Part 5: Trying out – Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

Many of us associate learning with childhood or our student days. As adults, it can seem as though we have less time or need to learn new things. But evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life can improve and maintain our mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing means feeling good – about yourself and the world around you – and being able to get on with life in the way you want.

How learning can help your wellbeing

Research shows that learning throughout life is associated with greater satisfaction and optimism, and improved ability to get the most from life. People who carry on learning after childhood report higher wellbeing and a greater ability to cope with stress. They also report more feelings of self-esteem, hope and purpose. Setting targets and hitting them can create positive feelings of achievement. Learning often involves interacting with other people. This can also increase our wellbeing by helping us build and strengthen social relationships.

How you can keep learning

If you want to make learning a bigger part of your life, it helps to think about learning in the broadest sense.

Classes and formal courses are great ways to learn new things, but there are lots of other ways too. You might:

  • Learn to cook a favourite dish that you’ve never eaten at home. Check out the internet for healthy recipes if you’re stuck for ideas.
  • Visit a gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you.
  • Take on a new responsibility at work, such as learning to use an IT system or understanding the monthly reports.
  • Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project? There are lots of free video tutorials online.
  • Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local night school. You might learn a new language or musical instrument, or try something practical, such as plumbing or photography.
  • Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it’s making model aeroplanes, writing stories, sewing or knitting.

It is important to remember that getting out of your comfort zone regularly is a good thing for both your mental and physical wellbeing.  You gain more confidence, self-esteem and ultimately will lead a happier life.