Active Living, Balance, How-to, Student Life, Study, Work

Productive Breaks

Our assignments and tests seem to be on a never-ending roller coaster ride. Just as quickly as the semester began, it is also coming to an end. We survived the post-summer blues, midterm season, and are currently going through that end of the year assignment-dash. Seeing how quickly exam season is creeping up on us, it’s time to get our game plan ready – that is, to figure out when to sleep, to figure out time to take a break. But why must the idea of breaks be considered unproductive? There’s plenty of ways to remain productive where your mind and body will thank you for.

To come up with a range, I surveyed a few of my friends on what their de-stressing strategies are – by survey I mean I posted an Instagram story and waited for responses. The first and foremost task before attempting any of this is to organize our time based on importance of the task and date it’s due – and always setting plenty of extra time aside in case our study sessions don’t go exactly as planned. The next step is the smaller goals you may have in your life – taking enough steps that day, buying a plant, doing your laundry and so on.

I got a lot of responses from friends about exercise-related activities they do when they’re stressed. These vary from playing a favourite sport like basketball, going to the gym for a little while, going outside and biking, or dancing around for a few minutes to get your blood pumping and your brain ready to work. Others preferred calmer activities like going for a 10-minute walk, taking deep breaths and practicing mindfulness, doing some yoga, and praying. These would improve circulation within your body and put you in a more relaxed state of mind by channelling out stress in a calm manner.

View looking down from a cliff in Hamilton - trees everywhere and sun shining bright

I live in the suburbs so I take quite a lot of nature walks & short hiking trips with these views.

Some people, including myself, like to get some chores done. It’s important to get a break from staring at a screen, so just go put in that load of laundry you’ve been ignoring or take out that overloaded garbage bin. Also, clean your room. I’m guilty of actually really enjoying this one. I feel like there’s some correlation with clutter in your physical surrounding and your mental ability to function well. Or maybe your mess is comforting? Who knows, we’re all different.

Next up was eating. Who doesn’t love food? Despite that love, sometimes we forget to eat during the day and this is where you need to set aside time to be present in the moment – focus on your food, not on the screen. Also, the survey concluded that tea and chocolate were the obvious top runners in this category, but the options are unlimited. Why not go try out a short new recipe instead?  That’s getting dinner ready and learning something new.

Another way to stay productive without losing your mind is by doing the small things you love – whether that’s reading, writing, taking pictures, making art, playing video games (take the stress out on the game!), playing with your pet, driving around, or even just spending some time with your friends or family. Shopping can also be therapeutic at times (caution: your bank account may cry). A friend of mine said, “It helps…I bought my modern renaissance last year when I felt all bad about exams and stuff.” For those of us not familiar with what that is, it’s a highly sought-after eye-shadow pallet from Sephora.

Most importantly though, sleep.