My Journey into Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

I was browsing the internet when a statement caught my eye and it stated “Do you want to
relieve stress related symptoms, promote a sense of well being and peace of mind”? I was
intrigued and thought I would love to relieve stress and also learn ways to help my patients too.
I clicked on the link and was taken to a course description titled “Mindfulness-Based Stress
Reduction program (MSBR) that was being offered for 8 weeks over the summer.

I signed up for the program without really knowing what the course was going to be about.
The first night of class I was in a room with 15 other participants who were of different ages,
backgrounds and occupations with our instructor Kevin who was a licensed social worker. We
were given the book “ Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn along with a workbook and a
CD. He had us imagine that we had a rock in our hand and walked up to a well and dropped it
in and then he went around the room and asked us what that symbolized to us. I remember
that I had said that it symbolized throwing away the stressful feelings and discomfort. He also
asked us not to set a goal or expectations for the course.

The program focused on attitudinal qualities that would relieve stress including: non-judging,
patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving and acceptance. Non-judging is being an
impartial witness to our own experience and not having a reaction to the experience. Patience
is allowing letting things unfold in good time and make a connection to the present. Beginner’s
mind is not allowing our beliefs and thinking from seeing things as they really are. Trust is to
listen and trust our own being through meditation. Non-striving is about trying less and
through meditation we are non-doing. Acceptance is seeing things as they are in the present
and not trying to force things to the way we want them to be which causes more stress and
prevents positive change.

We had daily meditations on our CD that guided us through body scan which focused our mind
on each body part starting with the head and then ending at our toes or sitting or laying
meditations or meditative yoga. We had a log in our workbook to document our feelings and
reactions to different situations that may have given us distress or pleasure. We had a retreat
day after our sixth week in which we did not speak during that time. Our instructor gave us
directions during the day and guided us through different types of mediation. We ate our lunch
mindfully and took our time tasting and chewing our food more times than we would normally
and did not pick up the fork before we swallowed our bite. I was a little anxious as well as
some of the other participants of not talking or using our phones for a whole day and staying
focus on the present, but it actually was easier than I thought and at the end of the day I felt a
sense of peace.

This type of course is not for everyone, but it is evidenced based and taught internationally.
The course has taught me a way of being. It is not a philosophy, it is a be practiced by being
mindful and carrying out the meditation practices daily. It takes commitment and is to be
practiced daily in order for it to be available when needed.

At the end of the eight weeks, I am better at being more mindful and at mediation, but it is a
work in progress. After the eight week course I had learned that my initial response to the first
question of dropping the rock into the well throwing away stress thoughts and feelings was not
mindfulness, it is about learning to live with all the thoughts or feelings good and bad and
acknowledging them and not reacting to them. “ Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It is
the way it is. And how we relate with this truth is what makes all the difference. “. Virginia Satir

Submitted by Edith Chang, M.D.

Are you getting enough?

Sleep, that is.

Sleep is more important than you think.  Most people don’t function well with less than 7 hours of sleep.

Sleep deprived students more readily reach for candy and desserts.  The so-called ‘freshman 15’ may be related to widely changing patterns of sleep (sleeping different hours each night) and abbreviated (too little) sleep.  Lack of sleep makes the body less sensitive to insulin increasing the risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep deprivation affects brain functions including memory, emotion, and regulation of appetite.  Poor sleep can, under certain circumstances, lead to depression severe enough to be diagnosed as major depression.

Without enough sleep, the immune system cannot work as efficiently to fight off illness.

Sleeping pills provide only modest benefits.  People fall asleep between 8 and 20 minutes faster when taking prescription drugs for sleep.  Often, people end up functioning worse the next day – so drowsy that they cannot drive safely.  Sleeping pills can pose other dangers, too, like falls, dizziness, and fractures.

So if your roommate (not you) is in a bad mood, crabby, has decreased energy, poor judgement, and is gaining weight, maybe they just need more sleep.

More later on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Pat Balassone, CNP

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Do you wonder if you could have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Adults with ADHD likely had symptoms as a child. However, the diagnosis might not be made until later in life. It is estimated that around 4-5% of adults have ADHD, but many do not get diagnosed or treated.   Symptoms include trouble following directions, concentrating, organizing tasks, finishing work, and remembering information.

If you are having the symptoms that suggest ADHD that are significantly affecting your academic or work performance, you should consider making an appointment to discuss with your provider. They will ask questions and do an exam to assess for ADHD and other problems that can mimic or occur with ADHD. Likely, they will refer you to a psychologist for further evaluation and diagnosis.

What can you do if you are diagnosed to have ADHD?

  • Good Support: It is very important to have good support including an academic advisor that can help you stay on course.
  • Stay organized: make lists and use them.
  • Rest: get plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise: studies show that regular exercise helps ADHD symptoms.
  • Counseling: consider counseling for support and cognitive therapy to help symptoms.
  • Medications: discuss medications options with your provider. These medications are effective and safe when used properly.

People with ADHD are typically very creative and energetic, but sometimes need help using those qualities effectively. There are effective treatments that can make a huge difference.

 

Matthew Peters, MD

Student Health Services

The Ohio State University

Got anything to help me stay awake to study?

As a college instructor, I am always somewhat amused by the panic that finals week seems to cause.  Seriously, it’s not like finals week is a surprise.  And it’s not like the content of a final is unknown – it could be anything that was covered in class.  And yet, students panic when it comes to finals week and look for ways to stay alert as they study late into the night trying to finish papers and prepare for exams.  For some this involves huge quantities of caffeine.  For others – study drugs.

This isn’t something new.  In the 70’s Ohio State students asked Dr. Spencer Turner, Director of Student Health Services, if he could recommend anything to stay awake while preparing for finals.  The study drugs back then were known as bennies or speed.  Today they are prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, for both the common component is amphetamine.  Used without a prescription, these drugs can be dangerous – not to mention illegal.

Dr. Turner stated that “the use of an amphetamine without proper medical supervision is unwise for several reasons:

  1. Pre-existing medical condition(s)
  2. Risk of adverse reaction(s) to even a single dose, especially when already fatigued
  3. Masking physical fatigue when this is the body’s signal for needed rest
  4. Likelihood of crashing at an inopportune time such as in the middle of a final or while driving
  5. Temptation to continue the drug’s use

These reasons continue to be valid today.  When prescribed, proper dosage has been determined by a physician based upon the medical condition of the patient.  The physician then monitors the patient regularly to ensure there are no adverse effects.  These are two key components – proper dosage and monitoring.  A pill obtained without a prescription, such as from a roommate or friend has neither of these. 

Study drugs can improve focus and motivation to study, but the short-term benefits of these substances do not come without their fair share of risks.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall can cause hallucinations, impulsive behavior, paranoia, and irritability. These are among a long list of dangerous side effects that probably won’t help with that final!

You can read Dr. Turner’s article Sleep, finals week, ‘Bennies’ and you in the Lantern Online Archive, March 12, 1971

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.

Yoga As You Are

Health benefits of yoga.

As I was reading through the RPAC news this week, I came across the following blurb. 

Yoga As You Are 2014
Whether you’re in work clothes, school clothes or workout gear, come to Yoga As You Are, held  Wednesdays, from 12:45 – 1:15 p.m. in Dance Room 1 at the Ohio Union. Classes go through Wednesday, April 23. Sticky mats are provided, but feel free to bring your own.

Now, to be honest, I have not done much yoga.  It sounds very zen and all and I expect that it is very good for me, but just not something that I’ve gotten into. Probably that’s because I’ve always harbored fears that I’ll either  1. fall asleep while meditating or 2. Get stuck in one of those pretzel -type poses they do.

But, being one to keep an open mind, when I saw the blurb above, I did a bit of research to try and find out what sorts of health benefits yoga offers.  Here is what I found:

  • Increase Flexibility: One study showed that after just 8 weeks of yoga participants improved their flexibility by up to 35%.
  • Boost Immunity: A Norwegian study found that yoga boosts immunity at the cellular level. They found that these changes occur while still on the mat – much more so than a control group that went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.
  • Ease Migraines: Research shows that after just 3 months of yoga practice, migraine suffers can expect fewer and less painful migraines.
  • Better Sleep: A Harvard Study found that 8 weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia.
  • Fight Food Cravings: Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection which in turn helps you to tune in to the emotions associated with certain cravings.

Some pretty impressive benefits.  Perhaps I’ll head over the Union this week and give that yoga class a try.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Information above found at the following sites:

Manage Your Stress

Classes, roommates, friends, family, work – all great things.  Sometimes, however, they can become overwhelming and stress you out.

Counseling and Consultation Services has put together this video to highlight how you might manage your stress.  Check it out.

The Holiday Blues

 The Holidays.  That time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s full of celebration, family and friends.  Everywhere we are told that this should be a joyous time filled with happiness, fellowship and harmony, but that’s not always the case.  Sometimes the holidays are just, well, blue. 

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and Psychology Today for dealing with those blues:

  • Be reasonable with your schedule – don’t overbook yourself. This will only make you more stressed and tired which will in turn make you cranky and irritable.
  • Be realistic – things don’t have to be perfect or just like they’ve been in the past. Be open to creating new traditions.
  • Be on a budget – decide how much you are going to spend during the holidays and stick to it. Remember that some of the best gifts are when you give of yourself.
  • Be with others – if you are unable to join with family or friends, find ways to reach out to others. Volunteer to serve a holiday meal, visit a nursing home.
  • Be open to the simple pleasures – enjoy an evening at home watching a movie, eating cookies, and drinking hot chocolate. Take a tour of your neighborhood and enjoy the decorations.
  • Be accommodating – accept your family and friends as they are and be understanding that they, too, may be experiencing the same holiday stressors.
  • Be half full – when you start to feel blue, take a few gratitude moments. Think of all the positives around you, a brilliant blue sky, a sparkling snow fall, a day off from work, and allow yourself to be content.

