Give it a break: ways to de-stress during finals week

Taylor Alderman | The Collegian Research shows that taking study breaks improves the ability to absorb information. An activity that some students do to take a break from studying is playing hide-and-seek in Hale Library.

The grind of constant studying during finals week is not only monotonous, but can cause serious mental and physical stress and exhaustion for students. Finding fun and relaxing ways to take a break from the books can not only make finals a more enjoyable and manageable experience, but can even improve students’ chances of retaining necessary information.

According to a Feb. 9, 2011 Psych Central article by Rick Nauert, it is beneficial to take a break from studying every once and a while – even when the amount of material to learn is overwhelming.

Scientists say a brief distraction from tasks can dramatically improve the ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods of time, due to the fact that repetitive tasks can cause mental fatigue and loss of focus. By taking a quick vacation from test-prep, students can be even more efficient with their studying endeavors and for longer periods of time.

So, what should a student do during study breaks to help their mind take a rest? According to many other students, just about any activity will suffice. Like for Luke Schnefke, junior in mechanical engineering, he said he prefers taking physical breaks to help alleviate mental stress.

“I’ve actually gone bowling every single finals week since I’ve been at K-State with some of my fraternity brothers,” Schnefke said. “Sometimes, I’ll play golf, too. And, one time, a friend and I even went to Wal-Mart for a study break and bought socks.”

Schnefke’s flare for study break variety is shared by others as well, including Morgan Mobley, freshman in pre-journalism and mass communications. Mobley said she enjoys getting creative in Hale Library after she’s been cooped up for several hours.

“Last semester, a friend and I spent all night in Hale and were studying until about 3 a.m.,” Mobley said. “So, we started doing gymnastics down the hallways, and even had a dance party. That definitely helped us release some stress.”

Mobley said some of her other favorite stress-relievers include going for a run, grabbing ice cream with friends, or getting Sonic drinks and going for a drive around town with loud music.

Ben Harstine, senior in public health nutrition, said he uses a carefully calculated ratio of studying to break time to help ensure he absorbs as much information as possible prior to an exam.

“If you look at research about how students learn best, a lot of it shows a cycle of practice, test and rest,” Harstine said. “I try to do about 30-45 minutes of studying to learn and memorize information. Then, I do a quick evaluation of what I learned, and then I’ll rest for another 10-15 minutes.”

When it comes to activities, Harstine said he enjoys everything from taking a late night walk with study buddies to playing a game of hide-and-seek in the library.

“All of the things I enjoy doing on breaks are things I love to do with other people,” Harstine said. “It’s nice to get people together and talk about anything other than school. It’s a trick my friends and I have picked up over the course of college.”

K-State Counseling Services will have a booth in the K-State Student Union during finals week to provide students with studying tips and tricks, as well as ways to manage stress.