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A Case for Good Breaks

Have you ever been studying, cramming or grinding away at a task and you hit a wall? A seemingly insurmountable wall that you just can’t overcome? You check your phone, you distract your roommates or you go snack on some food, finding any excuse to procrastinate whatever it was you were doing. Yeah, we’ve all been there. We waste hours putting off tasks we know we should be doing, but the task is always there – at the back of our minds, gnawing away at our guilt. We can’t procrastinate in peace either, because we know we need to get back to it. A good break is a fundamental solution to side-stepping that wall, and to coming out the other side with guns firing.

There’s certainly no single method to have a good break, and everyone has their own process. At its core, a good break is a period of time you’ve allocated to yourself and given yourself permission to let go of your worries and relax. You could read a book, play some music or even go for a nice stroll. The key is to detach yourself from your stress during the break. As a result, you’ll come back to your task energised, with renewed ideas and hopefully in a much better mood!

1. Doing Nothing

Sometimes, a good break can just be to… do nothing. The concept of doing nothing is a way of thought the Dutch have termed ‘niksen.’ Practicing niksen involves taking conscious, considered time to perform activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. In an age where everyone is glued to one electronic device or another, we forget that the best ideas often come from idle daydreams.

If you don’t believe me, how many lightbulb moments have you had while in the shower? Research has shown that daydreaming makes us more creative, better at problem-solving and destresses the mind.If you’ve got an assignment due and you’ve hit that creative wall, perhaps some idle niksen in a comfy corner of your room is really what you need.

2. Nap Breaks

Let’s be honest, many law students stay up late. Whether it’s out of habit, or last-minute panic for an assignment due the next day, we’re pretty nocturnal creatures. I can’t speak for everyone, but my productivity levels drop to rock bottom levels by the 2am mark. The day after a late night up tends also to be tiring and less productive.

Instead of changing our sleep patterns as we’ve all been told countless times (and won’t do), I’ve found that power naps work well to combat productivity issues throughout the course of the day.

Power naps usually last between 10-30 minutes, and offer boosts of alertness, memory retention and cognitive ability. An hour or two after lunch is a natural time to nap since your blood sugar and energy levels drop. If you’re feeling drowsy, take a good break with a power nap to recharge!

What if you just don’t have time for a good break?

As law students, we often lead very hectic lifestyles, and this can result in schedules which have no room for hobbies. A potential solution is to schedule in weekly commitments, to act almost as compulsory breaks. Personally, I’ve found team sports to be a great way to break the hustle and bustle of the high-stress law student lifestyle. A weekly team sport session has myriad benefits:

  • Exercise improves cognitive function. Decision-making and problem solving are enhanced after a solid workout. We all know the feeling of coming back from a walk with a ‘clear mind.

  • Exercise releases mood-improving endorphins.

  • You can maintain a ‘healthy body, healthy mind.’

As a twice-weekly indoor soccer player, team sports have been a significant part of my life for many years now. From short-term benefits - feeling more alert once I get home and ready to tackle whatever work I have; to long-term benefits – keeping in touch with high school friends and making sure I’m staying in shape.

Personally, I’ve really benefited from participating in team sports. I recall a time last year during the semester 1 exam period when I was working 3 days a week, taking 4 units and had active extra-curricular commitments. The work was really piling up, with burn-out right around the corner. However, for 80 minutes each week, I would forget about all my concerns and lose myself in the sport. Afterward, I would inevitably feel better, resulting in greater productivity and a more stable mental state. Being able to switch off during a break is not the same as ‘wasting time,’ and for me, has been extremely helpful.

Of course, team sports are not the only way to schedule in good breaks throughout the week, rather any commitment to a hobby ensures a dedicated timeslot each week or fortnight where it’s just you-time.

Some useful resources to get you started

The hardest step is getting started. That’s why we’ve listed below a number of valuable resources students can access to get on track to having some good breaks and stopping the monotony of the #lawgrind.

Monash Sport

For students at Clayton Campus: +61 3 9905 4102 For students at Caulfield Campus: +61 3 9903 2358

Book a sporting break! Sports and Fitness Groups around Melbourne

Napping Benefits

Monash Counselling

Monash also provides free and confidential counselling and psychological services. Call 9905 3020 or 53020 from a Monash phone to make appointments and plan a weekly routine.

Monash Student Association

For students at Clayton campus Phone: 9905 3118 or 9905 3126

Monash Postgraduate Association

For graduate students on all campuses Phone: 9905 3197 or 9903 1880

Written by Kevin Ren

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