Stirring the Pot: Stayin’ Studious Without Losing a Screw

Trying to survive in college is stressful in and of itself; add exams, lack of sleep, and anxiety to the mix and you’re in for a rough time. Here are some helpful tips to stay sane yet studious.

Typically, I like to do investigative pieces — this is a bit of a deviation from my normal style but I found it quite fitting as we’re finishing off midterms and on the cusp of finals season. Yep, the exams and deadlines are here and we’re all in a frenzy of stress, anxiety, and a lack of sleep (which we all know we desperately need). The eyebags are forming, and so is the long, expensive list of Venti Starbucks Nitro Cold Brews, Monsters, and Guayaki Yerba Mates. But to be honest, I just hope you’re all doing okay. Or at least surviving. Anyways, I just thought I’d share some ways to not go completely batshit crazy from all the damn stress you’re probably facing right now. (And trust me, I’m  quite knowledgeable on the subject, as I’m a literal human ball of worry.)


I know this isn’t a fresh, new idea, but it’s honestly the best way to assure you don’t feel as if you’re literally drowning in an ocean of papers, projects, and deadlines. And it’s a lot simpler than it seems — you don’t need to buy an expensive planner or be a bullet journaling master to tackle time management. Simply get a piece of paper (or use your phone notes app if you prefer) and just write out everything that’s stressing you out — all the things you have to do, and when they need to be done by. Literally just spill your brains out onto the page.

By releasing everything from your head to a documented place allows your mind to be relieved from all the pressure of remembering these tasks. Then plug them into your calendar! Plan out the week day-by-day and suddenly your tasks will seem much less daunting: as long as they’re spread out into time chunks — cramming is not the move! 


Assure you’re keeping your best interests in mind when making decisions. If you know you have a fat paper to write in TWO days that you have yet to start, then it’s probably in your best interest to take up your friend’s last-minute, yet extremely enticing offer to go to that party. Let yourself have enough time to complete your task without the pressure of the deadline waving over your head — pulling an all-nighter while chugging two sour apple reigns from the 7-eleven across the street is not the best situation to be in (coming from personal experience!). Not only can this lead to a mental breakdown (guilty), but it means you’re not doing your best work. But I know you’re still going to procrastinate, so to assure your all-night cram/work session won’t completely destroy your health, make sure you’re taking short breaks in which you leave your workspace and take a stretch or stroll. If you’re going to consume high quantities of caffeine, make sure to balance your water intake with the caffeine (not only will hydrating keep your mind sharp, but it will make the caffeine much more effective and long-lasting). Also, assure you’re eating healthy snacks — some of these could include nuts, berries, granola bars, or yogurt. NO TAKIS. PLEASE.


Sleep is a precious gift. I know us college kids cherish (and I mean CHERISH) our sleep despite sacrificing it constantly. I know all the doctors tell us we need roughly 8 hours of sleep but honestly, I know I’m not getting it and it’s completely MY FAULT. Sleep is extremely crucial if we want our mental health to be in tip-top shape — one way to combat the lack of sleep I know we all have is by taking power naps. No, not four-hour naps that send us into another dimension of time, I’m talking about 15-20 minute naps in between classes. This short bit of sleep can give you the power to push through the day and be productive when you’re feeling like you can’t keep goin’ anymore. But make sure to be self-disciplined: don’t keep hitting snooze, but give yourself an incentive to get up, such as a good ol’ cuppa joe.


One of the most important tips I can give you is to just be self-aware of your productivity. If you know you’re overworking yourself, make sure to give yourself time to relax, let loose, and have fun! Reward yourself for your hard work when you know you deserve it. Make plans with friends or just let yourself sit back and veg on the couch! But this goes both ways: if you know you’ve been slacking a bit and you’re stressed from your lack of productivity in the face of a million daunting tasks, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Beating yourself up and calling yourself a failure isn’t going to do you any good. Remind yourself that you are capable of doing great things, pull your bootstraps on, and get your shit done! Take it little by little, assuring you’re not trying to get too much done in a short period of time. Honestly, the hardest part of doing anything is just starting. Type out that title page, start that outline, pull out that textbook, and break out those highlighters. Tell yourself that the task is NOT bigger than you and that you can take it.

