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Taking a Study Break: 77 Ways to Chill Out & Focus Up

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Taking a Study Break - Why You Need Study Breaks and Ideas“I need a break” isn’t just an over-used idiom – it’s a fact. Whether you’re cramming for this week’s test or plugging away on a big paper, the simple truth is studies show that taking a study break every hour or so improves attention span, performance, and productivity. From stress-busting exercise to snack time to mental fuel game time, as a college student you need to build in much-needed study breaks.


So how long should your study break be? What should you do? And why? One study, outlined in The Atlantic, determined that the “perfect” workday formula is 52 minutes of work to 17 minutes of break time. MIT suggests to students on their site that one hour blocks – 50 minutes of studying with a 10-minute break – is most effective. You’ll figure out what’s right for you. The point is – take them early and take them often.

Mixing up your break routine is also important. Like food and friends, variety is the spice of life. The most popular ways of taking a study break are some sort of physical activity, be it a full-fledged workout or a quick walk around the block; eating dinner or a snack (you can hear your mom saying now “remember to eat!”); and everyone’s favorite – napping (next to being “generally awesome,” they are proven to improve cognitive functioning and focus.) Catching up with friends, crafting or painting, or even (gasp!) doing the dishes are also great ways of taking a study break.

And then there’s the why. Do we even need to quote a bunch of Ph.D.-wielding scientists? Or link to big, fancy newspapers? If you were paying attention in the opening paragraph, you know the answer. (And if you don’t remember – then maybe you need to take a little break.) They’re good for staying focused, staying productive, and staying on task. They also relieve stress, connect you with other people, and get you out of the zone (so you can keep in the zone). And, well, they let you enjoy something else besides memorizing flashcards for a few minutes.

Need more study breaks in your life? Awesome – we’ve got 77 study break ideas for you.

77 Ways to Take a Study Break: #70 Pin this on Pinterest!

77 Ways to Take a Study Break: #70 Pin this on Pinterest!

  1. Make some hot tea
  2. Go for a 20 minute walk
  3. Prep veggies for tomorrow’s snack
  4. Refill your water bottle
  5. Do 20 sit-ups
  6. Call your mom & dad
  7. Stretch!
  8. Check in on your favorite blog
  9. Brainstorm 30 positive words
  10. Watch a YouTube clip of your favorite comedy
  11. Doodle!
  12. Give yourself a manicure
  13. Exercise your brain with a Sudoku
  14. Walk to a new study spot
  15. Treat yourself to a cookie (OK, two cookies)
  16. Make lunch plans with a friend tomorrow
  17. Do laundry
  18. Update your online dating profile
  19. Get to the next level on Candy Crush
  20. Grab your roommate and walk around the block
  21. Organize your t-shirts
  22. Back up your phone to the cloud
  23. Take a bubble bath
  24. Eat some fruit
  25. Do 50 jumping jacks
  26. Two words: Power nap!
  27. Call your brother or sister
  28. Write in your journal
  29. Listen to your favorite album
  30. Read a chapter of that new book you just got
  31. Download a few recipes
  32. Indulge in an ice cream cone
  33. Organize your file folders
  34. Test your vocabulary
  35. Skype with a friend studying abroad
  36. Do a couple of rounds on Luminosity
  37. Make a Songs to Study to playlist
  38. Write a postcard to a faraway friend
  39. Answer those 3 emails you’ve been putting off
  40. Watch the news
  41. Read the Textbooks.com blog!
  42. Make popcorn
  43. Clean the bathroom
  44. Plan your next trip!
  45. Send an email to an old friend
  46. Do child’s pose for one minute
  47. Update your weekend to-do list
  48. Play a round of HALO
  49. Find a new book to read
  50. Bake a cake!
  51. Watch your favorite comedian
  52. Meditate for 5 minutes
  53. Start a crossword puzzle
  54. Finish the crossword puzzle!
  55. Water your plants
  56. Make dinner
  57. Listen to 15 minutes of your favorite podcast
  58. Go ahead. Get yourself those boots.
  59. Take your turn in Words With Friends
  60. Do the dishes
  61. Learn something new
  62. Start a craft project
  63. Get your desk organized
  64. Look at pictures of puppies
  65. Discover a new piece of art
  66. Go for a run
  67. Have an espresso
  68. Post on Secret.ly
  69. Check in on your favorite blog
  70. Pin a few things on Pinterest
  71. Make something for your mom
  72. Go grocery shopping
  73. Draw something
  74. Download an organizing app
  75. Look at your childhood pictures (for TBT!)
  76. Learn 5 new words in a foreign language
  77. Watch the ending of your favorite movie

What’s your favorite study break idea? Take a break with us on Facebook.


Photo credit: Flickr/D. Sharon Pruitt