We often think about learning as important to children – we place a great deal of importance on making sure young people develop skills, knowledge and experience to help them on their journey into adulthood. But, just as it’s important for children to learn, research shows that if we keep learning throughout adulthood and into later life, this can have a positive impact on maintaining and improving our mental health and wellbeing.
Why is learning good for us?
Learning is good for our minds and our bodies – it’s good for our mental wellbeing. Learning has been shown to have a number of benefits to our sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction:
Increases our self-esteem
Learning new skills, experiencing new things and overcoming a challenge (however big or small) can help us feel better about ourselves. Achieving what we’ve set out to do, or becoming wiser through our experiences can help us feel better equipped to take on life’s challenges and achieve our larger goals in life. With the knowledge that we’ve been able to deal with challenges, we feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities and better able to take on new ones. The practice of setting goals, which is related to learning in particular has been strongly associated with higher levels of well-being.
Gives us a sense of hope and purpose
Studies and anecdotal evidence have shown how learning new skills and gaining new knowledge can contribute to us having a greater sense of hope and purpose in life. Through learning new things and having new experiences we may begin to feel that there is more hope for the future at the direction we are going in. Setting goals, which is linked to learning, has been shown to increase our sense of well-being. By setting goals for ourselves and working to achieve them, we gain a sense of purpose and the feeling that things are ‘moving forward’.
Better ability to cope with stress
People who carry on learning after childhood report higher wellbeing and a greater ability to cope with stress. They also report more feelings of self-esteem, hope and purpose.- NHS. When we are learning we are often focusing our mind’s attention on the here-and-now. Being in the present moment, we focus our mind’s away from past experiences or future worries, which has been shown to reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing.