Learning in life doesn't have to stop when you leave your School or University gates for the final time. It's been well documented that one of the keys to maintaining happiness and wellbeing is to keep on challenging yourself and learning new skills. Not only does continued learning boost self confidence and help us to continue to engage with life and those around us but it's been shown to boost your resilience helping to keep you enlivened and curious as you continue to grow.
Now this doesn't have to mean spending a small fortune or heading back to the books in the same way you might have done during your more formal early education. There are all sorts of things out there to get involved in. From the very straightforward to the downright fabulous but totally bizarre. Today I thought I'd put together a little list of ideas. Please feel free to add your own learning experiences to this selection in the comments below - let's make this an ongoing gathering of great things to all get stuck in to and enjoy!
Just as a side note: Most of the actual physical courses on this list are London based due to my personal location and experience. If you are not near to London but have some great suggestions for your own local area please don't hesitate to share below for other readers.
MY LEARN LIST TOP FOUR
1. Learn something for FREE: In this day and age, with the huge popularity of Social Media and more specifically YouTube, there's a ridiculously huge number of ways to access free online tutorials to learn about all sorts of things.
Right now I'm using YouTube to learn and practise Yoga daily, I'll share a little more about that later down the line once I'm further in to the experience. But when it comes to finding a quick, easy and free way to learn something new then one of the best places to start is with the Education Channel. Here you can pick out videos on all sorts of things whether you have an hour or 20 minutes to spare. From Humanities, Medicine, Business and all sorts of other stuff in between, the channel will automatically generate its most popular videos in a wide selection of disciplines.
Another YouTube favourite of mine, for much shorter, totally different but equally inspiring snippets is The School Of Life. New films every week on a variety of topics, will intrigue and entertain you in equal measure. Think of them more as short soundbites to stimulate the mind. A great channel to visit for ideas that you might then want to take up for further learning.
Thanks to a recent Twitter chat and some great fellow blogger recommendations, another area of free online learning that I'm really starting to enjoy and explore is the world of podcasts. Here are some of my favourites that I would recommend taking a listen to:
Stuff You Should Know is a podcast that basically does exactly what it says - discusses common topics, things that we should really know but maybe don't, how things work etc.
Being Boss - This series of podcasts for creative entrepreneurs is not necessarily technically for 'learning' I suppose, but is full of inspiration for people who've set up their own business and need a little extra encouragement along the way every now and again.
2. Learn something totally different: As mentioned above, learning new things doesn't mean going back to the high school history books. New skills come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and there are so many great courses to get stuck into these days.
From Ping Pong, Poker, Kite Fighting and Paper Cutting The INDYTUTE has some of the most unique, fun and unusual lessons and courses on offer that I've ever come across. I haven't had the chance to give any of them a go yet but just browsing through their selection I'm extremely tempted and am sure I'll be popping along soon - and no doubt reporting back here on the blog! Check them out for some fun ideas that you can sign up for right away.
3. Learn something crafty:
These days you can pretty much take a course in anything that you can possibly imagine within the arts and crafts genre and get stuck in to all sorts. Whether you want to learn the basics of sewing over a period of weeks or spend a short afternoon making jewellery or icing biscuits - you name it, you'll be able to find it! Doing something crafty is a great way to switch off and refocus your mind and energy, a fun thing to do and share with friends and a lovely way to gain a unique sense of achievement often in a very short space of time.
Two of my favourite crafty picks include:
Make your own Fascinator - With the summer racing season just around the corner why not pop along to a Fascinator making course and spend an afternoon making your own unique creation instead of spending a fortune on buying one in the shops. I took part in such a course a few years ago for a friends hen party and, despite the fact that I did injure myself a few too many times with the needle, it was still a most engaging and satisfying afternoon of creativity.
Ice some biscuits! I haven't tried this course but I've tried the biscuits and they're just as beautiful as they are delicious. If you've got a steady hand and a fair bit of patience then an afternoon learning these delicate, beautiful icing skills could be right up your street. Have you tried it? Any thoughts or other suggestions?
4. Learn something new about yourself:
Sometimes we all just need to take a step back and focus on learning more about ourselves. Why we do things, how we can move forward in certain situations, how we can learn to do things differently. This might all sound a bit hardcore, perhaps intimidating or to some just total nonsense but you'll be surprised how many interesting, and perhaps challenging but ultimately rewarding, things there are out there. Ways to help you learn more about yourself and feel more comfortable in your own skin.
From personal experience here is one of my favourite picks. Something you might never have considered before but may be incredibly useful. You don't have to travel the world to find yourself!
Free Your Inner Voice. Way, way back when I was studying Musical Theatre in my college days I started to have some serious issues with my voice, namely my voice decided not to work anymore which, when you're training everyday to be a singer and an actress, can be a bit of a tricky hurdle to have to overcome!
A great teacher that I had at the time took me along to a class run by a friend of hers called Free The Inner Voice. Now I won't lie - this is not the sort of thing I would have picked out to do on my own accord. The sessions primarily focus on chanting, setting an intention and then working with it, finding ways to release whatever it is that's stopping you from moving forward.
It's very difficult to explain and summarise in a few short sentences on a blog but the subsequent chanting courses that I took part in during that time really did have a huge effect on where I was at that point in my life. Even down to the very simple fact that when I went home after that first two hour session, for the first time in years I was able to relax the muscles in my face that had been holding themselves so tightly trying to shoulder the load of what was going on inside of me. Whoa - heavy I know! But that's not what this is all about. With clients as diverse as M&C Saatchi, Lenny Henry and the NHS - Nikki, the genius teacher behind all this, can work with individuals or teams of people to help you with all sorts - from a fear of public speaking to perhaps something a little deeper. You never have to reveal anything you don't want to but even so, you'll still be amazed at the results.
Finally if you're reading this thinking that it's all very well but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks! It's NEVER too late to learn. Try reading these two articles to help you find new thinking behind learning new things:
How To Learn A New Skill Fast - Forbes.com
What are your thoughts on learning new things? Do you like to keep challenging yourself in life? Do you think you'll try any of the above? Or does the thought of learning something new scare you and if so what is it that makes you so nervous?
I'd love to know your thoughts - and any feedback or ideas on the above suggestions or those that you may have of your own.
Bye for now everyone. Happy learning and have a Happy Monday!