Making the Most of Study Breaks to Support Learning

If you’ve ever crammed all night for a test, you know that it just leaves you feeling tired and stressed the next day. The information you studied probably won’t stick for too long afterward because you were trying to remember so much at once. Your brain (and body) need breaks in order to effectively process and retain information. Ideally, you should be taking a short break every 30–45 minutes, or at least every hour.

Why Take Breaks?

Forcing yourself to spend hours on end holed up with your math or history book can be a drag. Giving yourself short breaks can re-energize and motivate you. It provides the opportunity to think about and do something else for a few minutes. Changing things up is good. Plus, your brain needs time to process what you’ve been learning before digging into something new. Getting up and moving around also reduces stress and boosts your circulation and overall health. Too much sitting can lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Breaks

Now that you know why you should be taking breaks, what should you actually do during this time? Does it matter whether you’re playing a video game or taking a walk? It could. Some people find it much harder to refocus on their studying if they’ve been playing video games, watching television, scrolling social media, or napping. Plus, these activities can quickly draw you in, and the next thing you know, your short 10-minute break has become an hour or more.

What should you do instead?

· Take a walk. Get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Bring your dog along for a lap around the block.

· Meditate. Clear your mind and relax your body so you’re ready to get back to studying with more focus and clarity.

· Stretch. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous or elaborate. Just get your body moving to loosen up your muscles, increase blood flow, and reduce stress.

· Have a healthy snack. When you’re hungry (or hangry), it can be harder to concentrate. Fuel your body up with a piece of fruit, a granola bar, or some vegetables and hummus. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with a glass of water. Try to steer clear of munching on junk food that doesn’t provide much nutritional value.

· Clean up. Take a few minutes to tidy up your study space, unload the dishwasher, or put away those clothes piled on your bed. This can help you to feel more productive and motivated to keep checking tasks off your list.

· Be creative. Color a picture, draw some doodles, dance to your favorite song, or write in your journal. Do something that you enjoy and that clears and calms your mind.

These are just a few of the ways that you can make the most of study breaks. Don’t forget to start planning your study sessions in advance and breaking down complex or large topics into smaller, more manageable pieces. Schedule one chapter or concept a night, or create a checklist that covers everything you need to know and divide it out across multiple days. When it comes time for the test, you can do a quick review to brush up on areas you struggled with during the week.

If staying organized and effectively studying are not your forte, turn to the team at Crafting Scholars for help. We’ll work with you to develop strategies that fit your needs and learning style, and we’ll help you tackle topics you’re struggling with. Contact us today to get started!