Since childhood, we've always associated summers and summer vacations with relaxation, adventure, and time away from school. From climbing trees to catching waves and building backyard forts, the goal was to have as much fun as possible.
While we didn't have that much "fun" spending summers as adults, still, we did enjoy spending our summers while taking steps to achieve our professional goals. Individuals who want to take advantage of online education may be interested to know that there are easy ways to incorporate personal growth into their summer downtime.
Get active outdoors
Personal development is not limited to just the mind. Physical development is part of personal development. The National Institutes of Health cites a strong relationship between engaging in physical exercise to strengthen one's mind. The NIH reports that the body releases chemicals and proteins that improve the brain's structure and function during a workout. Exercise can also help you become more disciplined and motivated by self-improvement — essential qualities for those who are preparing to go back to school.
There are numerous outdoor exercise options that you can take advantage of during this time of year, such as swimming, hiking, and biking.
Learn to Relax and Recharge Frequently
Going on a vacation is more effective if you're doing it in small bursts and more frequently. You don't have to wait for that month-long vacation extravaganza to have a "real" vacation.
You can also do many other things to wind down that do not involve travel. For example, going to the beach, lounging in a hammock, or floating on a raft in a swimming pool can also provide valuable R&R time.
Learn Something New
Probably the purest form of personal development is to learn something new. Learning something for the first time just hits differently. It somehow helps with your neuroplasticity—the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. Neurogenesis is the ability to create new neurons and connections between neurons throughout a lifetime.
For example, summer is a great time to take a surfing lesson, cooking class, or botany course. Whether you sign up for a hands-on learning activity or enroll in an online course that can be used toward completing your degree, taking summer classes is a meaningful investment in self-driven learning.
Spend time with family
Since you're on vacation, from school or work, one of the best ways to spend your extra time is with family. Reconnecting with your loved ones re-establishes the support system that you may have forgotten.
Bonding with family fosters certain qualities. For example, volunteering together at an animal sanctuary can help teach compassion, and volunteering with a park or beach cleanup group can underscore the importance of taking care of the planet.
The key to personal development is to focus on finding your balance and incorporating your desire for personal growth into your daily activities.