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Five tips for effective, relaxing finals study breaks

By Tom Teixeira
On December 10, 2012


Final exams are exhausting. Hours spent reading, writing, and studying for grueling tests leave us tired, frustrated, bored, and burned out among other things. While finals week success largely depends on the amount of time we spend hunched over books or with our faces pressed against computer screen, taking breaks from work can also boost performance. 

Though taking frequent breaks may seem counterintuitive, short blocks of time spent away from equations, theories, and multiple choice questions can keep you focused and motivated.  Breaks should be frequent and relatively short, though longer blocks of time are useful at times. 

Exercise is one of the best ways to break from studying. The sedentary and lethargic nature of studying, is at times exhausting. To wake yourself up, get active. Running and weight training serve as great ways for individuals to relieve stress and stay active during a busy finals week. Team sports like basketball, racquetball, soccer, ultimate frisbee (weather permitting) are also great ways to socialize and exercise while recuperating from finals week blues.

Taking a drive to the grocery store, visiting a local diner or coffee shop or just meeting friends at the union serves as a great way to get out of your room or the library for an hour or two. Planning a trip will give you something to look forward to and will help you to better manage you time. Physically getting off campus will leave you refreshed and ready to hit the books for a few hours more.

Movies require minimal effort and are easily accessible to students both online or at the library. Most films run between ninety minutes and two hours and are perfect for taking a longer break between tests or for closing out a long day of studying. A comedy will work for the 'laugh so we don't cry' study groups, while an inspirational drama might motivate even the most devout procrastinators.

Make a big deal out of meals during finals week. Bookworms and Grab-n-Go are tempting, but skip the sandwich on the run for a sit-down meal with friends. Take a half hour to sit down, relax, and refuel among friends. Again, leaving your study spot always helps to fight tedium and restlessness and spending time among friends in the same dire academic straights as you will be something like group therapy (maybe).

Create something, anything. A picture, comic, short story, YouTube short, meme, or even a clever tweet will make you feel productive while taking a break. You'll continue to build momentum as you have fun with friends. Go wild with photoshop, make a comic on a scrap piece of graphing paper, or start a string-story with your creative writing class... anything to stay both sane and productive at the same time will do.

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