5 Simple Ways to Refresh Your Brain During a Long Day

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Tired college student

I don't know about you, but sitting in a classroom all day listening to lecture after lecture... after lecture... gets tiring. By the time my last class of the day comes around, my brain is mush!

Luckily, I have researched, experimented, and found five easy pick-me-ups you can do during the day to kick your brain back into gear and refresh! Use these tips to keep your brain energized and engaged through lecture after lecture.

1. Breathing Exercises

This is as simple as it sounds! You breathe naturally on your own, right? (If you don't, you are not alive and, therefore, can't read this. I will just assume.)

All you have to do is take a deep breath in through your nose, making sure that you are using your lungs and not your throat, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Do this a few times and you will feel relaxed and focused enough to take on the rest of the day!

2. Take a Break

Students in class

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Taking a break may be the most obvious choice, but it's obvious for a reason - it works!

Step away from your English paper on the relationship between romanticism in literature and the daily lives of people in the Victorian era and walk around for a few minutes. Walk up and down the stairs, stroll around the library, or take a "field trip" to the other side of the building and enjoy the new scenery!

During my 3+ hour class every morning, my classmate and I usually use our restroom break to walk to the other side of the building and go "research activities for our ADHD students," AKA: we go play XBOX Kinect in the supply room. Hey, whatever works!

3. Midday Yoga

Woman doing yoga

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That's right! Take a few minutes and whip out your yoga mat wherever you are or head to a private study room on campus. If you go back and forth between downward dog and a cobra position for 5-10 minutes, you will be able to go about your day feeling more alive than please-let-me-crash-right-here-because-I-cannot-stay-awake-any-longer!

If you can't find a place to lay out your yoga mat, find an empty, non-creepy stairwell and practice a little Tai Chi. You may get crazy looks if anyone walks in (I speak from experience) but you will feel better! Besides... if they give you the stink-eye, keep doing your thing. You're in a zen mood, remember?

4. Smile

Smile. And keep smiling. Or go look in a mirror and smile... and keep smiling. Not only will this give you an instant positive energy boost, but eventually, you will realize how ridiculous you look smiling at nothing and chuckle at yourself! So simple!

5. Windmills


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I have to admit something here... I do these with my students when they look like they're about to crash. Why? Because they work.

When your eyelids feel really heavy and you can't listen to your professor, or stare at your computer, or eavesdrop on the crazy conversation happening at the table behind you, do some windmills! If you never had to endure these during P.E. in grade school, all you do is stand up, raise your hands up in the air (and no, you don't say "aye yo" like Taio Cruz), and reach your right hand to your left foot. Then reach your left hand to your right foot. Lather, rinse, repeat!

  • Fun Fact: Windmills make you cross one side of your body over the other side. This triggers your brain and engages the left and right sides of your brain. This means that your WHOLE brain is activated, instead of just one side. Pretty cool, huh?

You can do any physical activity to reactivate your brain, but I do windmills most often because they are easy and don't require tennis shoes. If you are in public, though, and don't have a place to flail around in, bend your right knee back and touch your foot with your left hand. Switch back and forth between feet and hands so you engage your whole body. These movements are less obvious in public than windmilling it up in bio lab!


How do you refresh your mind during the day? What activities do you do to keep yourself awake during long lectures and homework? Let me know in the comments!

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