Part of effective studying is knowing how to take breaks. Humans are not machines, which means you need to rest after long periods of strenuous mental activity.
In fact, taking a break at the right time can greatly optimise your learning, as it allows your mind to recharge and get back into focus. According to research by the University of Illinois, a good time to take a break is after about 50 minutes of study.
But what should you do on your downtime? Here are seven effective recreational activities that will help your study process.
1. Take a short walk
Get that body moving! Fresh air helps clear your mind, and any kind of exercise increases blood flow, which in turn will energise you.
Leaving your study area for a change of scenery also boosts creativity, which helps with more artistic pursuits.
2. Make conversation
Take your mind off your work for a while by connecting with your loved ones. Call a friend (yes, people still do that) or, better yet, have a conversation with someone near you.
No topic of conversation is off limits – in fact, the more casual or silly, the better!
3. Have a snack
Go for light, energy-boosting foods that help your ability to focus: almonds, crackers, popcorn or dark chocolate are great choices.
While it may be tempting to reward yourself with junk food after a period of intense study, it isn’t recommended as too much sugar could lead to a crash afterwards.
Additionally, avoid having meals that are too heavy between your study sessions, as this might cause lethargy. You wouldn’t want to end up sleeping at your desk!
4. Take a short nap
Short amounts of sleep can refresh your mind and leave you more energetic and eager for your next study session. It’s not a good idea, though, to overdo it: research by Case Western University suggests that the optimum nap time is 10-20 minutes, which increases your productivity and ability to focus.
Napping for longer periods might get you to feel groggy and unmotivated, and could also negatively affect your sleep cycle.
5. Freshen up in the shower
What more needs to be said? Who doesn’t love the joy of a refreshing hot shower?
6. Listen to music
There are differing opinions over whether or not you should study while listening to music. Research has shown, however, that taking in your favourite tunes leads to the release of dopamine. This chemical results in your brain feeling powerful sensations of pleasure and reward, which can do wonders for the studying process.
You could also try other forms of media like movies or television; however, take these in small doses. Having to remember plotlines or character developments can affect your focus. And anyone who’s been on a Netflix binge can testify to how addictive watching online streaming can be!
Clearing your mind has been known to lower anxiety, improve stress levels, and counter depression. Meditation does wonders to both physical and mental health, making it a skill that’s definitely worth picking up.
As a bonus, there are many books, YouTube videos and apps out there that can help you with this. Have a wonderful learning journey!