It’s common knowledge that exercising your body is important to your overall health. A balanced diet, clean eating, and an established exercise routine will have you looking and feeling better—there’s no doubt about that, and many of us strive to achieve this (or just feel guilty over not). While there’s a widespread consensus on the importance of physical health, many of us are lacking when it comes to consideration for our mental health. Yet with the advent of increasingly sophisticated technology, we are beginning to learn more about the ways we can take care of our inner selves—our minds.
According to the National Institutes of Health, recent science has shown that learning a new skill has a myriad of positive effects on the brain, including refining memory, sharpening focus, and improving overall mental and emotional wellbeing. With the widespread increase in anxiety, depression, and mental-health issues, perhaps we should all begin to make the effort to care for our minds as often as we do our bodies. Luckily for us, we don’t have to choose between one or the other—learning a new skill can be an improvement that becomes directly incorporated into our physical routines.
Learning how to dance is one such skill in which mind and body are both actively engaged. Taking a dance class is not only a great way to achieve an aerobic workout, but learning new and unfamiliar dance steps also challenges the mind with new information. There are many complexities that go into learning a new dance routine that involve mind-body coordination, memorization, and technique. Not only will your endorphins be rushing due to the physical exercise, but grooving along to some upbeat music is a classic go-to for improving one’s mood!
For those who prefer a learning experience that is less physically demanding (or even a bit more serene), significant studies have pointed towards gardening as a proven method of stress relief and a way to achieve mental clarity. Learning how to garden is easier than ever before, with many instructive resources available online to help you get started on the process. To reap additional mind-body benefits from your newfound hobby, I would recommend starting your own vegetable garden—this way you’ll feed both body and mind, enjoying your delicious, garden-fresh veggies while feeling the satisfaction of knowing they were grown out of your own hard work and persistence. But before you begin, it’s important to do your research in order to be sure that you’re purchasing your seeds through a reputable distributor—a company who’s not only knowledgeable about the industry, but whose product you feel safe consuming. After all, growing your veggies is half the fun—the other half is eating them!
The majority of us lead very busy lives, and it may seem like there just isn’t enough energy left after a hard day at work to learn a new skill. Yet once you find your passion—whether it’s learning a new dance routine or plunging your hands into some fresh, damp dirt—you’ll find that both mind and body are in fact reenergized. It’s important to note that any and all new learning experiences will contribute to your mental health. For more help with your mental health, consider speaking to a BetterHelp counselor. So with a bit of self-exploration and an open mind, you can find your new hobby, too.