You’ve finished your finals, returned to your old room at your parents’ home, and are now ready for three months of undisturbed sleep and doing whatever you want. If your parents insist on you getting a summer job (come on, slacker! ), you might be returning to whatever retail job you had in high school, where your clout is infinitely greater now that you’re a college student who has taken World Civ and survived an entire week on ketchup sandwiches when your meal plan ran out.
Maybe you can get in a several getaways, a road trip with buddies; maybe you’ll simply lay in the sun on a beach towel till you turn copper, or maybe you’ll take some online MBA finance programs. Regardless, you’ve decided to switch off your brain until the school year begins.
Consider this: returning in the autumn will be far more difficult if you haven’t been carefully and actively testing your brain for the preceding three months. While this may seem to be an insurmountable task, there are a number of activities you can take to keep your mind sharp and ready for re-engagement in late August. And the greatest thing is… You can perform them from your bed, sofa, or poolside butt-imprinted lounge chair.
You can perform them from your bed, sofa, or poolside butt-imprinted lounge chair.
Yes, magazines and online content are reading materials, but literature in book form requires the reader to commit to the complexity of word, narrative, and context, putting the gears in your brain engine to work even while you unconsciously enjoy the bawdy adventures of medieval dwarf politicians. Grab your mom’s old beat-up Stephen King book or, if you’re a gadget person, the newest e-reader, both of which can hold hundreds of books and allow you to bring your library with you everywhere you go.
Puzzle It Out
Games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and Scrabble have long been recommended as good to brain function and warding off Alzheimer’s in the elderly. The trick is to change things up on a regular basis, similar to how athletes maintain their bodies fit by changing up their workouts when they get too repetitive. You may engage in “sustained bursts of cognitive effort” by grabbing yesterday’s newspaper from the recycle bin before heading to the pool, keeping a cheap newsstand Sudoku book in your vehicle, or downloading a plethora of applications onto your smart phone. Take a page from Alec Baldwin’s book and check out the massively popular Words With Friends for a Scrabble-style war royale of vocabulary with your friends.
If you’re a born in the twenty-first century, chances are you use your laptop as a hub of social activity, especially to keep in touch with college friends while you’re split throughout the country. So, since you’re going to be on Facebook anyhow, open up a Word document and write out that narrative you’ve been mulling over since that exciting meeting at the university library (you locked eyes…but then she vanished). More than likely, it won’t be Faulkner, but devoting a little time each day to writing the next Great American Novel exercises your imagination as you craft the ideal sentence…again and over.
Draw, Paint, Design
Drawing and painting, like writing, stimulates your creative right brain and encourages you to stretch your imagination. Discipline and ambition are required to focus on something for long enough to accomplish a creative vision, both of which are necessary to keep your brain in peak shape. You don’t have to set out to become a great master like Raphael, but the more you practice sketching and painting, the better you’ll get. If your ambition is strong enough, get off that stool and enroll in a beginner’s art class for expert training in a comfortable environment.
Play Video Games
That’s right, you read it accurately. Gamers excited! While it’s best to keep your Gears of War sessions to one hour each day, video games can help with eye-hand coordination, strategic thinking, and multitasking. Even better, a console like the Wii or Xbox Kinect provides all of the advantages of a stationary game system while also allowing you to move around – even if only while standing still.