Welcome to October!
There are so many of us that love the fall season...self included. I love the cooler temperatures coming off of a hot and humid summer. It feels so invigorating and refreshing. Combine that with the spectacular colors on display in the trees and foliage and no two mornings look alike.
For me, the fall is also linked to the start of a new school year when as a child I often looked forward to meeting new teachers and starting a new grade. I loved learning and still do. Only now I find I need to make more of an effort to learn something new. It’s far too easy to let the routine of home and work consume all of my time.
This fall, quite by accident I stumbled into learning a new skill. Here’s what happened…
In mid August, my son’s soccer team began practices for the fall season four times a week. They practice for 90 minutes on a field about 30 minutes drive away from our home. So dropping him off and coming back later to pick him up seemed like a bit of a waste of driving to only gain a half hour of time back at home before having to go pick him up. Instead, I decided to bring a book and stay during practices.
After sitting through a couple practices that way I began feeling a little restless because the sidelines really weren’t conducive to reading. I starting thinking, “I should learn how to crochet or knit”. A bit of a random thought, but I had always wanted to learn to make some fun hats and scarves just never thought I had the time to learn or work on any projects. Well, for me four soccer practices a week introduced just the right opportunity for me to learn.
A ball of yarn, a crochet hook and several YouTube videos later I’ve learned the art of single crochet, double crochet, half double crochet, the slip stitch, and the magic ring which is enough to allow me to make hats, scarves, dishcloths, and even sweaters all with different patterns.
Wow! I’m hooked (pun intended…)
This new hobby provides me with such satisfaction in creating something with my hands and making things for others...something I’ve always loved doing. Plus, learning a new skill is helping my mind grow stronger.
On a physiological level, learning new things is good for your brain too. Practicing a new skill increases the density of your myelin, or the white matter in your brain that helps improve performance on a number of tasks. Additionally, learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them. The combination of these two things helps you continue to learn better.
In addition to improving the physical functioning of your brain, learning new skills helps to recharge your mind - both the conscious and subconscious mind. We often think the only way to recharge is to relax and do nothing, but sometimes the best way to recharge is to throw yourself into something that takes your mind off of your daily tasks. It’s pretty hard to stop thinking about a pink elephant once I mention it to you. However, if I then ask you to think about a blue frog you naturally stop thinking about the first animal I mentioned.
Now sometimes we use our busy schedule, our in box, social media, and our phones to distract us from negative thoughts that have taken up residence in our minds. That works in the short term, but only creates a negative spiral that leads to more stress, anxiety, and the chronic problems they cause.
Conversely, when you learn something new it refreshes your mind and helps you think of things differently. As you do this more you find opportunities to talk to yourself and speak words of encouragement, uplift, and positivity instead of listening to yourself swirl in a sea of negativity. Self hypnosis is also something that can be learned that has the added benefit of increasing positive self talk and creating new healthy habits. Consider making an appointment to learn to increase your own positive self talk.
What are you learning new this fall?
Share with me in the comments below. I’d love to know!
Until next time...be well, my friend.