How to Study Better by Taking More Breaks

How to Study Better by Taking More Breaks

Rita on March 14, 2018

You know that feeling when you’ve been studying for awhile and you realize that the last several sentences you read didn’t even register in your brain? Despite our best efforts, we humans can only focus for so long before we start to feel drained.

The solution? Take short 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so during your test prep.

You’ll return to your studies feeling energized and ready to soak up even more knowledge. Just be careful to avoid breaking for too long, as that can be counterproductive and make coming back to studying even harder!

Here’s what to do (and what not to do!) during these quick study breaks:

1. Instead of sitting still, get moving!

Studying requires a lot of sitting in the same position, so wake yourself up by doing the opposite. Getting your body up out of your chair will make you feel re-energized, and the endorphins will help melt away your stress. Not sure what to do after you stand up? Try:

  • Stretching: There are a lot of quick yoga videos online that require nothing more than comfy clothes and a little bit of space. Since people tend to hunch over while studying, consider finding a video that focuses on opening up your neck and shoulders.
  • Cardio: Jog around the block, alternate one minute of jumping jacks with one minute of burpees, dance to your favorite song…whatever floats your boat and gets your heart pumping!


2. Instead of napping, breathe!

You might be feeling the urge to lay your head on your desk and fall asleep. But, as tired as you may feel, sleeping now will only make you groggier and less motivated. Don’t give in just yet! Instead, try:

  • Relaxing Breathing Techniques: Close your eyes and try breathing in through your nose for a count of four, then out through your nose for a count of four. This will signal to your brain that you are safe and help you relax. (Side note: this also works during the standardized exams!)
  • Meditation: Find a guided meditation video online, or just sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed as you acknowledge (but don’t engage with) your thoughts as they move through your mind.


3. Instead of feeding your cravings, fuel your body!

Feeling hungry? As tempting as it is to reach for fatty, sugary, processed foods right now, your body (and brain!) will appreciate some healthier options. Try fueling yourself right with whole foods like fruits and nuts. Not feeling those? Try some string cheese or hummus. Chances are you’re probably in need of a good old fashioned glass of water, too. It never hurts.

4. Instead of checking social media, organize your workspace!

Social media has a way of breaking you out of the zone in a way that is more distracting than productive. The updates on your phone aren’t going anywhere, so if you’re looking for a mindless activity to keep yourself occupied, try organizing your space instead. Make sure that your desk is tidy and uncluttered. Move distracting objects out of reach (and out of sight!). Sharpen your pencil, remember to write the date on your notes, put away the pile of clothes on the floor…you’ll be happy you did!

5. Instead of dreading your remaining prep, plan your reward!

Staying motivated can be challenging, especially when you’re in the middle of a long study session. Rather than thinking of all the work on your plate, think of what you’ll do to celebrate when you’re done with today’s study session. Some ideas:

  • Catch up on all the social media notifications you’ve been ignoring
  • Spend some time with your friends or family
  • Watch your current favorite show
  • Listen to music or a podcast
  • Cook a nice meal or bake something delicious
  • Read a book that has nothing to do with school


Setting your studies aside for a few minutes could actually help you learn more in the long run—so enjoy those breaks!