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Taking study breaks can be good for productivity

By Emma Gammans, January 24 2017 —

Starting school in September holds a certain thrill. In a few months over the summer, students come to romanticize the smell of textbooks and tedious PowerPoint presentations. We miss our friends, our classes and the thrill of learning.

While a few months off does the trick from May to August, a few weeks over the holiday break doesn’t cut it. The winter semester is, inevitably, met with lowered enthusiasm.

Despite recharging over the break, students returning in January encounter heightened exhaustion earlier in the semester. Additionally, January is one of the coldest, darkest months. When a professor assigns an absurd amount of reading the first week back, intense workloads can drive students to approach school anxiously and obsessively. It’s hard enough to get outside while buried under a stack of books and it’s even harder when the temperature drops to 25 degrees below zero. It’s especially important for students to take note of their well-being in January.

Though maintaining a strong work ethic is important, it’s also crucial to remember that your academic life must act in unity with a lifestyle that bolsters mental, physical and social wellness.

Despite memes about students being forever alone or having no recognizable social life, “student” and “robot” are two entirely different words. With a stack of readings and a list of essays due, it might seem like a smart idea to succumb to a life of darkness and solitude. But while taking on the role of a hermit holds some benefits, studies show that taking breaks increases productivity. Looking at cute pictures of animals, taking walks or even planning a vacation mid-year can actually help reboot cognitive energy.

The Atlantic article “The Procrastination Doom Loop and How to Break It” cites a study by DePaul university on the relationship between emotions and procrastination. Researchers argue that procrastination is more connected to our emotions and mood than our work ethic. Therefore, taking care of your well being will result in a positive trickle-down effect.

So if you find yourself looking up Spongebob memes or cat videos on YouTube, don’t despair. Finding a balance between maintaining sanity in a highly stressful environment and preserving one’s mental and physical health is more likely to encourage success than repeated all-nighters and caffeine splurges.

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