Keep Your Brain Strong


Photo provided by Pixabay


Post was written by Julie Morris

Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks obviously wasn’t familiar with how the human brain works. While how we learn often changes as we age, it’s absolutely possible—regardless of how many birthdays we’ve celebrated—to learn and master many new skills.


Are you looking to add a few new skills to your repertoire, whether online or with a group of friends? Try these suggestions:


Learn to dance. If you’re a bit nervous about strutting your stuff in public—whether you fancy salsa or hip-hop—there are plenty of online tutorials you can try. As The Treehouse points out, “One of the best benefits of dancing is that you can do it in the privacy of your own home (provided you have space) or in a classroom setting, which can help you socialize. It’s also a great way to get in shape and learn about your own body’s abilities and limits in a healthy way.” Dancing is all about building confidence and self-assurance; it also helps improve muscle tone and core strength.


Improve your public speaking skills. Join Toastmasters, an international organization dedicated to developing strong leaders and confident public speakers. Take an online class or course at your local community college; learning to clearly communicate plays dividends in spades, especially if you’re still working.


Cultivate your culinary prowess. Cooking is an artform with infinite possibilities based on flavors combined in myriad ways. Whether you’re one step above boiling water or curious about other cultures and cuisines, cooking shows, classes, and demos can pave the way for fun gustatory adventures.


Try a new language. With the explosion of language learning programs, like Babbel and Rosetta Stone, you’ve got plenty of ways to increase your lingual skills. Researchers know that language learning helps your brain remain flexible, and even helps it pick up other new skills.


Pick up a musical instrument. Music lifts the spirit and has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions. Studies show that playing an instrument can increase your IQ and improve your memory, too. It’s true that the initial challenge of learning a new instrument is fraught with frustration, but after you’ve learned the basics and gained a bit of confidence and a comfort level, you can explore and experiment with sounds you create.


Channel your inner artist. The value of artistic skills lies in the technical abilities they cultivate to create something beautiful. Whether you’re exploring digital illustration, drawing, or painting, start by sketching subject matter that interests you. The best way to develop this skill is through plenty of practice by following online videos or even taking in-person art classes.


Increase your technical prowess. Technology offers a million subsets—from learning to build and modify computers to improving your skills in basic coding.


Have no programming experience at all? Try Scratch, which is a fairly simple programming language that allows users to create games, interactive stories, and web animations. Developed by MIT students and aimed at kids, it’s also the perfect introduction for older folks with little background in programming and coding. Looking to increase your “hardcore” tech skills in HTML/CSS, Javascript, Python, CMD Line, Python, and SQL? Try the very interactive Codecademy, which offers great interactive lessons.


Learn how to apply those newfound coding skills. Once you’ve mastered the basics of coding, you can move onto more practical applications, like building websites, designing and creating apps, or programming robots. Coding opens up a world of possibilities for job growth and increased earning potential, too.


So many choices!


Pursuing new hobbies and skills is a wonderful way to keep your mind and brain agile. They also benefit people—including seniors—in addiction recovery by redirecting behaviors in positive ways, helping make new connections, and keeping the brain’s reward system healthy. With the plethora of possibilities online that allow you to learn something new when you’ve got the time, there’s no reason not to take advantage of the free courses on a wide range of subjects!