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Avoid Academic Atrophy
       Summer is a healthy break from the school year. Unfortunately, too often it is treated as a time for mental vacationing, too. This means that the summer months are spent with the mind in a passive state, which is not good. The lack of mental exercise means that your mind regresses a bit and starting things up again when the school year resumes becomes more difficult. Avoiding this problem, in the long run, is clearly beneficial.
       Keeping your mind active and healthy does NOT mean that you need to be doing problem sets every evening. What it does mean is that your mind is actively engaged. Sitting in front of the TV for hours on end does not engage your mind. Neither do the common choices to simply sunbathing or soaking in a pool. These activities eat up hours on end without actually exercising your mind.
       Reading, on the other hand, does exercise your mind and you do not need to be reading academic books (though learning something new that matches your interests is recommended for part of your reading). When you read, your mind poses questions about what you are reading and considers possibilities. These actions do engage your brain and are a way to keep it sharper. You should try to do some reading as a regular part of your daily activities.
       Playing games that require attention, whether they are sports games, board games or mental exercises are a fantastic way to keep your mind in tune. Select games that you enjoy and make them a part of your summer activities.
       Being exposed to new things likewise activates your mental neurons. Your brain has to sort out this new information, which also requires calling up former memories to carry out this classification. This can include travel, but it can also be simpler, such as going on a nature walk or exploring a site near your home that you have not visited before, or not in the recent past. Pay attention to details and what you see, and you can heighten the benefits by then discussing this with a family member or a friend.
       To clarify that last point, hours of trivial chit-chat will offer minimal benefit to your brain. On the other hand, your mind will gain from serious discussions. That is, you are talking about new concepts or ideas that have actual meaning to you. When you want to share ideas and resolve your opinions on important topics, you are actually exercising your mind.
       How you carry out this mental exercising is up to you. The important thing is to make it a regular component of your summer vacation.
       [As a side note, a book I recently read The Astonishing Hypothesis, written by Francis Crick and published in 1994 led to selecting the topic for this essay. Fourteen excerpts were included in that part of my website last month.]              
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