Why mindfulness breaks will help you avoid losing your mind while studying

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When you’re left to your own devices during revision week to study, chances are it’s not always going to be the most productive. Stress can get the better of us and impact our ability to stay focused. If you’ve ever heard of studying in blocks of 52 minutes with a 17 minute break, it’s because studies so it’s a great way of keeping your head in the game for long periods of study.

If your 15-20 minute study breaks tend to turn into a longer unproductive Netflix break, it might be time to swap the remote for mindfulness. Spending your study breaks practicing mindfulness meditation can be the best thing for your study, and also for your health – here’s why.

It’ll give you more confidence

For most of us, study breaks are often a time where we lack confidence in ourselves. When the work gets challenging, the self-doubt creeps in and we begin to question whether we can actually do this.

Thankfully mindfulness can help conquer those negative thoughts. The next time you find yourself thinking you're going to fail, take a step away from the books and find a private and quiet space to relax. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing and if those negative thoughts pop into your brain, visualise sending them away. Slowing down and stepping away from the stress will make you feel more in control and more confident with your abilities.

It helps you overcome stress and anxiety

If upcoming exams bring up anxious feelings, mindfulness breaks can help you push through. Anxiety can cause you to worry excessively about what-ifs, like the possibility of failing your exam. Psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Hoge says these are “unproductive worries”, and in order to ensure these don’t impede your studies, you need to train your brain to think differently through mindfulness meditation.

The practice of mindfulness is all about being in the present and bringing your mind’s attention to yourself and the room around you. By focusing on your breathing, your body or your senses, your mind will be kept busy thinking about the present, rather than worrying about the future. Just 10 minutes of this inbetween study blocks will do wonders for stress and anxiety.

You’ll sleep better

As well as practicing mindfulness between study sessions, it can also be beneficial to wind down the day with a mindfulness meditation. If you’re staring at your laptop until the moment you go to bed, you won’t give your brain and body a chance to wind down.

In one study, Dr. Benson found that practising mindfulness throughout the day helps the relaxation response come more easily to the body. If you find yourself kept awake by worrying or negative thoughts during exam time, this will definitely help.

You’ll have more stamina to get through the next study block

Particularly important for fighting off those procrastination lulls, mindfulness can help you maintain a longer attention span and improve concentration. A UK study found that when students practiced mindfulness they experienced a better short-term memory and “less mind-wandering”.

So when your mind starts to wander or your cursor starts making its way over to Facebook in the middle of a study sesh, it might be a sign you need to take a break. Sit somewhere that isn’t your study desk, get comfortable and start your journey into mindfulness. If you find your mind starts to wonder during your mindfulness breaks, guided meditations apps, podcasts or YouTube videos can help.