How Learning New Skills Can Improve Mental Health
Mental health issues can develop for any number of reasons. Some developments are largely attributable to external influences in a person’s life and events or stressors that are difficult to cope with. Problems can also arise due simply to chemical or hormonal imbalance. Learning new things is a good way for people to manage and improve various types of mental health conditions. It promotes cognitive flexibility, and it gives people the opportunity to think neutrally or positively about something new instead of repeating the same thought processes that may be creating or exacerbating a decline in mental health. Also, the activity of learning makes it possible for people to become actively engaged in something they enjoy when they are otherwise feeling debilitated by how they are feeling. Here are a few ways that learning can benefit a person’s psychological well being.
Focus on What You Are Passionate About
Building new artistic or creative skills equips people to discover what they are most excited about. They can nurture natural talents and develop abilities that require mastery of unique tools. Taking on a new artistic interest or enhancing an existing one also gives people the opportunity to express themselves better. They can process things that they are struggling with in whatever format feels optimal to them. The ability to express oneself more fully can feel empowering and gratifying.
People who wish to learn new creative skills could explore areas of study that make good use of technological tools such as digital drawing techniques or crop video premiere editing. Both the act of learning a new artistic discipline and the process of putting those skills into practice can enhance people’s mood and stimulate positive thoughts.
Break Cyclical Thought Patterns
A mental health condition can be difficult to overcome when a person becomes stuck in a repetitive thought pattern that’s sustaining an issue such as anxiety or depression. The brain likes to operate in patterns. Even when patterns or habits are negative, a person’s neural network will continue producing and relaying the same signals because it has become conditioned to.
The repetitive quality of people’s thought processes is essentially a survival mechanism. People evolved to think repetitively so they could absorb new information while doing all of the most important things that they needed to do to survive. Repetitive thoughts also let people focus their neural activity in the parts of the brain that need it most. However, leaving some parts of the brains or certain neural pathways inactive may make them slightly less accessible. It becomes harder for people to change their thinking and it reinforces the repetition of cyclical cognitive and psychological patterns.
Unfortunately, a negative pattern induced by outside influences or a person’s own brain chemistry can result in a mental health condition or cognitive disorder. Breaking a pattern or habit that has become hardwired in a person’s brain can be challenging and requires some concerted effort. Learning new information helps people to do a mental reset. It can interrupt the continual relay of neural signals that are detracting from the quality of their thoughts. Processing and absorbing novel information can help maintain fluidity in a person’s thought process.
Exercise Adaptive Analysis and Problem Solving
New skills can provide people with different ways to think about things that are troubling them and express what they are feeling with greater clarity. For example, learning a new language such as Spanish or ASL can cultivate new manners of interpreting information. People can both perceive and articulate things differently when they have a second language to do it with. The differences in how languages convey ideas can influence how people form thoughts and observations. A language that is rich with imagery may make a person think differently about the dynamics of how something affects them. Likewise, a language that utilizes prepositions emphatically can direct people’s attention to what’s most relevant to a question that they are analyzing.
Ultimately, learning new skills can be fantastic for mental wellness. A love of learning offers a constant source of stimulation.
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