Keep Calm and Power Up

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How to make sure your study breaks don’t take five hours each.

In the midst of exams, deadlines and stress, you are studying for hours, and all of a sudden you start to feel a massive headache – with a side of extreme frustration. There is only one solution. You need a study break. However, the problem usually is that you either have no time for a break, or you take a small break that will automatically lead to an accidental free afternoon…

So let me show you my five tips for short breaks that can calm you down and power you up for another long study session!

  • Get some food

You can either go down to the store and get yourself some brain food, or get creative with all the stuff you have left in the fridge. Don’t just open a bag of chips and get back to your desk. That cannot be seen as a break. The point is to focus your attention on something else completely by spending 10-30 minutes preparing some food that you can then use as a snack during your next study session. Think about a nice (fruit) salad, your own milkshake or some cooked pasta. Easy to make, healthy and great food for study!

  • Watch a comedy show

Giving your brain the time to relax and to not think about anything can be just what you need sometimes! Unfortunately, Netflix can easily get you distracted for too long. When you want just a small break, then a two-hour long movie is not really an option. Neither is a 40-minute episode, since we all know we won’t stick to just one with those cliffhangers. But the great thing about comedy shows is that most episodes don’t end with cliffhangers, they are only twenty minutes long and don’t require any thought! Perfect for a short break.

  • Go for a walk or run outside

Nothing more refreshing than fresh air. You don’t even have to walk for long. A quick walk around the neighborhood can already do wonders for your concentration. And if walking is too slow for you, you can always speed up and run for a little while instead.

  • Finish all those necessary, boring tasks

Do some laundry, clean your bed, organize your music playlists, pictures or clothes. Clean up your photo album on your phone or old conversations on WhatsApp. Maybe these aren’t the most exciting tasks ever, but they are at least taking your mind off of studying while being productive at the same time. And another plus, while these tasks provide not much fun or entertainment, you will be more likely to keep it short!

  • Call a friend, but don’t text!

With texting, you’ll easily get distracted by all the other apps. But when you just call up a friend you can talk for a while, feel sad together, talk about the stress of life, or give each other a small pep talk. Your friend (hopefully) has a life of their own and things to do, so they won’t be able to stay on the phone for too long. But it can be a fun, short distraction for your brain, so that afterwards you can focus your attention again on your upcoming exam or paper.

Now, I cannot guarantee 100% success rates for these techniques. Although designed as short breaks, without the right discipline, these can easily turn into long breaks. But anything can happen if you want it to. I hope these ideas work as well for you as they are working for me, and if not, I hope you enjoyed your break by reading this!


The Complicated Relationship between You and Exams

To coordinators and educators, exams are one of the best objective methods to test students’ levels of knowledge. To students, exams are arduous and tedious, and make you forget more things that you ever knew – sometimes sprinkled with a little existential crisis. So unless you’re one of those people who are incredibly organized and have the superhuman ability to manage exam stress, you may relate to these memes.

  1. Realising the exams are close by and you basically did nothing the entire term.


2. Calculating all that time you could’ve spent studying instead.



3. Contemplating how it was possible for you to go to all those lectures and tutorials and still manage to know very little about your subjects.



4. When you ask an academic question in a group chat but everyone changes the subject.



5. When people keep asking questions about things you didn’t even know were in your course.



6. Trying to study but every little thing keeps distracting you.



7. Doing normal things apart from studying, like working out, but feeling guilty afterwards for no reason.



8. Finding that one smart person who seems to know everything and comparing yourself to them all the time.



9. Finding every possible way to calculate your GPA to figure out the minimum grade you need to pass the course.



10. Trying to sleep early the night before an exam but then staying up past 11pm “studying”.



11. Realizing you don’t have much time left to finish your exam but you’re still second guessing half your answers.



12. Opening up an exam paper and feeling like you studied for everything thoroughly except for the parts asked in the exam.



13. Finishing your exam and trying to figure out if anyone else has finished as well without looking like you’re cheating.



14. Feeling conflicted at the end of exam week because you have to wait almost a month to know your results.



So whether you’ve memorized the textbooks and lectures or you’ve just started studying the last week before exams, remember to stay calm during the exams, and that it doesn’t always matter how smart you are, it matters how hard you are willing to work.