviors of isolation/avoidance. Too much time away from the problem might make the problem worse by causing you to miss deadlines, meetings, assignments, etc.

What are some healthy ways  of dealing with too much stress?

The American Psychological Association’s help center suggests (2):

  • Take a break. A few minutes away from what is stressing you might help you have a new perspective or give you a chance to practice stress management techniques. (Links below).
  • Smile and laugh. This might help relieve some tension and improve the situation.
  • Get social support from others or a counselor. Talking to someone might help you feel better, collect your thoughts, gain new insights into the situation.

The following are adapted from National Library of Medicine (3) stress management page:

  • Recognize and accept the things you can’t change.  This can help you let go and not get upset. For instance, you might not change rush hour traffic, but you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
  • Avoid stressful triggers when possible. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise or physical activity most days for about 30 minutes can help your brain release chemicals that make you feel good, and help you release built-up energy or frustration.
  • Change your outlook. Are you being too negative? Work on more positive attitude toward challenges by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones.
  • Do something you enjoy preferably daily even if it’s just for a few minutes. Examples include reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend, a new hobby or class.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This can help you think more clearly, and have more energy.
  • Eat enough AND eat healthy foods. This can help fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, lean proteins, good fats.
  • Learn to say no. Set limits if you feel over-scheduled, cut back or defer where you can. Ask others for help when you need it.

Are there useful stress management resources on campus?

Anything else?

Other ideas to manage stress:

Gratitude and mindfulness exercises to manage stress:

Benefits of Play and Leisure:

Smartphone apps for mental health: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/05/

 

What are some signs that YOU are under too much stress?

What healthy strategies have you tried?

Which ones work for you to help manage stress?

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. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
  2. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001942.htm

 

 

Helpful Ideas for Transitioning/Adjusting to College

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ― Benjamin Franklin (1)

 

Each fall, millions of young adults across the country leave home to start college.

For many, this is an exciting time, but for others, adjusting to the university environment can be quite stressful.

Some factors impacting this including living on your own for the first time, and managing your own schedule and social support and college life and other responsibilities all occurring at the same time.

The key may be to plan ahead.

What are some helpful steps to ease the transition to College?

The American Psychiatric association suggest these 5 tips for reducing stress during the college transition (2):

  • Become familiar with campus ahead of time
  • Get involved on campus activities.
  • Before the school year starts, proactively plan a visit home.
  • Figure out a way to stay connected with your support system.
  • Establish a health care provider before starting the school year.

Where can I learn more?

The Jed Foundation has numerous articles on successful transition to college:

What are some helpful campus resources?

 

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. Franklin B. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Norton Critical Edition. (Chaplin J). New York: W. W. Norton; 2012
  2. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/08/5-tips-for-reducing-stress-during-transition-to-college

Study: Is taking notes on your laptop better than writing them?

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

For many students, stress related to academics can be a major factor impacting their mental health. Getting better at study skills might help students feel better.  Many students take notes during class; and often on their laptop (1).  But is this more effective than writing notes by hand?   Researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer try to answer this question (2).

Special thanks to my colleague, Dr Barbara Urbanczyk , for suggesting this study(2).

What was the study?

The study authors (2) conducted 3 different studies.

  • Study 1: 67 college students who watched 5 TED talks projected onto a screen, and took notes on a laptop vs. their usual note taking style; and were quizzed 30 minutes later.
  • Study 2: 151 college students who were asked to view a lecture on an individual monitor while wearing headphones and write notes or type notes. Those who chose to type notes were instructed to take notes in their own words, and not type the lecture word for word. Participants were tested afterwards.
  • Study 3: 109 college students were asked to view 4 short lectures lasting a total of 28 minutes in a classroom setting with an individual monitor and headphones. They were tested 1 week later.

What were the results?

  • The authors found that participants using laptops were more inclined to take notes word for word than participants who wrote notes.
  • 1 week after the presentation (study 3), even when students could review their notes, those who had taken notes with laptops performed worse on tests of both factual content and conceptual understanding, than those who had written notes.
  • For conceptual items, those taking notes on laptop, (which the authors found to be verbatim notes) performed better than written notes.

What does this mean?

It may be worth considering adjusting note taking based on the type of information:

When taking notes of factual information, it may be worthwhile to synthesize and summarize notes, and to write in your own words instead of transcribing notes.

More retention might make studying more efficient, which could decrease your stress; and improve mental health.

When taking notes of conceptual information, transcribing notes may be better.

Ultimately, for best results, it may be worth trying different styles and methods of note taking based on different types of content (factual, conceptual, mixture, etc.).

Have you figured out what is the most productive note taking style for you?

Are there any resources to improve study skills?

Check out OSU’s Walter E. Dennis Learning Center for academic coaching, workshops, courses and other resources to improve study skills.

You may also want to consider various books, and other sources to improve study skills.

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. Fried C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50, 906914.
  2. Mueller PA, Oppenheimer DM.The pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking.  Psychol Sci. 2014 Jun;25(6):1159-68. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581. Epub 2014 Apr 23.