Physical exercise for brain power

Two-Birds-With-One-Stone Study Breaks

It’s hard not to feel stressed and overworked by the hectic pace of an uber-connected society that moves at the speed of MyFaceTwitSpaceBlackBookBerry, and that’s just the life of a regular student. Throw in your day-to-day soccer mom and/or working professional duties – not to mention the fact that it is finals week – and your life just hit hyper-speed. Before you go into meltdown mode, make yourself take a breather. Contrary to popular belief, you do have time; study breaks can help you relieve stress and will actually help you study more effectively!

Now you’re thinking, “Great, add ‘find stress-relievers’ to my list.” Don’t worry; reading this blog is good enough. I’ve scoured the Internet to create a list of “two-birds-with-one-stone” study break ideas to help you relieve stress during finals. Things that I think you, as a CSU OnlinePlus student, are actually able to do amidst all your other responsibilities. The first bird is obviously accomplishing a study break, which we’ve already established is important. The second is something you’d more than likely need to get done anyways.

  • Stone: Rethink cooking dinner
    Bird 1: Study break
    Bird 2: Feed yourself/make sure family’s fed
    I know what you’re thinking, “She wants me to cook now, too!?” Simmer down, and think of it as the therapeutic process it can be. Cooking takes patience and persistence. The process of chopping, measuring, stirring, and sautéing can be incredibly restorative. Check out the ingredients you have in your kitchen, and look up a recipe (see below). Pick something simple to make, and let the culinary sensations, like scent, sight, and touch, mesmerize you. Finally, take pride in your masterpiece and enjoy your delicious meal. Visit any of these websites to get recipes:

  • Stone: Stop and smell the roses
    Bird 1: Study break
    Bird 2: Physical activity
    Science has proven time and time again how the psychological benefits of nature can calm the brain and better your mood and concentration. Hospital patients recover faster when they have a view of trees and flowers from their window, and children with attention-deficit disorder exhibit less symptoms in a natural environment. So, take a walk through your neighborhood park or find a trail close by and do some hiking. Not only are you getting the “benefits of being outdoors”, you’re getting a little workout, too. When you stress out, tension is stored in your body, causing pain and tightness, especially in your back and shoulders. Getting your body moving gets your circulation flowing in full force again.
  • Stone: Do something you did as a kid
    Bird 1: Study break
    Bird 2: Quality time with the family
    Just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy life’s simple smiles. Walk away from your computer, paper, or stack of books and revel in the refreshing nostalgia. Let the positive associations and memories melt away your stress. If you have kids of your own, bring them along on your trip down memory lane. Get the bikes out, go swing in the park, pack a picnic, start a pick-up kickball game!
  • Stone: Hang out with your funniest friend
    Bird 1: Study break
    Bird 2: Reassuring your friends that you’re still alive
    It’s been scientifically proven that laughter decreases your stress hormone levels and boosts healthy hormones, like endorphins, strengthening your immune system. You even get a mini-workout for your abs, diaphragm, and your shoulders. Laughing with your friend offers a release from the pent-up emotions and frustrations you’re probably harboring about all the things on your plate right now. And the emotional bonding will boost your self-esteem!
  • Stone: Take a bath with candles and aromatherapy
    Bird 1: Study break
    Bird 2: Personal hygiene upkeep
    Bird 3: BONUS! Me time
    The recuperative and healing properties of water have all kinds of stress-relieving benefits and allow the body to fall into a deeper sleep. Submerging in a bathtub relieves your body from the constant pull of gravity, and heated water relaxes muscle tension, improving circulation, range of motion, and energy flow. Melt away your stress by creating a mini-spa in your bathroom, and most importantly, make arrangements for your well-deserved uninterrupted solitude.
  • Stone: Make a to-do list
    Bird 1: OK, this one isn’t so much of a “study break,” but it’s definitely a stress reliever
    Bird 2: Organization!
    I am the queen of organization, and by queen I mean roll out the red carpet and I sleep wearing my crown. Even my to-do lists have sub-to-do lists, and they consist of obvious things like brush teeth, make dinner, things that are sure to get crossed off! The action of crossing something off a list is a tangible way to see how much you’ve accomplished in a day, and man does it feel good!

I hope you give a couple of these study breaks a shot, during finals week, yes, but every once in a while after that, too. I got a lot of these ideas from a “sister site” of the ever-popular Check it out for more ideas along these lines.

Oh, and by all means, share your study breaks and stress relievers here! Post a comment about what’s worked for you, and hopefully you’ll be able to make someone’s week a little easier.

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