Final exams are a stressful time for all students, but far too often we neglect to take care of ourselves in the face of pressing deadlines which require 24/7 study. That's why taking a ten-minute break for every 90 minutes of work is so important - it gives your brain a moment to breathe.
However, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about de-stressing during intensive work schedules. Studies have shown that cyber-loafing, even during periods of time that you set aside to rest, kills productivity and is just as taxing on the brain as researching for that essay. So instead of checking Facebook for the umpteenth time or watching Top 10 videos on YouTube, try the following 10 alternatives when you're about to collapse in front of your notes.
10. Get in touch with your creative side
Sometimes all you need to get over a bit of writer's block is a creativity boost. Whether it's coloring book pages, Zentangles, mandalas, origami, papercraft, or a quick painting, working on an art project lets you recenter yourself in a far more satisfying (and meaningful) way than just looking at other's work.
9. Snuggle with a warm puppy (or kitty)
Granted, having access to a furry friend 24/7 is a bit of a luxury that most college students don't have, but more and more schools are offering mental health days during finals week where you can cuddle up with therapy dogs. Otherwise, just watching videos of animals doing adorable things can be enough to ease your mind.
8. Spend time with friendsenough to push you through tough deadlines - hell, even working in the same room as friends (even if it's on individual projects) and taking breaks together has been shown to boost productivity levels.
7. Go outside
Okay, so this one may not be feasible this time of year (especially for us Nutmeggers!), but it's still very much worth mentioning. Brisk winter breezes nipping at your cheeks and a dusting of snow brushing under your feet can give you an intense jolt of energy and inspiration when you go into it with an attitude of mindfulness.
6. Pump up the music
Whether it's bopping along to an intense bass line, singing along to a catchy Top 40 hit, or dancing like there's no tomorrow, turning on your favorite music blasts endorphins into your system, leaving you invigorated and ready for anything.
5. Write, write, write
Counterintuitive? Perhaps, but it still works. Set aside some time to let your brain empty itself onto paper - you may well be rewarded with a sudden spark of inspired genius if you do. Even if you don't fancy yourself a writer, journaling is a tried and true way of handling stress – and during finals, you're going to need all the stress relief you can get!
It's all too easy to get so hyper-focused as to neglect your well-being, and that includes not getting enough sleep. While nothing beats a solid 8-10 hours of rest, semi-frequent naps can stave off drowsiness for a little while. 10-20 minutes is just the right amount of time to recharge – any longer and it'll do more harm than good.
3. Get moving!
Pretty self-explanatory. Exercise is really good for you, you shouldn't neglect it because it helps you refocus, releases endorphins, yadda yadda yadda. Moving on...
2. Practice Mindfulness
Transporting yourself into a state of mindfulness is one of the best ways to recenter yourself, especially in the midst of intense stress. Yoga, meditation, devotionals, tai chi – any spiritual activity which allows you to detach from the mounting pressures of day-to-day life will work wonders in keeping you alert and balanced, even if it's only for five minutes a day.
1. Do something you're passionate about
Whether it's practicing your ukulele, painting, reading a chapter or two from that amazing new best-seller, writing fiction drabbles, or going for a run, engaging in a hobby that you care deeply about is the best way to spend a well-deserved break. Think of it as a Pavlovian reward for pushing through even the toughest of assignments, and you'll find yourself more motivated and more productive than ever before. Just make sure that you don't get too caught up in said hobby, lest precious time slips through your fingers...