Five Ways to Stay Sharp Over Summer Vacation

By: Annie Burnham

Summer always seems to pass too quickly. I’m in total shock that it’s almost July. I’ve been working on campus all summer, but I still feel like I’ve gotten so out of school mode that it will be something akin to culture shock in the fall when classes start.

So how do you stay sharp over the summer? Here are five suggestions for keeping your wits over the break:

  1. Read! You don’t have to read textbooks to keep your mind engaged. One thing I look forward to most about the summer is that I can read for fun again.  Fiction is my preference for the summer. During the school year, I’m too busy doing schoolwork to read fiction, so it’s a nice treat over summer. I’m trying to take advantage of my iPad as well and use the iBooks app to find the free books. You can also check out Good Reads for suggestions. Nonfiction is an area I’m slowly coming to appreciate. Biographies of some of the great figures in history are appearing on my to-read list. Just go walk around the WP_20130625_003 nonfiction section of one of the local libraries – you might be surprised at what you find. Maybe you like current events. If so, you should check out Tim’s blog from two weeks ago. He goes into the benefits of keeping up-to-date on news. No matter what your preference is, reading is a great way to stay sharp over the summer.
  2. Volunteer. Donate your time to a cause that you love. I volunteer most weekends with All Aboard Animal Rescue, a non-profit in Fort Collins that saves dogs from high-kill shelters around the West. Whatever cause or organization you choose to volunteer for, be sure to ask questions, try new things, and enjoy it. Not only will you be doing something good for others, but you will also have the chance to make some great connections. Sometimes volunteer work allows you to gain experience that will one day be invaluable when you enter the professional world. To find out more ways to volunteer, visit United Way.
  3. Exercise. This summer I’ve made it my goal to hit the gym five mornings a week. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that and I can tell throughout the work day my energy level is better. Exercise reduces stress and helps you feel better overall, whether you are working behind a desk or completing a high-energy internship. Maybe you are feeling adventurous. If you are around Fort Collins, you should take advantage of how bike friendly this community is. Or drive west a few miles and explore some of the hiking trails. I really want to try to hike the A by Hughes Stadium at least once before school starts in August. Or maybe for you, being adventurous is trying out that Zumba or kickboxing class. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy.
  4. Rest. Most of the time, I feel like I’m running 90 miles an hour in 10 different directions. As a culture, I feel we’ve lost the ability to just sit down and relax. Rest doesn’t have to mean sleeping. Most days, some of us from the CoB office will get up and walk over to the Lory Student Center and grab a soda. Taking a break from the computer helps me focus better when we get back. Even sitting down to relax for a half-hour break will improve your ability to concentrate on other tasks throughout your day. Make sure to lounge and sleep enough, even if you are working or interning.
  5. Set Goals. This might be the most important of all five tips. For me, this is what is driving my productivity this summer. I set a few goals back in May that I’ll share:
    1. Read at least 5 books for fun over the summer
    2. Workout five times a week
    3. Complete the first draft of a novel
    4. Write out and stick to a budget

Whatever your goal is, make sure you find someone to hold you accountable. This will increase your chances of success. Giving yourself a few benchmarks to meet throughout the summertime also will increase your productivity and keep you sharp for the fall semester.

As we reach the halfway point in summer break, take time to sit back and evaluate the last month and a half. What have you done? Make sure you are taking time for yourself, resting and being proactive with your health. Set goals to achieve this summer – maybe the goal is to get eight hours of sleep each night or to read ten new books by the end of summer vacation. Whether you are taking summer classes, working full time, or at home relaxing, remember that you can apply these tips anywhere.

What do you do to stay sharp during the summer? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below.

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