 

You can read more at:

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Are you a sleep bulimic?

Do you regularly “purge” sleep during the weekdays and then “binge” on the weekends?  If so, you may be a sleep bulimic.  This sort of pattern, lose out on sleep during the week and make up for it on the weekend may seem to make sense.  It all adds up to the same amount of sleep, right?  Unfortunately no.  Lack of sleep during the week will affect your productivity and performance, i.e. your grades, and no amount of sleep on the weekend can get that back.

Your brain is designed to solve hard problems while you sleep.  Have you ever been stumped by a problem and no matter how long you stay up and work on it you just can’t solve it.  You hit the sack and the next morning, lo and behold, you have the answer!  That is sleep doing its thing.  Studies have shown that sleep pinpoints the tasks a person is having difficulty learning and resolves them overnight.

So, skip the all-nighter.  These have been linked to lower grades and not just for the next day.  The effects of an all-nighter can last for as long as 4 days, impairing both memory and reasoning. And forget the get up early and do some cramming before the exam option.  Waking up earlier than usual could interfere with rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.  This is the sleep that aids memory.  So, while you might think that one more review of your notes will help, it could actually be affecting what you have already learned. 

Instead, get yourself on a regular sleep schedule.  This is especially important if you have an upcoming exam.  And, if your exam is on Monday, try to stick to the schedule on the weekend as well.  Remember the effects of missing sleep can last for several days which could impact your Monday morning exam. 

And if you find yourself feeling drowsy during the day, opt for a power nap as opposed to caffeine.  Caffeine will keep you awake, but it doesn’t help process what you’ve learned.  A short nap will recharge your brain and give you an energy burst.  Keep it under 20 minutes, though.  Anything longer and you’ll find yourself feeling groggy.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, MD

Stressed?? CDC Tips for Coping

Wilce Student Health Center

Overwhelmed?

With the shocking and traumatic events of this week, are you getting overwhelmed by the news coverage?  Perhaps you have family or friends directly impacted? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted a number of symptoms to consider as possible danger signs, as well as tips on stress management 

Symptoms of Stress

  • Fear and anxiety about the future
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Being numb to one’s feelings
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nightmares and recurring thoughts about the event
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Sadness and other symptoms of depression
  • Crying
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
  • Trouble concentrating

Tips for Self-Care

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol – in the long run they can create more problems instead of take stress  away.
  • Find support – talk to a partner, family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or clergyperson.
  • Connect socially – make sure that you are spending time with loved ones.
  • Take care of yourself – diet, exercise, sleep, normal routines
  • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out
  • Stay active – helping a neighbor, volunteering in the community, even taking the dog on a long walk.

If you need additional help, come talk to a healthcare professional at Student Health Services, or contact our Student Life partners at Counseling and Consultation Services, the Student Wellness Center, or the Student Advocacy Center.

Take care,

 Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health)

Is there a place on campus to get tested for mental health disorders? Will my student insurance cover it?

lauramuggli.com

Is there a place on campus to get tested for mental health disorders? Will my student insurance cover it?

Most of the time when people ask us about testing for mental health disorders, they’re talking about Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD.  (It’s called ADHD if there is an element of Hyperactivity in addition to attention problems.)  And yes, there is a place to get tested on campus.

This type of testing is performed by a neuropsychologists and psychologists, and we are lucky to have some of them here at Ohio State.  You will need a referral from a primary health care provider in order to schedule an appointment for this testing, which we are happy to provide. 

We usually refer students to Dr. Robert Bornstein, Dr. Douglas Kramer, or Dr. Elizabeth Cook at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Dr. Bornstein does the testing at the first appointment and it takes about 4 hours to complete.  Dr. Kramer and Dr. Cook will bring you in for a consultation first to determine what testing they want to do and then have you return for the testing itself.

Once the testing has been completed, the doctor will analyze the results and send a formal report back to you and the referring health care provider.  At that point, you would schedule a follow-up appointment with your referring provider to go over the results and determine the appropriate course of action.

OSU Aetna Student Health Insurance does cover ADD/ADHD testing. We can’t quote you an exact cost, but you can contact the Student Health Insurance office at 614-688-7979 to get more information about your benefits.

Whether or not you do formal neuropsychiatric testing, Counseling and Consultative Service offers individual and group counseling services for students with ADHD and The Office of Disability Services can assist students with ADHD in obtaining necessary accommodations for academic work.  However, it’s important to note that neither of these offices offers testing.

There are certainly other mental health issues besides ADD/ADHD that affect college and grad/professional students, but there aren’t specific tests to make or confirm the diagnosis.  These require a comprehensive evaluation by a health professional – sometimes multiple evaluations with multiple professionals – and luckily there are many resources here on campus (and beyond) that we connect you with if needed.

If you have any questions about the diagnosis and management of any mental health issues you are experiencing, you’re always welcome to call or make an appointment to speak with us about it.

Alison Sauers
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University