Study: Play and Leisure’s impact on mood, stress, and wellbeing

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

As the semester advances, students face increasing stress; which can impact your mental health, and academic performance.

A recent study looked at the role of leisure activities on stress management, mood, and improving well being (1).   This could improve  your academic performance.

What exactly is “leisure activities”?

  • One definition of leisure is “Leisure activities are generally self-selected, self-rewarding behavioral pursuits that take place during non-work time” (1,2,3).
  • A different way of looking at leisure might be play. One definition play is: “Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose” (4).
  • Dr Stuart Brown(5) identified 8 different categories of play, such as explorer, joker, competitor, artist, craftsman, storyteller, performer, director.

What was the study? (1)

  • 115 adults who were working full time were asked 6 times per day for 3 days, about their involvement in leisure, exercise, and social interactions along with their mood, interest, and stress (1).
  • Their stress hormone (cortisol) levels and heart rate were also measured (1).

What were the results? (1)

When participants engaged in leisure they reported (1):

  • More happiness, more interest.
  • Less sadness, less stress, and lower heart rate.

The results were similar when the participants exercised, and even after accounting for social interaction(1); but the exercise group had lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone).

Benefits lasted for hours after the activities.

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

Are there any campus resources on play?

 

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. Zawadzki, M.J., Smyth, J.M. & Costigan, H.J. ann. behav. med. (2015) 49: 605. doi:10.1007/s12160-015-9694-3
  2. Iso-Ahola SE. Basic dimensions of definitions of leisure. J Leis Res. 1979; 11: 28-39.
  3. Manfredo MJ, Driver BL, Tarrant MA. Measuring leisure motivation: A meta-analysis of the recreation experience preference scales. J Leis Res. 1996; 28: 188-213.
  4. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/play  Accessed 9/27/16.
  5. Stuard Brown MD, Christopher Vaughn. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul Paperback – April 6, 2010. Avery publishing. ISBN-13: 978-1583333785

 

 

Study: Happiness, Stress and Depression might improve with Gratitude and Mindfulness

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

There are many studies showing that mindfulness and positive attitude can improve mood, anxiety, and happiness.

But what exactly do you need to do? And how often?
A recent study suggests possible clues.

What did the study involve?
• 65 women ages 18-46 years, with a mean age of 28.35 years.
• Randomly assigned to wait-list or gratitude or mindfulness groups.
• Online exercise of gratitude or mindfulness 4 times per week for 3 weeks.
What exactly was the intervention?
Four times a week for 3 consecutive weeks:
• Gratitude group was asked to list 5 things they felt grateful for; and 1 thing they were most grateful for.
• Mindfulness group kept a mindfulness diary for listing thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the present moment; and did mindfulness meditation, called the Body Scan.
• This took 10–15 minutes to complete.

What did the results show?
By the end of the study, compared to the wait list control group, participants reported being:
• Less depressed on Edinburgh Depression Scale.
• Less stress on The Perceived Stress Scale
• More Happy on the Subjective Happiness Scale

Gratitude was more helpful for stress, and mindfulness was more helpful for depression and happiness.

What about effect size, side effects or drop-out rate?
• Overall effect size ranged from 10-20%,but the time commitment was also small (4x/week).
• Even though the intervention was a few minutes 4 times per week, only about half the participants completed the study.
• No side effects were reported

What are some caveats?
• This was a small study with specific exercises; larger studies to confirm results would be helpful.
• Since the study population was women only, we don’t know how well these specific techniques would work for other populations.
• Individual responses may vary.
• For the amount of time invested, the results are impressive.
What are some resources to improve depression?

Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
Holiday stress article from the Mayo Clinic
Mindfulness and Body scan techniques at the OSU Wexner Medical Center
Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
Anonymous mental health screen
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Could mindfulness techniques and gratitude practices help you feel better? How do you know?

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:
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

Blue Blockers and other ways to reduce electronics-induced sleep disruption, and daytime tiredness

By R. “Ryan” S Patel DO, FAPA-OSU CCS Psychiatristblue_light

Blue spectrum light from electronics suppresses melatonin for several hours after use (1,2) and disrupts your circadian (sleep wake cycle) clock (3). This impacts sleep quality and daytime tiredness (4). Sleep disruption can also impact anxiety, depression, and many other health conditions (5).

So it may be worth avoiding use of electronic devices such as computer, tv, tablets, smartphones, etc. 1-3 hours before bedtime.
Some suggest replacing exposure to bright light bulbs with dim light bulbs around bedtime (6) may also be helpful. There are even light bulbs that do not emit blue light.

What if I need to use electronics at bedtime?
Sometimes it may be necessary to be on the computer, tv, smartphone, etc right before bedtime.
Blue blockers may help prevent sleep disruption from electronics.

How do blue blockers work?
They block blue light emitted by electronic devices, thus melatonin is not disrupted (6).

What are some examples of blue light blockers?
Some examples include blue blocker eye glasses, software programs that prevent your device from emitting blue light, plastic filter screens that are placed on top of the screens to block blue light, and light bulbs that do not emit blue light. You can search for “blue light blockers” “blue light filters”, “bedtime reading software” etc. in a search engine, or in an app store.

Do blue blockers work?
There are small studies that show blue blockers work to prevent melatonin disruption and improve quality of sleep and mood.
For example, 20 subjects were randomized to use either blue blocking glasses, or non blue blocking glasses 3 hours before bedtime over a 2 weeks period (7).

What did the results show?
Those who used blue-blocking glasses reported better sleep quality and mood.

Words of caution:
• You still need to be mindful of getting enough hours of sleep—getting 4 or 5 hours of quality sleep when you need 8 will still leave you tired.
• Blue blocking methods may not help with your sleep if your device usage is overly entertaining or emotionally intense.
• You still need to address other causes such as use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol use, etc.
• This is still a relatively new terrain and further research is needed.

Are you sleeping poorly? Are you tired during the day? Are electronic devices interfering with your sleep; can you cut down your usage before bedtime? Can blue blockers help you?
What are other ways to improve sleep?
National sleep foundation sleep tips.

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. Brainard GC, Hanifin JP, Greeson JM, Byrne B, Glickman G, Gerner E, et al.
Action spectrum for melatonin regulation in humans: evidence for a novel
circadian photoreceptor. J Neurosci 2001;21(16):6405–12 [August 15, PMID:
11487664].
2. Thapan K, Arendt J, Skene DJ. An action spectrum for melatonin suppression:
evidence for a novel non-rod, non-cone photoreceptor system in humans. J
Physiol 2001;535(Pt 1):261–7 [August 15, PMID: 11507175].
3. Smith MR, Revell VL, Eastman CI. Phase advancing the human circadian clock
with blue-enriched polychromatic light. Sleep Med 2008 [September 18,
PMID: 18805055].
4. Fossum IN, et al. The Association Between Use of Electronic Media in Bed Before Going to Sleep and Insomnia Symptoms, Daytime Sleepiness, Morningness, and Chronotype. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Volume 12, Issue 5, 2014, pages 343- 357. Published online: 14 Jul 2014. DOI: 10.1080/15402002.2013.819468.
5. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems
6. Kayumov L, et al. Blocking Low-Wavelength Light Prevents Nocturnal Melatonin Suppression with No Adverse Effect on Performance during Simulated Shift Work. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 90(5):2755–2761.
7. Burkhart K1, Phelps JR. Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial. Chronobiol Int. 2009 Dec;26(8):1602-12. doi: 10.3109/07420520903523719.