The Benefits of Learning a New Skill and How to Get Started

Couple dancing

Photo via Pixabay

Guest Post by: Cheryl Conklin of Wellnesscentral.com 

Of course, there can be financial benefits that come with learning a new skill. Depending on what you take on, you may be able to make money doing it, or it might even become your primary source of income. It’s important to stop thinking of this venture as something to be nervous about and simply tackle it head-on. After all, you are your own worst critic! Starting out slowly will take some of the pressure off and allow you to just enjoy the experience.

Stacy Reuille-Dupont, PhD, offers some great tips on how to get started with a new skill and why it’s so beneficial.

Get Social

Once you’ve settled on the skill you want to try, it’s important to think about where and when you’ll do it. You might decide to take a class, where you’ll meet like-minded people who are all starting off on the same level as you. Whether you want to try ballroom dancing, learning a new language, or making pottery, the possibilities for forming new connections are limitless.

Use It as Therapy

Many skills and hobbies are of the creative kind, which means you can use it to your advantage when it comes to your mental and cognitive health. Being able to channel your emotions through an expressive medium — like painting or dancing — can be especially beneficial. Also, starting a garden, which might involve planting trees or bushes, is a great hobby for seniors, as it provides a moderate amount of exercise and plenty of fresh air. You can also improve your mental and physical health by joining Stacy Reuille-Dupont’s 30-Day Reboot Program, which gives you the tools and guidance needed to maintain a healthy diet and commit to a workout regimen.

Take Your Hobby to the Next Level

Your newfound pastime may have the potential to generate revenue, either on the side or as a replacement for your full-time job. Before you start to market your product or service, you’ll need to take the proper steps to set up and promote your business. Choosing a name, designing a logo, and creating a website are probably the first things that come to mind, but they aren’t actually at the top of the list. First, you’ll need to create a legal business entity to operate your small business. Many first-time small business owners choose an LLC because of the limited liability, tax advantages, and overall flexibility. As an added benefit, a Colorado LLC is easy and inexpensive to set up online, saving you money on an attorney. You’ll also need a separate business bank account and a way to keep track of your income and expenses, like an inexpensive do-it-yourself accounting software.

Boost Your Brainpower, Reduce Anxiety

One of the best benefits of learning a new skill — and practicing it often — is that it boosts your brainpower and memory function while reducing stress and anxiety, making it the perfect way to help your mental health along. If you’ve suffered from depression, stress, or a mental health disorder such as PTSD, learning something new and focusing your time and energy on it will help you work on feeling better.

Learning a new skill can quickly become something that changes your life in the best possible way, but it’s important to keep in mind that some hobbies aren’t for everyone. If you find that you aren’t getting anything out of your new skill or that you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would, move on to something else. Don’t be hard on yourself! Hobbies should be fun and should reduce stress, not add to it.

Stacy on the Relational Implicit​ Podcast

Interview with Stacy Reuille-Dupont and Serge Prengal: Using Exercise Science to Bridge Understanding in Therapy

See more conversations like this at Relational Implict. On his podcast, Serge explores somatic psychology, relational therapies, mindfulness and trauma therapies. Most of this exploration takes the form of conversations with psychotherapists, occasionally researchers. Stimulating ideas are discussed, as well as clinical examples. The style of the conversations is reflective, to slow down and deepen the process. Many of the conversations are available in video as well as audio.

Health From The Inside Out

Are you a client looking for treatment that honors your whole body? Offers options to treat injury, disease, pain, obesity in addition to things like depression, anxiety, trauma to name a few? Then Check out My “Out of the Office” Blog to find education on mental health, physical health, workouts you can do anywhere, easy quick meals that support increased mental health, and more. This is the place clients can go between sessions to stay focused on their treatment goals.

Are you a therapist interested in a more holistic treatment? Want to better understand the “art” of therapy? Or gain insight into treating physical issues clients present with? Want to know more about how the body is impacted by mental health? Understand the role of the nervous system and polyvagal responses in treatment? Deepen understanding of common mental health presentations within the structure of the body? – The Somatic Psychologist Blog is For You. Read More Below.

Exercise and Mental Health

There is much research that shows the links between exercise and enhanced mental health. Exercise has been found to help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and trauma. In addition, performing exercise helps us create a more positive thought structure about ourselves, our abilities, and our strength to care for ourselves. This translates into a concept called Mastery.

Mastery is important because it helps us build a healthy self-esteem – or how we see ourselves in the world and as worthy of love and belonging. Love and belonging matter because as humans we are hard wired to need other humans. We build our brains off each other, our somatic system picks up on the connection we have with other humans (and animals) and we regulate each other – for better or worse.

By participating in regular exercise you are building the systems of the body, mind, and spirit that enhance the human existence, thus creating a more positive disposition and coping in everyday life. (Just so you know … you still have free choice, choosing to participate in activities or with groups that hurt you in some way. Will not make your life better just because you are moving. Make sure you choose wisely when choosing who you surround yourself with and how you balance your workouts to meet your individual needs).

