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Written by By Thamar Jones   
Friday, 14 June 2019 00:00

After a full academic year of intense study, and the final push through exams, most students can’t wait for summer break. Thoughts of being able to sleep in, rest, relax and just do nothing for a change sounds rather blissful.

But after the initial high following freedom from classes, essays, homework, projects and deadlines, the summer months can get pretty old, pretty fast. And nothing can feel worse than realizing that you have wasted your precious days of freedom in a haze of binge watching TV and Facebook stalking.

It is a fact that lazing for long periods of time can cause mental atrophy.  Fatih Kalkinc, a Sifa University psychology professor, puts it like this: “Take a minute imagine that you don’t start a car for months. The car battery dies. Your brain acts similarly without positive stimulation.” Hence we will look at activities that you as a student can do during vacation breaks in order to maximize your mental capacity and stay on top of the game and keep those neurons firing.  It’s possible to make summer break a relaxing, fun and yet industrious time. Here are some fun – and productive– ways to enjoy the holidays.

Waking up early.

Waking up early has two benefits. First, you can stay productive and get more done throughout the day. Second, on the opposite side of the same coin, early rising students are also able to participate in activities that are stimulating and fun. Waking up early decreases the chance of wasting the whole summer away doing nothing interesting or productive, both of which are very important.


Reading exercises the brain by stretching your imagination, which leads ultimately to greater creativity and empathy for a wider range of people who may lay outside of your everyday experiences. In addition, reading is a great way for you to learn new vocabulary and challenge yourself mentally. So read as much as possible.... and switch up the genres. If fiction is your thing, opt to include non-fiction. If you normally read biographies, try some science fiction. Doing so will help open your mind and cultivate a more well-rounded view of the world.


Spending time in the community volunteering is a great way to feel more connected to the world, to meet friends, and to build the habit of doing good. Whether you volunteer at an NGO like the Audubon Society or with kids at a summer camp, you will see a different side of life and gain enriching experiences and memories that last a lifetime. It also adds to the resumè you will be creating in the near future.


This is something that you should do consistently throughout your life, but many students ignore this aspect because they do not have enough time. But with no shortage of it during summer vacation, now is the time to get active! In addition to improving your physique and strengthening your body, exercise improves your chances of living longer, protects you from heart disease, protects you from certain cancers, and improves sleep, among a slew of other benefits. Playing sports such as basketball, football, or tag are fun and healthy at the same time.

Conduct Fun Experiments and Blog about Them

OK, this one I stole from 17 magazine. Experiments, such as social experiments or self-improvement experiments, are entertaining and give you the opportunity to learn new skills while having fun. For example, you can conduct a social experiment by smiling at five people per day. This is a fun way to study the reactions of people and learn more about oneself as well. For more information and ideas, Google “social experiments that I can try.”


Travelling is a great way to open your eyes to the world around you. Travel overseas if you have the resources to do so and if you do not… don’t fret! There is probably something cool in your local area you haven’t tried yet. It could be as simple as a restaurant in the area that you’ve never tried, or maybe a local park you’ve never visited. There are definitely a plethora of ideas to explore even if you are confined to your seemingly boring home town: just think hard and be creative! Whatever you do never say no to an opportunity to go learn about new places and things.

Get a Job

While working may not necessarily be fun, it teaches you the value of time and money, as well as work ethic and work culture. One important thing to remember is that while jobs are about money, it is key to focus more on learning skills

Start a business

Entrepreneurship is becoming more and more important in society today and starting a business is a fun way to learn. Starting a small business, whether you are providing a service such as babysitting or tutoring, or selling a product, it teaches you new skills while you get to earn some cash.

Learn a new fun skill

Learn a new skill such as photography, cooking or whatever-- and get really good at it. This builds self-confidence. Improving at a skill can significantly boost confidence and motivation.

Get organized for school

Make a DIY project of wrapping your books, decorating your folders and personalizing your portfolios. Get clear about your academic goals and expectations for the upcoming school year; write them down and plan how you are going to achieve them. And if you are really into it, get a head start on your new work load by delving into your text books and learning your new material before school even starts!

Don’t Forget to Build in Fun and relaxation Time. While it is important to stay focused, it is also important to have fun during school breaks. The threat of mental atrophy is real, but the threat of overexertion can cause you to burnout as well. There should be plenty of downtime with productive periods sprinkled in daily in order to keep the brain sharp.

Summer holidays are the time for fun and adventure, so make sure you make the most of it while you can. You don’t want to have lingering thoughts of what could have been as the vacation comes to an end, so take the initiative and maximize your summer break.