University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Take Some Breaks and Get to Know Northwest Arkansas

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Northwest Arkansas. Photo by Michael Gjellum
November 03, 2022  |  By Stephen Caldwell

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Perhaps the most counter-intuitive advice for success as a college student is to spend some time doing things that have nothing to do with academics. 

There’s no substitute for hard work, of course, and there’s wisdom in the advice to “pay now and play later.” But you can take that to an unhealthy extreme. To paraphrase another useful adage, all work and no play make for a dull existence. Plus, working nonstop just isn’t good for you. 

Stepping away from your work from time to time, according to psychologists like Charlotte Fritz, can improve your moods, your well-being, and your capacity to perform. Furthermore, research shows that even microbreaks of 10-60 minutes can dramatically improve your ability to focus long term on a task and that “wakeful rest” allows the brain to “compress and consolidate memories” so that you can more quickly learn new skills.  

For students at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, there’s no shortage of ways to escape the stress of academic life for brief periods of time that will help you refresh and reenergize once you dive back into your books.

A plethora of activities is a big reason why U.S. News & World Report regularly ranks Northwest Arkansas in the top 10 for best places to live in the United States. So depending on how much time you have, here are some options to consider in the region. 

Day Trips 

It’s called the “great outdoors” because, well, it’s great, especially in Northwest Arkansas.  

Even though the region has developed a metropolitan feel within the different cities, there is a vast network of trails for hiking, mountain biking, road biking, and off-road motorcycling. Most notably, the Razorback Greenway covers 40 miles, from Kessler Mountain Regional Park in south Fayetteville to Lake Bella Vista.  

The Buffalo River is among the top options in American for picturesque float trips, camping, and hiking. Devils Den State Park has trails, caves, camping spots, and waterfalls. And several other lakes and rivers in the area are hot spots for fishing and boating.  

Other day-trip options include the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, which sits on the eastern edge of Lake Fayetteville and features 12 themed gardens and a butterfly house. And museums like the Walmart Museum, Chrystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Momentary, and Shiloh Museum of Ozark History offer a variety of cultural experiences. 

Special Events 

Regardless of the season, there’s almost always something happening in Northwest Arkansas.  

The Razorbacks, of course, provide plenty of sports options – 17 different teams competing in 12 sports. And there’s minor league baseball in the spring and summer months with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  

There also are seasonal events like the farmers’ markets, annual events like Bikes, Blues, and BBQ and Lights of the Ozarks, ongoing performances at the Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared, and the Arkansas Public Theatre, concerts at the Arkansas Music Pavilion and other venues across the region, and a variety of events on campus.  


Even when you don’t have time to venture far from campus or your apartment, it’s still important to take breaks from work.  

Checking your social media, however, doesn’t count as a microbreak. In fact, one study found that using a smartphone during a break doesn’t “allow the brain to recharge as effectively as the other types of breaks” when it comes to efficiency and production once you return to your tasks.

Instead, do something for 10 to 60 minutes that doesn’t involve a screen. Like what? You could pray or meditate, take a walk (with your dog), ride your bike on campus, daydream in a park, clean your room (yikes!), stretch, exercise, create a “gratitude” list, draw a picture, or phone your parents (which doesn’t involve a screen unless it’s a video call).

And, by the way, if your parents ask why you aren’t studying, just tell them the call is all part of your masterplan to make the Dean’s List. And ask for money. Always ask for money. Otherwise, they’ll think something’s wrong. 

Matt WallerStephen Caldwell is Chief Word Architect for WordBuilders, Inc., where he spends most of his time helping clients discover, craft, and share the messages of their hearts. In addition to writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and on numerous book projects, he has developed leadership and functional training for Fortune 500 companies. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.