Make sure to stay focused though — as I said before: if you know you haven’t been too productive lately, make sure to be intentional about how you’re spending your time. Don’t lay in bed for six hours if you know you have things to do, even if they’re stressing you out. In the end, your lack of productivity will make yourself feel MORE stressed in the end, and can affect the way you view yourself, which has a direct correlation to the quality of your mental health!


I hope some of these tips help you out. But honestly, give yourself a damn break. You’ve got this! You’re doing great. I know all these things are easier said than done, but just make sure you’re taking it all little by little. It’s not the end of the world if you mess up. We all do it – none of us are perfect students – or perfect people at that. Just try your best, plan as much as you can, and make sure you’re doing everything that’s in your best interest. You’ve made it this far, and honestly, that’s a huge achievement in itself! And as I’m sure you don’t hear this enough, I’m proud of you.

Written by: Olivia Flores
Featured Image:

Stirring the Pot: Industrial Hemp – America’s Misunderstood Poster Child for Sustainability

Ever heard of industrial hemp? Sounds pretty badass, right? Well, that’s because it is. Let me explain.

Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity (staple crop grown on a farm/plantation) which is cultivated for the production of a variety of manufactured goods ranging from textiles, to insulation, to nutritional supplements, to personal care products and much more. This might sound quite dull if you care little about agriculture or sustainability, but this plant is literally referred to as “The God Plant.” In my opinion, the name is quite fitting – industrial hemp is an extremely versatile crop – and at our striking rate of resource depletion, having a renewable resource with a plethora of applications sounds like a Hail-Mary to me. But there’s one problem: people don’t know that there’s a major difference between hemp and marijuana; that it’s actually impossible to get high off of hemp (it’s rope, not dope, man.) And it’s this misunderstanding that has strained the growth of industrial hemp in our country for quite some time. 

This ignorance is especially true for politicians — thanks to the old guys that umbrella-termed hemp and marijuana, cultivating hemp was outlawed until 2014 (just for research purposes) due to it being coined as a ‘controlled substance’ by the DEA. So here’s the funny story — hemp and marijuana are extremely different. While the two come from the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa), they are genetically-distinct varieties of the plant that have been bred for different purposes. Hemp and marijuana can be distinguished not only from their differing physical attributes, but from their chemical makeup, cultivation practices, and general uses. Hemp, unlike marijuana, does not need to be grown in a controlled environment, grows in large stems as tall as 20 feet, and requires little care, being able to thrive on infertile soil. But the funniest part is that hemp contains only 0.3% THC or less – this means hemp has no psychoactive properties, obviously differing from its counterpart which contains 5-35% THC. (Sorry guys, you can’t get high off that bottle of hemp milk you bought from Trader Joe’s last week.) But thankfully, times are-a-changing and new bills that are less strict on hemp farmers are under review. Now let me show you why hemp and sustainability are a match made in heaven!

Hemp vs. Marijuana
(Source: Canna Connection)

Industrial hemp can be cultivated to produce over 50,000 products that fall under 9 submarkets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, food and beverages, paper, construction materials, automotive, and personal care. But what makes hemp so special is not only the wide variety of markets it can fit under, but how almost every single part of the hemp plant can be utilized – from the stalks, to the seeds, and to the leaves, each part of the plant has a purpose. 

On top of having over 50,000 uses, what really makes industrial hemp such an incredible crop is its sustainable attributes. Because hemp grows like a weed (meaning it grows and spreads at a rapid rate), it makes a great source for paper – compared to the 20 years it takes for trees to produce paper to mature, it only takes 20 weeks until the hemp crop can be harvested. Moreover, it can replace corn for ethanol production; not only is hemp resistant to pesticides, but it uses only one-third of the water used to produce corn. Biofuel diesel made with hemp seed oil also grows well on infertile soil and has very low sulfur dioxide emissions. The cultivation of industrial hemp to create textile fibers also demonstrates the sustainable attributes of the plant, as it is renewable and only requires half of the water used to produce cotton. (I mean, as a sustainability major, this crop is like GOLD. I’m telling you when I did research on this topic last spring, I was like a kid in a candy store but instead of a kid just an enviro-geek and the candy store being a 48-page study. It’s good stuff, guys – I’m telling ya’.)

