Your eyelids slowly fall as diagrams of ionic bonds start to look like abstract art on the page of your chemistry book. It’s 3 p.m. and you have a test in two hours. In vain, you try shaking your head to wake yourself up, then finally resort to the outright slapping of your own cheek. The other students sitting at your table in the library give you puzzled looks. Nevertheless, seconds later your head drops and soft snores fill the still air of the study commons. Sleep has won the battle this time, and your chemistry test has become its innocent victim.
For whatever reason, we all have times when our brains and bodies are just not willing to let us focus as much as we would like. This may be a self-inflicted problem, such as sacrificing lesser things, like sleep and meals, in lieu of more important things like going out with friends and watching movies. Or it could be that we find the subject matter about as exciting as driving through the desert. Brain fog is also a particularly common problem among those who have to spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen, such as for computer programming courses or any other online courses. Either way, there are several things you can do to overcome your study woes. And you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to do this may not involve as many sacrifices as you might think. Instead of studying to the point when your brain goes limp, like a day-old sub sandwich, try taking a study break once in a while and do something that’s actually fun.
Whenever you do decide to take a break, remember these two things: 1) There is no specific ratio of study time to break time, just keep it within reason. Normal humans usually need a break about the same time that the giant fluffy brain cloud descends behind their eyelids and keeps their thoughts from processing what their eyes are seeing in front of them. Just don’t overdo it, a study break is just that, a break. 2) DO NOT do anything during your break time that is at all related to what you were studying. In fact, avoid it like you would a sweaty man after a long jog on a muggy afternoon.
Try some of these helpful study break ideas next time you need to dispel those brain clouds:
1. Have a snack. While continuous snacking, or eating too much fat and sugar, can obviously be unhealthy, try eating a small snack that contains carbohydrates, such as a few Hershey Kisses or crackers. If you’re feeling really adventurous, use your study break to play the “throw whatever I happen to have left in the fridge into the blender” game.
2. Push-ups, jumping jacks, jogging, crazy dance party, or whatever other kind of physical activity that gets your blood pumping. Hey, instead of eating a Hershey Kiss, you could try actually kissing someone. . . just an idea!
3. Take a 15-minute power nap. Just be sure to set your alarm and force yourself out of bed when it goes off. But beware, afternoon naps are known to bring on very lucid dreams, and hopefully they don’t involve any monsters who take on the murky form of your chemistry professor.
4. Phone a friend. Get the latest gossip, make plans to do something after your test, discuss the anomaly of your roommate's hair perpetually covering the sink, etc. Once that’s out of your system, you’ll be able to get your focus back on what’s really important—how to use those chemistry principles you’re studying to conquer that hair-in-the-sink problem!
5. Run an errand. Hit up the grocery store for that milk you've been meaning to buy, finally ask that boy/girl out for a date, or scrub the three-month-old ring out of the toilet bowl. There’s nothing like checking off another item from that never-ending “to do” list.
It sounds old-fashioned, but moderation is always the best policy, even when it comes to studying. As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And all play and no work makes Jack fail all his classes and waste thousands of dollars in tuition.” Well, that second half may have been a slight deviation from the original, but you get the point.
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