9 Ways to Keep Learning at Any Age

By Hilary Thompson

Learning new things as a child is inherently easier. It’s how we’re wired. We learn new concepts and retain a ton of information in order to interact with the world around us. But as we grow older, we become more used to the day-to-day, and our skills become more relative to the experience that we’ve already gained. It becomes less about learning new things, and more about surviving day to day based on what we already know. It becomes harder to learn new things over time, but that’s certainly not to say that it’s impossible. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate new ways of learning into your life.

Watch Wisely
We live in a unique world. A digital mountain of content is available, and it’s right at our fingertips. Why not use this to your advantage to learn something new? Take a break from a sit-com binge and explore the world through documentaries. Documentaries are a great way to keep learning about the world around us, the past, different cultures, and even ideas for the future. There are documentary streaming services that offer free trials  that you can look into and stream the content right in the comfort of your own home.

Cut the Clutter
When it comes to spring cleaning, it doesn’t just have to apply to the orderliness of your home. You can use a good clean-up to help your brain, too! Take inventory of things you spend your time on that you don’t need to. Those small increments of time can add up. We’re talking a few minutes searching for your keys, another few trying to find your wallet. Before you know it, you’ve burned through enough time to do something productive instead. Designate a spot for your commonly misplaced items and set aside some extra time to spiff up. The newfound space in your schedule will be a pleasant surprise!

Read
Reading is one of the best activities to boost brainpower. Reading has been shown to help retain memory, reduce stress, and even improve your mental focus and concentration. Not only does it help us learn new things, such as new words, but it has also been shown to increase emotional intelligence and social awareness. Make sure to pay careful attention to the content you read — it’s easy to fall into the trap of gossip magazines and mindless blog scrolls. Reading is an important tool! It can be a positive time-killer, but use it for the benefit of bettering your way of thinking.

Fuel Your Passions
Make a list of things that you’re good at, and devise a plan to improve on those things. Even if your goal is to learn, it doesn’t mean you should still try to improve on what you already know. Anything you do that utilizes body and mind is no small feat, and working to improve on what you already know can be reason enough to keep at it. If anything, that confident feeling of success when you hit your version of a personal best can be reason enough.

Find a Weak Spot
On the contrary, find something you are bad at and turn that into a goal. It can be something that you’ve never tried, something that you’ve already tried but totally failed at in the past, or even something that just plain scares you. [Expect to fail, and turn it into something positive. The only way to truly learn and get better at something is to keep at it. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried, failed, and tried again!

Socialize
Teaming up with others can be a great way to cultivate a better learning environment for yourself. Try getting a group together to try a new activity or start up a book club. By forming an alliance of like-minded people who are also willing to try new things and learn more about the world around them, you are laying the groundwork for a solid network of support. Not only are you instilling a sense of accountability, but you’re also opening up the door to a whole new slew of opportunity. That’s the beautiful thing about people: everyone around you is better than you at something. Everyone knows something that you don’t. Just remember that this isn’t a competition. This is a chance to work together as a collective to learn and share each other’s knowledge.

Get Moving
We all know that staying physically-fit can keep you healthy. But did you know that keeping active can also help your learning abilities? Physical exercise triggers endorphins, and those hormones tie in with how your brain decides what’s most important for it to focus on, allowing for [better overall concentration. Exercise has also been shown to boost intelligence and help you better remember concepts along the way. Whether you want to swim a few laps, take your stress out on a tennis ball, or simply take the dog for a walk, you’re sure to feel the benefit from the burn.

Better Sleep, Better Brain
Getting a good night’s sleep has been shown to help with many factors that play a key role in learning new things. Things like improved memory, lower stress levels, and staying more alert throughout the day. Scientists have also found that on top of helping with overall focus and mental clarity, it also plays a direct part in the retention of new information. Some memories are even strengthened during restful sleep, leading to better retention over time.

Keep Learning
When it comes to trying to learn during different stages of your life, the most important thing is to just do it. Make the commitment to read a chapter of a book or work on a new hobby before turning on the tube. There are free options for learning-oriented phone apps, so you can take your brain-boosters on the go. There are apps to facilitate e-reading, crossword puzzles, and even help you learn a new language. Above all else, just remember that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Don’t let your age hold you back from trying new things. Have fun with it!

You can always be learning.

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