Strategies for a successful spring semester

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

A new semester brings a new set of opportunities and challenges.  The spring semester also aligns with the winter weather, has fewer breaks, and stresses of graduations/internships, plans for the summer etc.

With this in mind, it is important for students to be proactive and prioritize strategies that can help them succeed.

Some health related activities should students INCREASE to improve chances of success include the following:

  1. Get enough sleep. Poor sleep impacts academics and mental health.  For resources to improve sleep, go here: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/12/31/poor-sleep-and-poor-grades-might-go-together/
  1. Eat fruits and vegetables. This improves mental/emotional well-being:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/03/25/fruits-and-vegetables-might-increase-your-odds-of-mental-well-being/

Food strategies to improve/prevent depression, go here:

https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/06/28/food-choices-to-improve-depression/

  1. Get active. Regular exercise can help with mental and physical health.  Go to the RPAC, consider a rec league. Some students find it helpful to take an exercise or sports class  for course credit.
  2. Improve stress management: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/01/dealing-with-too-much-stress/
  3. Have a plan. What if you are over scheduled? Are there classes or obligations you could adjust?  Try to plan breaks ahead of time both daily and if possible, weekend  mini-breaks/vacations ahead of time.  This will give you something positive to look forward to.
  4. Get social.  Spending time with others regularly can help with stress and mental health.  Consider  student organizations, regularly scheduled phone/video calls with your supports such as friends, family etc.
  5. Spend time on hobbies. Leisure activities help with stress and mental health.

Consider decreasing or eliminating the following activities:

  1. Too much caffeine worsens stress level and brain function:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/

  1. Excessive digital media usage can worsen inattention symptoms:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/08/30/digital-media-and-inattention-symptoms/

  1. Reduce/avoid alcohol intake because it can impact your academic performance:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/02/26/alcohol-and-grades/

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/06/21/study-alcohol-might-cause-brain-changes/

  1. Cannabis can negatively impact your brain:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2014/11/17/marijuana-4-hidden-costs-to-consider/

  1. Nicotine use can increase depression and anxiety:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/15/does-smoking-increase-anxiety-and-depression-if-i-quit-will-i-feel-better/

Additional resources if your functioning is limited by your mental health, or if you need additional help:

Check out our multiple options for mental health support page for additional 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.

9 ways that college students can meet people

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

Some people think that humans by nature are social beings. That we need some degree of social connection/interaction with others to maintain our own well-being, manage stress, happiness, and overall emotional health.

Each person may need to tailor the amount and type of social interaction based on their personality, needs, and available options.

Is there any research on social support and mental health of college students?

There are many studies, some of them have found the following:

  • In one study of college students, lower perceived social support was found to have a 6 fold increase in depression risk relative to higher perceived social support (1).
  • Another study found that peer support benefits mental health (2).
  • In another study, social support from family and friends jointly influenced about 80 % of the effect of life satisfaction and hopelessness on drinking alcohol (3).
  • Finally, a study of about 1200 students found that students with higher social support had better mental health (4).

What 9 possible ways for college students to meet people, deal with loneliness, and increase social support?

  1. Check out the OSU campus student organizations page for organizations such as Active Minds, Peers Reaching out, Boo-Radley and others.
  2. OSU-Rec Sports has various play options.
  3. Check out over 1300 different student organizations focused on different interests/hobbies
  4. Consider relevant courses based around sports, or other hobbies/interests.
  5. Volunteer opportunities at OSU: https://engage.osu.edu/for-alumni-and-friends/volunteer-opportunities.html
  6. Therapy treatment Groups at CCS
  7. Support Groups in the community: National alliance on Mental Illness, Hands On Central Ohio 211.
  8. There are pros and cons of social media and online support communities.
  9. https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/social-support-campus/

Any additional resources?

Think of current or past friendships, relationships, etc. that have been meaningful/supportive.  Can you think of a way to periodically connect with them in person, online or by phone?

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. Hefner, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2009). Social support and mental health among college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(4), 491-499. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0016918
  2. O’Connell MJ, Sledge WH, Staeheli M, Sells D, Costa M, Wieland M, Davidson L. Outcomes of a Peer Mentor Intervention for Persons With Recurrent Psychiatric Hospitalization. Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Apr 16:appips201600478. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600478. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Catie CW Lai and Cecilia MS Ma. The mediating role of social support in the relationship between psychological well-being and health-risk behaviors among Chinese university students. Health Psychology Open.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2055102916678106 First Published November 8, 2016
  4. Tahmasbipour, A. Taheri. A Survey on the Relation Between Social Support and Mental Health in Students Shahid Rajaee University. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 47, 2012, Pages 5-9, ISSN 1877-0428, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.603.

 

Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”  – Oscar Wilde (1)

For some people, this time of year marks the beginning of the holiday season.  This can involve giving and receiving gifts, time, generosity, and other practices.

While people may have heard about the benefits of altruism, what does the research say?

After looking 9631 papers, the authors(2,3) identified and reviewed 40 research studies looking at the impact of volunteering on physical and mental health of the volunteers.

Who were the participants? (2)

Participants varied in age, but reached several thousand across different types of studies (2).

What were the results? (2)

Volunteering had a favorable effect on depression, life satisfaction and well-being in the large cohort type studies with lengthy follow up (2; 4-8).

What are some caveats?

  • The exact relationship between health benefits and volunteering remains complex and many factors may be involved (3).
  • There are many types of volunteer activities.
  • Further research is needed to understand motivating factors, frequency, dose, type of volunteering, etc. that provides the most health benefits.

What are come campus resources on Volunteering?

How does volunteering impact you?  Can helping others help YOU feel better?

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://discovercorps.com/blog/50-inspirational-quotes-volunteering/
  2. Jenkinson CE, Dickens AP, Jones K, et al. Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:773. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-773.
  3. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/01/generosity-health_n_4323727.html
  4. Konrath S, Fuhrel-Forbis A, Lou A, Brown S: Motives for volunteering are associated with mortality risk in older adults. Health Psychol. 2012, 31: 87-96.
  5. Ayalon L: Volunteering as a predictor of all-cause mortality: what aspects of volunteering really matter?. Int Psychogeriatr. 2008, 20: 1000-1013.
  6. Harris AHS, Thoresen CE: Volunteering is associated with delayed mortality in older people: analysis of the longitudinal study of aging. J Health Psychol. 2005, 10: 739-752. 10.1177/1359105305057310.
  7. Jung Y, Gruenewald TL, Seeman T, Sarkisian C: Productive activities and development of frailty in older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2010, 65B: 256-261. 10.1093/geronb/gbp105.
  8. Oman D, Thoresen CE, McMahon K: Volunteerism and mortality among the community-dwelling elderly. J Health Psychol. 1999, 4: 301-316.