How many of these summer activities have you ticked off your list?
How’s your summer going? We’re just about at the halfway mark, so this is a good time to stop and assess what you’ve done with your big break so far. Hopefully you’ve managed to relax a bit, do something productive, and even have a little fun.
But have you made the most of it? Here are 10 things we think every teen should do this summer. How many have you achieved so far?
- Do some good: It’s not too late to get some community service in this summer. Find an organization to work with, or just find some small ways to do good in your community: Mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn, complete one of DoSomething.org’s service campaigns, spend a morning picking up litter on the beach, or clean out your old clothes and make a donation to a charitable thrift store.
- Get into nature: Almost certainly, when school is in, you spend a lot of time inside classrooms and libraries and cars shuttling between activities. So go kayaking, hiking, camping, of even spend some time forest-bathing to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of spending time outside.
- Read for fun: All year you’ve been reading hand-outs and textbooks and classic literature. Now is your chance to take your reading into your own hands. Pick up a fluffy magazine, a graphic novel, or a page-turner mystery and let yourself get lost in the words without worrying about studying for a test or writing a paper.
- Think about college: You don’t have to make any binding decisions quite yet, but the summer is a great time to research potential schools, visit a few campuses (campi?), and talk to friends and family about their own college experiences, free from the extra stress of homework and studying.
- Take a road trip with friends: Celebrate your summer independence by hopping in a car with friends and heading off for parts unknown. Spend a day at the beach, explore a new city, or wander through some scenic mountains. Bonus points for weird convenience store car snacks and getting everyone in the car to sing and dance when Old Town Road comes on.
- Write something: Scribble down a haiku. Do a first draft of your college essays. Write a letter to the editor. Keep a journal. Try your hand at fanfiction. Expressing yourself through writing can be a relaxing, mentally healthy, and just plain fun way to spend a few of your down hours.
- Sleep a lot: During the school year, it’s all too common to find yourself spending way too little time in bed. Yet science says teens need between eight and 10 hours of sleep every night for maximum health and happiness. So take advantage of summer’s less-packed schedule to sleep as late as you want and indulge in plenty of naps.
- Make something: Bake and decorate an elaborate cake for your sister’s birthday. Pick up a discarded bookcase and turn it into a work of art. Visit your local maker space and learn how to 3-D print gadgets and doohickeys galore. Creating something out of nothing is immensely gratifying, so get on it.
- Try mindfulness: Mindfulness is not just the newest trend. Science — yes, actual science — tells us that the practice can reduce stress, improve memory, boost your immune system, and make your thinking more flexible. Taking some time to learn about mindfulness now can offer benefits for years to come.
- Move your body: I won’t go on and on about the benefits of exercise — you know what it can do for your body and mind. So get your body moving this summer, in whatever way is right for you: Try a yoga class, take a lazy swim in the lake, train for a half-marathon, or sign up for a dance class. Don’t worry if you’re working hard enough or performing well enough; just give it a try and have some fun.
So what have you done this summer? What do you think every teen should experience before school starts back up?