Push Your Brain—Learning every day will give you more than just great life skills
There are clichés we hear our whole lives, and among them is “Learn something new every day. It’s good for you!” The benefits of lifelong learning aren’t just so you’re smarter. They’re not even so you’re better at Thursday night trivia (although, who doesn’t want that?). Continuous learning benefits range from minute details to big changes over the course of our lives.
Take a look at the ways lifelong learning can play a positive role for you!
Benefits of continuous learning:
1. Encourage your communication skills
Learning something new is often done through reading, listening, writing, etc. Interestingly enough, these skills are also heavily involved in our ability to communicate. Win-win!
2. Gain confidence
Breaking out of our routine can be daunting. Learning new skills and gaining information you didn’t have before boosts more than just your brain. When we feel prepared to engage with others, it boosts our self-confidence, too! The more we know, the better we feel, right?
3. Lower your stress levels
High–intensity mental activities (like reading, learning a language, or playing music) have shown to dramatically reduce stress levels. It makes sense. While you’re learning, the brain is working hard. It’s focusing on whatever that thing is you’re doing, and it’s trying its very hardest.
Because your brain is so focused, it allows the release of tension in your muscles (including your hard-working heart!). Less tension = less stress. Interesting, right? Click here to read more!
4. Fight disease
While learning on its own can’t change your biology or fend off diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, it absolutely can help delay symptoms.
It does this by increasing the plasticity in your brain. Flexible brains are a good thing: They are more adaptable to change in environments and have the ability to rewire themselves to create new connections!
The positive of all this? Increased quality of life, even in the face of disease.
Try something new!
New life skills don’t have to be related to your current work …
Most people would agree that music is pretty great. Music is, in fact, amazing. It evokes emotion, eases pain, provides comfort, makes you smarter, and has incredible benefits on your brain. (It also makes 20 minutes on the treadmill MUCH more enjoyable.)
But, depending on your interaction with music, it doesn’t just make you smarter. Playing a musical instrument engages multiple parts of your brain all at the same time … this is better for you than you think.
Let’s take a look at why:
- It increases the blood flow to the brain: More blood flow means more oxygen, and more oxygen means higher functionality.
- You’re able to make decisions and problem-solve easier and faster.
- Playing a musical instrument brings together sensory information like vision, hearing, touch, and fine movements all at once, which can change the way your brain works.
- It increases your reaction time—something that slows significantly as we age.
- Music memory carries an extremely strong emotional connection and is often the last part of your brain affected by Alzheimer’s.
Music’s not for you? Let’s brainstorm other ideas to get you started!
- Read a different genre book than you’re used to. Like fiction? Try a biography or grab a new cookbook from the library.
- If you’re not a reader, read a book (the library is FREE!).
- Listen to an audio book or podcast.
- Learn to play an instrument.
- Try your hand at gardening—you just need a sunny window and a small pot and plant (or seeds if you’re ambitious) to get you started.
- Take a yoga class (most first classes are free!).
- Try geocaching.
- Learn a language (the Duolingo app is a great place to start!).
- Try out rock climbing (REI often does intro classes!).
- Listen to a new playlist.
- Take a cooking class.
- Go for a drive in a direction you’ve never been before.
- Volunteer somewhere in your community.
- Ride a scooter.
- Check out the local farmer’s market.
- Try out origami.
- Keep a journal for a month.
- Research and go on a new-to-you hike.
- Give meal-prepping a real shot.
Your list can be anything (or nothing) from this list. Find something new that interests you and jump in!
We’re all beginners at something. Share something new you tried recently and comment below!