It is so easy to stay within our comfort zone especially at times when we aren’t feeling our best. When actually, if you get out of your own way and really want to make changes in your life for the better, the best way to do this is to try new things, meet new people and engage in fun activities
Whether it’s a workshop, with a group of friends, or even by ourselves, many of us cringe at the thought of trying something new and possibly failing.
The thing is, learning a new skill can be great for our mental health. This includes using our brain in new ways and continually challenging ourselves to learn new things.
The mental health benefits of learning new skills go beyond the neuropsychological benefits, and include aspects of psychological/emotional health as well.
A new hobby can be a great stress reliever. Why? Because it helps us break out of our normal patterns of behaviour. And even better it gives our brains something to think about other than the same old same old worries. My latest stress-busting hobby is running. I haven’t run long distance in at least 15 years or even 20!! So, I bit the bullet and started the couch to 5K running app. It was great and eased me in gently. I also had the awesome #SarahMillcan (British comedian) spurring me along in my local Geordie accent, which made me smile as I ran. I didn’t need to go into a strange gym or travel for miles to start my regime. Straight out my front door and off I went. As I live in a beautiful location and next to a river, I decided what better than to beat stress, get fresh air, get fit and challenge my mind than to take up running. I decided I was going to enjoy it and not see it as a chore and now I love it. It makes me feel great. I set off first thing in the morning and then I am ready for the day.
I’m not saying you need to take up running but how about you think of something new to take you out of your comfort zone and make you smile.
Play: When life gets so serious it’s hard to enjoy yourself if you focus on all the things that are stressing you. It is so important to remember how to have fun. Whether it is meeting your friends more often and having a bit of daft carry on or joining in with your kids more. Find the child in you again. Not only will your children enjoy this as you will connect on a deeper level – so will you! You will forget about all of the problems adult life brings
Thinking of new ways to have fun or even just reflecting on what used to make you laugh and seeking that out in your life again. I like nothing better than a bike ride with my friends, enjoying the fresh air and laughing as you whizz down the steep hills
Key benefits of having fun:
Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Improves brain function.
Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulates the mind and boost creativity:
Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improves relationships and your connection to others:
Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Keep you feeling young and energetic:
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.
So go on… try something new, exciting and fun…
It will make you feel a whole lot better and give you a break from your worries ….