Study Breaks: positive effects and 5 tips for students
Written by: Kerstin Lakits, Mar 10, 2022
Written by: Kerstin Lakits, Mar 10, 2022
Studying isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Meaning that you cannot study until complete collapse regardless of the consequences. Just like your muscles need time to regenerate after working out, your brain needs a break as well to be able to perform better afterwards.
Slowly concentration fades away, you get sleepier and lose all motivation. You make more mistakes and don’t feel ambitious anymore. These side effects of studying for too long without breaks illustrate how important study breaks are for you and your work.
Many studies and analyses also prove that our brain needs breaks to process and store complex information. Furthermore, the corresponding synapses are built during breaks.
Basically everything that provides a break from thinking to your brain is allowed. Maybe taking a short walk outdoors or relaxing with some music and enjoying the moment helps you to give your mind a break.
We have gathered 5 tips for you so that your future study breaks will be really relaxing.
Without sufficient oxygen your brain cannot work. So, open the windows of your room and let fresh air enter. Regular ventilating is essential for a great work environment. Or spend a few minutes on your balcony or in your garden. If you’re studying in a library or café, you should go outside every once in a while to get some fresh air.
Breaks are an opportunity to turn off your mind, not switch on your phone. You’re probably looking at a screen all the time while studying anyways. Your eyes need a break as well. Moreover, your brain cannot relax if you’re playing Candy Crush or scrolling through your Instagram feed. Leave your phone on your desk and turn it off. The same goes for the TV and the like.
Some people need more breaks than others. The amount and the length of your breaks depends on many different factors. It’s most important to listen to your body and brain. It’s more than necessary to take a break as soon as you notice first signals that your performance is getting worse. Your body and your brain are telling you to take a break when:
Even though everybody has their own individual rhythm, there are some guidelines that have proven themselves and which you can take as inspiration for your own break schedule.
If you tend to forget to take breaks, you can use a timer. Either your use the timer on your phone or a kitchen timer. If you prefer to have a structured break schedule, you can work with the pomodoro technique for example.
Science as well as experience show that breaks are essential to studying successfully and for long periods of time. Despite the positive effects of breaks, are there negative side effects if you don’t take breaks?
Our brain works at different frequencies depending on the intensity of work. In a relaxed state, our brain sends alpha waves. If we meditate or daydream, we can reach an even deeper level, the so-called theta waves. When we study or perform other exhausting tasks, our brain works with high intensity and sends gamma waves. However, this gamma frequency can only be reached from the alpha level. This means that your brain cannot perform on this high level that you need for successful studying without moments where it can come back to the lower frequency.
Studies show that our brain needs breaks to create the necessary neuronal connections to remember information. Without breaks these neuronal connections are fewer and your brain needs much more time to create connections in the first place.
Studies show as well that we cannot remember what we’ve learned for long and well without taking breaks. It is harder to process and transmit the study content into long-term memory without breaks. Your brain doesn’t have enough time to process complex information and store it correctly.
Breaks are important to be able to perform at a high level. Even if it’s sometimes hard to “do nothing” and take breaks even though there is so much to do, you shouldn’t give up your breaks. You’re not losing time, but you’re using it more efficiently! Here are more tips to study efficiently!
You’ve got this!