Four ways to maximize your summer

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It’s that time of year again, when students begin to simultaneously echo the phrase, “I can’t wait for summer.”

After the excruciating hours of cramming for tests and working on term papers, the semester is immediately followed by a sigh of relief and a restful night’s sleep. Although downtime is encouraged, it is important not to let the extra time go to waste by spending your break glued to a computer screen and couch potato-ing your way through summer.

CSUN psychology professor and author of “Maximum Impact: Strategies for Life Fitness,” Frederick Elias, provides several summer break tips and activities for college students encouraging mental and physical clarity.

1. Get Creative – Turn your interests into a summer project. Start a blog, learn an instrument, volunteer, pick up a hobby or read a new book. A video, or blog can serve as a great outlet for self-expression and possibly turn into something you can use professionally in the future.

Editing film is extremely convenient with apps such as iMovie, and blogging is simple with platforms such as Blogger and WordPress. Use these apps and programs to your advantage, be innovative and turn your interests into an idea.

Christopher Icut, freshman marine biology major, describes his mission to pursue a photography project over summer. “I was planning on getting a camera, so when I go to places with my friends or pets, I can pretty much photograph everything and make a scrapbook out of my summer.”

2. Stay Fit– Since you are no longer bound to a desk, it might be a good time to start shifting from that unhealthy year-long habit of eating convenient processed foods and pulling all-nighters.

Elias suggests participating in something physical every day. The challenge and dedication of staying physically active can apply to nearly every facet of life. The Student Recreation Center (SRC) offers free group exercise classes ranging from yoga to belly dancing.

Don’t forget to recharge yourself mentally and emotionally. Give yourself a break from the stress of school and spend more time catching up with family and friends. “Make wise choices, let go of guilt anger and negative emotions,” Elias said. “Give gratitude every day that you are still alive and breathing.”

3.  Plan Ahead – Keep in mind your goals for the coming school year, and make a list of how you plan to achieve them. Use the time spent browsing the web to create a LinkedIn account or update your resume.

William Broughton, sophomore media composition major, said he plans on preparing his portfolio for graduation this summer.

Kevin Paul Scott is the co-founder of the leadership program ADDO Institute, which provides students with tools to become better prepared for the workforce.

Scott explains how students should focus on collecting experiences rather than collecting money.

“Whether a job, an internship, travel, or a volunteer opportunity, do something that will provide a platform for you to stand out from the crowd,” Scott said. “Intentionally invest in activities that are at the intersection of your affinity, ability and opportunity.  Find things you enjoy and are good at, where you have legitimate opportunities to contribute.”

4. Turn off and Tune in– Although binge-watching your favorite TV shows on Netflix might sound appealing, find the time to explore the great outdoors without any distractions.

Relax at the Orange Grove duck pond or pack a lunch and bring some friends to one of the many hiking trails located in the valley.

Once in a while turn off your cell phone and tune into your surroundings.

“Watch a sunset with your cell phone off,” Elias said. “Reduce the use of texting and email. Look up at the sky, trees or mountains and look less at your cell phone. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look up once in a while, you could miss it.”