Decades of research have helped us formulate effective strategies for studying.
Don’t cram. Plan ahead. Set goals.
Find your study style. Cultivate a productive space. Ask for support.
Use a buddy system. Treat yo’self.
Yeah, we know the drill.
But there is something that’s still very often overlooked.
And that’s knowing when it’s time to take a break.
Yep, studies show that allowing our brain sufficient time to rest helps you study smarter, boosting long-term retention and playing a role equally as important as practice in learning a new skill.
But how can spending less time studying make you more productive, while helping you maintain mental wellbeing?
“The brain can only absorb so much information at a time,” writes Lian Parsons for Harvard University.
“Rest allows our brains to compress and consolidate memories of what we just practised. Make sure that you are allowing enough time, relaxation, and sleep between study sessions so your brain will be refreshed and ready to accept new information.”
Okay, so when’s the right time to encourage your child to take a break?
Cornell University’s CornellHealth Study Breaks & Stress Busters guide suggests students take “purposeful breaks” anywhere from 5–60 minutes and undertake activities “that give your mind a break and allow you to breathe deeply, laugh, move your body, be creative, or ‘zone out’ on purpose.”
“These kinds of activities will help you re-energise and re-focus.”
CornellHealth suggests activities such as:
- Meditating or practising breathwork
- Taking a walk
- Reconnecting with nature (such as going for a hike, swim or surf)
- Having a shower
- Allowing themselves to zone out or daydream
- Stretching or doing yoga
- Taking a power nap
- Expressing themselves through creativity (such as drawing, doodling or painting).
- Having a good ol’ belly laugh
And no. Mindlessly scrolling on social media doesn’t count.