Have you ever reached the point in studying that you felt like the words on the page might as well have been a different language, or that the paper you are writing is one big paragraph of jibberish? Sometimes, the best thing to do in this situation isn’t to push through and pull an all-nighter, but to close the laptop, leave the library, and do something you actually enjoy.
It isn’t a myth.
Scientists actually suggest breaks when working because our minds were not meant to focus on only one task for long periods of time. A New York Times article that covered this topic quoted Dr. James Levine as saying that “the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity”, and so therefore we need to break up the monotony of work in order to actually be productive. Dr. Levine even goes one step further and endorses naps.
If that isn’t good news for college students, I don’t know what is.
Many scientists agree with Dr. Levine’s opinion on study breaks, but a recent Stanford University study said that it is actually a matter of willpower. A group of researchers there said that during finals week, students who believed they only had a limited source of willpower were 24 percent more likely to eat junk food than students who believed they could control their drive to study.
Whether you side with Stanford and the willpower argument or Levine and his approval of naps, here are six ideas to help you break up the monotony of midterms week, studying, or a long day at work:
1. Exercise– Put on some shorts and go for a run around campus. Even biking or working out indoors is a good distraction and gets the blood actively flowing to your brain.
2. Socialize– Spending time with friends can actually be a good thing. Your friends might not be too helpful when you’re actually trying to get work done, but they can be a great distraction and outlet of conversation when you’re tired of thinking about physics.
3. Netflix– Missing the chance to watch TV shows back at home? Use 30 minutes to catch up on the latest episode of The Office or whatever tickles your funny bone.
4. Naps– Instead of constantly fighting the urge to close your eyes, just set an alarm and curl up in bed for 20 minutes. You will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to finish studying strong!
5. Make, bake, or play– Like knitting or baking? Work on a scarf for your best friend’s birthday or make some cookies for your roommate. If you play a musical instrument, learn a new song or practice an old favorite. Using your brain for other activities could even inspire new ideas for that paper!
6.Get Out– Longingly looking out the window just won’t do it- if you haven’t seen the light of day in eight hours, that’s a sure sign that you need to get out of the study room or office. No matter the weather, leaving the confines of your four walls and getting a breath of fresh air can help stimulate your mind and even energize you.