Attitude towards leisure and impact on mental health

“We must never become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw.”- Dr Steven R. Covey, Author, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Dr Covey, in the above book, mentions the importance of taking care of our minds and bodies so that we can function at our best.  One such way to take care of our mind could be through some amount leisure activities.

Previous posts discussed various leisure activities and benefits of leisure activities on mental health.

This post looks at how our attitudes towards leisure activities can impact enjoyment and mental health.

What is leisure?

One definition of leisure is pleasurable activities that individuals engage in voluntarily when they are free from the demands of work or other responsibilities (1).

What was the study? (2)

Tonietto and colleagues published a paper that included 4 studies with a total of 1310 participants, looking at attitude towards leisure and its impact (2).

What activities were studied? (2)

  • Hanging out with friends
  • Relaxing
  • Watching TV
  • Hobbies
  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering

What were the results?

  • In studies 1 and 2, people with a general tendency to find leisure wasteful report lower enjoyment of leisure activities on average, especially activities performed as an end in itself vs those performed as a means to an end (2).
  • Studies 1 and 2 also show that the belief that leisure is wasteful is also associated with lower reported happiness, and greater reported depression, anxiety, and stress (2).
  • Studies 3 and 4 (looking at causality)  show that believing that leisure is wasteful or unproductive reduces enjoyment of terminally-motivated leisure activities; but believing that leisure is productive does not increase enjoyment (2).

What does this mean?

  • According to this set of studies (2), participants having a negative attitude towards leisure activities experienced a negative impact from doing them.
  • The results were true whether the leisure activity was active (exercising) or passive (watching TV), social (hanging out with friends) or solitary (meditating) (2).

Other examples of healthy leisure activities (3) can be found here.

  • When balancing work and self care, different people might benefit from different types and amount of play during leisure time. How much and what type of leisure is best for you? What is your attitude towards leisure and how does/did this impact its potential benefit to you?

Campus resources on leisure:

Other useful resources on campus: https://ccs.osu.edu/services/mental-health-support

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

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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. 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.
  2. Gabriela N. Tonietto, Selin A. Malkoc, Rebecca Walker Reczek, Michael I. Norton, Viewing leisure as wasteful undermines enjoyment,Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 97,2021,104198,ISSN 0022-1031, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104198.
  1. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/category/recess/

Returning to campus and mental health during COVID

According to a public opinion poll conducted March 26 – April 5, 2021, among a sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older, released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), young adults, ages 18 to 29 (49%) are more likely to say they are more anxious now compared to last year, despite available vaccinations for COVID-19. (1)

The American Psychological Association recommends the following strategies to cope with Covid related stress as a student (2):

PRACTICE SELF-CARE (2)

FIND WAYS TO FOCUS (2)

  • You might feel unmotivated now. Recognize that the current circumstances are hard for everyone. Don’t judge yourself; just do the best you can.
  • Establish a routine. Get up, go to bed and do your work at the same time every day.
  • Frequent breaks can help you re-engage in your work.
  • Try to create a separate work space, although you should reserve your sleeping area for sleeping. If family members are distracting you, use “I statements” to explain the problem—“I’m worried about my exam next week”—and work together to develop solutions.
  • Resources to improve focus:

SEEK OUT SOCIAL SUPPORT (2)

HELP OTHERS COPE (2)

  • Your classmates and family members may be anxious, too.
  • You don’t have to fix their problems. It’s enough to let them know they’re not alone.
  • Our mental health support options may be helpful:

FIND WAYS TO MANAGE DISAPPOINTMENT (2)

  • Grieve losses, then reframe how you think about these life events. Think about how you can honor what you’ve achieved.
  • Find new ways to celebrate. Consider recreating important events once it’s safe.

LIMIT YOUR MEDIA CONSUMPTION (2)

  • While it’s important to stay informed, too much news—especially social media—can add to your anxiety. To avoid being overwhelmed, set limits on your media consumption and smartphone use.
  • Resources on technology and mental health: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2020/12/11/593/

FOCUS ON THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL (2)

  • Your classmates, friends, or family members may be disobeying the rules about physical distancing or doing other things that add to your stress.
  • While modeling good behavior and staying safe yourself, recognize that you can’t control what other people do.
  • Instead of worrying about our ambiguous future, focus on solving immediate problems.