Anatomy of Industrial Hemp and its Various Uses
(Source: New Frontier)

Hemp is also considered to be an extremely nutritious superfood; it acts not only is a plant-based protein option for vegans/vegetarians, but contains a balanced ratio of fatty acids, all 10 amino acids, and a multitude of beneficial vitamins such as vitamin E. Moreover, the plant also contains anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and oil-regulating properties which make hemp a beneficial resource for natural skincare products. (I mean, not to mention CBD which you can find in just about ANYTHING on Melrose Avenue. Hit up Alfred and get yourself a vegan, CBD-infused, nitro cold brew ‘chagaccino’ for the sweet, sweet price of $7.80.)

I mean, what more can I say – industrial hemp is a badass, sustainable agricultural commodity. Try and name another plant that can do all this. Seriously, go ahead. That’s what I thought. But regardless of how badass this plant is, we seriously need to support it. Next time you’re at the store and you see a hemp alternative to a product you typically buy, try and get it! Even just clarifying the distinction between hemp and marijuana is making a difference in itself – anything helps!

Source: U.S. Congressional Research Service. Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity (RL32725; June 22, 2018), by Renée Johnson. Text in: Congressional Research Service;

Written by: Olivia Flores
Featured image from: Modern Farmer

Stirring the Pot: Psychedelic- Assisted Therapy – A ‘Trip’ for Treatment

A look into the use of psychedelic-assisted therapy for the treatment of people suffering from mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.

LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, and MDMA. When reading those words, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, those are just party drugs.” Or maybe something else comes to mind – you might think of barefoot hippies rolling at Woodstock while bearing buttons that read ‘End the War in Vietnam!’ But these drugs are so much more than just the stereotypes in which they are associated with.

Prior to the counterculture movement of the 1960s, psychedelic substances were used as healing tools in sacred ceremonies performed by indigenous tribes; one example of this is the use of peyote by the Native Americans of the Southern Plains. These substances are not just party drugs – they’re tools that can be used to help treat individuals with mental illnesses such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction.

Last summer, out of sheer curiosity rooted in some late-night YouTube conspiracy theory binge, I spent some time doing research on psychedelic substances and their effects on the brain. Fascinated by the plethora of information, I fell into a spiral of articles, TED Talks, and case studies detailing how these ‘college party drugs’ actually had tremendous benefits on the treatment of mental illness. Specifically, I came across an interesting article which entailed the history of psychedelic substances and specific results from a variety of treatment studies performed on patients. Prior to doing any research, I had very little knowledge of how these substances operated, let alone that there was even a world of benefits that they offered besides some sort of ‘trip.’

So let’s get into how these substances actually affect the brain on a chemical level. 

When the brain is on a psychedelic substance, think of it as being unhinged from incoming sensory information – it has the ability to conjure up images and feelings from deep within the subconscious. Think of it as opening a portal to the user’s mind, allowing them to come directly into contact with feelings that were unrecognizable before. When we sleep, our brain isn’t using incoming sensory information to produce the visuals we see in our dreams; rather, it uses information already held in the subconscious. This is why dreams are known as revealing the individual’s inner fears and desires they might have previously been unaware of. But as we’ve all faced the frustration of forgetting an interesting dream, we know that their contents are extremely difficult to track.

Psychedelic substances help with that – rather than waking up from a dream and forgetting everything but the largest details, you would have the ability to consciously access those same visuals and feelings, just awake rather than asleep. For this reason, hallucinogens (each serving a different, yet equally valuable purpose) are great tools for the treatment of mental illnesses, as they allow patients to get in touch with their deep-rooted issues. For example, MDA (an empathogen) helps facilitate the bond between the patient and their doctor by increasing empathy. MDMA, on the other hand, helps reduce fear in patients, allowing them to open up and trust their therapist; this makes treatment much more effective, especially for patients suffering from PTSD.

