Dealing with too much stress

What is stress?

Stress can be thought of as a response by the brain and body respond to any demand (1).

Some stress is useful in helping us perform in life, achieve goals, grow, etc.

Too much stress can harm both physical and emotional health in many different ways.

What does too much stress feel like?

Different people respond to stress in different ways.

 What are some common emotional responses to excessive  stress?

Too much stress can cause:

  • Changes in mood, sleep, irritability, body aches (3).
  • Changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, etc.

What are some unhealthy ways of dealing with too much stress?

  • Increasing use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs.
  • Unhealthy eating habits.
  • Increased behaviors of isolation/avoidance. Too much time away from the problem might make the problem worse by causing you to miss deadlines, meetings, assignments, etc.

What are some healthy ways  of dealing with too much stress?

The American Psychological Association’s help center suggests (2):

  • Take a break. A few minutes away from what is stressing you might help you have a new perspective or give you a chance to practice stress management techniques. (Links below).
  • Smile and laugh. This might help relieve some tension and improve the situation.
  • Get social support from others or a counselor. Talking to someone might help you feel better, collect your thoughts, gain new insights into the situation.

The following are adapted from National Library of Medicine (3) stress management page:

  • Recognize and accept the things you can’t change.  This can help you let go and not get upset. For instance, you might not change rush hour traffic, but you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
  • Avoid stressful triggers when possible. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise or physical activity most days for about 30 minutes can help your brain release chemicals that make you feel good, and help you release built-up energy or frustration.
  • Change your outlook. Are you being too negative? Work on more positive attitude toward challenges by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones.
  • Do something you enjoy preferably daily even if it’s just for a few minutes. Examples include reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend, a new hobby or class.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This can help you think more clearly, and have more energy.
  • Eat enough AND eat healthy foods. This can help fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, lean proteins, good fats.
  • Learn to say no. Set limits if you feel over-scheduled, cut back or defer where you can. Ask others for help when you need it.

Are there useful stress management resources on campus?

Anything else?

Other ideas to manage stress:

Gratitude and mindfulness exercises to manage stress:

Benefits of Play and Leisure:

Smartphone apps for mental health: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/05/

 

What are some signs that YOU are under too much stress?

What healthy strategies have you tried?

Which ones work for you to help manage 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. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
  2. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001942.htm

 

 

Helpful Ideas for Transitioning/Adjusting to College

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ― Benjamin Franklin (1)

 

Each fall, millions of young adults across the country leave home to start college.

For many, this is an exciting time, but for others, adjusting to the university environment can be quite stressful.

Some factors impacting this including living on your own for the first time, and managing your own schedule and social support and college life and other responsibilities all occurring at the same time.

The key may be to plan ahead.

What are some helpful steps to ease the transition to College?

The American Psychiatric association suggest these 5 tips for reducing stress during the college transition (2):

  • Become familiar with campus ahead of time
  • Get involved on campus activities.
  • Before the school year starts, proactively plan a visit home.
  • Figure out a way to stay connected with your support system.
  • Establish a health care provider before starting the school year.

Where can I learn more?

The Jed Foundation has numerous articles on successful transition to college:

What are some helpful campus resources?

 

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. Franklin B. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Norton Critical Edition. (Chaplin J). New York: W. W. Norton; 2012
  2. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/08/5-tips-for-reducing-stress-during-transition-to-college

Smartphone Apps for Mental Health

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

Most people today are familiar with apps for smartphones.  There are apps for many different purposes including mental health. In fact in 2015, mental health apps made up almost a third of disease specific apps in app marketplaces (1).

Some but not all apps are evidence based, researched, and known to work and some other apps are based on evidence based skills.

A 2017 meta review of studies looked at 190 individual papers researching 147 unique digital health tools and found that there may be some benefit of using apps for depression and anxiety but unclear benefit for other disorders at the time of publication. They also found research and method limitations for many studies (2).

A recent study looked at an app called “Virtual hope box” (VHB) (3).

Who was studied? (3)

  • 118 U.S. service veterans receiving mental health treatment and had a recent history of suicidal ideation.
  • They were divided into two groups.
  • One group received mental health treatment as usual supplemented with the VHB app and another group received treatment as usual supplemented with printed materials about coping with suicidality over a 12-week period.

What was measured? (3)

Using validated scales, the study authors measured coping, suicidal ideation, reasons for living, perceived stress and interpersonal needs at various points of the study.

What were the results? (3)

  • Participants using virtual hope box app showed improvements in their ability to cope with unpleasant emotions and thoughts over time.
  • Users found the app helpful for relaxation and distraction or inspiration when feeling distressed, when emotions were overwhelming, or when they felt like hurting themselves.
  • Participants found it easy to use, helpful in dealing with stress and emotional difficulties, likely to use in the future, and would recommended to others.

What are some caveats?

  • This is a small study and may not be applicable to everyone.
  • There are many apps for mental health but research in this area is limited.
  • Newer apps are being introduced frequently.
  • This is a new field of research, and as we learn more, study designs and outcome measures are being improved upon.
  • Not all the apps are free.
  • Mental health apps do not take place of professional treatment.
  • Your mental health professional may be helpful in considering the right app mental health for you.
  • There are many apps that use evidence based techniques such as apps for cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation skills, prolonged exposure, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness based apps, etc.
    • One such example is the OSUCCS app, which can be obtained from the app store.

How much time are you spending on your phone? How are apps in general impacting your mental health? Which app is helping you and which is not?

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. IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. (2015). Patient adoption of mHealth: Use, evidence and remaining barriers to mainstream acceptance. Parsippany, NJ: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
  2. Hollis, C., Falconer, C. J., Martin, J. L., Whittington, C., Stockton, S., Glazebrook, C. and Davies, E. B. (2017), Annual Research Review: Digital health interventions for children and young people with mental health problems – a systematic and meta-review. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 58: 474–503. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12663
  3. Nigel E. Bush, Ph.D., Derek J. Smolenski, Ph.D., Lauren M. Denneson, Ph.D., Holly B. Williams, B.A., Elissa K. Thomas, L.P.N., C.C.R.C., Steven K. Dobscha, M.D. A Virtual Hope Box: Randomized Controlled Trial of a Smartphone App for Emotional Regulation and Coping With Distress.  Psychiatric Services 2017; 68:330–336; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600283.