As finals week is approaching for many college students, we have a habit of holing up in our dorm rooms, bag of popcorn and Red Bull in hand, from 9 am to 1 am, cramming for our finals. While it’s important to study for final exams and prepare for presentations, it’s also important to give your brain a break once and a while. Like your body, your mind can’t take 12 hours straight of pure memorization or note-copying. Taking a 30 minute break every couple of hours renews your energy and can prevent you from burning out before the actual exam comes around.

Here are some ideas of how to relax and re-energize in between study sessions:

1.Take a hike

Or a walk. Don’t listen to music and don’t use your phone; this will keep your brain in a hectic state instead of letting it relax. Go to a park and surround yourself with nature, really taking in your surroundings. It’s been shown that just letting your mind wander can help you focus on your to-do list afterword.

2. Make some art

Whether it’s painting a canvas or making a rubber band ball, being creative can give your eyes a break from the computer screen and generate inspiration for that paper you’ve been struggling with.

3. Make a snack

And really get into it. Try that new recipe you found on Pinterest or some concoction that hits the spot for you. Knowing you’ll be rewarded with a delicious snack is a good incentive for studying hard beforehand (stay tuned for a post about snacks that promote brain power).

4. Talk to your friends

You know those people who live down the hall from you? The ones who lend you their clothes and bring you ice cream when you’re sick? Yeah, them. Leave the technology behind and go talk to someone about puppies, cupcakes, action movies – whatever you choose. Bringing them a homemade brownie or picture of Channing Tatum can also brighten their day and help you feel good, too.

5. Stretch

This one’s easy and requires very little effort. Stand up and stretch every muscle in your body, and do it with passion. Sitting for too long isn’t healthy, as we all know, and taking a quick stretch break can wake you up and keep you from developing bad posture.

6. Turn on your favorite song and have a dance party.

Not only does this wake you up, it leaves you feeling more positive and ready to accomplish tasks. Plus, it will leave you singing that song in your head (or out loud) as you continue studying.

7. Paint your nails

That nail polish from spring break is chipped and starting to turn an odd green color, so it’s probably time to give yourself a mani or pedi. Not only does this let your mind relax and focus on menial tasks instead of algebraic equations, but it also leaves you feeling beautiful and productive.

8. Skype your family

Grandma has gone an awfully long time without hearing from you, don’t you think? And younger cousins are great at putting into perspective what really matters: Disney princesses and Legos. Family is a good reminder of life outside college and can keep your spirits up, even in the midst of a sociology group project.

9. Do a face mask

This makes your face feel and look great and lets you pamper yourself before you go back to that anthropology exam. Trying a new hairstyle or makeup tutorial can also give you a relaxing break from all the academics.

10. Look through old pictures

Or photo albums. It’s best if these aren’t on a phone or computer, since you want to take a break from screens. Remember your favorite parts of last summer and know that soon school will be done and you’ll be back to pool hangouts and snuggle sessions with your cat.

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