• rhianprime

Spring into Spring - Becky

Love to read?

Did you know reading can actually improve your concentration for other, more general tasks too?

There has been a huge number of studies that have examined the benefits of reading, but one of the common findings is that reading can actually improve the brain’s ability to process information. We've all heard about brain-training, perhaps played some of these brain-training games online or done the puzzler section in the weekend papers in the attempt to stay sharp and focussed. Well, reading works too, and the more you train your brain, the better it will perform. Ergo, the more we read, the sharper we'll be keeping our brains.

So, the more we read, the longer we can maintain focus. And the more focussed we are, the more motivated we are. Who knew taking time out to curl up with a good book could be so good for us? But the benefits of reading don't just stop with improved concentration and focus. Reading is also great for reducing stress.

During the last 12 months, through the pandemic, we have witnessed multiple lockdown's, our day-to-day lives have changed completely, and social contact beyond our own households has been banned, to name but a few of the changes. It has been stressful for everybody in one way or another. So how can reading help with stress?

Reading enables us an escape, the opportunity to shift our focus. Whether it’s a novel, a self-help guide, or the newspaper, reading draws us into a different world, or situation. According to one study, six minutes of reading is all it takes for us to start releasing tensions and anxieties - so imagine how good for you half an hour of reading might be!

Keep learning

Another pleasant surprise on my foray into ways of improving motivation, was learning. Learning doesn't have to be the academic, chore-like task you might think. Taking the time to learn a new skill should be seen as more of a self-investment. Haven't you ever wanted to learn a new language, make your own Christmas cards, learn how to knit or do some DIY? Well taking up one of these tasks could just offer you the focus you need to kick-start action in other parts of your life too.

Staying engaged in a task - be it a necessary task or a hobby, can also provide you with the motivation and forward momentum you need to conquer other tasks too. The trouble with some tasks is that boredom and disengagement are all too easy to fall into. But imagine this - you're a creative person with a long list of household chores to do, but little to no motivation. Now imagine you've come across a new home remedy for cleaning the brass. By taking the time to learn how to make your own cleaner, you have invested time into something that interests you. Now with your homemade cleaning product, you're invested and interested to see how it works. So you put it to the test! That job you've put off for days or weeks has now been completed, you've learned something in the process, and you've actually enjoyed implementing the learning of a new skill to complete a task.

The same could be said for saving an old piece of furniture - learning to restore it, rather than take it to the tip or breaking it down for kindling. Or learning a new recipe to use up old ingredients and provide a meal (or several) rather than letting ingredients go to waste or buying a ready-made meal. Afterall, we can all agree homemade tastes better than a microwave meal, can't we?!

The good news is, whatever you're want to learn doesn't even need to be related to your list of other tasks for it to be beneficial! We all have heard about endorphins, tiny neurochemicals released by your body that make you feel good and lessen the effects of pain and depression. Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland as part of our internal natural reward circuits. But it's not just physical exercise that can stimulate the release of them - mental and emotional factors can cause a release of them too - and achieving a new goal or learn a new skill are good examples of this. So ultimately, it doesn't matter what you're learning, as long as it is something you are interested in or want to achieve. As long as you are invested in the learning process, hitting small targets on the learning curve will allow a release of endorphins that will give you a boost, a feel-good factor, that will carry you onto your next tasks and challenges.

So what would you really like to learn next? Perhaps you've enjoyed some of the free online courses we looked at on the blog earlier this year? Maybe you've been teaching yourself a new skill or taken up a new hobby during the last year? By recognising your progress and achievements with these tasks, and by setting yourself some new challenges or goals might just give you the boost you need to help you tackle even more?!

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