Learning new skills can be useful, but it can also positively affect our mental wellbeing. It doesn’t have to mean getting more qualifications. There are many ways to bring learning into your life.
Many of us associate learning with childhood or our student days. As adults, it can seem as though we have less time or need to learn new things.
But evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life can help improve and maintain our mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing means feeling good – about yourself and the world around you – and being able to get on with life in the way you want.
Learning can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and help us connect with others.
That makes learning one of the five evidence-based steps that we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Find out more about the five steps for mental wellbeing.
How learning can help your wellbeing
Some studies have shown that learning throughout life is associated with greater satisfaction and optimism, and improved ability to get the most from life.
For example, in a 2004 study, 145 adults were interviewed about learning throughout life and various aspects of their health and wellbeing. The study found that people who involved themselves in more learning reported feeling higher self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with stress. They also reported more feelings of self-confidence, hope and purpose.
Some scientists think that setting goals and working towards them plays an important role in the way learning influences wellbeing. Setting targets and hitting them can create positive feelings of accomplishment and achievement.
Many forms of learning involve being around and interacting with other people. This can help us build and strengthen our social relationships. Learn more about connecting for mental wellbeing.
How you can start learning
If you want to make learning a bigger part of your life, it helps to think about learning in the broadest sense.
Classes and formal courses are great ways to learn new things, but there are lots of other ways too. You might:
- Learn to cook a favourite dish that you’ve never eaten at home. Check out these healthy recipes if you're stuck for ideas.
- Visit a gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you.
- Take on a new responsibility at work, such as learning to use an IT system or understanding the monthly reports.
- Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project?
- Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local night school. You might learn a new language, or try something practical such as plumbing.
- Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it's making model aeroplanes, writing stories, sewing or knitting.
More steps for wellbeing
There are other steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Learn more about the five steps for mental wellbeing.
You can also learn more about: