Tag Archives: energy

Take a Break

With Summative Assessment season upon us, it’s important to remember to  keep things balanced and to take regular breaks.

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It may sound counter-intuitive when you have submission dates piling up and exams to study for, but studies show that when we work / study for hours on end on the same task, with no breaks, our brain slowly starts to switch off  and no longer registers what we are doing. Taking regular breaks from studying, or working on an assignment, allows your mind to refocus and improves attention. The trick however, lies in selecting the correct type of activity for your study / work break so that you return to your task focused and refreshed.

How Long Should You Be Studying / Working For?

The general consensus appears to be:

  • Study / work for 50 – 90 minutes with a 10 minute break in between sessions.

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  • And to take a slightly longer break after every 2 to 3 sessions.

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“Good” Study / Work Breaks

Different activities work for different people. The point is to decide on an activity that will help refresh you and that makes the transition back to work / studying easy.  Also, a “good” break is one that isn’t able to morph into a procrastination tactic.

The simplest way to manage your breaks (and even your study / work sessions) is by setting a timer – when the timer goes, the break is over.

Good, reinvigorating breaks include:

  • Moving away from the screen / book / desk – sitting in the same position for hours on end is no good for you, especially if you are hunched up with tension and anxious about what you are working on. Get up and stretch, move around, get your blood flowing and your eyes moving and focusing on different things. Even better, go for a 10 minute walk outside – the fresh air will help clear your mind and re-energize you for your next session.
  • Chitter-chatter – you’ve been “in the zone” for the past 50 – 90 minutes, phone a friend or find someone to have a quick (emphasis on “quick“) chat with. It will help you change your focus and feel connected again.
  • Dance, draw, doodle – do something creative and fun for 10 minutes. Dancing can boost your energy and lift your mood. Colouring in (yes, with crayons or pencils) is a wonderfully relaxing way to clear your mind and get your focus back.
  • Eat – whether it’s a quick snack (during your 10 minute break) or a light lunch (during your 30 minute break), the low efficiency activity of putting together a light and healthy snack or meal not only allows your mind to focus on something else, but refuels your body and improves your mindset.

What Not to Do

Just like the right type of break can energize you, the wrong type of break can result in unplanned detours and distractions that make it hard to get back to work and full focus.

Things to avoid include:

  • TV / Computer Games / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Snapchat / WhatsApp / E-mail – Rule of thumb: if it has a screen, avoid it. None of these activities boost productivity or focus; what they do is leave you feeling more tired, wound up and distracted than before. Unless you are done studying or working for the day, or self-discipline is your secret super power, don’t use any of these as your downtime break activity.
  • Catch some Zzzzz’s – Taking a nap can actually be counter-productive to your work / study schedule; more often than not it leaves you feeling more tired and less inclined to want to get back to work. Instead, aim for a solid 8 – 9 hours uninterrupted sleep a night and if you absolutely have to take a nap during the day, ensure that it is not longer than 20 minutes.
  • Quick fix – A take-away pizza (junk food) and super sized energy drink (caffeine) may make for a quick meal break and energy boost, but that is exactly what they are…quick. Neither offer sustained energy or benefit, instead resulting in your blood sugar spiking and then crashing, leaving you feeling flat and tired.

References:

How to Take a Study Break. (2015).  Retrieved from: https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2011/06/study-break/ [Accessed on: 14 October 2016].

Hoyt, E. (2016). Energizing Study Break Ideas & What to Avoid. Retrieved from: http://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/energizing-study-break-ideas-what-to-avoid [Accessed on: 14 October 2016].

Nauert, R. (2011). Taking Breaks Found to Improve Attention. Retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/09/taking-breaks-found-to-improve-attention/23329.html [Accessed on: 14 October 2016].

You’ve Been Taking Breaks All Wrong. Here’s How To Do It Right. (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/youve-been-taking-breaks-_n_4453448.html [Accessed on: 14 October 2016].

 

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FOCUS ON: ADD / ADHD – The Effects of Adult ADD / ADHD

Undiagnosed or untreated ADD/ADHD can result in a person experiencing problems in basically every area of their life. 

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The range of effects ADD/ADHD has can result in feelings of embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness and lack of confidence. What is important to remember when receiving a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is that the problems and difficulties you have been experiencing are as a result of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD and not because of a personal weakness or character flaw.

The Negative Side of Adult ADD/ADHD

Mental & Physical Health

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can contribute to a variety of health problems including:

  • compulsive eating
  • substance abuse or addiction
  • anxiety
  • chronic stress & tension
  • low self-esteem
  • depression
  • mood swings

In addition to this, those with ADD/ADHD are more likely to forget or ignore important medical check-ups and doctors appointments, fail to read and follow medical instructions, and possibly forget to take medications.

Work & Finances

Adults with untreated ADD/ADHD are more likely to change jobs more frequently and under-perform, resulting in low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Problems adults with ADD/ADHD experience in the work (or college) environment include:

  • trouble keeping a job or staying in college
  • difficulty with following company or college rules
  • difficulty meeting deadlines
  • difficulty sticking to a 9 – 5 routine or college schedule

In addition to this many adults with ADD/ADHD find it difficult managing their own finances resulting in bills not being paid or getting lost, late fees and debt due to impulsive spending.

Relationships

Adults with undiagnosed or untreated ADD/ADHD are at a higher risk for:

  • marital / relationship problems
  • multiple marriages due to divorce
  • higher incidences of separation and divorce

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can put an enormous amount of strain on work, family and love relationships. The person with ADD/ADHD is often frustrated by their inability to “get organised” or “listen” or “focus”; and those close to them become increasingly resentful because of their perceived lack of “responsibility” and “attention”.

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Having ADD/ADHD does not mean you cannot pursue your dreams or lead a “normal” life; nor is it an indicator of a person’s intelligence or capabilities. What ADD/ADHD does mean is that there may be certain things that are more challenging for you than for others, this doesn’t mean you can’t find ways around these challenges and succeed.

The key to coping with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is finding what your strengths are and capitalising on them. You may be disorganised and impulsive but you may also be highly creative, passionate and able to see things from a totally different perspective to others. The aim is to identify what you are good at and work around that. 

The Positive Side of Adult ADD/ADHD

High Energy

A different way to view hyperactivity is “high energy”. If you’re following a career where energy and stamina are required, you can use your “high energy” to your advantage. The challenge however is learning to harness the energy, instead of allowing it to disrupt your focus.

The Devil’s in the Detail

People with ADD/ADHD are not commonly known for their attention to detail; but what most people forget is that a person with ADD/ADHD often can and will become very focussed on tasks or activities they do enjoy, and as a result may pick on details others will miss.

Live in the Now

As with hyperactivity, implusivity too has a positive side to it – being impulsive means you are the type of person who “lives in the now” and doesn’t dwell too far into the future.

Although impulsive behaviour can be risky and can result in unnecessary problems and consequences, if you can learn to manage and direct your impulses the benefits could outweigh the risks.

In Part 3 of Focus On: ADD/ADHD we will be looking at Ways of Managing Adult ADD/ADHD

 

*The information contained in this post is for informative purposes only and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 


References:

Metcalf, E. (2013). The Positive Side of Adult ADHD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/positives?page=2 [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].

Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Adult ADD/ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].