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Five Ways to Keep Your Brain in Shape Over Break

Long gone are the days of summer homework packets, full of multiplication tables, history questions, and writing assignments—it’s all been replaced with internships and summer research. So, what is one to do to keep their brain academically in tune, while still allowing themselves to take a true break from school? Here are five easy and fun ways you can continue learning over the summer!

Play Word Games

Every morning, even before I roll out of bed, I make sure to play the NYT Mini Daily Crossword. My friends and I compete against each other and religiously check our personal leaderboard; something about the pressure of competition first thing in the morning really wakes me up! Word games, like the NYT’s Spelling Bee crosswords and Word Cookies, are an easy and fun way to exercise your brain, plus you can do it all right from your phone. 

Listen to Podcasts

I know, I know, everyone listens to podcasts! I usually listen to a mix of the popular news podcasts, like “The Daily” and anything by NPR, along with the raunchy “Call Her Daddy” and funny “Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain”, but more recently I’ve been using podcasts as a way to keep myself learning. I utilize my free listening time I have while folding laundry or cleaning my room to listen to podcasts to learn more about topics I’m genuinely interested in like “Philosophize This!” for philosophy and “Bon Appetit Foodcast” for food science and other foodie topics. Doing this helps me explore topics I want to learn more about in an approachable manner, as podcasts condense information and make it digestible for newbies. 

Subscribe to Newsletters

It can definitely be easy to mindlessly scroll through social media and personally I find myself only catching bits and pieces of stories if I only read the news on social media.  To remedy this, I’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters to help keep myself up to date but not overwhelmed. I’m a big fan of the NYT’s “The Morning” which I like to read while drinking my coffee, and I also enjoy “The Skinny” which is focused on health and wellness. Consuming the news through these newsletters ensures that you’re actually reading and not just scrolling, which I know helps me better absorb the content and keeps my mind working hard.  


Hot take: I miss summer reading logs! I was always the type of student to have my summer reading hours done within the first week of break, eager to spend my free time holed up with a good book. While it is harder to dedicate time to reading as a college student, the summer makes it much easier to read for pleasure than just for school. I love reading books out of my typical genre and reading level, sometimes going back to childhood favorites or stealing my parents’ books to read. You could even join or start a book club if you need that motivation! 

Game Nights

Game nights can be a great way to unwind, use your brain, and come together with family and friends, all at once. My family loves to play word games like Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams as well as logic-based and dice games like chess and Escalero. Trivia can be a slightly more academic twist to game night—during quarantine, my family and I played along with Jeopardy every weeknight. The friendly competition of game nights with family and friends makes it feel effortless to work your mind. 

Now, with all of these tips and tricks under your belt, I’m sure your mind will stay sharp over summer! 

Kendall Foley

Conn Coll '24

Kendall Foley is a sophomore at Connecticut College majoring in Philosophy and pursuing a Pathway in Data, Information, and Society. At Conn, Kendall plays for the women's water polo team and is an intern in the Office of Student Accessibility Services. In her free time, you can find Kendall open-water swimming, baking, or spending time with her family.
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