Doing an internship. Planning on summer school. Serving the community. Traveling to another country. Playing sports. Reconnecting with family or friends. Whatever you choose to do this summer, it is important to keep educating yourself and growing. During my high school years, I wasted my summer, and I feel like many people do that during the summer as well.
All I did on my spare time, from what I remember, was play video games, play basketball, go to the beach, and work. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with those things. When I reflect back I wish I would have dedicated more time to my personal growth and development.
What do I mean by that? I believe, like many that have said this before me, having successful growth in life is made up of four integral parts. I am not going to tell you how it should be done, why it is important, or why you should care, but rather, what I personally do to grow in each part.
- Mental health: Obviously this is ongoing because of school during the semester. But, during the summer, you might not be in school or you just decide that school is not for you. So what should you do? The best thing to do is read and challenge your brain. Wake up every morning and read something. This summer I plan on reading about how to eat more nutritiously, stories of successful entrepreneurs, Libertarianism, morality of capitalism, and high frequency trading. You could also do challenging puzzles or games. I like to play Sudoku (just in case you are wondering, it is on highest difficulty). Regardless of what you choose, challenge your brain.
- Physical health: Challenge your body. Especially if you are young. If you bench press 150, run 5 miles, or do 50 push-ups, always think about what is the next incremental improvement. Maybe bench press 160, run 6 miles, or do 55 push-ups. Aside from exercise, there is also eating healthy. I can write a whole paper on this, but probably not any more useful than what you can find online. I have two ways of approaching this. Either eat one big meal an hour or two after you wake up and eat another big meal during the evening a couple hours before you sleep, or, eat four to five smaller meals throughout the day. You know what I mean by “eat healthy”… Get rid of the junk food, get rid of the sugary drinks, don’t binge drink alcohol; eat nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and get six and half to nine hours of sleep every day. The sleeping part will help you digest the food properly and allow you to have optimal energy throughout the day.
- Emotional/Social health: Go out and have fun, build lasting relationships with people, stay updated with your family, and always be the person that people can count on. I’m not saying that I’m perfect at this, but I try. Realize that when you help people, they notice, and you are indirectly building yourself a healthier future, surrounded by friends and family that deeply care about you. During the first semester of my freshman year in college, my brother got shot in the left arm (don’t worry, he is still alive) and my grandma passed away. It was one of the most emotional times of my life, but I had countless friends making sure I was stable. All the relationships I had built over the years were available when I needed them most. Over time I have realized that the relationships built over your lifetime, through genuine compassion, are the most significant part of your life.
- Spiritual health: This is a tough one for me and I’m probably not the best person to be giving advice on this. I keep saying I have no time for this. But, I know it is extremely vital for my well-being. Once again, you don’t have to do it this way, but this is what I do. I appreciate life. What does that mean? Well this can be different for many people depending on your religion or what you believe in. But, I have one idea that can be universally used regardless of what you believe (at least I think it can, email me if I’m wrong). Feel the universe and the world around you. How do I do that? Breathing. You might say, “Breathing?!” Yes, breathing. To be more exact, concentrating on your breathing with no distractions around you. How do you do this? Find a place to sit down or lay down, close your eyes, breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breath out, and repeat. Remember, this only works if you are concentrated on the breathing and nothing else. Do it until you feel satisfied; I usually do, whenever I actually do it, 10-30 minutes. Yes, you can call this meditation. It is great for relaxation and stress relief as well.
Hope you can take something out of this blog and work on your personal growth and education. Once again, you can be creative and figure out how to affect your mental, physical, emotional/social, and spiritual health with your own methods.
Questions, criticisms, or ideas for future blogs? Email me at KSHAH50@UIC.EDU