Then we have the classic psychedelics, substances such as LSD and mescaline which provide the “portal effect” which allows patients to look into themselves and experience a “trip.” When undergoing a session, the patient is monitored and is placed in a relaxed setting, where the therapist guides the patient through their psychedelic experience, helping them pick apart everything they see, hear, or feel. But it isn’t just the concept or process of the treatment that astounds me – it’s the results. For example, in one study performed on individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, “Outcomes included a significant and sustained reduction in PTSD symptoms…with 83% of participants…showing a reduction in symptom severity of more than 30%…some members of the experimental group no longer met criteria for PTSD as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder…” (Tupper). But the best part about psychedelic-assisted therapy is that there are few (if any) serious adverse effects. The main reason for this is because the substances are being used in a monitored, controlled manner – all harms come solely from associated behavior, something that only arises from a lack of supervision. This is why researchers prioritize setting, dosage, and safety when structuring treatment sessions.

Psychedelic substances simply make the process of treatment easier and smoother for both the patient and their therapist.

Even just one session can be enough to invoke intense personal reflection which has astounding effects on a patient. In one example brought up in a TED Talk I viewed during my research, the speaker explained how one patient suffering from PTSD was essentially healed after just one session of treatment – during his first psychedelic experience, he was able to get in touch with the root of his trauma; in doing so, he was able to discover (with the guidance of his therapist) how he could take that pain and flip it in a positive light, using it as inspiration to continue living.

While this form of treatment still contains laws and is far from a golden solution, it is still a beneficial form of treatment with proven results and little adverse effects. While I know my target audience isn’t necessarily old, cynical boomers against psychedelic substances, I still think we collectively need to open our minds (pun definitely intended) and look at hallucinogens from a more mature lens. While LSD may be trademarked for use at three-day raves, there is a whole other world of uses for these substances: uses with the power to transform troubled lives forever.


Doblin, Rick. “The Future of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy.” TED,

“Psychedelics: Past, Present and Future: Mark Haden: TEDxEastVan.” Amara,

Tupper, Kenneth W, et al. “Psychedelic Medicine: a Re-Emerging Therapeutic Paradigm.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L’Association Medicale Canadienne, 8872147 Canada Inc., 6 Oct. 2015,

Written by: Olivia Flores
Photos taken from: Vox

Stirring the Pot: Gatekeeping in the Skateboarding Community

The skateboarding community has been notoriously associated with the concept of gatekeeping since skate culture became mainstream.

I mean, wear a Thrasher shirt as a non-skater and suddenly you’ve got an army of beanie-ridden, board-strapped teenage boys chasing you down as they yell “POSER!!” at you in perfect unison. That may sound a little far-fetched, but believe me: skaters are brutal. While films like Mid90s depict the best aspects of skateboarding (community values, personal growth, and an escape from the harshness of home life), they also give a taste of the worst. While the negatives (excluding drug and alcohol abuse) are depicted in a lighthearted, juvenile manner, the use of derogatory language heavily present in the film and skateboarding community–especially skateparks– unintentionally alienates and excludes individuals from the LGBTQ+ community from feeling comfortable, safe, and happy in a space designed to bring like-minded individuals together. Although I don’t skate myself, I see this toxic behavior prevalent in the skating community as I have many friends with personal experiences relating to the topic. To get a deeper insight, I spoke with my friend, Aidan Skillingstad, a fellow freshman at SDSU who is quite familiar with the toxicity found in the skateboarding community.

1. How long have you been skating and what brought you to start?

“I’ve been skating on and off since I was in the second grade when I lived in Las Vegas because I have an older brother who had a lot of friends who skated, so whenever my brother and I would hang out, he would always be skating. This eventually led to me getting my own skateboard. I ended up taking a break from it for a couple of years but I went back to it towards the end of middle school ‘cause I moved to a new place and didn’t have a lot of friends, so skating helped me make a friend group and break out of being alone. Despite making friends, I just like the activity in itself. Like landing a new trick is a very fulfilling feeling.”

2. Do you prefer skating alone or in groups?

“When I was younger I would skate primarily with my brother, just because I didn’t know how to skate so he would be the one teaching me stuff. But in middle school and high school, I preferred skating with people, specifically my close-knit friend group of skaters. And now, I just prefer skating alone–it’s more of an anxiety thing. Like being in a new place and meeting skaters is kind of scary because you don’t know if they’re gonna be better or worse than you or judge you.”

