Ways to Take a Break From Class

At this point in time, we are all undoubtedly tired of everything that this pandemic has brought upon us- social distancing, being cooped up between the walls of our room, the word unprecedented, and the never-ending Zoom meetings. With the announcement of summer classes being online and the possibility of a virtual Fall semester as well, I think it is important to reiterate the ways you can take a break from looking at your screen for hours on end, and how to unwind after a long day at Zoom University.


Take restorative breaks

Taking strategic breaks throughout your day will help you to replenish attention, motivation, and energy, which decrease as cumulative work time increases (see graph below). The best restorative break is a 30 minute walk in nature since it improves working memory function. Walking is the most underrated form of exercise, and studies have proven the various benefits of walking, such as improving cardiac fitness, alleviating fatigue and depression, improving endurance and posture, amongst others. If you feel like you tend to put off walks during the winter seasons, remind yourself of the following quote: “there is no such thing as bad weather- only unsuitable clothing.” When you don’t have time for a 30 minute walk, you can try one of the following:

  • A 5 minute stretch

  • Pick a contact on your phone and send them a quick gratitude message

  • Listen to a meditation track

  • Eat a nutritious snack


Journal your heart out

Journaling sets actions for focus, problem solving and restoration. It allows you to view your own life with a bird’s eye view, and give you some perspective. Writing is the process of clarifying and articulating your thoughts, and it only takes a few minutes out of your day. Let’s say you journal for 5 minutes a day, which is 35 minutes per week, 140 minutes per month and 1680 minutes per year. 28 hours a year of daily journaling is 28 additional hours to think clearly, articulate your thoughts and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Some things you can write about in your journal:

  • Last night I slept at: and woke up today at: AM

  • What’s on my mind?

  • Today I am grateful for:

  • What is a creative idea for an incubate project:

  • Cool moment that happened today:

  • Today’s main goals are: 1 big thing, 3 medium things, 5 little things


Try cooking something fun

Finding a recipe you want to make, gathering the ingredients and spending some quality time in the kitchen creating a scrumptious meal is one of the best ways to take a break and relax. Some of my favourite cooking channels on YouTube are:

  • Joshua Weissman- if you want to try recreating your favourite fast food recipes, or try baking bread

  • Binging with Babish- if you haven’t heard of him, he recreates food that you’ve seen in TV shows and movies

  • Just One Cookbook- authentic Japanese recipes



End your day with a relaxing routine to help unwind

After I’m done with work/all my classes for the day, I like to give myself some time away from any screens and do things that I enjoy. It is also important to plan an evening “buffer zone activity” where you set a certain amount of time before bed where you are not allowed to use your phone, which can help you get a better night’s sleep. Here are some ideas for your evening activity:

  • Read a book

  • Listen to a podcast/music

  • Take a shower

  • Yoga/workout

  • Doing crafts/knitting

  • Drawing or painting




Written by Rja Asif

© 2020 McMaster Engineering Society

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