6 ways to help your brain this winter break

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Winter break is upon us!  You are probably holding your breath for that glorious moment when you turn in our last exam!  Finally, you can sleep in without missing your first class or paying for it in a low grade!

First up on your to-do list: catch up on sleep and binge-watch your favorite TV shows.

Sounds like the PERFECT winter break routine.

Except… too much of a good thing is, well, too much.  Remember Violet in Willy Wonka?  Don’t be Violet.

Pace yourself – even when it comes to taking it easy.

Letting your brain turn to mush for the month of December is a great way to make January and the return to class a really tough wake-up call.  Consider having a plan this break.  A plan to keep your brain active so it doesn’t hurt so badly when it’s time to get back to the books.  Think of it as a maintenance workout – you don’t have to put a lot of work into it, but you don’t want to lose the progress you’ve made.

We are not insane – we do not really expect anyone to spend five hours per day doing research and studying for a class that isn’t yet in session.  Mental breaks are beneficial!  However – we do suggest finding fun (to you) ways to engage your mind in constructive activity.  Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be remotely related to school!  Here are some ideas to get your creativity flowing:

Volunteer.  There is always a need for volunteers, but during this time of the year, it is especially easy to find opportunities to volunteer in your community.  Not only will this engage your mind, but your heart as well.

Learn a new skill.  What have you wanted to learn and just haven’t found the time? Now’s your chance – what’s your interest?  An instrument?  Origami?  A new language?  Woodworking?  Rock climbing?  Underwater basket-weaving? You probably won’t become a pro in just a couple of weeks’ time, but if you have 2-4 weeks to devote to a particular topic, you can certainly get a solid grasp on the subject!

Read for fun.  Or for personal development – either way.  Reading because you want to is a totally different experience from reading because it is part of a class requirement.  Promise.  What classic novel you’ve always wanted to read?  What well-known non-fiction title have you heard of but never actually held in your hands and read?  What famous poet sparks your imagination?  What theological subject has puzzled you but you just haven’t had the time to research?

Help your mom.  (Or your dad, or your grandparent… or whatever adult has poured into your life.) Chances are, they have missed you and have plans in mind for making the most of this break.  Sure, you may want to do nothing but eat, watch Netflix, and take three naps each day, but what about acknowledging the concern and needs of the family who has been anticipating your return?  Vacuum without being asked.  Help with the dishes or cook dinner.  Handle your laundry instead of draping it all over the furniture in your room.

Get outside.  Really.  Even if it’s cold.  You’ve spent a lot of time indoors, working on projects, studying, sitting in classes, you likely have an indoor job as well.  It’s time to let some fresh air into your system.  Make it as simple as a walk around your neighborhood, or as involved as a hike on the Appalachian trail!  Hey, even a round of putt-putt could is better than nothing! Just get out there!

Look up brain exercise games. Seriously.  They’re a thing.  And some of them are stinking FUN!  Check out Luminosity https://www.lumosity.com/ for some simple games that will make your brain cells work.

You can find plenty more of brain-exercise ideas out there.  Here’s one from Psych Central https://psychcentral.com/blog/9-simple-ways-to-exercise-your-brain/   Or this one from Business Insider https://www.businessinsider.com/5-ways-to-stimulate-your-brain-2014-1

If you’re in the mood to read a little deeper (you know, exercise your brain cells a little more) Here’s an interesting write up on the topic from Be Brain Fit: https://bebrainfit.com/brain-exercises/

And with that, we say – happy break, and stay warm!

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