Learn Something New Today

Do you have a hobby? A hobby almost seems like frivolous thing nowadays that no-one has time for. We are all just unbearably, overwhelmingly BUSY! Time is increasingly stretched between kids, pets, household duties, building a career, a second job or personal venture, eating balanced meals… the list goes on and we’re juggling it all! How can there be time for anything fun?

The “I’m too busy” mind-set has almost become a badge of honour, a sign of importance. And we do a very good job of convincing ourselves that it’s true. However, this mindset is often not totally true and may be undermining our mental and physical well-being.

Various things contribute to this feeling of being overwhelmingly busy all the time, but if you look a little closer you may find more pockets of free time in your day than you realize. Being mindful of the time being spent on social media, Netfix, online shopping, etc may leave you surprised by how it adds up. I am not suggesting that social media and Netflix are inherently bad; it is important to take time out to relax and laugh at a funny show or share a moment with a friend who lives far away. However, I would argue that the time spent engaging in these activities should be done more intentionally and likely less frequently. If you’re like me, you value your time and don’t wake up in the morning with the goal of squandering so many precious moments on social media, but it often happens.

I challenge you to pick up a new hobby and try squeeze a few precious moment each week into learning something new.

Here is what’s in it for you:

Makes you happier

Engaging in a hobby can create what psychologists call ‘flow’ experiences – when we’re so absorbed in what we’re doing, we lose sense of time, of ourselves and our worries. While working on the task we often experience intense focus and don’t think of much else, but afterwards we might feel a sense of deep satisfaction and accomplishment.

Research has shown that activities that use your hands, such as knitting, woodworking, gardening or chopping vegetables can be particularly useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression. There is value in the routine action; functioning hands allow for the mind to rest, daydream and flow freely through creative thought.

Good for physical health

Not only are hobbies good for your mind, they are also good for your body! Engaging in enjoyable activities has been associated with lowering blood pressure, cortisol levels (stress hormone), and body mass index.

Stops burnout

Hobbies offer you an opportunity to take a purposeful break. Most people don’t like the idea of wasting time. Learning something new allows you to take a break, but the feeling of accomplishment and self-satisfaction from learning something new, or creating something, doesn’t leave you feeling like you are squandered precious time.

Additionally, taking the time to focus on something extracurricular that you enjoy, gives your brain a break and allows you to refocus once you return to work. Stepping outside of the same systematic pattern each day can help bring a new perspective to a once unsolvable problem.

Healthy aging

People who learn a new skill are less likely to develop dementia, which has been linked to demyelination of your brain. Simply, your brain needs exercise too. The Rush Memory and Aging Project conducted a study focusing on 1,200 elders, actually found that those who were cognitively active each week were 2.6 less times likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Learning a new language has been shown to be particularly beneficial.  

In addition to helping your brain stay healthy into your old age, learning new skills can be great for transitioning into retirement. While the idea of retirement may seem like a dream come true in reality, as retirement approaches, some people may become concerned that their lives will lose purpose once they stop working. Hobbies can help individuals to cut back on work hours, or completely retire, while still creating a daily challenge and maintaining a sense of fulfillment. There is also income potential for individuals who are able to sell the items they have made!

A connecting agent

Learning new things often leads you to meet new and interesting people. Attending a class, getting a fresh perspective through conversation, or other personal interactions that learning creates, leads people to connect. I love Saskatoon and truly enjoy living here, but I find that the winters can be long and sometimes lonely.  The temptation to stay home alone, cuddled under blanket in minus 40 is strong! But if I have committed to a class I will get my butt out of the house. Once I am there, more often than not, I will end up having an interesting conversation and pleasant interaction with someone and will end the day feeling a little lighter.

Enrich your perspective.

Having a new hobby can be very effective when it comes to building character. It enriches your life and provides you with a different perspective on things.

Regardless of what type of hobby you take up, you will certainly be exposed to new people and ideas. Learning a new skill will help you grow in many ways, including exposing you to diversity, new opinions, and new ways to look at life.

Below are a list of resources for learning in Saskatoon.

Comment with your favourite hobby or learning resource below!


Caitlin OlausonComment