Believe it or not, breaks are an essential part of a productive study session.
In our quest to master our target language, it is very easy to study in long intensive sessions. There is a lot of research to suggest that taking breaks is an easy way to improve your memory. We already know that sleeping is very important for good brain function, and this extends to our ability to learn new skills.
How are breaks beneficial for learning?
- Taking a break gives our brain a chance to retain new information better. Doing an easier task such as having a coffee is known as wakeful rest and allows the brain to dedicate more of its power to process new information.
- Breaks aid our creativity and problem-solving skills. Have you ever had an experience where you were stuck on a problem, only to take a break and suddenly find the right answer? Taking a break gives ourselves a chance to reset and approach tasks with a fresh mind.
- Long study sessions normally lead to stress. When you try to learn a lot in a short time it is easy to get overwhelmed, making it difficult to actually learn anything effectively. Breaks help you to sustain your motivation, especially when tackling something difficult.
So with this in mind, there are a few easy things you can do to incorporate breaks into your study routine.
Tips on using breaks effectively
- If your mind tends to wander a lot when you study, then try taking a break. It might be that your study sessions need to be broken down into smaller chunks. The Pomodoro technique takes advantage of our need for breaks. With the Pomodoro technique, you take a 5-minute break after 25 minutes of focus. After 4 focus sessions, you get a longer break of 20 minutes.
- Make sure you do as little as possible during your breaks. Using your break to check your social media or do some chores might seem like a good idea, but you are not truly giving your brain a rest. Meditation is also a great idea to ensure that you switch off completely.
- Try to go outside or for a walk. Physical activity improves oxygen flow to your brain and stimulates our hippocampus which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer break is pretty much over. You might have neglected your studies so that you can enjoy your holidays – I personally think that’s great! Don’t feel bad about taking breaks because they are critical to productive learning sessions.
When your study sessions don’t feel productive, there are a few things that you may need to look at. Here are a few posts I’ve done related to this topic that might help you: