Wellbeing Breaks at University: Nurturing Knowledge

4 minute read

Illustration of a female student reading a book under a tree
Illustration of a female student reading a book under a tree
Illustration of a female student reading a book under a tree
Illustration of a female student reading a book under a tree

University can be a brilliant and transformative experience. For most it’s their first time away from mum and dad, a chance to make new friends, and to tackle your favourite subject at the next level. However, the trials and tribulations faced as a student are tough: balancing classes, assessments, social activities and the rest often leads to burnout.

It’s no shock that 55% of students report emotional exhaustion at some point during uni life. I experienced it myself, and it felt like I’d often be having conversations with friends about how knackered we were. It brings into focus the importance of wellbeing breaks - taking some time for yourself to recharge before letting your battery run flat. There are some important reasons to incorporate them if you haven’t already.

The demands of academic life

It’s no secret studying at a university is hard. They’re the highest level of educational institution, and leading experts in their field usually do the teaching. That alone is enough to leave anyone feeling a bit overwhelmed. There’s also the huge number of hours required to study, research, and complete assignments. Basically, to succeed, you need to be at the top of your game.

You’re not going to be able to do that if you don’t give yourself breaks; allowing yourself to detach from your studies to relax and rejuvenate means you can come back refreshed and energised. It’s the foundation of a healthy work-life balance moving forwards, and allows for continued success, academically and professionally.

Your ability to perform academically is also tied to your physical wellbeing. Demanding schedules often mean physical activity goes by the wayside (I’ve been there), but proper exercise, nutrition, and sleep are vital for your brain to function in top gear. Using a wellbeing break to go for a walk, to the gym, or to play a sport helps relieve tension and boost cardiovascular health, proven to enhance cognitive function and as such academic performance.

Grow with yourself and others

Taking a wellbeing break gives you the chance to self-reflect. You might use a break to assess your goals and all you’ve achieved in pursuing them. Or maybe you’re a fan of journaling, meditation, or practising gratitude. Taking the chance to do this facilitates personal growth, and a Harvard study showed people who began these practices saw a huge increase in happiness scores. Personally, this is how I spend my wellbeing breaks, and it never fails to leave me more motivated. I just wish I’d done it more at university.

As well as personal growth, wellbeing breaks give a chance to grow with others. Uni life offers you the chance to forge lifelong friendships with your peers. However, sometimes this gets lost amidst the piles of work, and students unintentionally isolate themselves.

You can use a wellbeing break to connect with those around you: by joining a club, attending social events, or just spending quality time with a friend. Yes, playing FIFA with your housemate counts - just remember it’s a break. Social connections promote self-esteem and build a support network to help you better tackle your studies.

Get creative

An often overlooked way to spend a wellbeing break is finding a creative outlet. Engaging in something unrelated to your studies - painting, playing an instrument, or creative writing to name a few - offers a much-needed mental escape. What’s interesting about this is that even whilst you’re not consciously thinking about your studies, your subconscious is chuntering away in the background.

That often means the solution to a maths problem, or the next line of your essay, will come to you whilst doing something entirely unrelated. Creative outlets are shown to enhance this as the problem-solving side of your brain is still engaged. It’s yet another reason taking breaks from your studies isn’t just good for you; it’ll actually help you academically.

Look after yourself

The crucial thing about wellbeing breaks is they’re just what they say they are: a chance to look after your wellbeing. This should always be a priority, not just during your studies, but with whatever comes next, too. University life is a whirlwind - taking regular breaks allows students to take care of their minds and bodies, as well as foster relationships with those around them. There are a lot of things you could do in them, and we’ve given a few suggestions here, but ultimately they should be spent doing whatever leaves you feeling revitalised.

Remember that you shouldn’t consider wellbeing a luxury. It’s a necessity to have a well-rounded work-life balance and something you should always prioritise. If you’re having trouble finding the time using apps like Booost or speaking with your university’s student services can help. Striking the right balance will give you a holistic approach to overcoming the challenges of university and beyond.

Marketing Executive

Curtis is a former student with the University of Leeds, and now hopes to help current students get the most out of their studies. Prior to Booost Curtis worked in the energy industry, where he supported disabled customers during the COVID-19 pandemic before making the move to marketing.

Marketing Executive

Curtis is a former student with the University of Leeds, and now hopes to help current students get the most out of their studies. Prior to Booost Curtis worked in the energy industry, where he supported disabled customers during the COVID-19 pandemic before making the move to marketing.

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