It’s the last quarter, semester or trimester depending on your school. The end is in sight, my fellow Native students, or at least you can see a flickering light at the end of a very long tunnel. But in our quests to be the best we can be, we have to contend with upcoming events and activities, including the prom, homework, and then finals before we can feel like a free elf.
BUT, unlike Harry Potter’s Dobby, who became a free elf after being given an article of clothing from his master, an old sock will not free you from this mountain of work. I know it feels like climbing Mount Everest, without oxygen, but no fear, my fellow Native students, you can do it. Here are 10 tried and true tips for surviving prom, homework and yes, gulp, finals.
Eat Some Chocolate
Dark chocolate increases serotonin and endorphin levels in our brains. According to research, eating small amounts of dark chocolate for two weeks even lowered the stress hormone called cortisol. Dark chocolate also has antioxidants that can lower blood pressure. So, keep calm and eat a dark Snickers (you know you’re cranky when you’re hungry).
Temporarily break up with Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram
Social media has become a part of our daily lives. We tweet, chat, snap, and blog about everything. Taking a break from all forms of social media during these final weeks will reduce your anxiety and allow you to focus on yourself. And, if you are like me, you will appreciate the additional study time.
So, Facebook, can we talk for a minute? Well, I know you and I have been through a lot. And yes, you have been there for me. But I have learned some things about myself. I realize we might have to see less of each other. It’s really not you Facebook, it’s me. We can still be ‘friends.’
Get Some Sleep
So which is it? Keep your eyes on the prize— diploma, college, or do we get more sleep? Though we’ve all been focused on college essays, application deadlines, senior pictures, and such, in order to reach your prize, you must get enough ZZZZZZZs. All-night study sessions don’t help and getting less sleep decreases productivity. So climb into bed and get at least eight hours.
Dr. Philip Alapat, medical director of the Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, says “Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested. By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased.”
I’m an overachiever and like to get about 10 hours every night. I am proud of this accomplishment, dammit!
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Do Your Homework
Wait, what? That’s it? Where is elder-guided the wisdom and advice? Yes, it helps to list your priorities, but there is no substitute to sitting down and addressing the fact that this is something that needs to be done.
But don’t fret, my dear Native students, stay tuned for my upcoming article on homework tips.
We all know that finals are approaching, whether you’re in high school or college. Don’t wait till the last minute to study. Cramming does NOT work. You need to begin reviewing your notes now. You might even join a study group from your class. It’s a great way to review the information and see if you missed anything in your note-taking.
Also, if you are having trouble with a concept/lesson, it’s best to go see your teacher or professor now. It should also be said that you need to eat, not just snacks, but real food. Your brain needs the nutrition to function properly and we all know we need every brain cell giving maximum effort during this critical time.
One last note about finals: these tests do not define you. It’s just a snapshot of one day on one set of questions. Fecal matter happens.
Stay Hydrated! Water IS life
Dehydration can lead to a loss of concentration and even your motor skills. Water helps circulate all the nutrients we get from our food, which means it helps feed your brain. My mom told me to drink before I get thirsty, which I always thought was a little cray-cray. But then I learned that when you actually feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
I use a refillable water bottle that helps me monitor how much water I am drinking. My goal is to drink at least one cup of water every hour. I also love adding lemon or strawberries to my water to give it a little flavor. If you are listening to Spotify or iTunes, take a few drinks between each song to help you stay hydrated.
Coffee— Black, Like My Soul
The caffeine in coffee can help you study and focus. Caffeine is a mild stimulant, when used in moderation. Caffeine reduces fatigue and increases your short-term memory. Moderation means only three to four small cups per day. I sincerely doubt that means Venti.
Eat, to turn your brain on!
My mom is an elementary teacher and she is always saying “eat your breakfast to turn on your brain.” Luckily, I love breakfast and always enjoy eggs, sausage and toast, but eating healthy meals (especially during finals) can help you learn more.
A few of my favorite ‘superfoods’ to help me study/learn are salmon, bananas, blueberries, smoked almonds and avocados (in guacamole form). Salmon is a superfood that boosts memory. Try it grilled with lemon, smoked on cedar, or raw on sushi.
The potassium in bananas also helps memory function, so peel away. Blueberries are vitamin powerhouses that help our bodies deal with stress. I love blueberry yogurt and blueberry pancakes. I am addicted to smoked almonds but luckily they are packed with protein that helps me power through the most boring of classes. Finally, avocados. This gift from the Gods provides much needed mono-unsaturated fats, vitamins and folates that all help with cognition and stress.
You’d think dancing all night at prom, running all over campus, banging my head on my books, or racing to my next class would count as exercise, but it really doesn’t. Despite our busy lives, we need to find time to add some exercise to the schedule. A few reasons why include improving our memory, reducing stress levels, increasing our blood flow (a.k.a. oxygen) to our brains, and decreasing anxiety. Honestly, I loathe exercise but I’ve found that I can get as much heart pumping action as the treadmill at the gym by hiking, swimming, or playing stickball.
Put Some Tobacco On It
Ceremonial use of sacred tobacco as well as sage, sweetgrass, and cedar cleanse and heal the mind, body, and spirit. When I find myself struggling, participating in ceremonies such as going to water or smudging help me to find peace and communicate with the Creator. Sacred tobacco is used for prayers, purification, and offerings and should be treated with the utmost respect.
So, may the grades and college acceptances be ever in your favor.
Follow Cierra Fields — The fried, frazzled, dazed and confused senior in high school — on Twitter. But just don’t tweet her during finals.