Studies show that breaks in your study routine
can positively affect your attention abilities. Taking breaks from studying every ninety minutes or so can improve both focus and attention.
In addition to taking regular study breaks, what you do with each break can matter, too.
It’s important to choose the right type of activity for your study break so that you can return back refreshed and focused, ready to get back to your books.
Whether you're studying for your next class or your college finals, below are some healthy, beneficial activities you may want to consider taking on during your next study break as well as what you should try to avoid doing, too.
Positive Study Break Activities:
When deciding what to do during your study breaks, always keep in mind that different methods work for different people. It’s good to vary different break activities to find which is the most effective in refreshing you.
If an activity makes it difficult to transition back into your studies
, it’s likely not the right break activity for you. Remember, a good study break should never be another way to procrastinate!
Additionally, you should set a timer so that you can space out your study breaks and not take a break for longer than necessary. When the timer sounds, you know it’s time to get back to work.
Take a Walk
Get outside and get some fresh air, no matter how short the walk may be. Moving your body helps blood flow, which is going to help reenergize you. Any form of exercise will be beneficial to your physical and mental well-being – during your study breaks or otherwise.
Chances are, your body is tense from the anxiety of studying. Plus, you are more likely than not working in the same position for hours on end. Taking some time to stretch will help to alleviate your body’s tension.
It can be difficult to focus amidst chaos. Though you should never clean as a means of procrastination, it can be relaxing to tidy up during one of your regularly scheduled study breaks. Then, you can return to your studies in a relaxed setting – sans pigsty.
Phone a Friend
When you haven’t spoken to anyone for hours and you begin to enter zombie-mode, calling someone to actually have a conversation out loud can help. It takes your mind off the task at hand and makes you feel less like a zombie and more like a human.
Take a Quick Shower
Everyone feels invigorated when they are fresh out of the shower. During your next study break, take a five or ten minute shower to help revitalize and refresh your body and mind. We also recommend you sing at the top of your lungs -- just for the fun of it.
Run a Quick Errand
If you find that your mind is racing between your studies and your to-do list, running a quick errand can help you take a break and knock something off your to-do list at the same time. This can give you a sense of productivity, especially during study sessions that are particularly difficult.
Cook a Healthy Meal
Knock out two tasks at once: a low-thought level activity to take your mind off studying for a few minutes and eat something healthy. While it’s easy to order carry-out, taking the time to make yourself a simple healthy meal (whether it’s on a stove or in the microwave
) will benefit your body and your mindset.
During one of your scheduled breaks, take a few mindful minutes to meditate in a calm and quiet setting. Focus on some breathing exercises, which can really revive and invigorate the mind so that it’s ready to absorb more information!
Express Yourself through Creativity
Creative activities, like coloring, drawing or a quick dance-off with a friend can boost energy, clear your mind and enhance your mood – even if you aren’t artistic.
What to Avoid:
There are also some things you should avoid doing on your study breaks. The wrong study break activities can hinder your ability to stay attentive and concentrate – exactly the opposite of what you need during study time.
Snacking on Junk Food
You should know by now that junk food isn’t nutritious. Though it may be easier to order pizza or grab a sugary snack
on the go, it won’t provide the necessary benefits to help sustain and keep you on track.
Taking a Nap
Taking a nap can actually make you more tired, slow you down or stunt your productivity. If you must take a nap during your study break – a quick catnap (no longer than 20 minutes) is the best way to go.
Watching TV, Surfing the Web, Video Games & Other Media-Related Activities
These activities don’t aid in efficiency. In fact, they can hinder or make you feel more tired than you are. Go for an activity that gets you moving, breathing and relaxes your mind without putting it to sleep.
Though you may think it’s your best friend during finals, too much caffeine has adverse effects and can actually cause you to crash in the end. Positive study break activities help with longer-term focus – not just the spurts of energy that caffeine delivers.
When you're in the thick of studying, it's easy to wait until you are absolutely starving to stop for a meal; however, it’s not beneficial for you to eat a large meal if you’re looking to continue your studies. Too much food will make you feel tired and lethargic, so opt for lighter meals spread out throughout your study process.
Stay on Task with Your Studies
It may seem counter-intuitive, but evidence shows that it really is more helpful to your retention of the information you’re studying as well as your mood to take a break once in a while. So how you can take breaks while staying on task?
Set a timer. Work for 30 minutes to an hour – and then take a 10 – 20 minute break. If you’re pulling an all-day study session, especially before finals, you may want to consider some longer breaks. Grab lunch with a friend or sweat out your studying jitters in the gym for an hour.
Stay organized during your study sessions as well. Before you even begin, write down goals for yourself
. What do you want to accomplish by your first study break? What do you want to accomplish by the end of the day?
At the same time, allow yourself a little grace. Sometimes study sessions go really well; other times, they may be a struggle. If you don’t meet all of your goals, that’s ok.
In fact, it’s even more important on those hard days to take study breaks. Your brain may need more refreshing than is typical.
It may sound like an oxymoron, but you can enjoy your study days. Use it as a time to progress academically as well as personally with study breaks to rejuvenate your mind.