5 benefits of taking breaks

7 February 2020

With the workload piling up and deadlines approaching, it can all feel a little too much. Javier shares how taking breaks can be beneficial for your health and your studies.

man relaxing on swing by lake

We are entering that time of the year when everything starts picking up so much that it feels that you went from relaxing walks during the winter holidays to a sprint with approaching deadlines and the workload accumulating.

As a consequence, we decide to work harder and for longer amounts of time than usual. Anxiety and stress may start to build-up, and without warning, we may find ourselves in a state of restlessness.

For all these reasons, it’s very important to take conscious decisions to rest. Rest can take different forms, such as exercise, staying in to watch a film or sleeping for a few hours. Choose what works best for you.

When making the decision to rest, it is crucial not to feel guilty. Removing yourself from work for a while can really help with your health and studies. If you’re still unsure, here are 5 benefits associated with rest:

1. Improves the memory

It has been shown that short, repeated sessions of learning with breaks increase your concentration and facilitate the memorization of new contents. The Podomoro technique can be an excellent way to study during productive intervals and rest during breaks.

2. Serves as energy boosts

It is very common to feel drained of energy when we focus all our attention on one task. Resting can be useful to allow your body to recover. Power naps of 10-20 minutes can be a great way to feel revitalised and keep rocking the day!

3. Reduces stress

Constant worry can lead to chronic stress, and students have been reported to be more likely to suffer higher levels of stress, which can have a physical and mental impact. Therefore, taking breaks can relieve and reduce levels of stress.

4. Improves your health

Rest and sleep have been shown to have a positive impact on your immune system. It also reduces inflammation and decreases the risk of heart disease. Therefore, take advantage of the weekends when you may have more time to exercise and recover some sleep.

5. Boosts your performance and creativity

Sometimes, new creative approaches to problems may arise when doing different activities. So, the next time you’re stuck, try to take a break, rest and do something different. Hopefully, when you're back to your work, you will have come up with some new ideas.

By Javier S Bautista, PhD in Biomedical Sciences