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

Coping with Homesickness

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

For college students, leaving home and going to college brings a lot of new and exciting opportunities, along with challenges.  This transition can also be stressful, and a time when college students might feel home sick, especially during the first few weeks of starting school.

The JED foundation, offers some helpful  strategies to deal with feelings of homesickness:

  • Bring something to college that gives you comfort and/or reminds you of home, such as pictures of friends and family or your favorite set of sheets.
  • Get involved with campus organizations and activities. As these connections strengthen, feeling of loneliness will ease.
  • Make a plan to stay connected with your existing support network. This contact can be in the form of phone/video calling, texting, and other ways of communicating with loved ones from home; including seeing them in person.
  • Try to find a balance between keeping in touch with friends and family with time spent getting to know your new surroundings and new people.  After the first few days or weeks it might be good to try to cut back on this a bit and to focus more on campus life and school.
  • Don’t isolate: sign up for activities, meet people on your hall, find study groups for your classes, get involved in a religious group, or attend a club that you normally wouldn’t attend.
  • Homesickness usually goes away after a few weeks, but if it doesn’t there are other resources available for you on campus to help you work through a difficult transition period.

In addition, it may be helpful to plan some time to visit friends/family a few weeks ahead and periodically during the semester.  This may also give you something positive to look forward to.

What are some helpful campus resources?

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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.

Meditation for attention, stress, and anxiety

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

Life transitions can be times of increased stress and anxiety; which can also impact your attention and focus.  One of those transitions includes moving to campus, preparing for the beginning of the fall semester, adjusting to new routines, campus life, etc.

While there are many strategies to help with the transition process, meditation may be the 1 thing to consider because it can be quick, easy, and has low potential for side effects; and has the potential to benefit everyone.  It is practiced by some of the most successful people in the world.

A review of 13 studies showed improvement in ADHD symptoms with mindfulness meditation (1).

41 trials show mindfulness meditation helped improve stress related outcomes such as anxiety, depression, stress, positive mood, etc. (2)

A review of 14 clinical trials shows meditation being more effective than relaxation techniques for anxiety (3).

What are come caveats?

  • While there are many types of mediation techniques, mindfulness-based meditation is the most studied.
  • Different people may benefit from different types of meditation, and this area is being further researched.
  • Practicing regularly may lead to improved benefits.

How to learn meditation?

  • Various apps, books, videos, classes, and guides may be a useful introduction to meditation.

What else might help improve attention, anxiety, and stress related to the beginning of the semester?

What are some helpful resources?

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. Poissant, H., Mendrek, A., Talbot, N., Khoury, B., & Nolan, J. (2019). Behavioral and Cognitive Impacts of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review. Behavioural neurology2019, 5682050. doi:10.1155/2019/5682050
  2. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EMS, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2014 Jan. (Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 124.)Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK180102/
  3. Montero-Marin, J., Garcia-Campayo, J., Pérez-Yus, M., Zabaleta-del-Olmo, E., & Cuijpers, P. (n.d.). Meditation techniques v. relaxation therapies when treating anxiety: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Medicine,1-16. doi:10.1017/S0033291719001600