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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Have You Learned a New Skill or Hobby?

July 27, 2020

In looking at the glass more than half-full (as is my nature), today I want to highlight why learning a new skill is a great way to live more vibrantly this red-hot minute. During these months of sheltering in place, I have experienced, and continue to experience, the complete scale of emotions– from feeling hopeless, angry, frustrated, and claiming few accomplishments for the day beyond the basics, to feeling good and full of energy. For me, reading the newspapers instead of watching or listening to the daily news has really helped. I know what is happening in the big picture, and reports from doctors and scientists keep me informed of the progress in controlling the virus/finding a vaccine. I also subscribe to several newsletters and email lists focusing on good news. These definitely lift my mood. I check in by phone with friends and loved ones around the globe, and I spend time being quiet and holding thoughts of peace, health, prosperity, and abundance for every living thing on the planet. All these things are helping. One thing I have added to the list that’s a game changer: the benefits of learning a new skill.

learn a new skill

We all know the thrill of accomplishing something new—learning to make delicious pie crust, mastering a new piece on the piano, getting a flowering plant to actually stay green and flower—anything you previously didn’t know how to do. (A very long list in my case!) Psychologists and researchers long ago proved how learning a new skill boosts our self-esteem and our mental health. Learning a new skill (jump rope, anyone?) also increases our memory and enhances our physical health. The biggest payoff? Learning a new skill strengthens our immune system.

Think of the excitement and great feeling you get from pulling out that perfect peach pie from the oven and having the family rave when you serve it for dessert. Success does wonders for our immune system. A cascade of healing happy hormones—dopamine (released when we feel we have accomplished a long-sought goal), serotonin (released when we feel seen and acknowledged), and oxytocin (released when we feel a sense of well-being and love.)

These major hormones and a cast of others boost our immune system by lowering our cortisol levels, a key hormone causing inflammation, which is the driver of all disease. Our production of antibodies goes up and our cells put on their extra-strong armor to help keep us healthy.

What is one thing I am proud of learning to do these last few months? I learned how to grout tile so that I could replace all the popped tiles in my bathroom. The tiles I selected twenty years ago (and never again) were small, one-inch square glass tiles. Over time, as my ninety-eight year old house has shifted, the tiles have on occasion popped out of the grout.

Well, pre-lockdown, I would have called my handyman to reaffix them. With that not an option, and the little pile growing, I decided I could do it myself. I watched YouTube videos, bought all the necessary tools, and went at it. Cotton swabs became my new best friends. When I was done, my biggest fear was that the tiles wouldn’t stay in their original holes, even though the product was a tile adhesive and grout mixture. But, it worked! I took a shower after waiting the prescribed twenty-four hours, and those tiles never budged. Dozens of showers later, they are still holding fast. My husband was impressed. What an accomplishment. Next, maybe I’ll learn how to repair the cracks and divots in my interior wood trim….

Ask yourself, what new skills can I learn during lockdown? Or, what new skill have you learned during sheltering that you are most proud of? Please tell me your story. We are all winners and deserve the cheers and support of our community. I can’t wait to read them!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Meditation App - LJ Rohan

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