When children arrive home from school every day one of the first things many of them do is recite whatever they learned that day.
But the older we get, the more one of three things happens:
- We stop talking about what we’re learning
- We stop noticing what we’re learning
- We stop seeing the need to learn new things
And yet modern psychology points towards there being many benefits in learning new things for adults seeking to maintain or improve their emotional wellbeing. Our brains quite literally increase their capacity when they are tested in new and creative ways.
Dementia experts even suggest that learning new things can contribute to staving off a disease probably afflicting someone you know.
So what can we expect as we put our learner badges back on, and rediscover our childhood enthusiasm for learning?
Learning new things boosts your self-esteem
There’s something uniquely powerful about surprising yourself. When you surprise people who know you at the same time, it’s a double whammy.
Is there a subject or hobby you’ve told people you’d love to explore on a deeper level? Each time you talk about the fact that you haven’t done it yet your sense of self-worth gets damaged because you begin writing yourself off as a person who doesn’t follow through.
As a normal human with a busy life full of distractions what you need is an opportunity and an environment to help you focus all your good intentions. That’s why many people choose to explore distance learning through something like The Open College of The Arts.
Maybe you think there’s a deep well of creativity inside you but it needs to be uncapped. Find an environment that helps you focus your mind and gives you options to choose from and a schedule to follow.
For some that looks like enrolling in a class somewhere local, but that’s not always possible. If flexibility is what you need, distance learning is a popular pathway to unleashing creativity.
Learning new things connects you to others
Even creatives such as writers, normally associated with crafting in solitude, will talk about their need for a community of peers. They look to them for inspiration, feedback and even a way to keep themselves accountable to creative goals.
Deborah Riccio was 52 when she started the Creative Writing BA (Hons) degree with OCA.
“After 10 years of nothing to show for the 5 books I’d written but a file-full of rejections, confidence was also at an all-time low,” Deborah says. “Since becoming a student, though, I’ve found the support, regained confidence and find tutor guidance invaluable. Distance learning suits me; if I feel the need to socialise, the OCA student forums and Facebook groups are a great place to meet-up.”
Discover new ways to process your emotions
Let’s go back to those children we talked about at the outset. One of the things adults are theoretically better equipped to do than children, is express our emotions and process our experiences.
But this isn’t a given. A cursory glance at statistics about the rise in emotional and mental health problems among adults will tell you that more of us need to find safe places to think about how events in our lives have affected us.
Child therapists will frequently turn to creative expression as a way of helping them process trauma and emotions. This can be just as effective with adults and it’s a valid reason for finding a creative outlet that you can explore on a new level.
Perhaps you already know it’s photography, or painting, or a hobby you’ve had for many years. Or maybe you’re ready to try something new. There’s no time like the present to find the creative outlet that will boost your sense of emotional wellbeing.
Celia Rung studied painting through OCA. She says she chose that subject, “Just because – I couldn’t imagine what enrichment for my daily life would develop from this decision.”
The experience gave her more than sharpened creative skills. “The course opened my mind like pandora’s box. [It] was not only a journey to more knowledge and skill but also a personal journey to more open-mindedness, tolerance and respect towards art and people in general.”
3 simple steps towards learning something new
If you feel like it’s time to make a meaningful investment in your emotional wellbeing and you think you’d like to learn something new, ask yourself three simple questions.
- Do I want to take an existing pastime deeper or start something new?
- What combination of one-to-one input and a peer community do I prefer?
- What are my available resources? (think time and money and learning environments)
OCA exists to help our students to “Live–Learn–Create”. Let us know how we can help you learn something new.
Listen to this Article