I think the title says it all. Study breaks are one of few strategies that I feel truly work to be the most productive and to de-stress. An article called, “When, How and How Often to Take a Break” written by Neil Patel revealed that the average American only has an attention span of 8 seconds which is actually shorter than a goldfish which is 9 seconds. To me, that seems almost unreal how small our attention spans are for how many times I make myself write two papers and a study guide all in one sitting. I feel like my brain is in over drive and I need to take a long nap to recuperate. It doesn’t have to be like that.
I have put together a list of things to do on your study breaks that I will expand on further into my blog, so if one of them catches your attention feel free to skip to that section. Some may apply more to you if you are someone that studies at home but other activities can be done in your favorite study place on campus, like SSC or ECL. I have broken the activities into two lists, one for shorter study breaks and one for longer study breaks.
Shorter study break activities include:
- Listen to a few songs
- Answer your emails
- Call a friend
- Clean your room
- Paint your nails
- Take a shower
- Take a power nap
Longer study break activities include:
- Visit the Lavender Farm
- Lay on the quad
Special add in for this week only
- Mindfulness Space
Studies show that every 52 minutes, a 17-minutes break was the best for productivity. That’s why I picked certain things for the shorter study breaks. Your breaks can range from 5-20 minutes but if you are concentrating for about an hour your break should be closer to 20 minutes long.
Listen to a few songs:
Listening to two of my favorite songs really either calms me down or pumps me up. If I am anxious about my work because of an upcoming deadline I force myself to take a break and listen to calming music so I can relieve some of my anxiety on my break. But if am doing a boring Philosophy reading and I am about to fall asleep I choose to listen to some up beat music to get me motivated to finish my reading when I resume from my break.
Call a friend:
I find myself doing this often when I am taking a study break, usually I will call my best friend from home or my Dad just to catch up.
Clean your room:
The days that I clean my room for a study break is when I have my 4 p.m. class and I sit on my couch and do my assignments instead of sitting in an uncomfortable chair at Carrier. When I clean my room for my study break, I will work for a solid hour and then tidy up for no more than ten minutes. I try not to go over ten minutes because after that I start using my break to think of ways tor rearrange my room and it gets quite distracting.
Paint your nails:
I will bring my nail polish to SSC and sit at a booth with my friends and paint my nails for a study break. Sometimes the smell is overbearing but if its okay with your friends I highly recommend. Painting my nails physically does not allow me to do anything for at least fifteen minutes, since I don’t want to smudge them.
Take a shower:
Again, this is for someone that is doing some work at home before heading to campus. I usually use this study break when I am writing a paper. I will write as much as I can for 50 minutes and then I will take a shower. Being in the shower let’s me brainstorm my paper more but does not allow me to write anything down for those ten to fifteen minutes.
Take a power nap:
You can really do this one anywhere if you were really tired, I know I could fall asleep on a cement floor. So if you are behind on your zzz’s, during your study break just put your head down and close your eyes for fifteen minutes. You will wake up with more energy than before and be able to push through that last section of outlining.
These longer study breaks are for when you are done studying for the day and you just need to unwind and de-stress for the next day of studying.
Visit the Lavender farm:
This can be a relaxing study break that you can go on with your friends during midterms week. The farm is right in Harrisonburg, called the White Oak Lavender Farm. The oil of lavender is shown to be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. This has definitely been one of my favorite things I have done in the Shenandoah Valley since I’ve been at JMU.
Lay on the Quad:
This is the best time to go to the Quad to take in the view of Wilson with the vibrant fall leaves slowly starting to come down. I stopped studying thirty minutes before my class yesterday so I could just go lay on the grass for twenty minutes. Going into my class I was refreshed and not thinking or stressed about the concept I just read about in my textbook.
This is a special event that is going on this week only. It’s called Mindfulness Space and faculty has set up coloring books, beanbags and a projector that has nature scenes. This room is here so students can de-stress during their busy midterm week. Take advantage of this as a long or short study break as it is only here for this week. It is located in Conference room 7 in Festival.
These study breaks are something that I have started to do. They de-stress me as well as make me as productive as possible for that hour or so that I am doing my work. Trying these for just a day can’t hurt.
Peace, Love and DDP,