Other thoughts:

  • While returning to campus during COVID can be anxiety provoking for some, practicing self-care and being realistic with your self can help.
  • With this in mind, it may be useful to have a back-up plan, or willingness to adjust if things are not going as well as expected, despite your best effort.
  • Mary DeCenzo, LISW-S, ACTRP-C, OSU CCS Embedded Clinician, Fisher College of Business says, “Avoid making Value judgements, think twice speak once”, and consider becoming involved in OSU student organizations.
  • Check out the Buckeyes Back Together Workshop on Wednesdays, facilitated by OSU-CCS therapist, Claire Simon MSW, LISW-S.
  • Dr Stefanie Day, EdD, PCC-S, Embedded Clinician, OSU College of Engineering, and OSU-CCS, suggests looking into a student organization called SKY Campus Happiness.

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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.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/new-apa-poll-shows-sustained-anxiety-among-americans-more-than-half-of-parents-are-concerned-about-the-mental-well-being-of-their-children
  2. https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/student-stress.pdf

Omega 3 and stress

A previous post discussed Omega 3s and anxiety.

While the role of omega 3’s and inflammation has been studied(1), omega 3’s and stress is not as well studied.

This post discusses a study looking at Omega 3’s and stress reduction.

Who was in the study? (2)

138 sedentary, overweight, middle-aged participants (n = 93 women, n = 45 men) received either 2.5 g/d of omega-3, 1.25 g/d of omega-3, or a placebo for 4 months (2).

What was studied? (2)

  • Before and after the trial, participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test.
  • Saliva and blood samples were collected once before and repeatedly after the stressor to measure salivary cortisol, telomerase in peripheral blood lymphocytes, and serum anti-inflammatory (interleukin-10; IL-10) and pro-inflammatory (interleukin-6; IL-6, interleukin-12, tumor necrosis factor-alpha) cytokines.

What were the results? (2)

  • Adjusting for pre-supplementation reactivity, age, sagittal abdominal diameter, and sex, omega-3 supplementation altered telomerase (p = 0.05) and IL-10 (p = 0.05) stress reactivity; both supplementation groups were protected from the placebo group’s 24% and 26% post-stress declines in the geometric means of telomerase and IL-10, respectively.
  • Omega-3 reduced overall cortisol (p = 0.03) and IL-6 (p = 0.03) throughout the stressor;
  • The group that received 2.5gram per day of Omega 3’s had had 19% and 33% lower overall cortisol levels (lower stress) and IL-6 geometric mean levels (lowering inflammation), respectively, compared to the placebo group.

The authors (2) conclude that, by lowering overall inflammation and cortisol levels during stress and boosting repair mechanisms during recovery, omega-3 may slow accelerated aging and reduce depression risk.

What are some caveats?

  • This is a small study and further study is needed.
  • The population studied was middle aged, which makes it difficult to generalize to specific populations like college students.
  • Omega 3s may interact with prescription medications and supplements.
  • Omega 3’s have other health benefits (3) as well.
  • Talk to your doctor or prescriber before considering omega 3’s.

What are some sources of omega 3s?
According to the National Institute of Health(3), sources of omega 3’s include:
• Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
• Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
• Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
• Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
• Omega-3 dietary supplements include fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil (a vegetarian source that comes from algae). They come in a wide range of doses and forms.

How much omega 3s do I need per day?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 3 g/day of EPA and DHA combined, including up to 2 g/day from dietary supplements (3).

Where can I learn more about omega 3s?

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

What are some resources to improve nutrition?
• Nutrition coaching with The OSU Student Wellness Center
• Nutritionist at The OSU Wilce Wilce Student Health center
• Nutritionist at The OSU Wexner medical center
• Nutrition books
• Take a nutrition class
• Take a look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
• Harvard’s page on nutritional psychiatry.

What are some resources to improve stress?

To learn more about stress management go here: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/01/dealing-with-too-much-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. Wall R, Ross RP, Fitzgerald GF, Stanton C. Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Nutr Rev. 2010 May;68(5):280-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00287.x. PMID: 20500789.
  2. Madison, A.A., Belury, M.A., Andridge, R. et al.Omega-3 supplementation and stress reactivity of cellular aging biomarkers: an ancillary substudy of a randomized, controlled trial in midlife adults. Mol Psychiatry (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01077-2
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/