Brain break: How to keep your brain active during the long summer season

Landon Durm

As summer is right around the corner, students are all ready to relax and kick back into the warm sunshine. But students too often forget that we can’t just shut down completely and put our brains in hibernation mode. In a world where screens and technology are always in front of us, we need to remember to stay active and ensure that our brains are constantly firing on all cylinders, even during the summer months outside of the classroom.


Activities that challenge our brains offer a variety of ways to remain healthy and active. There are a plethora of ways to remain active, but it’s not just the physical aspect, the mental aspect is just as important. As we welcome the summer season, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep your brain and bodies active – especially when it’s tempting to sit around and browse Netflix – it’s important to keep our brains sharp, such as, playing puzzles, solving mysteries/problems, and learning new skills.


1. Solving puzzles and problems

One way to keep your brain active is by solving puzzles or problems. While social media can pollute our brains, puzzles and problems help increase cognitive functioning: these can include logical and critical thinking, problem solving capabilities, and creative mindset. Solving problems like this keeps your brain active, plus they’re also fun. Puzzles like mysteries scavenger hunts, crossword puzzles, or sudoku puzzles can be both challenging and fun. These different activities stimulate neural pathways and help increase neural plasticity, which helps to keep our brain on its toes and ready to adapt. 

2. Physical exercise and nature walks

Along with puzzles, physical exercise and nature walks are great ways to improve brain activity and keep a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. When you workout or engage in some form of exercise, it increases blood flow to the brain, helping with circulatory systems and the growth of new brain cells. Along with improved blood flow, physical activity helps to produce endorphins which can control our mood, helping to reduce stress levels and positively affect cognitive functions – all of which helps brain function. Physical activities could be hikes, sports, or going for a run around your house. In addition, the American Physiological Association found that nature can help reduce mental fatigue and inspire creativity that improves cognitive functions and well-being. So make your way to Morse Reservoir or Forest Park where you can enjoy both nature and physical activity in the beautiful summer season.

3. Learn a new skill or discover a new talent

While many people may be hesitant to learn new things, stretching your brain with a new activity can actually be beneficial to brain function. When our bodies learn new skills or new information, we connect and stimulate more neural pathways which lead to increasing memory, attention, focus, and more. Learning these activities can often lead to feeling more accomplished, helping to boost confidence and self-security. This summer try participating in a talent show, or take up a new hobby with arts and crafts, sports, or even board games like chess.