Learning A New Skill: A Painful Puzzle Or Balm For The Brain?

From taking up skateboarding to learning a new language, there’s no doubt that learning new skills can be extremely advantageous for our brain health. So why aren’t we all taking up new hobbies?

Well, if we’re all being completely honest, a lot of it comes down to laziness. Whilst the idea itself of, for example learning to play the ukulele is appealing, when it comes down to it, after a long day at school or work or whatever it may be, most people are more drawn to Netflix and their phones. Whilst this is understandable, it’s not doing anything to help that constant whir in the back of our brains.

One article I read recently, titled ‘To Cope With Stress, Try Learning Something New’ summed it up pretty well. The basis of this article was that, instead of trying to power through with the job at hand when stressed, or giving up entirely, the best way to really combat the underlying issue was to focus on learning. Whether this be by really buckling down on trying to understand the thing that you are struggling with, or by spending your free time learning a new skill or hobby, both can be of great use to us.

The science behind this revelation (well, it was a revelation to me at least) is that learning a new skill stimulates the neurons in the brain. By opening up more neurological pathways in the brain, we allow our brains to become richer with information and also better at absorbing it. Once your brain has begun to pick up new skills, it becomes more ready to do so, and the new neurological pathways link more easily and quickly. Basically, your cognitive ability improves- never a bad thing! The big question therefore remains, how to embark on this challenge?

In my experience, one of the best ways to go about this is to book yourself into some classes. This way, you’re financially tied down and it’s therefore far less easy to bail last minute in favour of some Gossip Girl, popcorn and a bath. Language classes, cooking school or even ballet lessons have all been activities my friends and I have benefitted from whilst at uni.

Of course, not every can afford to shell out for such luxuries, and it’s just as easy to take up some new skills in your own home. Online yoga sessions, cooking sites such as Mob Kitchen and YouTube tutorials on how to crochet are all examples of free, exciting new skills you can pick up to help your brain.

By occupying your brain with these new skills, you can also decrease your stress levels. The age-old trick of distraction is at play, and, if you’re anything like me, learning a new skill every so often can seriously change your life. So, learning new skills is like creating balm for the brain by switching it on again and getting these neurons whizzing. Click on the links below for inspo.

By Lara Morant

Useful links