After an unprecedented past few months, summer break is now upon us. It’s time to take a break from routines, and enjoy some well deserved relaxation. While school may be the last thing on your mind over the next few months, it’s also a good idea to take some time to use your brain for a couple hours a week. In fact, months of skills can be lost over the summer, and when the school year rolls around in the fall, 6 weeks are spent re-learning old material to make up for what was forgotten over summer break. Spending some time resting is necessary, but it’s also important to engage your brain every now and then.
Summer reading is assigned for a reason! Reading can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, while also keeping your brain in tip top shape. When you read you’re not only exercising your brain, but you’re also allowing yourself to learn new information and vocabulary. Bringing a book to the beach is a great way to enjoy your summer break while also maintaining knowledge you learned over the past school year.
Exercise Your Body
The summer season means warmer temperatures and longer days, so make the most of the sunshine and get your body moving! Exercise has many health benefits, some of which affect the brain directly. According to Scientific American, exercise “increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells.” By engaging in physical activity, you’re promoting overall fitness for your body and mind.
Switch Up Your Media
Taking time to learn isn’t limited to books. There are many ways we can relax while still engaging our brain. Podcasts, audiobooks, and music are all different forms of media that still promote thought and conversation. They’re easy to have on as you complete chores around the house, take a walk or go for a drive. Explore your interests, or begin to educate yourself on a new topic.
Go for a Game
There’s only so many interesting television shows to watch over the summer, so shake up your routine and engage in a brain exercising activity. Word games like Scrabble, strategy games like Risk, and puzzles require a higher level of focus that can help keep you sharp. Games are also a great way to interact with friends and family, which will help you make the most of your summer break.
Talk with a Friend or Neighbor
During our time spent sheltering in place, we have become more reliant on social media. While social platforms have been a great way to stay connected during the pandemic, verbal conversations are a great way to reconnect and learn more about the people you love. Pick up the phone, or even talk to a family member in your household and take time to ask deeper, thought-provoking questions. These conversations are beneficial for our brains as well as our relationships.
Try Something New
Summer break is a great time to change up your routine and explore new interests. With more free time, it’s easier to take time to develop a new hobby, or to learn new skills. During the pandemic, more classes started to become available online, many for free or at a discounted rate. Categories of these classes can range from sports and fitness to art and music classes. Spending a few hours teaching yourself a new activity will engage your brain without feeling like work.
Keep a Journal
Journaling is a great exercise for your brain, and your mental health. During challenging and uncertain times, journals allow your feelings and emotions a place to go. From there, you can sort out and organize your thoughts. While it may not seem too influential in the moment, we are currently living in historic times, and even just a sentence each day can help the brain to remember far more details of that specific day years down the line. Beyond the helpful mental health benefits, journaling also helps to hone writing skills. Writing is an essential skill, and it requires constant practice. Even personal journaling can help ease your transition back to writing academic papers.
Summer is a time where students have the right to disconnect. Both your brain and body deserve rest and rejuvenation. There are 168 hours in a week, and even if 2 or 3 of these hours are spent exercising your brain, you will return back to school in the fall sharp and ready to learn.