How to Keep Your Brain Active Over Summer Vacation

A student may ask "How do I keep my brain active during summer?" The first option is to read for fun.

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Many experiments have been conducted to examine the effects of the summer vacation gap on a student’s education. The results have shown that without any brain-stimulating activities, such as summer school, students can lose a significant amount of the knowledge they acquired during the school year.

Summer classes are not for everyone. They can be both expensive and time consuming; however, many students don’t want to lose everything they have tirelessly worked for throughout the semester. If you’re one of these scholars, have no fear; self-determination is here. These are the techniques you can use to avoid losing your mind this break.


In the study “Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain,” several researchers measured changes in the brain after a subject read a novel. They found increased connectivity in the parts of the brain responsible for language comprehension, attention, and memory.

In short, picking up a book will increase your language skills, and the extent of which is up to you. Learn new vocabulary by looking up the unfamiliar words you find in a novel. Retain knowledge you gained during the last school year by going over old notes. Read a nonfiction text and research historical references you do not understand. The more enthusiastic you are as a reader, the more you will be able to assimilate the information.


Staying creative over summer vacation can help keep the brain sharp; here a girl listens to music.

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Several experiments, such as the ones performed at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and the University of West Sweden, show that pursuing an artistic outlet allows the brain to take a break from its everyday concerns. Engaging in an independent creative project consistently promotes whole brain function and psychological development. These projects also encourage their artists to focus on fine details and see things from a different perspective.

There are more ways to be creative than painting and drawing, so you don’t have to shy away from this brain booster just because you think you’re artistically inept. Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Everyone has a creative side. For some of us, it’s writing, event planning, or photography, but creating is truly a limitless endeavor. Whatever it may be for you, tapping into it will benefit your psyche in more ways than one.


It’s clear that physical fitness is beneficial to humans both physically and mentally. Over the years, there have been numerous studies to discover the extent of these benefits. In the neuroscience journal TRENDS, Carl W. Cotman and Nicole C. Berchtold explain, “Exercise and/or behavioral enrichment can increase neuronal survival and resistance to brain insult, promote brain vascularization, stimulate neurogenesis, enhance learning and contribute to maintenance of cognitive function during aging.”

Consistent physical fitness promotes neurogenesis, the development of new brain cells, but in order to keep those cells active, they need to be employed soon after being born. Karen Postal, PhD, ABPP-CN, says it best: “Use it or lose it.” Starting a workout regimen is not easy, but everyone can find an exercise to love. To sift through the trends, read this post.


It’s good for you! Seriously. This isn’t just an excuse for you to take time off from work or for us to promote our favorite student tourism guide. If you’ve ever been on a tropical island listening to the ocean waves ride in, you know that vacations decrease your stress levels. But did you know that directly related to high levels of stress is the risk of illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, depression, heart disease, migraines, and gastrointestinal problems? Better get back to that tropical island.

The Framingham Heart Study discovered those who skipped vacations for multiple years experienced an increased likelihood to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. Travel is restorative for the mind and body. It is stimulating to explore a new place, learn about the culture, and experience new things.

Although a vacation to a private island may be expensive, traveling can take you anywhere! Save money by going camping, visiting family, or staying at an AirBnB a few hours away.


Aside from stocking your bank account with cash, a job keeps your mind active. A new job will push you to understand procedures and develop skills, and an old job will test your memory. Typically, in an environment where people are being paid to excel in their fields, they’re highly motivated to learn. Even if your work is unpaid (at an internship or volunteer position, for instance), you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone (and your beach chair).

These students are enjoying a night of video games and pizza during summer vacation.

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If you’re looking to have a good excuse for playing your Xbox this summer, here it is: Certain games can make you smarter. “The Impacts of Video Games on Cognition” by Aaron Seitz and C. Shawn Green found that while some games failed to have an impact on the brain, action video games drastically improved cognitive function. The more brightly designed the environment and obstacle-filled the adventure, the more the mind is exercised to complete quests.

Other brain building activities include puzzles and trivia like that of Nancy Linde’s 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young. All of these games have been examined by a neuroscientist to ensure their effectiveness. If you’re looking to get outside, though, grab some friends and go old-school with a game of hopscotch, Jenga, ring toss, or bocci ball.

There are many ways to stay bright this summer. Many of these activities are either free or low cost, so you can keep up with the summer school students without taking any classes. Enjoy your summer!

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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