Whether you’re are a student or long into your working career, summer often feels like the right time of year for your brain to take a little vacation. The weather is warmer and it feels like your time to relax. However, you don’t have to check out completely — there are ways to maintain your ability to concentrate and your memory and other cognitive functions — so you still can keep your brain active during the summer. If doesn’t have to be as extreme as taking a course or reading a thousand books. With a few stimulating activities each day, you can enjoy your vacation and give your brain a quick workout as well.
Read A Book
A summer vacation provides a great opportunity to finally read a book. If you have stacks of half-read books, you can finish one of those, or find a new read. If you are heading to the beach or taking a long time, take a book with you. There are many health benefits that reading a book provides. You become better able to pay attention and retain information. Reading is also a great stress-reliever — in being able to disconnect from your day-to-day life and get lost in a story.
Engage Your Creativity
If you are not really that into reading, there are plenty of other ways to achieve deep levels of cognitive engagement. Creative hobbies provide great opportunities for this. A good body of research has found links between creativity and mental health. Exploring your creative side can be really beneficial for your overall well-being. Creativity helps to boost your self-esteem, improve your mood, and give you something new to focus on. This summer is a great time to start a new art, craft, or do-it-yourself project.
Keep Up With The News
Whether you’re a student or career professional, you could try reading about the latest news in your field. There are always exciting developments that you may not have time in the past to become aware of. For example, if you study or work in medicine, did you know that probes can now detect single nucleotide variants in DNA? You don’t necessarily need to read something related to your school or work; instead, find other topics that you are or might become really interested in. As long as you are reading, you are keeping your brain active.
Get Lost In Nature
Getting lost in nature is a sensory and stimulating experience that is not hard at all to do. Try going for a walk in an area of natural beauty near you — and simply taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. There are so many well-being benefits of getting in touch with nature. Nature can improve your mood and allows you to gain a new sense of perspective. You’ll return to your day-to-day life feeling rejuvenated.
Play Games With Friends
If you enjoy playing games with friends, then you’re in luck — because games can really help you develop important skills. For example, there are several benefits of solving puzzles together. Games can improve your critical thinking and decision-making skills — and it does matter whether you are playing games online or in person. As well as boosting your problem-solving skills, in playing games with friends you have an opportunity to practice your team-building skills, while hopefully having a great deal of fun.
Discover Hidden Gems
Even if you have planned a staycation this year, take the time to look for the hidden gems that could be right around you. You will likely be surprised by what you find right where you live or the place around you. There may be plenty of natural places to explore — or this could be the perfect time to take a road trip — to get off the beaten track and explore new neighborhoods. Travel is a great way to keep your brain active.
Travel Somewhere Exotic
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to travel to a new country. There’s definitely some truth when people say that traveling changes your brain. It opens you up to new experiences — and you can learn about culture, history, society, and much more. Whether you’ve organized a staycation or a trip somewhere exotic, traveling to a new place is a great way to learn something new and experience fun ways to keep your brain engaged.
Shake Up Your Fitness Routine
While we are exploring activities to cognitively challenge your brain, research has shown that physical exercise is very beneficial for your brain. Exercise has been shown to promote neurogenesis — the development of new brain cells. A regular physical exercise routine can be an essential part of maintaining your brain health and overall well-being. If you’re stuck in a rut and getting bored of the same old workout — it’s time to shake things up this summer. Try a new sport or fitness class for that extra motivation. Exercise can be a little more challenging in the warmer weather, but your brain and body will thank you for it.
Take An Online Course
If there’s always been something you wanted to study, you might be surprised by the number of free online courses that are available. You may want to work on your professional development. Speak to your employer about any new training courses, which would help you progress in your role. Make sure you’re motivated to do this — as that ensures your brain will get the most benefit of job-related education. You are much more likely to have a positive outcome when you study something that you are really interested in — or that is very relevant to you.
Share Your Wisdom
It has been thought that teaching others reinforces your learning because you need to find creative ways to explain information that you know well. As an activity, teaching allows you to retain this information in your memory and develop a deeper understanding of the details. Consider joining discussion groups — or an informal book club with friends. If you’d like to help in the community, you could even try volunteering and teaching local kids. Teaching is often a very rewarding and confidence-boosting activity for many people. No matter how you decide to do this, discussing your knowledge with others does really help you to engage with that material.
Now Do Something
Keep your brain active this summer with a fun new activity. Remember to pick something that aligns with your interests. This way, you will be able to get the most out of whatever you choose to do — for your brain and overall well-being.