With the experience of being a student at UBC for four years comes a lot of somewhat unusual study tips. They are still somehow backed up by science… or enough positive manifestation that it feels like science. Over the years I have picked up a lot of different study tips from peers, high school teachers, professors, and a random very lovely lady who I think could smell my desperation and was trying to cheer me up. Some of these tips are kind of fun to do and some of them give you an excuse to go to bed early and/or eat some chocolate while you’re at it. Overall I hope you enjoy the following tips, and check out the links provided if you want to fact-check me.
Food related tips:
- Chocolate. Eating chocolate with at least 75% cocoa raises your endorphin levels and helps mental productivity. If you don’t like the taste of dark chocolate try getting some made with sea salt! The salt actually makes the chocolate taste sweeter – one brand that makes such chocolate is Lindt. I have definitely used this as the self-reasoning for why I ate three chocolate bars in one day while studying for a midterm. (Read the science here: Nehlig 2013; Jackson, et al. 2019)
- Kiwis. If you are dealing with insomnia or issues sleeping around midterm and final exam seasons try eating a kiwi! Research has suggested that eating two kiwis can help raise serotonin levels which can lead to better sleep. A full eight hours of sleep has been proven to improve memory retention and recall, and also makes sure that your problem solving skills are in tip-top shape. I have also included a link down below in case you have never seen, touched, smelled, or eaten a kiwi before and you have no idea what to even do with one. I recommend the cut and scoop method, though I am aware that some psychopaths out there bite them like apples, peel and all – if you’re unsure what your preferred method is, learn how to prepare kiwis, here. (Read the science: Lin et al. 2011; Suni 2020)
- Almonds. Not particularly feeling the idea of eating a kiwi? Try almonds instead. Almonds not only have magnesium but are also a natural source of melatonin, which some find help their ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. Almonds are also a source of magnesium and calcium, which can help the body relax. Some studies have linked magnesium deficiencies and low blood sugar, so if you have a hard time staying asleep due to your blood sugars dropping, try having some almonds. Try setting a small bowl of almonds by your bedside to munch on if you find yourself waking up at two a.m. and are just not feeling it. It will not only help your glucose levels but also help your body recognize that it needs to go back to bed. (Read the science: Suni 2020; Ghafarzadeh et al. 2019; Meng et al. 2017; Barbagallo & Dominguez 2015)
- Apples. If coffee or other forms of caffeine give you stress, try eating an apple! Studies have found that a single apple has enough natural sugars you can feel the same effect as having caffeine. (Read the science: Reichardt 2015; Harvard School of Public Health)
Want the quadruple effect just to see what your body will do? Cut everything up into small pieces and throw it all together in a bowl with some coconut water, chuck in some ice cubes, and call it ‘nature’s cereal’.
If you are feeling nervous about a presentation or an exam, try elevating your hands above your head. I learnt at a leadership academy that similarly to a ‘power pose’, this can make you feel more confident, which can help you remember your key points and talk at a normal and natural pace. It might be a placebo or it might be real, I’ve found that it helps me.