How to Take Truly Restful Breaks

Grad school can be difficult, but you're sure to lower your stress levels with these break suggestions.

 How to Take Truly Restful Breaks

Pressing deadlines, upcoming exams, ending projects — whether you are a new or veteran graduate student, the end of the semester is likely to raise your stress levels. With many tasks and little time, the idea of taking a break may sound ludicrous.

Yet, letting your mind recuperate after times of increased cognitive activity is exactly what you need to do to stay happy and productive, advises Concordia University’s Health Services’ health promotion specialist, Gaby Szabo. Research shows that effective breaks are frequent, short, taken in the morning, and not involving much cognitive activity. Here are some excellent options to help you rest like a pro:

1. Grab a bite

Studying for exams shouldn't prevent you from enjoying a good meal. From maple salmon rolls to a $2 healthy, vegan dinner, check out these cheap and tasty treats on or near the Concordia campus. Bonus points if you choose Omega-3-rich foods, as they’ve been found to boost memory.

2. Take a nap

But, be careful — not any nap will do. According to Gaby Szabo, naps are most helpful if short (20-60 minutes) and not taken too close to bedtime. If you take a nap after your coffee, you can become even more productive.

3. Exercise

Nothing beats stress like a boost of adrenaline. Even if you are pressed for time, you can reap great benefits from just a 15-minute walk a couple of times a day. If you are interested in group sessions or personal trainings, check out Concordia’s fitness centre.

4. Make a furry friend

Take a study break and de-stress with pets. You can join the Zen Dens at the Vanier Library for some puppy time! It’s a great opportunity to build a restful experience in-between studying!

5. Meditate

The Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre has a meditation room for students to take a break in and recuperate after intense work. It’s a great place to test some of these relaxation techniques for ultimate stress-relief. Have only 2 minutes? No worries, this handy website allows you to engage in mindfulness meditation without moving away from your desk.

6. Listen to music

Check out Weightless by Marconi Union! Neuroscientists claim the song produces a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date. We recommend that you listen to it with headphones on, so you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the tune.

7. Meet up a friend or call a relative

Research says, social breaks tend to make people happy, more relaxed, and even more productive. Want to expand your circle of friends? Check out this long list of welcoming Concordia student groups and join your favourite. From biking together to movie and board game nights, these groups can offer you many opportunities to relax in a great company.

8. Look at the colour green

Did you know that according to science, seeing green makes you happier and less tired? What a great reason to visit the Concordia’s Greenhouse! Enjoy beautiful plants and tasty, free tea in Concordia’s rooftop oasis, located on the 13th floor of the Henry Hall building. If your schedule permits, you can even join a drop-in volunteer session and de-stress by working with plants.

9. Look at cute animals for 5 minutes

You finally have an excuse to browse adorable cat and dog videos — science says it not only improves your mood, but also boosts your subsequent focus and concentration. But make sure you time your break to avoid turning your rest into involuntary procrastination.

Learn more about Concordia University’s School of Graduate Studies

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