Are you a college student, bored, unmotivated, and struggling to meet your academic goals? The semester is wrapping up, finals are quickly approaching, and you’re about ready to pull your hair out. Sounds familiar? If yes, you’re not alone… and it’s not too late to capitalize on a few study break ideas for college students to bring some fun back into your life.
An occasional breather is essential for mental health and creative thinking/problem-solving abilities. But it’s beyond taking a nap or catching up with the latest Netflix release.
This blog focuses on 9 study break ideas that are relatively easy but can often lead to unexpected bursts of motivation and productivity.
Importance of Taking Breaks When Studying
It can be easy to push yourself too far. But you’re not a machine, nor should you treat yourself like one. After all, machines need constant maintenance to keep going.
So, how do you know it’s time to take a study break? Below are several signs:
- You’re feeling unfocused and can’t wait to take some time off your books or computer screen
- You’re having trouble retaining information, regardless of how many times you try to re-read a particular section
- Intense eye twitching accompanied by swelling, watering, and redness
- You feel like a ticking time bomb. Your body switches into the fight and flight mode, making you easily agitated by minor things.
- You’ve been staring at the same page for several minutes, and all you can picture is the last time you had a good nap.
- You feel physically drained from sitting at your desk for too long
- Your roommate repeatedly threatens to call campus security on you for “studying too hard.”
- The words on your screen have started to blur.
- Your head is starting to hurt, and you can’t tell if it’s from staring at the computer screen or from all the stress in your life that has now come rushing back.
Importance of Taking Breaks When Studying
Why is it important to take breaks while studying? Here are some benefits to consider:
- Improved memory and concentration
- Lower stress levels
- Relaxed muscles
- Better perspective on difficult concepts
- Improved productivity
- Overall positivity
1. Improved memory and concentration
Study breaks give your brain a chance to rest and recharge its batteries. You’ll, therefore, find it easier to engage in your study material and remember key points.
2. Lower stress levels
When you feel bogged down by all of the work ahead of you, taking a break for even 10 minutes can help clear some of those depressive feelings and anxiety.
3. Relaxed muscles
Whether in the middle of a big project or exam, it’s easy to forget that some parts of your body don’t belong in a chair for hours. Taking time to stretch your body out will help relax your muscles and get more oxygen flowing throughout your body, keeping you alert.
4. Better perspective on difficult concepts
Sometimes we get stuck in a mental loop when trying to learn something new and challenging. That’s bound to cause frustrations and mental fatigue. Taking a break from your study is often enough to gain a new perspective on previously inconspicuous things.
5. Improved productivity
It can be hard to stay productive when you’re studying for hours on end without breaks. A study break can help you briefly escape distractions so that your mind can effectively focus on things that matter when you return to business.
6. Overall positivity
Taking breaks can also boost your mood by giving you time away from the stressors of schoolwork. That way, you stay motivated and positive about your life, both in and out of school.
What is a Good Study Break?
A good study break should keep your mind fresh, alert, and ready to tackle new challenges. It’s about giving your brain a chance to recharge so you can get back to schoolwork with renewed energy and focus.
But how often should you take breaks when studying? It will depend on your studying habits and schedule. A good rule of thumb is to take a study break every 50-90 minutes for 10-25 minutes.
The next section will teach you how to take a study break that works for your health and academics.
Effective Study Break Ideas for College Students
- Mindful meditation for 10-15 minutes
- Prepare a healthy meal
- Quick workout
- Go for a quick walk or bike ride
- Clean up your workspace
- Do something creative
- Call someone you enjoy talking to
- Take a cold shower
- Keep a journal
1. Mindfulness meditation for 10-15 Minutes
Mindfulness means cultivating a compassionate awareness of the present moment. When we’re mindful, we can see our actual emotions, thoughts, and actions, not as we wish them to be or think they should be.
The most common mindfulness-based practice involves sitting in silence for an allotted period each day, usually 10-15 minutes long. With your eyes closed, breathe deeply to clear your mind from distractions.
You can use an app like Headspace for guided meditation sessions.
2. Prepare a healthy meal
Your body needs fuel to keep going, which makes preparing a healthy meal a great idea to break from your study sessions. It’s good for your overall health (hello, vitamins!), along with helping keep your finances in check.
Online recipes and YouTube tutorials will suffice when you’re feeling adventurous. We recommend shopping for ingredients beforehand, so all you have to do is throw something together within a limited time.
