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Published September 18th 2013
Meeting the swotting challenge - fun & games with benefits
As the pointy end of the study year approaches you'll no doubt be hearing plenty of advice about maximising your study sessions. But what about the study breaks? If you've got to be snowed under the books, sticking with the program can be easier when funtastic breaks are part of the planning. Give yourself added incentive with something to look forward to amidst all that back-breaking swotting. An added bonus is that some of these suggested activities may even prove beneficial to the study process.
1. Juggling No special equipment is required for the ancient art of juggling. You can use anything, but it is simpler to master if all items are the same size, shape and weight and texture. Choose items that fit neatly into your hands. Rolled up socks, tennis balls, oranges and ping-pong balls are all possibilities.
Eat the apples, by all means - but juggle them first!
Strange as it may seem juggling is a skill that is not only fun and addictive but studies indicate it may also assist in cognitive function because it's an activity that uses both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously.
Research at the University of Regensberg in Germany found that juggling over 3 months appeared to increase actual grey matter in the brain. But once you give the juggling away, the brain appears to revert to its former state. For an extra oxygen/vitamin D boost, do it outside. If you're not sure how to get started you can get tips here.
2. Massage Why not treat yourself to a 30-minute massage? The benefits of massage are well known and may include alleviation of anxiety, back or neck pain, depression, headaches, high blood pressure and insomnia. Physical benefits include relieving muscle tension, reducing stress hormones, increasing mental alertness, improving circulation and stimulating the lymphatic system.
When it comes to selecting your massage, consider whether you're after treatment on a specific area (neck and shoulders, or perhaps your feet), or whether you're up for a full body version. Most major shopping centres these days seem to have the drop in spots, but if that's too public for you find out what else is on offer in your local area and book well ahead of time. Learn more about the benefits of massage here.
3. Sunny Side Up We all need a bit of sunshine, just not too much. Don't completely deny yourself access to the earth's best vitamin treatment, but don't over do it either. Certainly restrict sunshine exposure to a break, and beware of the common misconception you'll get any effective study done out there. Time in the sun dissolves quickly, and a kitchen timer can be a invaluable friend. Weigh up the risks and benefits of sun exposure here. Morning or late afternoon may prove the best times for your sunny break.
Enjoy the sun, but not too much.
4. Sing it Yourself Singing has huge benefits for physical and mental health. Numerous studies demonstrate that the act of singing releases endorphins into the body, promoting healing and a heightening sense of well-being. Clearly listening to music, and actually doing it yourself are quite different activities.
Best results are achieved when singing is done with others. This may not be entirely possible in the study period, however its worth checking what's on offer with your local community music organisation. Most groups will be choirs, but try for any one-off opportunities. Failing the group option, there's always singing in the shower, or along to your favourite artists. Just be sure it's loud and impassioned.
5. Hobby Project
This project is something that takes you away for the study zone, but also links you to your future life. Craft and construction projects are fine. But how about considering something that will get you outside and way from paper and computer screens for a bit? Flower pressing, photography and bee keeping are some ideas. Further inspiration can be found here.
6. Blueberry Bliss
For many years now blueberries have been touted as a superfood. Thanks to the wonders of refrigeration you don't have to wait for the prices to drop to get a punnet, but can avail yourself of a frozen supply all year round. Here are some blueberry recipes to get your mouth watering. Whipping up a blueberry smoothie is not only an easy study break idea, but you'll benefit from your minimal labours with a delicious and healthy snack to boot.
Frozen blueberries mean a year round boost.
7. Learn to….
It may seem counter-productive at first but you can set yourself another learning task during swot-vac. Something you've never tried before. The key to your activity choice is that its something you're motivated to master, that provides a clear break, and that it can be achieved in short study-friendly bursts.
Portability is also an advantage, allowing the possibility to take your activity elsewhere for a change of air. Some suggestions are learning to play the harmonica, tin whistle, or guitar, knitting, quilting or crochet, rubix cube, or making a model construction.
8. Pamper yourself
If you're the pampering type you might feel some benefit in treating yourself once a day. It's a wonderful way to end the day, and fit your self for a wind-down and restful sleep. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, but here are some worthy contenders for the budget conscious student: have a bubble bath, give yourself a facial (blokes too – don't knock it till you've tried it), paint your nails, have a pedicure, light a scented candle and pop on some relaxing music, drape a warm wheat bag across your shoulders, or make yourself a berry sundae or hot chocolate.
Physical exercise remains one of the most popular ways to clear the mind, fill your lungs with oxygen, relieve stress and invigorate the senses. Go for a run by all means, but if running feels like hard work there are another options to consider: walk the dog, ride a bike, skip rope, crunches, one-one-one basketball, yoga, pilates, tai chi, weight training and dancing are all wonderful alternatives to throw into the mix. Why not try a workout on youtube?
Don't close yourself off entirely. Connect with others once a day.
Whether you're living in a household with other students, or you're the only one in a family group trying to finish the year strongly, studying can be a time of disconnection. Try to connect with others during a study break at least once a day. Have dinner together, crack open a pack of cards, play one-on-one with a basketball – whatever you do, don't cut yourself off completely. Household groups, or even study groups can plan a fun break during the day together. But remember, during the break, study talk is absolutely off limits.
Planning Your Breaks
One approach can be to have set a pattern to your breaks. Say you plan to have 5 breaks in a day, you might make the first one physical, the second a hobby, the third a group activity, the fourth veg-out time and the fifth pampering. Plan breaks to best break the monotony of the study day.
Plan your study breaks to maximise your study performance
For some having an exercise break in the afternoon when concentration is more likely to wane will work best. Its personal, so fashion your study breaks to suit you. Choose to have two 'energise' breaks if that's your thing. Having three or four days planned in advance will provide purpose and avoid time wasting when it's time to put your head down.
Loved this article! It is full of fun and exciting ideas to do in a time of boredom! I have never thought of learning another task before, but I am excited to try that out! Have you ever thought of baking something during your study breaks? It really helps me ease my mind off my studies and there is a fun outcome! This is a helpful article with more tips on how to spend your break time:https://omghow.com/articles/study-break-ideas . Thanks again for a great article!