With exam season upon us, everyone is talking about ways to ace your exams and stay healthy, but I’m here to make a case for what I feel is one of the most under-utilized tools of staying sane – taking meaningful study breaks. You’re probably already tuning me out and saying to yourself “ I don’t have the time to take breaks right now – who does this lady think she is?” I get it – exams run 24/7 and that means you feel like you should be too, but hear me out on why taking a study break is a good idea. Other than the fact that all work, no play, makes Jack a dull boy- not that I’m saying you’re dull, but you get the idea- exam season doesn’t have to mean all the fun is gone out of life. It’s important to both take some time to enjoy yourself and your friends during the holiday season, plus it gives your brain a break from all the hard core cramming you’re doing every day. Taking some time for you gives you time to relax and recharge so you can be even better at studying when you come back to it, plus a change of scenery and fresh air will help you too. A study break also doesn’t need to be long – even an hour can make a huge difference and help you feel happier.
Now that I’ve convinced you take a study break, here are some ideas for some relaxing (and seasonally appropriate) study breaks you can take to make the most out of the season.
Take in a Tuesday Movie
One of my favourite low-key study breaks is to take a night off and see a movie with friends. Since you don’t have any classes to get in the way of going to the movies on Tuesday specifically, take advantage of cheap Tuesday tickets and treat yourself to a night out. Not only do you get to eat tasty snacks and spend some time laughing with your friends, but fully immersing yourself in the movie experience will keep you from checking your study group chat or worrying about the flashcards you made last week, giving your brain the break it’s craving.
Drive through the Magic of Lights
A lot is happening in Ottawa during the holiday season and the Magic of Lights drive is a simple but fun way to get out and enjoy it. Located in Kanata, grab some friends and enjoy the holiday lights, all from the comfort of your warm car – I recommend playing your own holiday tunes and bringing hot chocolate for an extra good time. While the entire drive is magical with animated light displays, one of the highlights is the grand finale- a two kilometer tunnel of sparkling, twinkly lights. Magic of Lights makes for a great study break because while it’s a gorgeous drive, it doesn’t require taking the entire night off, and once you split the entry free between a few friends it becomes an inexpensive way to take in the magic of the holidays in between writing study notes.
Make Snacks with Friends
If you’re looking for a bit more of a DIY study break, get a group of friends together and make something together – bonus points if you can eat it. Take some time to bake and take a break with friends – if you’ve always wanted to try and make Pinterest worth-y Christmas cookies or to bake a gingerbread house from scratch, now’s your chance. If you’re less culinary-inclined (I hear you), pick up a gingerbread or cookie decorating kit at the grocery store, put on some tunes and enjoy some quality time with the people you care about – all while sneaking candy into your mouth, instead of onto what you’re decorating.
If there’s a new fitness class you wanted to try, exams are actually a great time to do it. Fitness studios around the city often offer heavily discounted classes (some even benefiting charity) on Friday nights, and while you usually may not have time to commit to a Friday night yoga class because of your #sociallife, things are quiet enough during exams that you can take a night to yourself without any guilt about what you’re missing. These cheap classes are great for so many reasons – it’s a great way to try something new without an expensive commitment, it’s a fun way to spend a study break, and getting active can be really good for your body and your brain. Some of my favourite cheap Friday night classes around Ottawa include Wheelhouse Cycle’s Giver ride and Yogatown’s Karma class.
It’s a good idea to explore Ottawa all-year round, but the holiday season is a great chance to get out and see what the city has to offer. If you’re looking to get some fresh air, grab a hot drink and go explore downtown- see the holiday light show on Parliament Hill, go skating at the free Rink of Dreams outside City Hall, or take a walk around to see the lights and decorations that have been strung up all around downtown. My personal favourites are the National Arts Centre, Major’s Hill Park, and Rideau Centre. You can also take advantage of free student nights (Thursdays) at most museums if you’re looking to get out of the cold.
It may seem like taking a study break is impossible with the amount of work you have to do, but taking a break will boost your productivity overall, give your mind the rest it needs, and allow you have some fun even during this stressful time. I hope these tips give you some ideas on fun ways to beat the blues and stress of exam season, as well as find a way to enjoy the holiday season with your friends and family. Good luck on exams, everyone!
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