The Benefits of Relaxing at Milton
by Eliza Scharfstein on Friday, June 7th, 2013
Classes at Milton Academy have both benefits and disadvantages. While Milton relates educational material to students’ everyday life, and makes even classically boring subjects interesting, its riveting classes come with an extremely heavy workload. It is not surprising that after arriving home from a day packed with classes, clubs, and activities, many students find themselves overwhelmed and stressed from the piles of homework.
I cannot count the times that I have returned home and got started on a couple of assignments yet found it difficult to stay focused on my work. I know that I am not the only one facing these struggles. How, then, can we Milton students finish our homework when there is so much? The answer lies in relaxation. One might think that he or she does not have the time to relax, due to the enormous workload just waiting to be completed. However, a small, short break can refocus and rejuvenate.
For me, relaxing is grabbing a snack, taking a shower, or going for a run. But these strategies are not the only ways to escape from the stress of Milton. Olivia Atwood (I) requires a different kind of break to destress and says that she likes “to read books–especially comic books… I also like to jump on my family’s trampoline and just sit in the Stu and do nothing with friends.” This complete dichotomy of schoolwork and down time, she says, causes her work productivity to “definitely increase.”
We are not the only two who think that breaks are important; studies have validated this theory. According to an article by Cara Stein on workawesome.com, in a study reported in Cognition, experimenters addressed this theory of taking an occasional break. They gave people a task to complete: to distinguish if a line is short and long on a computer screen. When the subjects worked on the test for forty minutes straight, their results often decreased in quality as the time elapsed. However, the quality typically did not decrease when subjects were given three short breaks throughout. The only plausible explanation, it seems, is that these breaks are necessary for our brain to refocus.
In his book, Spark, John Ratey of Harvard Medical School shares the benefits of exercise on decreasing stress and strengthening mental capacity. In other words, exercise is a great method of regaining energy and refocusing when the workload begins to pile up.
Although the research shows that taking a break is important, Olivia emphasizes the importance of taking an actual break, saying that “half- working, half-relaxing doesn’t work for me.” Facebook chatting with friends while trying to write a history essay is probably not the best idea, nor is watching TV while working on a lab report. Relaxation time needs to be separated from work time. So next time you have writer’s block or simply don’t understand your complex math homework, take a quick break and you see the positive effect of a re-energized mind!
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