Brain Training Exercises. Don’t Let Your Brain Dry Out in Summer
After another grueling academic year of school work, papers, standardized tests and final exams, it’s tempting to take the summer off to give your brain a little R & R. While some rest is important and even healthy, spending the summer binging on TV or video games is not going to do you any favors as fall comes.
If you’re not involved in any academic activities over the summer but don’t want your brain to dry out before September, try some of these brain training exercises to keep your mind sharp.
Learn to Strategize by Playing Chess
Chess is more than a game, it’s a strategic endeavor. It requires patience, calculation and planning in order to be successful. You could join a chess club, hire a chess tutor, download an app and play against the computer or against other players online. As you develop your chess skills, you’ll learn strategic maneuvers, how to spot your opponent’s weaknesses and patterns as well as your own. It’s an excellent way to keep the brain cells active and charged.
Create New Brain Pathways with New Skills
Learn a new skill – brain activity isn’t just sitting down and studying. There are many ways to develop your brain. An interactive way is to learn a new skill. Taking up a dance class or yoga or tai chi class, learning to play an instrument or learning a new language – whatever you choose, learning any new skill is proven to strengthen brain activity and develop new brain pathways. The more diverse your brain pathways are, the easier it is for your brain to assimilate new information. In other words, the more new things you do, the smarter you become.
Train Your Memory
Memorization games are like lifting weights for athletes. They keep your brain muscles toned and strong. You could invent a number of memorization games to practice on your own. If your summer job is waiting tables, try memorizing your customer’s orders instead of writing them down. Try memorizing the phone numbers in your cell phone, or the birthdays of all your Facebook friends. You could memorize a poem or a speech or advanced multiplication tables.
Increase Your Vocabulary
Learn a new word each day – it will keep your brain fresh over the summer as well as scoring you some SAT points on exam day. Wordsmith.org has A.Word.A.Day program where they send you a new word every day via email.
Sudoku is a simple and accessible brain teaser that asks you to solve puzzles and identify patterns based on numbers. You can start out easy and work your way up to “evil” on websudoku.com.
Do Simple Math Problems
Stop using a calculator – instead, every time you need to add something, write it down on paper or do the calculation in your head. There are lots of scenarios where you can practise calculating things yourself:
- When you go out for pizza with your friends, instead of using a calculator to divide the bill, use a piece of paper and make the calculation yourself.
- Calculate how much you’re going to earn at your summer job. Calculate how much you’ll earn for the summer, for the month, the week, the day, the hour.
- Calculate the percentage you’ll need to improve in order to reach your target when taking your next SAT exam.
- Calculate your GPA.
Learn to Concentrate Through Meditation
Nowadays, everyone is meditating. The employees at Google have meditation sessions and they’re a pretty smart bunch. Meditation can help your concentration, provide aid with stress management and develop calm and positive thinking. Try this simple exercise: sit in a quiet space and set the timer on your cell phone for 10 minutes.
Close your eyes and spend some time noticing if there is any tension in your body and consciously relax these areas. Gradually, begin to notice your thoughts. Without any judgments, just observe them as though you were seeing them from an objective distance. Try to release your mind from all thoughts. You may be able to achieve this for a while and then start having thoughts again. Each time you have thoughts, just observe and try to release them again. Continue releasing tension from the body and thoughts from the mind over the course of ten minutes.
This simple meditation exercise is a great way to train yourself to control the direction of your thoughts, a useful skill when studying, writing or taking a test.
Good luck and happy brain training!