Options Solutions Guest Student Blogger – The Nerdy Stoner
As you already know, university is competitive. You’ve got to fight to get in and fight even harder make it past first year. That’s why so many students turn to psychostimulants to help them stay alert and focused when they study. I met a kid in residence who actually lied to doctor about her inability to focus, just to get herself a Ritalin prescription (a common drug used to help people with ADD or ADHD). Some kids take the risk of approaching drug dealers, who are now carrying these types of performance enhancing drugs.
There is no question that taking medication when you don’t need it is dangerous and harmful to your brain, but many students forget that over the counter substances can cause harm to your system too. Energy drinks, energy shots, caffeine pills, coffee, soda, and energy bars are just a few substances that students (and adults) regularly use and abuse to stay awake and stay focused. I’ll never forget a kid in the library downing two Red Bulls back-to-back, with two more sitting on his desk. Because these substances are legal, many individuals do not deem dependence on them as harmful to their bodies. However, I can tell you from first hand experience that this is not the case:
A close friend of mine had a big essay due so he stayed up all night by consuming energy drinks. He left class half way through the next day to vomit (a symptom of mental and physical exhaustion) and had trouble sleeping when he tried (another symptom of physical exhaustion). He will admit that he was out of sync for about a week.
Another friend of mine stayed up all night to study for an exam, after minimal sleep the two nights before. She ended up falling asleep around 6 a.m. and slept through her alarm clock; so, she missed the exam. Her alarm was so loud we could hear it in the hall, but her body was too exhausted to wake her up.
There is no reason to put your body through this abuse. Develop positive work habits because the cramming, energy drink lifestyle is an unsustainable high that comes with enduring lows.
If you need all little help to focus, go for a run or do some yoga. Our bodies and minds are very connected. My friend, who is also a certified personal trainer, swears by the “burpee rule.” Every time he feels distracted or unmotivated, he does ten burpees to get his heart rate up and back in the zone. I do a few yoga sun salutations. The breathing relaxes me and the physical movement gets the blood flowing. Most universities have learning centers, which can be a great resource, when looking for ways to find academic balance.
If you incorporate positive work habits and natural means of achieving and maintaining focus into your academic life and are still having troubles focusing, then it is time to see a health care professional and speak honestly about your symptoms. You know that cheesy health slogan, “Not all bugs need drugs.” Here is your own cheese ball slogan, “Not all distractions need chemical reactions.”