If you are someone who struggles with mental illness and would like your personal trainer to know how to best help you OR you are a personal trainer who wants to better serve clients with mental health struggles. Please use the contact me page to send me an email, I’m putting together an article series to help make sure mental health doesn’t get left at the physical health door.

Get Moving: The links between physical exercise and psychological states

This week, in the last of the series on self regulation, we are going to talk about exercise and movement. For many exercise is something extra they must do every day, but in reality movement is part of what regulates your body throughout the day. 

It starts with breathing. As you breathe you regulate your sympathetic and para sympathetic parts of your nervous system. You do this through what is known as heart rate variability. Many of us who work in the exercise and health care fields use this number to understand how healthy your cardiovascular system is, however in my world of somatic psychology I can also use it to program movement to help you change your psychological states. This manipulation of your physical system allows for another option to change how you feel without the same level of concentration changing your thoughts may take. 

Mind & Body as One

Lots of people talk about the mind – body connection and how important is is to your health. To me there is no separation. If we want to know if you are stressed we would look at your cortisol levels in your saliva, depressed check out your blood serotonin levels, how well you are absorbing the nutrients you need to make the neurotransmitters to feel content, pleasure, calm, and control your impulses (physical and thought based) we could examine your feces. 

The body and mind do not have a connection point. They are one thing. The mind just has the ability to abstractly consider your experiences and decide what you would like them to mean. This ability gives the impression that the body is separate from the mind, but the mind has nothing to make meaning of if it does not have the body experiences to decipher. Understanding this oneness helps make more sense of our need for movement to regulate our emotions. 

My Research Findings

When I was doing my doctoral research, it was hard to find the bridges to understanding how our physical health intersects our mental health. There were studies with some longevity looking at how aerobic exercise helped depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and even schizophrenia. We could see how exercise impacted stress levels and anecdotally I heard many stories of people who were helped by regular exercise. However, so many people struggle to work out it was hard to understand how psychological struggle was associated with lack of exercise when we know how helpful it is. Turns out there is correlation between how physically stressed your system is and how hard it is for you to exercise. In my research I found that those who struggled with panic disorder (that feeling like you are having a heart attack, going to die, cannot breathe, and are so scared that you cannot think. Sometimes even feel as though you are losing your mind) is the hardest disorder to get enough physical exercise to meet your needs. Problem is, physical exercise is what helps metabolize the chemicals out of your system and decrease your feelings of panic and stress. As the cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones rise in the system, they feed the symptoms creating a self fulfilling cycle of increasing stress levels. Thus making it harder and harder for the person to physically exercise.

Anxiety and Stress

For the person without panic, but with anxiety and stress overload, struggling to exercise is often linked in a similar fashion just not at the same level. It is hard to motivate and get out the door when your physical system is already so tired and feeling overwhelmed. People will describe feeling heavy, lethargic, slow thinking, or in contrast “tired but wired”. As a result exercise seems too hard and it is much easier to grab a substance to unwind or sit and watch TV. 

Depression

Depression is similar but different. In a depressed system every thing feels hard to manage and the body is very fatigued. It is a similar stress on the physical system, but depressed, a different manifestation of difficulties. When feeling depressed we often struggle to see the point of doing anything. People describe feeling heavy, lethargic, overwhelmed, increased sensitivity to pain, and inability to take care of basic living tasks. These make getting on the treadmill pretty darn hard. 

Kbands

How to Help Yourself Start Exercising

One thing interesting from my research was the fact that the more substance use disorder diagnoses someone had the more likely they were to exercise and the less likely they were to buy into barrier beliefs to accomplishing the tasks of working out. What they told me was, they had to move – they’d lost their license and had to ride bikes, walk, and “there isn’t much to do in jail”. As a result they were exposed to movement regularly and therefore saw and felt the benefits and kept the habit going while they could. As a result of their insight it became apparent that exposure was important to helping others begin the process of working out regularly. Enter movement specifically designed to help mental health diagnosed disorders – depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobia, bi-polar, ADHD. I routinely prescribe physical movement along side traditional therapy interventions because the research is pretty clear, exercise helps. It teaches us a lot about ourselves. 

The research links between physical movement and mental health is growing. There is more and more research coming out everyday looking at how the physical system changes as a result of our thinking and how our thinking is changed by our movements. 

So today, just move. Take a moment, get out of your chair or bed and walk around. As you move the body notice what movements might feel good. Based on your current mental state do you want to move slow or fast? Do you want to be close to the ground or jumping? Do you want to be “quiet” in your moments or “loud”? Move slow or explosive?

Use your inner awareness of your current mental health state to determine what movement would be best for you right now … Now go do that.