Tackling the task of preparing for a big test (and for many of us right now, those upcoming finals) can be scary, anxiety-producing, and exhausting to even think about. We all know that familiar cycle of worrying about the test for weeks beforehand, and then spending the day or two leading up to it actually preparing. As the time seems to slip away and the test gets closer and closer, every minute spent not studying feels wasted. But fear not, I'm about to make your life just a little bit easier with one simple fact. Are you ready?
You don't have to study for a day straight to do well on your exam. Even if you've waited until the last minute to start studying, it doesn't need to be one and done. You can take your time, you can take breaks, in fact breaks are good. Science shows us that the most effective way to study is to alternate between focused study and breaks. It helps to rest your brain, bring your focus back if it was starting to wander, and keep productivity levels high. Of course your time spent studying should still be longer than not during study sessions, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a 10-20 minute break after an hour of study (or whatever time intervals work for you).
Now, many of us already take breaks while studying, which is great. The only problem is that our go to break activity is scrolling though social media or watching an episode of our latest Netflix binge obsession. Which are both favorites of mine. But they are dangerous because they can easily (and usually do) turn into an hour instead of just 15 minutes.
So, I've put together this list of some alternatives for your next study session. Check 'em out:
1. Get a snack.
You know, preferably something healthy, some brain food. But a burger or a chocolate bar are valid options too. You gotta do what you gotta do. Also, remember to stay hydrated.
2. Have a little dance party.
Turn on a playlist of songs that'll get you pumped up, and get moving.
3. Stretch and take a walk, get some fresh air.
Maybe all you need is one of those really amazing full-body stretches, kind of like this kitten. Or you could go outside and do some people watching.
4. Call your parents and complain.
Because we all know they're the only ones who care enough to listen even when you're being annoying, and will still love you and want to talk to you afterwards.
5. Take a power nap.
It's amazing what 20 minutes of shut-eye can do for you. But only do this if you know you will be able to limit it to 20 minutes and not hit snooze. Otherwise your power nap will turn into a 3 hour nap before you know it.
6. Tidy up your room (or work area).
Personally I find a messy room (or desk) very hard to study in. Especially if my bed isn't made, because then I just want to sleep. But if my room is clean I feel a lot more motivated to get stuff done.
By now I think most of us know about the adult coloring book craze. And I have to say, if you haven't participated in it yet, you're really missing out. It's actually a nice stress reliever and can help take your mind off of things.
8. FaceTime a friend.
Call that one friend who you know will make you smile. Catch up with them for a few minutes. Maybe complain to them too if you've already tried your parents.
9. Catch up on the latest news.
I'm normally horrible at keeping up with the news, but this is a good opportunity to read a few articles, see what's going on around town or in the world, and get informed.
10. Take a quick shower.
If you're tired but don't think you can nap for only 20 minutes, this is a good way to wake yourself up and generally boost your mood.
11. Switch up study spots.
Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to get motivated again. Maybe try the library, an empty classroom, or your favorite coffee shop next.
12. Give yourself an awesome pep talk.
A positive attitude is half the battle. Remind yourself how awesome and smart you are, and believe it.
13. Write a list of things you're thankful for.
Like food, for example. Or things to look forward to after the test(s). This is also a good morale booster.
Putting pen to paper and letting out what's on your mind can be incredibly freeing. Even if you've never tried it before, give it a shot.
I mean, if that's your thing. I've heard it's a great stress reliever. But much like Mike Wazowski here, it's not really my area of expertise.
16. Take a few Buzzfeed quizzes.
What could be more entertaining than telling them what you would order on a pizza in exchange for knowing (supposedly) exactly what your future will be like or what your best quality is? Even if they're not usually right, it's highly entertaining.
17. Watch an interesting or entertaining TedTalk.
Most of them are the perfect length, some will blow your mind, and some will really get you thinking. They're great.
18. Read a chapter of a book.
Again, if this is your thing. If you don't enjoy reading, this obviously isn't for you.
19. Guided meditation and/or deep breathing.
These can be great ways to relax and reset. There are also several great apps you can use if you want to try it out but don't know how.
20. Get a pick-me-up coffee, tea, or whatever you like.
Grab your favorite caffeinated drink to perk you up. Unless you're like Buddy here. Then maybe you could get a smoothie or something. Whatever floats your boat.
21. Cross something off your to-do list.
That way you're killing two birds with one stone. You get a break, and your to-do list for later gets a bit shorter.
22. Watch a Youtube video that will make you laugh (or at least smile).
This is always a good way to lift your spirits. Be careful with this one though; much like social media, Youtube can turn into a black hole of procrastination real quick.
23. Look at cute baby animals.
Who can resist adorable puppies or kittens? Or even tiny humans, those are great too.
24. Listen to a short podcast.
This may be a really nerdy thing to do, but who really cares? Depending on what you're into, there are endless interesting podcasts to listen to. You may even learn something.
Instead of scrolling though Twitter or Instagram, just try a few of these during your next study session. Happy studying (and break-taking), my friends!