If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have heard that I am heading to university after almost 7 years out of education. Although I am incredibly excited, this is utterly terrifying as I am considered a mature student and I have been concerned that my mind is not as sharp as it may have been when I was consistently stimulated by education, new vocabulary and frequent academic writing. Therefore, I have recently been trying to sharpen my mind for the academic year ahead, in hope that I can achieve well in my degree and not be at a disadvantage to others that have not had any gaps in their studies. According to statistics, around 37% of undergraduates are considered mature students (which is definitely higher than I had assumed!) so I’m sure that many others feel the same way I do, hence why I felt it may be helpful for others in the same boat as me (or anyone else, for that matter) to see how I have been trying to keep my mind active.
To start with, I have been trying to read as much as possible to sharpen my mind. Not necessarily academic books (though I have done that too) but even fiction novels or poetry can expand your vocabulary and build cognition which can help with understanding in education. I am a self proclaimed book worm so I find that reading helps me fall asleep in the evenings and forget about any stress I may be feeling about the next academic year. I like to use websites such as Goodreads or visit other people’s blogs as I find that both are great ways to find out about new books that I am interested in. I also have the Goodreads app on my phone to monitor the books that I have completed – it’s so satisfying at the end of the year to see how many pages you have got through! If you’d like to check out Goodreads, you can do so here.
Another thing I have found really helpful is playing games online. I used to buy crossword or sudoku books but being a student is usually indicative of little disposable income so the more free alternatives we can find, the better. One website I have used to sharpen my mind is called solitaire.org. Don’t be fooled by the ‘solitaire’ name because there are a plethora of games available on there from logic puzzles, letter scramble (great when you’re playing a cheeky game of Scrabble), card games, and my personal favourite, ‘wordoku‘, which is essentially sudoku with letters instead of numbers. The end goal is to work out the word that the letters spell out diagonally, so it is a little trickier than your standard sudoku but I personally prefer it. I find it really stimulating as it has been challenging for my brain but still entertains and relaxes me, so I tend to play it for a while before I do some revision as it has been getting those creative juices flowing. It is one of those games that updates the word daily but you can go back and choose previous dates too.
I also find playing less obviously ‘educational’ games to relax and just forget about the stresses of life once in a while. I think activities like card games or solitaire can be fun to play without considering the educational aspects they have to them so you can just play them whilst improving your cognition subconsciously. As I mentioned earlier, I have been feeling stressed lately with all of the change going on in my life so although I want to keep my brain active, I feel it is important for me to stay calm and relaxed too and this game happens to do both of these things! You can check out this website here.
The final thing I want to touch upon to keep my brain sharp for the new academic year is getting enough exercise. I will admit, after I had finished my access course, I had a bit of time before I started university where I had no job to go to, no studying to complete, and all of my friends were busy. As I didn’t have much of a reason to go out, I felt that I was a lot less productive than I had been and I felt like my brain was becoming stagnant. I have recently been trying to go out for a walk in the remaining sunshine we have left of the year; it is surprising how much difference that made to my cognitive power and motivation to learn. A bit of fresh air seems to really refresh your brain and allow you to come back to whatever you were doing with a fresh perspective. If you are local to Devon, some great places to get out and about can be found here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, and found some of the things I have shared to sharpen my mind helpful. I wish everybody good luck that are starting new ventures this September, and if anybody is requiring anybody to talk to, please do comment on this post or send me a message via my contact page and I will get back to you.