The second in our Study Success Series is all about taking breaks and remembering self-care. This time we are going to talk about recharging yourself. While you are working through your courses or studying for final exams or board certification, you are pushing yourself in all ways. We know you are maximizing your time by studying with Picmonic, but your brain will benefit from regular breaks during each study session. Here are some of our expert’s best study break ideas:
5 Minutes of Stretching:
Doing well in your courses requires long hours of studying, writing, and practicing, and as tired as it makes our brains, our bodies get tired too. It doesn’t take long to develop an ache in your lower back, tension in your neck and shoulders, and stiffness in your legs. Many elementary teachers give students “stretch breaks” because they know that their students need to give their bodies a break and then refocus, and adults are no different. Even though you probably won’t be partaking in a group stretch, it’s still vital that you make time for it yourself. We recommend that you stand and stretch for five minutes once every hour while you study so that the aches, tension, and stiffness won’t distract you from what you’re learning. Here’s a list of eight quick and easy stretches that will help your body relax, and then you’ll be ready to hit the books again.
Deep Breathing Techniques:
Who knew that something as mindless as breathing can actually help with your studying? For most people, when we don’t pay attention to our breathing our bodies tend to take shallow breaths which don’t put as much oxygen into our bloodstream as deeper, longer, more deliberate breaths do, so we start to yawn and feel sleepy. Make it a point to step away from your books or laptop to engage in a deep breathing exercise. It doesn’t have to take long, but it will be beneficial. Deep breathing techniques are shown to reduce stress and anxiety, restore energy, lower your blood pressure, and even improve immunity. Your deep breathing break could be as simple as focusing on ten slow, deep breaths while making sure the air is traveling into your diaphragm (you’ll know you’re doing it right when your belly moves instead of your chest and shoulders), or you could learn one of the many specific breathing exercises like alternate nostril breathing or triangle breathing.
Drink a Glass of Water:
No matter what healthcare field you’re preparing to enter, you’re probably living on coffee to start your day, keep you up, and give you enough energy to push through. But – gasp – people can’t live on coffee alone! In order to give your body and your mind the best shot at health and concentration, you need water to stay properly hydrated. One glass of good ol’ H20 immediately begins to absorb into your system, hydrating your cells and organs and making you feel more awake and energized. Most of us don’t drink enough water, so incorporating it into your study breaks is an easy way to get more of what your body needs to stay healthy. And, you’ll study better and feel better so it’s a win/win!
Take a Walk:
Sometimes a study session can make you feel like you’ve been sitting there forever…and ever…and ever. Just like with a stretch break, your body needs to get your blood flowing. On top of that, your mind could use a temporary change of scenery. Walk around the block, down your favorite path in the park, or to a nearby store to grab a healthy snack. Rainy day? Don’t let that stop you! Take a few laps around your apartment to achieve the same benefits. You’ll decrease your stress and keep yourself from getting burned out. And when your walk is over, both your body and your mind will feel ready for another period of hitting the books with full focus.
Step Away From Your Study Station:
It’s no secret that to do well in your program, you have to be fully committed. That doesn’t mean you don’t invest time in self-care. Sometimes you may need a longer break than stretching or a breathing exercise requires, so leave your study space and check out what your local area has to offer: meet up for brunch with friends, take a break at a nearby park, or stop by your favorite coffee shop. Getting out and away from your laptop and textbooks will boost your mood and give you the brain break you need to refocus and continue your hard work once you’re back home.
Read a Fun Book:
Fiction is extraordinary. It allows us to escape from reality and dive deep into any world we want to visit. Get cozy in your favorite spot and grab whatever book you have handy, be it your all-time favorite or something new. From Harry Potter or Stephen King’s newest thriller, to To Kill A Mockingbird or a graphic novel, enjoying a compelling story of characters and their adventures will relax both your mind and body.
15 Minute Yoga Sesh:
We all know that your course requirements get more rigorous as your classes progress. Your study sessions will get longer, you’ll sleep less as you study further into the night, and you’ll be preparing for finals before you know it. You need some balance in your life, and what better way to find balance than with a 15 minute yoga session to clear your mind and cleanse your body? The stretching, breathing, and meditative energy of yoga will undoubtedly benefit you by easing the tension that the pressure of studying can cause. Whether you’re a beginning yogi or a practiced one, quickly hitting the mat instead of the books will diminish your stress and leave you ready to learn. Never tried yoga before? No problem – check out Yoga Journal’s list of the top ten yoga poses to do every day.
Getting through your program, clinical rotations, exams, studying is asking a lot of you both physically and mentally. Being your best throughout school also means having adequate rest and breaks that benefit you in the long run. Using Picmonic is proven to help you retain information better, which will give you some of that valuable time back. But outside of efficient study programs and habits, you need to give yourself some balance. You’ve got this!
Here’s a quick infographic you can save to remember all of the above tips:
Check out Picmonic today and get more of your time back as you work toward your future career.