Welcome to summer vacation. A time of rest and a time of renewal.
Even if you loved school I am convinced that we need time away from formal learning to let our brains rest and process what we were taught. We need time to play without demands or expectations of achievement. As the summer starts for students and teachers alike many people are dreaming of being able sit and do nothing, take in our favorite TV shows, play hours of our favorite video games and, as I said, generally do nothing.
Is that really restful? Is that really renewing? If you think about your experiences you’d say no.
Rest and renewal is NOT sitting for hours in front of the TV or video games. It is not sitting for days staring passively into space. It is not spending all your time catching up on chores that remained undone during the school year.
The operative words in the sentences are hours, days and all.
I admit, I love me my crime procedurals and I record the old Perry Mason shows, among others, so I can watch them at my convenience. A small dose of these diversions is fine. But a little TV and computer time go a long way. Because of the way your brain interacts with them they are both non restful and non renewing. There is some evidence that large doses of some of these shows or games raises stress rather than reducing it.
So what does Rest and Renewal look like?
Sitting passively (or, more accurately quietly) watching a fishing line could be an example. Even though you appear to be just as passive as you are watching TV you are, instead, engaging in active stillness. Your brain is interacting with your eyes and all of your other senses to see if it needs to take action to reel in a fish. And, if you like fishing, it’s fun even if you don’t get the fish. Getting outside into nature, where our kind was born, is very renewing in ways that scientists are only just beginning to understand. You can substitute hiking, biking, birding, painting or photography, and many other nature related activities.
Other ways to renew ourselves are to delve deeper into our hobbies. Looking at Video games for example, if you are interested in them for themselves and not just as a way to escape unpleasant things, you can ask yourself what can you learn about how they work, under their fancy graphics, and what are the plot lines, if any, of the game. (I am given to understand that many have plots.) What story would you write to make a new twist on the genre?
What other hobbies do you have that you never really get a chance to explore?
Do something that benefits others. Help a neighbor. Help your church, synagogue, or mosque. Help the children at the Boys and Girls Clubs. Help with the city recreation department as a volunteer. Many studies show that becoming involved, in a positive way, with our communities is very restorative because we all like to feel helpful and needed. We all need to feel connected to others.
Was there something at school that made you curious? Take a little time to learn more about it. You may find a new hobby or interest. Play with it, away from grades and performance reviews. Just have fun with it. It may be a passing interest. It may become a life long passion. Either way you’ll have had fun with an interest and, I can’t speak for you, but exploring my interests helps me feel good.
Summer is a time where we can use the downtime from all the pressure of day to day classes and homework to let our brains and bodies recharge. During that time we will be filing away some of the stuff we learned the previous year. We will also lose some of it. That’s okay! That’s why there are books. We will learn, forget and remember stuff constantly throughout our lives. Giving ourselves time to rest and recover will help us remember more than we might have otherwise.
Photo Credit to Free Digital Photos dot Net