We’ve all been there; you’ve been smashing through your work for a while now and it’s time for a well-deserved break. Only, instead of the quick ten minutes to refresh your brain you promised you’d take, you find yourself fucking around on Facebook for an hour. Before you know it, you’re hours deep in memes and even started a new Netflix series, telling yourself you’ll just watch ‘one more episode’ before you get back into studying.

Here’s the thing though, it’s totally possible to take a break without completely derailing all your best efforts to study.  It’s all about figuring out why you need a break, and working backwards from there.

When you’re sleepy/physically exhausted

Barely being able to keep your eyes open is a pretty good sign you need a break. Ideally, you want to be able to get a solid sleep and just go to bed but we know that all-nighters and late night cramming are inevitably on the cards. When you can’t just call it a night, have a coffee then head down for a 20-30 minute nap. The caffeine should kick in just as your wake up, making you less groggy and able to get back into your work.

When the content is so boring you can barely push through

Use Google to your advantage. Find a Youtube channel that explains the concept or an online quiz. Look for student discussion boards where other students explain the content in a way that isn’t as boring as your textbook. If all else fails, make it as interesting as you can by yourself. Ditch your regular notes and start highlighting. Draw diagrams and flow charts to help make the content a bit more interesting.

When everyone around you is being super loud

Chuck your headphones in and listen to some music. If you’re writing, the lyrics of songs can distract you even more so opt for instrumental tracks or white noise generators.

When you’ve been studying for hours

Get out of your seat and have something to eat. Eating a proper meal that requires you to actually focus on your food rather than a snack can work well because it gives your brain a break from focusing on the content.

When you can’t focus on the content and have read the same line over and over again

Get moving and get some air. Head outside and into the day light if you can. Take your dog for a walk, have a chat to your mum or make a cup of team. Lay in the sun for five minutes.

When you’re too stressed to study

Pat your dog, lay on the floor for five minutes or text your friends. Stop the negative thought process then do something little, like picking an essay question–you’ll find yourself building momentum and smashing your work pretty quickly.

When you can’t stop thinking about something else

Relationship problems, fighting with your family and other general shit that’s bothering you makes it easy to get distracted when you should be studying. Write it all down (on actual paper, not notes on your phone) and every time you think about something other than your work add it to the list.