“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
When struggling with your health, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut. Whether you’re worse now than 5 years ago, still the same, or finding some improvement, life keeps on ticking over. I’m a strong believer that the brain is flexible and needs exercise as well as some TLC, and learning is a great way to expand your horizons beyond your illness and struggles.
What is learning?
Rather than defining it in an educational context, learning is simply picking up something new. It doesn’t matter if this is practical or intellectual, it’s just about discovering something different and finding out how it works. At its most basic, learning is something we do constantly throughout our lives; we’re forever learning, be that about ourselves, others, learning about news and current events, about what happens when you put porridge in the microwave & forget to add water, learning from our mistakes… Step it up a notch and you have intentional learning, where you set out to learn something. You have a choice, you have control over what you want to learn, and array of things you could fill your brain with is literally never ending.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
What could you learn?
Literally, anything! Was there something you’ve always wanted to try, to know how it worked to understand, to be able to do? Do you have any interests now, or in the past, be it a skill or a subject area?
Google, forums, tutorials and YouTube provide a plethora of options, ideas and support. Just a few ideas –
Learn words & phrases, or a whole different language! / Take a course relevant to your area of current employment or future interests / Learn origami, how to juggle, how to play a recorder / Learn some computer code or brush up on your web or spreadsheet skills / Learn how to draw or paint / Check out Wikipedia and learn some new facts / Learn how to plait hair / Pick up a new recipe / Find out what’s going on around the world with news sites & apps / Do a random dictionary search each day to learn a new word / Anything at all, big or small, there’s no limit.
Why Intentionally Learn?
- Gives you an attainable task when you break it down in to manageable chunks, and a degree of structure to your day/week if you wish.
- For the sense of achievement and accomplishment.
- To defeat your self-doubt and regain some confidence in your abilities.
- Improve your CV and job prospects.
- Give you a talking point, making it something you could share with others.
- Diversify your interests.
- Help you find your passions and regain lost enthusiasm.
A few more ‘academic’ type places you could start, all of which are free…
- Vision 2 Learn – UK. Several free courses (and paid options) that usually run over a couple of weeks/months, which you can do as and when you want. I’ve completed three free courses, which I didn’t find too taxing but it boosted my CV & showed I was keen to learn. You need to be 18+ & a UK resident, details are on the site.
- Learn Direct – UK. If you’re in receipt of certain benefits, you may be eligible to undertake courses with Learn Direct as part of their government funded scheme. They offer courses in a range of subjects, good for getting you out of the house, having a bit of routine, and updating your CV. Check the website, your local LD or support agency for advice.
- Duo Lingo – Int’l. I’ve just started on here and so far so good. You can choose a language to learn and go through basic steps of learning words and phrases, with sounds to help you with pronunciation.
- Future Learn – Int’l. A host of free courses offered by universities internationally.
- Flipboard App – Int’l. A great app for various news stories, from health and wellbeing, to culture, international news, politics and science. Or you could try the DailyMail app, or any from a host of other news apps and websites.
- Wikipedia – Int’l. Browse the homepage or go to ‘Random Article on the left hand side for inspiration.
- dictionary.com – Int’l. Pick up some new vocabulary by checking out their Word Of The Day.
- Tidbits – Int’l. Random & interesting facts that could make you a pub quiz champ!
- HowStuffWorks – Int’l. Self-explanatory, it’s a collection of articles on how things work, for when you’re in the mood for more in depth reading!
When feeling bored yet restless and exhausted and rather fed-up, a change can shake things up a bit. Learning is a great way to do that, to introduce yourself to something new, whether that’s just for a few minutes every now and again, or as a regular daily course. The world is huge and there’s a lot to learn, and it’s all available to us if we just reach out for it.