Now that it’s May, some College students are already done with their spring semester, some will be soon. Younger students will be out in a few weeks. But for many adults, summer doesn’t mean much more than warmer weather on their lunch breaks. Unless of course you have kids… Then summer means finding some way of entertaining the kids all summer, keeping them out of trouble.
Well whatever summer means to you, I’m sure you have some plans. A common thing to hear when spring arrives is, “I’m going to work out this summer!” And then fall arrives and no one has really worked out all that much. We all know how that goes.
But not to be too pessimistic! If you really want to work out, whether you want to lose weight or build/tone muscle, whatever, find a buddy! I know, I know. You find a buddy and then neither one of you work out. Well, make it a competition. You’ll have to find some way that makes it fun for the both of you. For example, a couple of my friends bought Fitbits this past school year and had competitions to see who could get the most steps in a day. It encouraged them to walk more, even when they didn’t really need to walk anywhere. So, if you can make a competition out of it, do it!
But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m not one of those people that encourage everyone to work out because honestly, you get busy, things get in the way, and it is hard to keep up with. I’m guilty of it too. But I do want to talk to you, especially the students out there, about working out your brain.
While your brain is not technically a muscle, it kind of works like one. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You’ve heard that before, but is it true? Yes. Think about it. What did you learn in your history class two years ago? If you haven’t had a history class in the last two years, think back to your last history class. What did you learn about? Maybe you can recall the subject. It was about American history, or World War I. Whatever it was about, do you remember everything that you learned? Unless you use that information every day, or you have a super awesome memory, you probably only remember a few key points.
Anyway, I’m not telling you to go back and read your old history book over the summer, though you can if you want. But you should try to learn something this summer. It could be a new language, or something more simple, like how to knit (possible how to post coming later, maybe). Chances are, whether you want to learn or not, you will learn something this summer.
But, the more you actively engage your brain, the stronger it gets. In other words, if you do brain workouts, you can improve your problem solving skills, mental flexibility, memory, attention to detail, etc. There are tons of ways to do this and it usually doesn’t take very long.
I use Lumosity. You’ve probably seen commercials for it on TV. Basically, you long on (it’s free) and you have a few games that you can play. There are different games every day for variety. All you have to do is play the games. It’s fun, and it works your brain.
But the question is, does it actually help? Well, studies show that it does, but I’m not here to sell their product. You can read all of that scientific stuff on their website if you want. What I will tell you is that I have noticed improvement in myself. It could be the placebo effect, or the games could work. I don’t know, but it’s free, it’s fun, and it only takes a few minutes a day. Of course, you could play for longer if you really like one of the games.
Another good way to really work your brain is to learn a new language. I know, you probably just rolled your eyes and contemplated leaving this excessively long blog post (if anyone is still even reading this) to go back to mindlessly scrolling your Facebook newsfeed. But hear me out. Most schools, I think, now require students to take a language course in order to graduate. And most students probably hate this. I know I did. My high school required two semesters of the same language and I avoided it like the plague. I took sign language as an easy out. My reasoning is that eventually I’m going to run into a deaf person and need to communicate with him or her. It actually turned out to be pretty useful in talking to friends across the room in other classes. But in all honesty, I’m glad I learned a little bit of Sign Language.
Anyway, learning a language is not only helpful in communicating with people who speak that language, but it also helps to work your brain (are you surprised?). I’m not going to get all scientific and explain why learning a language is good for you but I will say this: It doesn’t have to be as painful as your Spanish 1 teacher made it.
I use Duolingo. It’s kind of like Rosetta Stone, but it’s free. Again, not here to sell a product, but you should try it. It’s free, it’s completely online, and only takes a few minutes a day. Unfortunately, there are only a few languages available to learn right now, but hey, it’s free, you can’t really complain.
I’m not saying you have to do either of these things. If you want to spend your summer letting your brain turn to mush, then continue reading Facebook statuses of complaints about work and what your friends are eating for dinner, and watch hours of cats being adorable on YouTube. (I’m not dissing cats or YouTube here, because cats are cute and funny, and YouTube is a fantastic community of amazing content creators. Another potential future post). But seriously consider spending a few minutes on your brain every day, after all, I think it’s proven its loyalty to you.
However you choose to spend your summer, know that I will not judge you (okay, maybe just a little bit), mainly because I won’t know. But anyway, have a fun and safe summer with whatever it is you decide to do!