Unstudy Space: Take a Break!

Taking study breaks can help increase focus (Ariga & Lleras, 2010) and improve memory (Tambini et al. 2010). When studying for exams it is a good idea to schedule in some study breaks. Here are some “off-line” activities you might want to try:

  • Write a snail mail to a friend or family member (not only is this a great study break for you, but it will bring a smile to their face when they receive it!)
  • Take a shower or bath (this can be both invigorating and relaxing.)
  • Go for a walk (you can do this inside or outside (if it is safe to do this where you are living), but it’s a good way to get some gentle movement and give your brain a little time to relax.)
  • Go outside (if it is safe to do so where you are). This can be especially helpful if there is some nature or greenery near you.
  • Call a friend or family member (if you will think you might get sucked into a long conversation about some juicy gossip set a timer)
  • Gentle stretching or exercise can help clear your mind.
  • Try some mediation or deep breathing.
  • Clean or organize something (once your exams are over this is the last thing you want to do, so take advantage of doing it now!)
  • Listen to some music (get up and dance like no one is watching!)
  • Read a chapter of a book (but only one or your study break might get too long!)


You can also have some “online” breaks too if that is more your things. Here are some websites that might be of interest for you during your study break. But you may want to avoid using your cell phone to view them as some research suggests that breaks on your cell phone might not be as effective as using other technologies (Kang & Kurtzberg, 2019).

  • Project Gutenberg (read some free online books.)
  • Bouncy Balls (be mesmerized by some bouncy balls, bubbles or and eyeballs. Yes, eyeballs!)
  • Gravity Points (create your own gravitation pull on this website)
  • A Soft Murmur (provides background noise to help while you study or during your study breaks)
  • OCEACH Shark Tracker (track sharks and other ocean creatures in real time!)  
  • Super Cook (tell super cook what ingredients you have in your kitchen at it will suggest some new recipes to try.)  
  • 3 Minute Movement Breaks (videos that will help get your body moving for three minutes) Origami Fortune Teller (make this fun origami craft and call a friend and tell them their fortunes!)

 

Good luck on your exams and don’t forget to check if you can find old exams for your course to help you study: Login for Arts & Science Exams. Visit Skule Courses for engineering exams.

 

References

Ariga, A., & Lleras, A. (2011). Brief and Rare mental “breaks” keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals pre-empt vigilance decrements, Cognition, 118, 439-443.

Tambini, A., Ketz, N., & Davachi, L. (2010). Enhanced Brain Correlations during Rest Are Related to Memory for Recent Experiences. Neuron65(2), 280–290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2010.01.001

Kang, S. & Kurtzberg, T.R. (2019). Reach for your cell phone at your own risk: The cognitive costs of media choice for breaks. Journal of Behavioral Additions, 8 (3), 395-403.