Lifelong learning is the practice of ongoing, self-initiated education that is focused on personal (and professional) development. It’s important because our brains are designed to grow and learning supports our natural instinct to explore, discover and improve ourselves. Continuous learning keeps our minds active, helps us feel fulfilled and gives us a sense of confidence and connection.
So what are the tangible benefits of lifelong learning? Let’s delve in.
1. Lifelong learning improves brain health
A study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that people with a history of lifelong cognitive activity (high level activities such as problem solving, decision making, thinking, learning and attentiveness) had a significant delay in the onset of memory issues and Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Constantly learning, whether it be a new hobby, skill or social activity, increases your brain’s efficiency and helps improve your memory.
2. Benefits for your mental and emotional wellbeing
Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can lower your stress levels? Learning and accomplishing new things can help:
- Your cardiovascular health
- Lower your blood pressure
- Minimise your risk of stroke or heart attack
- Keep depression at bay.
3. A renewed sense of motivation and confidence
The challenge of learning something new is a great way to stay motivated. Finding something that piques your curiosity and fuels a passion keeps you moving forward and inspires you to achieve.
Lifelong learning is also key to boosting self-confidence. You’ve dedicated time and effort to improve your knowledge, which gives you a real sense of accomplishment and opens new conversations with friends and peers.
4. Lifelong learning enhances your social life
Many learning environments involve a class, workshop or community event. This means that while you’re learning, you’re surrounded by like-minded people who have a similar interest or passion to you. It’s great for social interaction and can help encourage new friendships.
What are some examples of lifelong learning activities?
There are many learning opportunities that are great for seniors, such as:
- Learning to sew, cook or plant a veggie garden
- Developing your woodworking skills
- Learning a new language
- Picking up a new instrument
- Taking dance classes
- Joining a sporting club
- Learning to use new technology
- Taking a course
- Researching a topic of interest.
How to incorporate lifelong learning into your everyday
Getting out of your comfort zone to learn new things may not always feel comfortable, but it’s important to embrace lifelong learning as a challenge and an adventure – that will lead to meaningful and rewarding experiences.
Here are three ways you can integrate lifelong learning into your life:
- Focus on something you’re passionate about – it’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you’re interested.
- Make a list of what you would like to learn or achieve. Then prioritise each activity.
- Make time and space for learning. Schedule it into your diary.
Now, over to you – are you already practising lifelong learning? If not, what’s the first learning initiative you’ll choose to pursue?