Changing your mind

Sunbathing on the beach

Spring break isn’t far away. Try these six to-dos for a mental makeover.

By Danielle Costanzo

If you’ve spent one too many spring breaks eating Cheetos on the beach as your parents read mystery novels on an adjacent towel, this article is for you. Spring break is a much-needed respite from classes and extracurriculars, but it’s also an opportunity to fuel your brain.

Even if you’re traveling, this week away from your day-to-day routine gives you a great opportunity to challenge yourself and try something different. Maybe you’ve always wanted to rock climb or speak French or hold an intelligent conversation about international relations.

Learning new skills and understanding complex concepts make you a more interesting and well-rounded person, and you’ve got plenty of time to get started in a week. So whether you’re road tripping with friends or relaxing on your couch, these six small things can expand your mind this spring break:

Download a foreign language app. Maybe you’re already taking a foreign language class, or perhaps the extent of your Spanish vocabulary came from the song ¨Despacito.¨ Either way, if you’ve always wanted to learn a certain language, many free online resources are available. Mastering even some basic phrases can open up your mind – and the world.

Girl Drawing Pad Road Trip Concept

Start journaling. There’s no need to run to the store and purchase a locked diary and feathered pen to make journaling a part of your routine; you can use your phone’s notes app, your laptop or a school notebook to record those brilliant thoughts. Write lists, poems, recaps of your day – there is no right or wrong way to journal. If you’re just getting started, set a daily page or time limit and write whatever comes to mind. It’s like picking your clothes off the floor at the end the day, but for your brain.

Read a book about something completely new. Maybe it’s your first volume of poetry or a detailed account of a significant historical event – one you probably should understand but never took the time to explore. Reading allows you to think critically and creatively and make interesting conversation.


Get into a new band or genre of music. Have you ever explored classic rock or jazz or obscure electro-folk? Use websites like Pitchfork to discover artists and return from spring break with great new playlists.

Try a yoga or meditation routine. There’s no need to pay for pricey hot yoga classes with your mom and her friends. YouTube offers plenty of great yoga and Pilates routines that can make you feel calmer and stronger. You also can download meditation apps. Most of the videos and apps are free, and you don’t even have to leave your room to try your first downward dog.

Young man listening to music

Start listening to podcasts. They’re free, they’re creative and they cover so many topics: relationships, crime stories, politics, traveling, even gardening. They’re a great way to pass long hours on a road trip.

This spring break, come back to school with more than just a slight tan. Trying something new doesn’t have to take lots of time or money, but it can make a big difference. For more resources and ideas, check out these links:

The 50 best podcasts of 2017

The best free yoga classes online

Books every teen should read

Best apps for learning a foreign language

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