Six ways to make the most of your study breaks
If you’ve been studying for hours and can feel yourself slipping into a vortex of distraction, you probably need to give your brain a break. It might seem counter productive if you’re stressed or cramming, but stepping away can actually boost your cognitive abilities. After reciting definitions dozens of times or writing an essay for hours, try some of these break tips that’ll leave you feeling refreshed and ready to get back into it.
Make a moment for peace
As much as you might love to pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, try using your phone to help you relax instead. Meditation apps including TakeABreak! and Smiling Mind are resources that help you develop mindfulness techniques, stay in the moment, and avoid that mental noise that causes distraction.
Meditation also helps you breathe, revitalise and invigorate your mind so it’s receptive and ready to go when you hit the books again.
Colours of the rainbow
It might feel silly, but a study break is the perfect time to dust off your old colouring books and let your imagination distract you from study stress. Colouring in helps you slow down for a moment. Simply focusing on staying within the lines induces a sense of calm.
Don’t worry if it feels juvenile, busy adults are increasingly turning to colouring in to combat stress. Studies show that it helps to do many things including increasing self-awareness, reducing anxiety and boosting self-esteem.
Turn to the tunes
Music is a powerful healer so there’s nothing wrong with pumping up your favourite beats if you want to reduce stress. Mix it up though. Listen to your favourite artists, but classical music can improve brain function and focus too, as it slows the pulse and heart rate, lowers blood pressure and decreases the levels of stress hormones in your body.
Grab your headphones, make a Spotify playlist, close your eyes and let the music work its magic.
Have a healthy snack
While you’re studying hard you’ll undoubtedly work up an appetite. Use your break time to eat, but make sure you are eating things that will boost efficiency.
Fruits and vegetables are your best bet for a healthy, and simple, snack which will help you get a lot done when you return to studying. Try our Mexican rainbow salad in a jar, salmon and avocado rice paper rolls or choc-orange energy balls then hit the books for round two.
Call a friend
After studying the history of Russia or mathematical equations for hours you’ve probably become zombie-like due to a lack of human interaction. Take 20 minutes and give your best friend a buzz and catch up on each other’s lives. Nicole Rinehart, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Deakin University says staying connected will help you to feel balanced and energised.
Talking with friends can help distract you from your studies and ease your stress, because it can be comforting to hear a friendly and familiar voice.
Run like the wind
Working out can help you focus. Even a small cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain which delivers the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its best ability.
Exercise releases key hormones, including serotonin, which is a mood booster, and dopamine, which can improve learning and attention. And you can do it without leaving the house. Try Sworkit, which has a range of quick guided workouts, or Pocket Yoga if you prefer a calming pace.
Professor Nicole Rinehart
Professor of Psychology (Clinical), School of Psychology, Deakin University
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