How Acquiring New Skills Can Enrich Your Mental Health

Guest Feature Written by Jennlie Borromew

For some people, learning something new can be scary. After all, it’s a long road to mastery, and there’s a chance that you might run into some hurdles along the way. However, fear of failure shouldn’t be a reason not to try. Once you’ve managed to cope with your anxieties, you’ll find that the benefits of new skills can be worth it. More than learning a new talent, the journey to acquiring a skill in itself can enrich your mental health.

It Helps You Build a New Mindset.

When you throw yourself into a new field, you immediately develop a new perception of the world around you. For Kiip CEO Brian Wong, one of the biggest perks of learning a new skill (scuba-diving in particular) is that it takes your mind off of life’s daily humdrum. “I didn’t go into scuba diving thinking it would make me a better problem solver, or help me overcome inhibitions [at] work,” he stated in an article on Inc. “But naturally, learning something entirely new, without the pressure of it being directly correlated to my career, helped me think of things differently.” With lessons that involved proper breathing underwater and how to cope during emergencies, his most important take-away was knowing how to stay calm in the midst of panic—an important skill that can be applied to all aspects of life. Likewise, whether you want to try cooking or take up a sport, the change in routine will do you wonders.

It Keeps Your Mind Fresh

It’s no big secret that our minds degrade as we get older. However, there are ways to combat this, with an article on Thrive Global detailing how learning new skills helps promote better life satisfaction and optimism. In turn, this also prevents your cognitive abilities from stagnating. This is further supported by studies conducted by psychology experts at Maryville University, who explain how a persons’ healthy mind and their learning capabilities are closely connected. Their findings show how the healthier the brain is, the easier it is to pick up and learn new skills. And this ability to learn is especially important for those at risk of serious brain disorders, with researchers from CCSU Continuing Education outlining how learning can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. Overall, continued learning should not just be a hobby but a necessity for staying mentally healthy.

It Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem

Out of all the things that can affect mental health in the long run, our guest writer Hannah Blum notes how confidence is one of the most important aspects. Learning new skills can help in this regard, as it equips you with the self-assurance and positive energy you need to take on other tasks. Even getting into simple hobbies like drawing, writing, or running will help build self-esteem as you will have accomplished something new.

It Fosters Connections With Like-Minded Individuals.

Whether you’re joining a sewing group or a book club, you’re bound to meet people with similar interests. It’s easier to make friends this way since you already have a shared hobby. “Our brain cannot survive without friends,” Dr. Stephanie Cacioppo shared with Chicago Health Online. She further elaborates on how friendships can profoundly affect how much the brain can focus, sleep, and overall keep people in a great mood.

Like we said, diving into something new can be scary and intimidating, but it’s more than worth it to take that plunge. So, if there’s something you’ve been putting off—be it piano lessons or a crafts class—then consider this your sign that there’s no better time to finally do it than now. Your mental health will thank you for it.

For more mental health content follow @hannahdblum

At the age of 20, Hannah Blum went from Prom Queen to a mental patient in the blink of an eye, but what she believed would be the end was only just the beginning. In her first book, The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love, Hannah Blum redefines what it means to love yourself and takes readers on an unforgettable journey towards embracing what makes them different.