Data from UChicago's Campus Health Needs Assessment identified mental health as a priority need among college and graduate students. To address this, the Wellness Advisory Board (WAB) created the Take 10 initiative with the aim to encourage rest and social connection in the midst of a busy and hectic schedule. Based on the Pomodoro Technique, the Take 10 initiative seeks to create a space for relaxation and social interaction through pop-up events relating to the following themes: creativity, physical activity, gratitude, and engaging with others.
Research evidence supports psychologically detaching from heavy workloads to maintain mental well-being and life satisfaction and reduce the chance of burnout. This means that if you choose to take a break, but continue thinking about your upcoming tasks and mulling over your to-do list, you are not truly resting. A genuine break will produce comfort, tranquility, and stress relief. Research also reveals that taking short breaks when learning something new helps to change the brain and solidify memory. Therefore, relaxing while studying not only provides rest for your mind, but also makes your brain more efficient.
Research on lack of social connection suggests that it may reduce cognitive ability, meaning that a lack of strong, positive relationships in your life may impede your ability to thrive and accomplish your goals.
These research studies, along with the results from the CHNA, support the presence and aims of the Take 10 initiative and provide a strong basis for addressing this need.
Unwinding is very subjective and can be done in a lot of ways. There are also various time limits you can incorporate when studying that work best for you! If you want to follow the Pomodoro technique, you can set a timer for 25 minutes, and when it goes off, you take a five minute break. Health Promotion and Wellness recommends ten minutes of rest for every hour of focused work. Here are some examples of regular breaks you can take on campus:
- Schedule a Zoom dinner party with your friends from UChicago.
- Write a letter to someone who you are missing or wanting to show special appreciation for.
- Schedule a time to call a friend or family member. During this time, make a meal together or play a game from afar.
- Explore UChicago Student Wellness' Mindfulness Meditation resources.
- Practice mindful meditation or guided breathing for 10 minutes.
- Take a break from all devices by putting an alarm on your phone for 10 minutes and then placing it facedown. Don’t pick it up or look at screens until the alarm goes off.
- Take a walk around the beautiful UChicago campus, which was designated a botanic garden in 1997.
- Visit one of the "sunny spots" on campus, or do some studying outside on the Midway.
- Watch the live feed of Botany pond with baby ducks.
- Play a quick card game, like Uno or Speed.
- Check out Shedd Aquarium’s Instagram or Facebook page and follow along as their penguins visit other parts of the aquarium.
- Check out the virtual arts offerings through UChicago Arts.
- Get your creative juices flowing with activities from the Smart at Home initiative from the Smart Museum.
- Explore the Art Institute’s virtual collection.
- Visit a new fitness class Ratner and challenge yourself to make a new friend.
- Do some full-body stretching or yoga poses.
- Take a walk in your neighborhood.
- Check out a Gentle Yoga or Yoga Flow session with Spiritual Life.
- Explore art on campus with the UChicago Arts maps.
- Turn on your favorite song and just dance.
- Try a new dance class in the Virtual Dance Lab from UChicago’s Dance Program.
It is important to note that fulfilling breaks do not include browsing social media pages, streaming videos online, or catching up on the news. Do something different that takes your eyes away from a screen and into the physical world!
Here are more resources for more ideas on taking a break: