5 Ways to Stay Sharp Over Summer Break

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation; however, there are plenty of ways to sharpen your mind while enjoying your summer. 

For many of us, summer comes not with another semester, but with a three-month break. As enticing as summer courses may be, they’re simply not convenient for every student. But even if we can’t plow along in our degrees, that doesn’t mean that our brains have to remain completely stagnant. Whether you’re taking a long vacation or picking up a summer job, here are a few activities you might find fun ways to keep your mind sharp until next semester.

1. Summer Reading List

A summer reading list may be one of the easiest things you can do to keep your brain sharp. There’s no wrong way to make a reading list, whether you fill it with more modern lit, cram it with classic books, or mix it up with a combo of both. In addition to making a list, make an effort to complete it. Designate yourself a book a week, or bi-weekly, or plan to read a whole book a month. Reading shouldn’t be stressful, so be sure to have fun with this one!

2. Arts and Crafts

Learning a new art form can be a great way to keep your mind focused while being creative. For those who don’t enjoy sticky paint on their fingers, the smell of laminating sheets, or draw an apple and end up with a sickly looking pumpkin, arts and crafts don’t have to be limited to what you find at the craft supply store. Baking, woodworking, tinkering, and anything else that can be labeled an art form is a unique way to challenge yourself. As a bonus, you could try to pick a craft that merges well with your major and degree. Biology students could try gardening; English students poetry, stories, or a newspaper; film students could enter a local short film festival; the list is endless.

3. Volunteering

There are limitless ways to help out, from inside your community to worldwide. Collecting donations for water wells can help out hundreds of people you may never meet, but will enrich both of your lives. For those more introverted, SPCA and animal volunteer service is an enjoyable way to volunteer. Boy’s and Girls Clubs, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, allow those who enjoy children to offer a hand to kids in need of strong influences. You could even try to start your own charity or a volunteering service. However, if all else fails, asking your pastor, elder, or priest if they need a hand is never a bad place to start.

4. Blogging

It is common to think that blogging requires a lot of hands-on computer skills. However,  blogging is simple and takes very basic computer knowledge. All you need is internet access and the ability to write at least twenty words. Most bloggers will suggest you also pick a theme. For example, I mainly blog about writing and author tips, but that doesn’t hinder the ideas of puppies, book reviews, or stories.

Some websites allow new or broke bloggers the chance to start a website for no money at all, such as WordPress.com or Blogger. Royalty free images or self-taken photography helps fill that corner of the Internet just the way you like it. A decent following can take months of consistent posts to grow, so this activity is not for those who seek instant gratification.

5. Learn a New Language

As tough as this activity may be, the life-long effects on your brain are well worth it. Not only does learning a second language make you sound smarter, it actually does increase your intellect. Memorization may become smoother, any future languages are easier and learned faster, and a whole new world and community are opened up. Learning languages such as Latin or German will help you understand roots and translate words from other languages, American Sign Language increases your perception, and learning Japanese will prove that absolutely nothing can stand in your way. There are plenty of discount and cheap ways to learn new languages online. Youtube offers tons of free courses, some homeschool sites offer discount courses, and finding a native speaker who will train you in exchange for petty cash are all different ways to approach this summer challenge.

Morgan Saddleson is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.