At times bar exam prep can feel overwhelming and become all-consuming. But it’s important to remember that taking breaks from studying is an essential part of the process and should be baked into your study routine. These breaks are not just for relaxation. Think of them as strategic tools for optimizing your success on the exam. Here, we explore various ways to use your breaks in order to study effectively.
The Importance of Breaks
Before delving into the specific ways to utilize your bar exam breaks, it’s helpful to understand why breaks are so essential. Continuous, unbroken periods of intense study can actually backfire. Have you ever studied so much or for so long that your eyes started to glaze over and you couldn’t even remember what you’d just read? That’s a sign that you need a break.
This type of intense, non-stop studying can cause decreased productivity, heightened stress levels, and even lead to burnout. Taking breaks allows you to recharge both mentally and physically, helping you retain information better and boost your overall performance.
These are some of the best ways to maximize the short amount of time you have between studying, taking practice exams, and generally preparing for the bar exam:
1. Quick Bursts of Exercise for Physical and Mental Wellness
During bar exam prep, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of sitting at your desk for hours on end. Incorporating exercise into your break routine provides so many benefits. And you don’t have to commit to hours in the gym. Even small bursts of physical activity can enhance brain function and improve memory retention. It also releases endorphins, the body’s natural stress relievers, which can improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
Consider taking a brief walk, doing a quick home workout, or even practicing yoga or stretching exercises at your desk. These activities can be done in minutes and can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.
2. Short Visits and Calls With Family and Friends
Spending time with loved ones is essential for maintaining emotional balance during intense study periods. Use your breaks to connect with family and friends, even if it looks different than it does when you’re not deep in bar exam prep.
Engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing experiences, and laughing together can alleviate stress and remind you of the support network you have. Whether it’s a quick coffee date with a friend or a FaceTime with a family member before bed, these connections can offer a refreshing perspective and provide the emotional boost you need to power through your study sessions.
3. Daily Mindfulness and Relaxation
For something that offers so many benefits, mindfulness does not take much time at all. It’s all about deciding to do it and committing to a daily practice. Incorporating mindfulness practices into your routine can enhance focus and reduce anxiety. Activities like deep breathing, meditation, or even a brief walk in nature can help clear your mind and improve concentration. Mindfulness techniques are particularly effective in preventing your thoughts from constantly drifting back to the stress of the exam.
Try starting your day with a guided meditation or take a few minutes at lunch to do one. Over time, you’ll find that these moments of stillness can significantly improve your overall study experience.
4. Pursue Creative Outlets
Engaging in creative activities during your breaks can provide a much-needed change of pace. If you have a creative hobby such as drawing, playing video games, playing a musical instrument, or writing, spend some time doing that. Creativity not only serves as a mental diversion but also allows you to express yourself and tap into a different aspect of your mind.
By nurturing your creative side, you can find a sense of accomplishment outside of your exam studies, boosting your confidence and morale. The bar exam, and your results, do not define you, and pursuing your other interests while taking a break from studying can help remind you of that.
5. Multitasking Life Tasks and Study Breaks
Efficiency is key when it comes to bar exam prep. While taking breaks that refresh your mind is crucial, you can also use these moments to tackle some essential life tasks. By merging productive activities with your study breaks, you can make the most of your limited time.
During your breaks, try taking a few minutes to organize your study space. Clear away unnecessary papers, put away distracting items, and ensure you have all the materials you need for your next study session. A tidy workspace can enhance your focus and productivity when you get back to studying.
Breaks can also be an excellent opportunity to complete quick household chores or errands. Whether it’s folding laundry, taking out the trash, or responding to a few texts, these small tasks can be accomplished during your downtime. Just be sure to set a timer so you don’t get sidetracked for too long.
6. Don’t Skimp on Rest
Sleep is a critical component of effective studying. During your breaks, prioritize restful activities that promote better sleep. Avoid excessive screen time, especially close to bedtime, and consider doing some relaxing activities like reading a novel or practicing gentle yoga stretches.
By ensuring you get sufficient rest during your breaks, you’ll set the stage for better sleep, which leads to improved cognitive function and sharper focus during your study sessions.
Study Breaks Might Be Short, But They Can Revitalize You
As you study for the bar exam, remember that taking breaks is not just a luxury but a necessity. Incorporating some of these ideas into your bar exam break routine can improve well-being, enhance focus, and lead to a better overall performance. By balancing intense study sessions with rejuvenating breaks, you’ll be equipped to conquer the bar exam and set yourself up for a successful legal career!