3. A quick workout
A quick workout during a study break doesn’t just help clear your head and relieve stress. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
You don’t have to start planning a marathon. A quick jog around the block or a few sets of bodyweight exercises (such as pushups and squats) will do the trick.
Stay moderate with this, though. You don’t want to get too exhausted from your study break that you can’t get the most out of your following lecture.
4. A quick walk or bike ride
Research shows anaerobic exercise, such as walking and bike riding, spur positive changes in the brain. Such activity also stimulates your brain to release dopamine, a hormone closely linked to pleasure, motivation, and improved moods. And with a relaxed state of mind, the higher your chances of sailing through complicated subjects.
Plus, strolls and bike rides are fun.
You can listen to music or podcasts while out there. But don’t be so engrossed that you forget what’s around you, especially traffic.
5. Clean up your workspace
A cluttered workspace can create a feeling of drowning in chaos. It’s distracting, too, as it’s hard to focus when your brain screams at you to get rid of the mess around you.
Here are a few pointers to declutter your workspace during study breaks:
- Organize stacks of papers on your desk or drawers) and dispose of unnecessary items taking up usable space.
- Color-code your files or organize them into one folder, binder, or shelf according to the subject area or projects.
- Store supplies you aren’t currently using in a space that is easy to reach later
- Wiping down surfaces can help ensure they’re clean and inviting.
- Add personal touches like photos or mementos from home (as long as they don’t distract you too much from studying).
6. Do something creative
Whether studying for midterms or laboring through lectures, it can seem like there’s no room for anything else in a student’s life. Why not break the monotony with something that sparks joy and creativity?
It’s not just about refining a particular skill; it’s also about injecting some fun into your life. And you don’t need to be an expert at anything—only be willing to try something new.
Here are some ideas:
- Pick up a musical instrument. Psychology Today reports that playing a musical instrument can improve your brain power.
- Try drawing. You don’t have to be Picasso. Doodle around with crayons or markers, or try watercolors if you feel adventurous.
- Play chessboard with friends. Instead of getting caught up in long games of Candy Crush or watching TV, try playing chess with friends—it’ll keep your mind sharp.
7. Call someone you enjoy talking to
An energizing conversation with someone who makes you smile and laugh is a fantastic study break idea.
Remember that no one likes listening to people complain about things they can’t control, and nothing will drain your energy faster than listening to someone else complain about their problems. So, ensure it isn’t a call where you bring up your frustrations.
8. Take a cold shower
A cold shower helps shock your system into action and eliminate brain fog, leaving you refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes next.
Of course, getting used to cold showers takes some time, but it should become second nature with time. However, if you have heart disease or are currently experiencing a cold or flu, stick with warm water until your symptoms subside.
9. Keep a journal
Journaling can boost happiness and make you feel better about yourself, leading to a more optimistic view of life. In fact, one study linked expressive writing to reduced depressive thoughts before exams and higher-than-average grades in students.
If you haven’t tried journaling before, worry less. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or complicated. You can jot down what you did, what happened during a lecture, or something you are thankful for.
What Not To Do During Study Breaks for College
A study method with breaks should be intentional and designed to benefit your focus and productivity more than it detracts from it.
So, what should you not do during study breaks for college? Below are a few examples:
1. Checking social media
Social media can be an excellent tool for keeping up with friends and family outside of school. However, you could get lost in this rabbit hole of information and pictures, wasting time you could invest in something rejuvenating.
2. Watching TV
TV and movies can be very entertaining, which makes it easy for your brain to get sucked into their world. The problem is that they are passive entertainment. You’re not actively engaging with the material, processing it, or getting involved — you’re just sitting back and absorbing whatever happens on the screen.
3. Taking too much caffeine
Caffeine can give you an energy boost when needed most, but too much can cause restlessness or insomnia. It might take longer than usual for your mind to calm down and focus again on studying.
4. Playing video games
Video games are a popular choice for fun study break ideas for college students. But that’s counterintuitive. They could encourage addictive behavior, making it harder to focus on things that matter to your academic success.
The question “Can I sleep during study break?” is perennial, and the answer might surprise you. Sleeping through a study break isn’t always a good idea. It can lead to mental fuzziness, impairing your ability to think clearly during lectures.
6. Binge eating
Overeating during study breaks is unadvised for two reasons: It’ll mess up your health and make it difficult for you to focus on your work.
If you’re struggling with the question, “How can I recharge my brain to study?”, the above study break ideas for college students should get you back on track with added motivational aggression. More importantly, take these brief breathers often rather than in large blocks of time.
Looking for further help? Discover more valuable tips for your career and academic advancement.