Train Your Brain This Summer

The end of the semester is behind us, and the dust is just settling on what I hope was as good a year for you as it was for me at Penn State World Campus. Some of us are taking classes this summer, and some aren’t — regardless, I wanted to share a few quick tips on how to stay on top of your brain game over the coming months.

Brain by Dierk Schaefer
Image by Dierk Schaefer via Flickr

Whether you’re living in that East Coast humidity (don’t know how you do it), you’re sizzling over here on the West Coast (hello SPF 75), or you reside across the globe (cold summers, anyone?), these free brain exercises should help you shake off that summertime brain freeze — and keep you mentally prepared for all the adventures you’ll be going on.

1. Sudoku

This one is obvious, but I find it not being used enough.

“Doctors think that challenging yourself mentally — for example, by learning how to play Sudoku or pushing yourself to get better at increasingly harder levels of Sudoku — can be good for your brain because it activates parts of the brain that aren’t normally used in everyday activity,” according to Humana.

If there is anything that university students can never get enough of, it’s challenging themselves mentally. You’re taking the courses; you’re putting in the effort. I like to think of playing Sudoku as protecting that investment.

2. Pacing

Business Insider had quite a menagerie of brain-boosting ideas to peruse through, but one that particularly stood out to me stated that pacing — yes, walking back and forth — actually helps keep you sharp! They explain, quite logically when you think about it, that because movement helps increase blood flow to your head, this in turn oxygenates the brain, which is the goal.

So whether you’re exploring an unfamiliar place, or studying for a quiz, get up and move those legs!

3. Music

Throw down that vinyl (or pop in those earbuds)! I’ve read over the years, and again quite recently, that the power of music in terms of the health benefits it offers is absolutely astounding. When you hear a good song, or possibly a song you’ve never given a chance to before, your brain becomes stimulated. Further, as Business Insider touches on, music has the power to invoke the deepest feelings of positivity and wonderment. These feel-good vibes alleviate stress, making learning and retaining information so much easier.

4. Have fun

More than anything else, fellow students, have some fun. As soon as my finals were finished, I hopped on a flight and had the best weekend of my life. And as zany as this probably seems, I feel 100 times better than I did before I left. Light, airy, happy, stress-free, looking forward to the summer months ahead, even though that means painful sunburns and weird tan lines.

Laugh, have good food, make jokes, sing out loud, read a book, draw a picture, camp under the stars — have fun in your own way. Not only will you feel wonderful, but your alleviated brain will thank you by helping you ace that final, or impress your boss with your quick wits. Stay sharp my friends, and have a beautiful summer!

What are some of your tried-and-true intelligence enhancers?