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How Learning a Skill is Good for You

By Zoe Bateman - Head craft teacher at London Craft Club

We all know that learning is beneficial in the academic sense - knowledge is power and all that. But recently more research has been conducted into the benefits of learning on our overall mental and physical well-being.

Here are some of the main ways in which learning something new can actually be good for you;

1. It keeps your mind active - problem solving, concentrating, and memorising are all involved in learning, and these activities have been proven to improve cognitive functioning later on in life. Your brain is like a muscle - it needs to be used and strengthened regularly to remain healthy. Crafts such as quilting have been shown to be particularly beneficial, as they involve a higher level of problem solving and even basic mathematical skills.

2. Being engaged in pursuits that occupy your mind and require you to get 'in the flow' such as crafting can actually trigger healthy changes in brain chemistry. Repetitive crafts (such as a simple weaving) can cause an almost meditative state, that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

3. Learning a new skill can help boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. There's nothing like mastering a new crochet stitch, or learning how to tie a new macrame knot to make you feel as though you have really accomplished something. This confidence in turn helps to boost your overall mental well-being.

4. Our minds and bodies require time to recharge to function at their best, but recharging doesn't have to mean lying down and doing nothing. In fact the best way to recharge your mind is to throw yourself into something that takes your mind off the day to day. Getting totally immersed in a craft activity is a good way to do this - if you've ever experienced that feeling of 'I can't believe I've been crafting for three hours - it's flown by!' then that means you're on the right track!

So there you have it - learning isn't just confined to schools, and to a particular time of your life. Learning and expanding your knowledge on a regular basis is actually beneficial to your mental health.

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