Keeping Your Brain Sharp
Summer is a time of rest and relaxation, and for most people this means putting off most, if not all, of their academic endeavors. And while taking a mental break can be a good thing and result in renewed energy for school later, this doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. It’s easy to fall victim to laziness during the summer and cease reading and learning in every capacity.
During the school year at Enlightium Academy, we have a schedule that keeps us accountable to continue growing academically and summer usually breaks from that routine. However, there are actually many long-term benefits to keeping our brain sharp at all times. While social media, video games, and browsing the Internet can all be fun, they can easily distract us from activities that are more cognitively stimulating. So, rather than diving headlong into hours of screen time, consider using the summer to relax through more beneficial activities such as reading, establishing a healthy sleep pattern, or taking up a new hobby.
Some healthy habits give you delayed gratification; an example of this would be reading. The gratification makes you feel good about yourself - like you have accomplished something. Reading is not instantaneous. It takes time and effort. You have to dedicate yourself to reading. Reading can actually help you develop interpersonal skills. Studies show that “people who read literary fiction — stories that explore the inner lives of characters — show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others” (Healthline.com). With a direct connection to empathy, reading can help us lead lives more in line with what Jesus calls us to do: love thy neighbor as thyself. The more developed our understanding of culture and emotion is, the more we can shed any judgement we may have. It can help us understand others more by putting us in their shoes. Reading is also beneficial for your brain. According to Healthline.com, “A 2013 study conducted by Rush University Medical Center found that people who’ve engaged in mentally stimulating activities all their lives were less likely to develop the plaques, lesions, and tau-protein tangles found in the brains of people with dementia” (Healthline.com). Making reading a habit will not only help you sharpen your brain now, but it will also allow you to invest in your cognitive health for the future. One other great benefit of reading is related to sleep. “Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest reading as part of a regular sleep routine” (Healthline.com), so whether you are reading the Bible before bed, or you are reading a personal selection of fiction or nonfiction, reading before bed can help you relax your mind and body to transition you to sleep.
Speaking of sleep, healthy sleeping habits are an excellent way to sharpen your brain. Our brains need rest. In fact, “Sleep loss causes profound impairments in cognitive and behavioral performance” (Ellenbogen). Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “Adolescents need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. But, more than two-thirds of US high school students report getting less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights” (CDC.gov). Making healthy sleep habits will not only sharpen your brain in preparation for school, but it’s also extremely beneficial to your life. It doesn’t seem to be too uncommon a thought process to think that if you don’t get enough sleep, then you will likely be tired the next day. So, if you are tired the next day, it also doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to presume that it may be more of an effort to perform tasks that otherwise would have been routine. Summer time provides a great opportunity to reestablish a healthy sleep routine by creating new habits of getting to bed and waking up at good times.
It is not to say that the summer can’t be a break. The summer can offer you solace from writing papers, answering math problems, etc. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. Picking up a hobby or learning something new can help keep your brain focused and challenged. A study from Harvard shows that, “Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active. Pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, volunteering or mentoring are additional ways to keep your mind sharp” (“6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age”). Picking up a hobby can give you “something to strive for that is stress-free (unlike career goals) and takes your mind off of your concerns” (“How Hobbies Evolve Your Mindset & Boost Mental Health”). So, whether you pick up physical exercise, knitting, cooking, or volunteering at your church, you are keeping your brain sharp by doing so.
The summer offers an opportunity to approach new things. School can be busy and overwhelming at times. Keeping your brain sharp, and developing healthy habits can aid you in life and upon returning to school at Enlightium Academy. From reading the Bible nightly to learning how to cook, your brain will thrive from healthy habits.
If you have any questions about any of our programs, guidelines, or suggestions, feel free to contact the school at (866) 488-4818 option 2 or chat with a representative on our website.
- Benefits of Reading Books: For Your Physical and Mental Health (healthline.com)
- Cognitive benefits of sleep and their loss due to sleep deprivation | Neurology
- CDC - Data and Statistics - Sleep and Sleep Disorders
- 6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age - Harvard Health
- 11 Best Hobbies To Evolve Your Mindset & Boost Mental Health (thedailymeditation.com)