Have you ever imagined watching a movie which has a duration of one and a half hours without a break? It might get boring for you, you will find yourself feeling sluggish, restricted to the same postures, getting impatient, or lose interest for the climax or do several tedious acts. Similarly, preparation of any exam needs dedication, hard work and studying. Sitting in the same position and studying nonstop for a couple of hours will get a tad boring sometimes. It is also true that individuals have very limited attention spans and will be unable to concentrate beyond that limit. The average attention span for a human being is only about 8 seconds. So it becomes very difficult to concentrate and study for prolonged periods of time at a stretch. Therefore there’s always a need for breaks in your time-table to rejuvenate yourself and make studies more interesting. You will find yourself more refreshed and can increase your focus when you once again commence studying post a break. When you take breaks it will actually assist in retaining information in a better manner.
How to Take a Study Break?
“Study breaks” have turned into a euphemism for procrastination and distractions. Thus a well-laid plan for studying should avoid any procrastination and distractions which could hamper the progress of studying. There are several effective ways through which you can take breaks without interfering with your study schedules.
So in the season of GRE, MCAT, GMAT, SAT prep, here are some tips to help you make good use of your time (instead of procrastinating):
No one could study more than 40-45 minutes without taking a break. Ensure to take a gap of 10 minutes, give some relaxation to your brain so it can work more efficiently once you begin to understand the learning. Each student will have a different break pattern which would suit their learning personalities. While some may prefer to take minimal breaks while studying there are others who take breaks after every short session of study. Similarly, some individuals would like to learn in the early morning before the daily routine of the day commences and on the other hand there are students who would like to study at night when there are minimal disturbances. Whichever mode of learning you adopt it is imperative that you make it satisfactory for your preparation.
Always remember that your study breaks must be with a positive approach:
Do’s during your study break:
1. Take a walk for five minutes:
Small walks outside would relax your muscle cramps, pump-up your blood circulations and let you breathe in fresh air. This will not distract you completely and it gives you the ability to decide the length of your break so that it doesn’t extend beyond the limit you have set for yourself.
2. Do small exercises:
During the breaks, you can opt for small exercises like rotating your neck clockwise and anti-clockwise, rotating your shoulders or you can try some yoga which will lead to an increase in the oxygen level in your body. And you will feel fresh and energised.
3. Take a shower:
Water is always refreshing and gives a cooling effect to the body. Amidst long study durations, a shower could help overcome fatigue and make you become more energetic. A shower will help stimulate your senses and you will no longer feel tired from the strenuous preparation which you have completed.
4. Get some healthy food:
Food is the ultimate source of energy, small meals between lengthy study hours are really energetic. Don’t overeat since that could lead to a lethargic attitude once you begin studying post your break. Ensure that you opt to eat healthy snacks like nuts, fruits instead of reaching out to junk food like crisps, burgers, sodas etc. You should also have access to adequate drinking water nearby so that you don’t have to disrupt your study routine just to fetch water.
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Don’ts during a study break:
1. Do Not sleep:
When you’re reading or writing some topics you may feel sleepy but don’t sleep midway amidst your preparation. It will break your flow of understanding the topics of the syllabus and will distract you from absorbing the content which you have just learned. While short naps may prove effective for some individuals it doesn’t always work for everyone. In the event that you oversleep or don’t wake up on time then you tend to miss crucial studying hours. This will have a negative effect on your preparation efforts.
2. Do not eat junk food:
Food gives us energy but junk food induces siesta as it contains carbohydrates in a huge amount. To avoid any type of junk foods like sodas, energy drinks, sweets etc. They will not help in keeping your body full for long neither will they provide any essential nutrients.
3. Avoid Excessive Caffeine:
Though you may think it’s your best friend during finals, too much caffeine has adverse effects and can actually cause you to crash in the end. Positive study break activities help with long-term focus – not just the spurts of energy that caffeine delivers. Caffeine also tends to make individuals addicted to it and they will be craving for the same on a regular basis. You shouldn’t let it affect your concentration while studying or your sleep patterns etc. Try to limit your dependence on caffeine. You could opt for other healthier options like Ginger tea, Milk and cinnamon, Lemon tea etc.
4. Do not use Social Media/Internet:
Although it may seem very tempting to use social media and stay connected to your friends it is not advisable to indulge in using sites like – Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, Instagram etc. All of these apps will prove to be completely distracting and 5 minutes may change into 55 minutes once again leading to losing out on precious time which can be used for effective preparation. It is good to stay disconnected from all such sites till you finish your exams.
During your break, it is also necessary that you don’t spend time thinking about studying. You will have to detach yourself completely when you are taking your breaks. As already mentioned above each individual has a different set of strategies which would work for them. It is important to learn to strike a balance so that you don’t miss out on the effectiveness of your preparation. It has been proven that extended sessions of study with no breaks lead to a decrease in motivation for an individual whereas taking frequent but disciplined breaks will help in increasing your focus throughout your preparation.
A study break is all about making a schedule and sticking to it, though there is obviously wiggle room. However, remember that when you need to get something done, leave enough time for it as well as for the downtime you may need. That is the best solution!
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