5 Apps That Strengthen Your Brain, Just In Time For Back To School Season

This week I, like many people, started a new semester of grad school. After my first class, I knew it was time to leave the Netflix marathons and YouTube wormholes behind and really dive into activities that would help keep my brain running at its smoothest. But at the end (or even beginning) of a long day, the last thing I want to do is anything that requires even the tiniest bit of brainpower. Luckily, these apps that strengthen the brain will pull you back into the right mindset for the new school year without completely draining you.

Because these apps are all designed to build your brain power, your happiness, or even your stress tolerance in the most relaxing ways possible, you'll be able to swap your usual time toggling between social media apps for a host of fun games and exercises that won't even feel like you're learning. Also, every app on this list is free, because I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend those extra couple bucks on treats to reward myself for a good study session than put them into buying brain games.

So the next time you have a couple of minutes in between classes, or even right before bed, download one of these winners and know that your phone time will genuinely benefit you.

Lumosity Will Keep Your Brain Too Fit To Quit

Lumosity on YouTube

If you want to see your brain steadily grow stronger, but you don't want to feel like you're doing a whole lot of work, the Lumosity app is perfect for combining fun and problem-solving — who would've thought those two things go together, right?

After you complete the initial brain fitness test, the free app designs an improvement plan tailored to your specific challenges, lining up a variety of entertaining games to help boost your brain in the areas that need it most.

Duolingo Will Teach You Any Language You Want

Have you always dreamed of becoming fluent enough in French that you could ditch school, move overseas, and blend in like one of the locals? While I wouldn't endorse quitting school, I definitely encourage you to download the Duolingo app, which will have you chatting in the language of your choice in no time. Personally, I love the app's feature that lets you repeat words out loud, and then guides you toward a more accurate pronunciation. But if you're on the train and don't want to mumble random French words in the middle of a public place, you can always tell the app that you want to pick up the speaking part of the instruction later.

This is also a great way to practice a language you're already familiar with, or even alongside a class you're currently taking. You can opt out of the basics lessons by taking a placement test. Whether you just want to expand your vocabulary or want to start learning from scratch, Duolingo's colorful graphics and sassy owl mascot will be right beside you to encourage you to keep on learning.

LibriVox Is Perfect For Bookworms

For all of my fellow book-lovers out there, the LibriVox Audio Books app is sure to delight the heck out of you. An entirely free library of public domain books read in the most soothing voices imaginable is at your fingertips with this wonderful audiobook app. Whether you're in the mood for a spellbinding reading of The War of the Worlds, or you want to prepare for your upcoming presentation by listening to The Art of Public Speaking, you'll be sure to find a perfect book for those moments when you want to enrich your mind. And for my Spanish-speaking peeps, we have plenty to listen to as well!

KAMI 2 Keeps You Busy With Countless Puzzles

KAMI 2 isn't just your average puzzle-solving game; it's legit one of the most aesthetically beautiful apps I've ever come across, and the challenges are no joke, either. With muted, earth-tone patterns and softly-flipping origami tiles, you might soon find yourself addicted (like me, TBH) to solving the patterns in as few moves as possible. And with all of the spectacular designs, you might just forget that you're doing serious problem-solving exercises.

Happify Keeps Your Mental Health In Check

For those days when you're a little bit overwhelmed, follow Happify's science-based activities to improve your emotional well-being. The free app includes a number of different tools for increasing your daily happiness, like guided meditations, as well as games that are developed to target different areas of your mental health, such as empathy and gratefulness.

And if you're taking care of your mental health, chances are, everything else will fall neatly into place.