Studying Tips: Take a Break!

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Studying Tips: Take a Break! Studying is a challenging experience and something that needs to be approached correctly. It’s not just a case of sitting down and ploughing on with things. As well as being organised and having a study plan, it’s vital that you take breaks. Studies have shown that many students in the Covid climate are spending longer periods of time in front of their computer screens without taking a break. 

Think about a pre-Covid typical day at university on campus (remember those days?). Getting into college. Moving from classroom to classroom. Going to the library, climbing stairs, strolling around the campus, going out to lunch. Going home. Physically you’re actually on the go quite a lot. It’s not the same at home and oftentimes students can get stuck in the bubble of their remote environment and laptop, lose track of time and not take the necessary breaks.

This can be detrimental to both themselves and their study. Research has demonstrated that even the most brief of diversions from studying can vastly improve a student’s ability to focus on that study for prolonged periods. In other words, taking a break gives you an opportunity to refresh your mind and body and enables you to get the best from effective and positive studying habits.

The brain is hard-wired to give itself a break and will gradually switch off if you focus on one thing for too long. The brain likes to move on to something else. This is why sometimes when you study for long periods you tend to get more easily distracted – it’s like the brain telling you, “Hey. Enough already. Give me a break”

When you do eventually give it a break it allows the brain to reboot itself and is once again able to focus on the task at hand. 

Many studies have shown that pausing for a moment to relax and reboot is vital for achieving productivity. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied four groups of people. Each of the groups worked on a brain-intensive task. The group that took more breaks had the highest mental stamina at the end. They were better able to process the necessary information. By taking a mental break, the students were better equipped to solve the problem with renewed energy.

As well as being essential to maximising concentration, aiding efficiency and yielding higher productivity, taking a break does wonders for your creativity, positivity, wellbeing and so much more. Nature does not intend us to put all our energy solely into one thing for a long period of time.

There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to taking breaks. Find what’s good for you. Maybe start off with a 5/10-minute small break every 45/60 or so while studying and see how that goes. Of course as always, be sure to factor in a longer 30 – 60 minute break if you’re hitting the books for the day.

So having hammered the message home about the need to take breaks, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a couple of ways of taking the right break.

Don’t Take Long Breaks

Yes you need to take breaks but not ones that are going to completely take you away from whatever it is you are working on. A big break is for lunch. But during your study times you should stick to 5-15 minutes. Remember it’s about giving your brain time to breathe and return to the task at hand. If you take too long a break your brain will need ire time to adjust and get back on track.

Eyes Off the Screen and Get Up

It’s not just about giving your brain a break. You need to give your eyes a break and you need to give your backside a break! Spending a long time sitting at in front of your laptop n puts you at risk of computer vision syndrome, which can cause: eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching and red eyes. Get your eyes off the  2D screen and onto the real 3D world. And let’s not forget your backside! Get up off it! No one wants to suffer from the dreaded “dead butt” syndrome.

Avoid Social Networking

Don’t use these vital few minutes to get kidnapped by social media. You don’t need to see that Instagram post of your friend’s dog (Yes, Marla does look cute after being washed) and the rabbit hole it takes you down. You don’t need to get lost in a world of dance and pranks on TikTok. Believe it or not, the world won’t have changed much during the time from now and when you finish studying. Catch up on Marla’s antics and Cairde!’s flapping limbs then.


Rather than spend that time on Instagram looking at your friend’s dog, why don’t you call that friend and say hello. It doesn’t matter that it’s only a quick call, you can have long chats later but for now it’s just nice to say hello and your brain and serotonin levels will thank you for it. Finish the call now – you have to get back to studying…

Move It

Don’t just pop from one seat to another. Walk around. Climb the stairs if you have them. Walk around the flat or house. Go out into the garden if you have one.  


Get some house tasks done. Prep some vegetables for dinner. Speaking of food – it can be easier to eat unhealthy food when you are spending long periods of time at home. When you’re taking a break and you fancy a snack, try and go for those healthier alternatives that release energy slowly to help you study, like fruit and nuts. Put down the chocolate and step away.

Bang Out a Tune

Learn an instrument. Yes – it can be done. Play a little bit, a lot, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can play one of your favourite songs. And if you already play, use those 5/10 minutes to work on that tricky riff or that tremolo technique.


You don’t need to go full Maharishi to get the benefits from meditation. There’s a whole world out there dedicated to the 10-minute meditation. Try it and you’ll find out that it doesn’t take much time to turn off your mind, relax and float downstream

Get Some Fresh Air

It doesn’t require studies for us to know about the benefits of exercise, or the effect fresh air, sunlight, or a beautiful crisp Winter’s afternoon can have on our serotonin levels helping to reduce depression and regulate anxiety. Go on… Head out for a quick stroll.

Now don’t you feel better and primed to hit the books again! is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.

Steven Galvin

College, Covid & Mental Health
Breathing Exercises for Stress


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