During the pandemic, the one thing which kept me motivated was learning!
I invested in upskilling myself. The beauty was that during the lockdown several of the courses went online, which meant I could do them while being at home.
The passion has continued and I have benefitted in so many ways.
I thought of sharing the evidence of how learning has an impact on our health.
- Learning helps to build new connections in the brain. Science shows that by engaging different parts of the brain during the process of learning, one improves the plasticity of the brain. So if you imagine learning to play the piano, you will engage in finding the keys, hear different notes, learn to read music and the audio-visual stimulation would be there too. Various parts of the brain and different nerve cells would be involved in this process. It is interesting to know that when we start practicing the new skill, it increases the brain’s coordination to perform this task efficiently. This increases the white matter in the brain, which is linked to improved performance. (1)
- Learning enhances life satisfaction as well as wellbeing. (2) This article has reviewed older adults; however, I feel this is something that has a psychological impact at every age. One would naturally feel a sense of achievement and positive shift in mood when engaging with a new activity, no matter how old they are.
- Research shows that engaging in challenging and demanding novel activities enhances memory function in older adults. (3)
- Lifelong engagement in learning new things of one’s interest has several positive benefits for health, some of which include improved self-esteem, a sense of purpose with hope for the future as well as protection from mental illnesses. It has been seen that one’s capacity to deal with stress and recover from chronic health conditions improves as well. (4)
From my own engagement in learning during my free time, I feel it relieves stress and actually keeps my mind occupied in a something positive. I notice in my patients as well that the ones who are curious in life, want to develop themselves and are engaging in social activities or learning, seem to be resilient not just with chronic health conditions but also with mental wellbeing.
I feel it does not matter whether the learning is work or leisure related, as long as it is something one is keen about, the benefits are huge! It makes one live intentionally rather than on autopilot, where one day rolls into another.
So maybe when you can, spend a little time on asking yourself: what new thing would you be inspired to learn? Growing into your own better self is always an uplifting feeling.
Hope you find this read inspiring and informative.