How to have a restful and productive Reading Week

We’re almost there: Fall Reading Week is coming! At this point in the semester, many students are starting to feel a bit beaten down and are very much ready for the weeklong hiatus on classes. However, I can say from experience that it’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of sleeping in, watching Netflix all day and not finishing any of the work you meant to get done. I would like to share some tips that I believe will help you take the break you deserve while also getting ahead in your studies this reading week.

Tip 1: Make a list of all the readings, assignments, essays and other work you want to get done during the break. Then, rank them according to priority. Chances are you won’t get every single thing done, and that’s okay! This exercise is more about making yourself aware of what you absolutely have to do during the break and what you might be able to push back another week for the sake of some well-deserved self-care time.

Tip 2: Break up your studying. A good rule to stick by is for each hour of studying, take a short break of five to 15 minutes, and after three to four hours, take a longer break of 30 to 45 minutes. By doing this, you’ll be able to retain your focus for longer, as well as giving your body the break it needs to breathe and stretch every so often. You’ll also be more productive than if you try to study for four or five hours straight with no breaks.

During Reading Week, it’s probably a good idea to spend a few hours every day doing work, but don’t push yourself so hard that you come back to school next Monday feeling burnt out.

Tip 3: Be active! There are many reasons why exercising is a good idea for students other than just getting in shape, although that’s also important! Exercise boosts your energy levels, allowing you to put more effort into your schoolwork. It also releases proteins in the brain that can help improve memory and cognitive performance, as well as endorphins that make you happier and reduce your stress levels. All around, a pretty good payoff for a bit of sweat!

Tip 4: Take time for some non-academic goals. This could be getting a few more gym sessions in than you normally have time for, taking time to enjoy the lovely weather we’ve been having by taking a walk in Waterfowl Park or even working on creative projects you’ve pushed to the side. Taking time away from schoolwork is important during the break, and will help you come back to classes refreshed and ready to tackle the last few weeks of school and exams.

Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something! I would also like to add that the Wellness Centre will be open during Reading Week, so please email wellness@mta.ca if you would like to book appointments for massage, acupressure, counselling or anything else as part of your self-care during this time.

As always, you can reach me at healthintern@mta.ca if you have any questions, concerns, comments or topics you’d like to see discussed in this column! Have a wonderful and healthy Reading Week!

Rachel McDougall
Rachel McDougall is a contributor to the Argosy.