3. What was your first skatepark experience like?

“The first time I went to a skate park was in Las Vegas–my brother would get dropped off at the skatepark on the weekends, so we would just be there all day skating, but I was a kid so I didn’t really care if I was getting in the way or skating poorly. I was just following my brother around, tagging along for fun. But to older skaters, I was kind of annoying as I would just skate around without paying attention to other people.”

4. When did you first realize that gatekeeping existed in the community?

“So the first time I actually was aware of it was probably like middle school when I started getting back into it. I had a little bit of experience, but I was not good. I still couldn’t do much on the board, and none of my friends could either. We were all getting into it together, so there wasn’t any judgment between any of us because we were all trying to push each other to be better. But then we would be skating around town with a big group and come across a group of older skaters, ones that were a lot better. Even though we were really trying to give it our best, to them it seemed like we were just doing it to be cool. Over the years that feeling was just terrible, so that’s why now I prefer skating alone just because I just don’t like putting myself in that kind of situation. But it’s something that I like. I just don’t know why I should feel like I’m judged for that. It shouldn’t matter how good I am, just that I enjoy it.”

5. Have you had a personal experience with this?

“Well for me, I push mongo which is not the way you’re supposed to push on a skateboard. So there’s stances and the way you do a trick–you can be regular or goofy–then there’s the way that you actually push the board. This is something that causes a lot of judgment, so if you push regular that’s normal (left foot on the board, right foot pushing). But I push the opposite, which kind of looks stupid, especially when you’re losing your balance you do this weird kind of step thing which is a little embarrassing. If you push mongo, there’s this underlying judgment from other skaters, like you’re not really considered cool or whatever. So that was something that even now I try to avoid by practicing pushing regular. It goes back to the whole anxiety thing, which again is why I prefer skating alone nowadays.”

6. Would you say that the whole gatekeeping concept (existing in both skateboarding itself and within the culture as a whole) creates a toxic atmosphere which prevents people from getting into skating?

“I kind of feel conflicted about it because from one perspective, I don’t like the gatekeeping in skateboarding and I don’t like that people judge you for the brands you wear or the skateboard you have, but also at the same time as a skateboarder, I kind of have this tendency to gatekeep myself–it’s my first response when talking about skating that it’s my thing and that other people don’t appreciate it as much as I do.”

7. Has the toxicity in the community affected you personally?

“So even from a young age I knew that I was different in terms of who I was attracted to but I definitely tried to suppress the feelings or thoughts, so when I would go skate with my brother and his friends as a young kid hearing ‘g*y” and “f****t’ being used in derogatory ways by older teens made me feel like it wasn’t okay to be who I was. Likewise, skating with peers my age in middle and high school who also used this type of language on a regular basis did not help with self-identity. I was more open to who I actually was, but despite that, it was hard to be totally accepting of myself when my friends might not even be accepting of me.”

I’m going to be honest — prior to interviewing my good friend Aidan, I hadn’t even factored the LGBTQ+ community into the equation. I went in expecting just to discuss the common exclusionary, juvenile behavior of teens and left with a new perspective into how these harsh words and practices ostracize an entire group of individuals just looking for an escape themselves.

The use of negative language about LGBTQ+ individuals is especially harsh for teenagers to hear as they are in the midst of exploring their individuality, sexuality, and sense of self. This can be extremely confusing and frustrating for them, as the language denotes a lack of openness and acceptance in the community preventing them from feeling as if they can be themselves amongst people who share the same passion–skating. It frustrates me to know this. But Aidan recognizes that is just a factor of the culture–the harshness is just a phase every skater must endure before fully feeling apart of the community, almost like being hazed before being initiated into a fraternity. But if you skate, be mindful of what you say and recognize when others are spewing derogatory terms into the wind. It may just be “apart of the culture” and just another form of “locker room talk”, but words are powerful; let’s make the skating community more inclusive so that more individuals can appreciate the satisfaction of finally landing that first ollie.

Written by: Olivia Flores
Photo by: Isaac Lopez