Staff Writer | Katrina Williams

For Azusa Pacific students, finals are right around the corner. Around this time, students usually begin to lose sleep, lock themselves in the library and drink the on-campus coffee shop out of coffee. Free time starts to disappear while stress levels rise.

Even though it may feel strange to set time aside apart from homework and studying, it is psychologically proven that a few hours away from your laptop can significantly help the studying process.

The National Center of Biotechnology Information conducted a study to  measure the academic success of individuals who took breaks from studying. Ultimately, the study found that students who took a break for one day tested the best 10 days later.

Below are some easy and simple ways to allow ourselves freedom and relief from the hectic life of a college student.

Get Outside: Retreat into the mountains, go camping, escape to the beach or just go for a walk around your neighborhood.

Regardless of how you do it, leaving the library and going outside may help clear your mind and allow you to explore someplace new.

Explore the City: What’s the point of living in the city if you never take the time to explore it? Visit the downtown shopping and eateries of Fullerton, Pasadena, Claremont, Hollywood and Glendora. Each city has history and character that can provide you with a day of fun away from the textbooks.

Embrace your inner child: Find something that you did when you were small and allow yourself to travel back in time. Sometimes, this can be as simple as coloring a picture or drinking hot chocolate. Allow yourself a mental escape through the simplicity and beauty of being a kid again.

Eat: I know that you’re thinking, “obviously!” This may seem obvious, but sometimes hard-working students forget to eat in ways that benefit their mind and body. Next time you are hungry, avoid the drive-thru and that top ramen package in your cabinet. Find a few friends and take time to make a meal or go to a restaurant you’ve never been to.

This will allow your mind some time to unwind, while also feeding your body for what you need to continue studying. Great memories are made with friends around food.

Exercise: A recent Neuroscience study from Princeton University found that exercise has the potential to permanently change the brain. According to the study, exercising releases a chemical in your brain that is often found in anxiety medication. With some exercise, your brain will release the needed neurotransmitter to focus and balance stress.

Even if you do not like running or weightlifting, exercise can be found through sports, bike rides or even partner yoga.

Overall, it’s important to allow yourself to take time away from work, and don’t feel guilty for doing so! The number of things on our “to do” list can seem overwhelming at times. Instead, permission yourself a scheduled break so when you sit back down at the computer or walk into the library, you can be a better, more engaged version of yourself.

In the words of poet Christopher Pointdexter, “I urge you; go find buildings and mountains and oceans to swallow you whole. They will save you in a way nothing else can.”