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  • Cassandra Holcombe

Take a Coffee Break, Friend

Finals is here, and all of us are rushing to get in the last few papers, tests, and projects. With so much to do and think about, now may not seem like the time to talk about taking a break, but with all the stress piling on, now is exactly that time!

First, there are a couple of things you need to know about me before going forward. I am a terrible perfectionist. I don’t just mean that I feel disappointed when I get C. I mean that when I get a B+ I spend an entire hour sulking about it. If you are reading this and you think the reason I am talking about breaks is because I don’t care about grades, let me assure you that I very much do care.

This post is also very much for people who are like me. If you are feeling stressed by assignments and can’t think of anything lower on your priority list then taking a break, I am here to tell you that relaxing is not wrong and show why it is beneficial.

One reason why you should take a break, especially between the rough draft and the final of a paper, is that you can come back to the paper with fresh eyes. When I first finish a paper, I feel like it is perfect and there is not a single comma, period, or sentence awry. This is, of course, absolutely false; it is often when I let my paper sit and come back to it a few hours or a day later that I can spot the problems and fix them.

Another reason to take a break is that you need to refresh your brain. You can only stare at a brightly lit screen, and/or piece of paper, before you start to feel fatigued and aren’t quite thinking as clearly anymore.

The last reason is that, although it sounds counterintuitive, your stress and anxiety levels will be decreased. Every time I force myself to take a break, the list will be in my mind for a while, but after a few moments, I can banish it and spend time taking a few deep breaths. By the time my break is done, that knot in the center of my chest that is trying to choke me is looser and I don’t feel like I am drowning anymore.

Here are some quick tips for managing breaks well:

  • Do something outside - go for a walk, a run, or eno on the Quad.

  • Sip your favorite drink - in winter, a hot cocoa, tea, or coffee.

  • Put your records on - or Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite instrument.

  • Have a chat with a close friend - tell them how you felt about that test.

  • Take a nap - with an alarm, so you can wake up and study all over again!

Sweet things and sweet people can help to make breaks even better, and there are plenty of both in the writing center. So when you take your break, maybe walk over to the library and visit the writing center to grab a bit of candy and talk with some of the tutors.

I can’t wait to see you there!

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