Have you been yearning to play the guitar? Or maybe to learn a new language, or how to surf, or bake a cake? Even if there’s nothing wrong with routine (after all, a routine means stability), there might be something you have longed to do for a while.
Whatever your interests, not only can learning something new be fun, but also quite beneficial. According to science, trying new things has proven benefits for your health and mental wellbeing, and you can find something that suits your time and lifestyle.
Here are some of the key science-based benefits of trying new things:
Improves cognitive functions
According to Dr. Kathryn Papp, neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, trying something new can protect you against cognitive decline: “Cognitive and social engagement have been shown to be protective against cognitive decline, whereas social isolation (is) associated with cognitive decline.”
Dr. Papp says that the human brain has great potential for growth and malleability. Learning a new skill, like a new language, may build new brain cells, and strengthen connections between the cells, to develop cognitive abilities throughout your life.
An opportunity to enjoy something new
You might have heard many stories about people trying something new, and then going on to build their whole careers and lives out of it. Psychology Today says it can be quite fulfilling to create something out of a thing you really enjoy, something that fuels your creativity, energy, and growth.
Studies show that we spend 72 hours a week on average working. Spending this amount of time doing something you enjoy might make you feel more fulfilled and happier.
So why not give that new hobby a try? You never know where that may take you.
Self-growth happens when you challenge yourself – experts say it comes from the act of trying something that you’ve never done before. This can be anything, whether you try a new activity, or simply a novel way of thinking. Try to put yourself into a new situation, where you may learn something completely unknown to you, to “force beneficial change”.
Make a social impact
There are many things you can do that also leave a nice little social footprint behind.
Volunteering can be one. Some people, for example, volunteer to help families in need or clean up green spaces. The latter can be quite enjoyable for nature lovers, and those would love to be outdoors more. While you’re taking in the fresh air, you might also be contributing to the health of nature around you.
Inspire creative thinking
Our children are taught “key competencies” in primary school, things that show them how to learn, how to think for themselves and stay motivated to learn throughout their lives. These key competencies are:
using language, symbols, and texts
relating to others
participating and contributing.
Core values that children carry throughout their lives, and maybe us adults could follow too. Learning these competencies can have multi-fold benefits. They inspire creative and critical thinking to make sense of information and experiences. They encourage self-dependency and collaboration. You might be able to feel more motivated, and understand yourself better in unclear situations. These skills also help you relate more with the world around you.
Research has shown that people who try a variety of experiences in their lives are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimise negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.
Even if you’re doing something that you enjoy, but you do it routinely, it may not have the same benefits as trying something new that you might also enjoy. You could practise a different type of instrument, or read a different genre of book than the one you usually enjoy reading. The more you broaden your experiences, the stronger your positive memories become.
Finally, here’s a little list of new things Kiwis can try out this year:
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Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.