Constantly worrying about endless to-do lists and crowding your schedule to “get it all done” leaves little room in your life for doing things that bring you joy. However, taking time to do things you love can lighten your mood, improve your mental and emotional well-being — and feed your soul. Here are some ways that doing what you love is good for your brain.
Having fun reduces stress
Doing things you love is fun, right? The great news is that spending time doing what you enjoy reduces stress. Living with constant pressure can cause anxiety, memory and focus issues, migraines and more.
Whether you love gardening, curling up with a good book, painting, woodworking, or hiking, making time to actively engage your brain in something you love is an essential part of self-care and brain health.
Being creative and learning new things engages your mind
Maybe you already sew, crotchet, build furniture, compose music or write short stories. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a new skill or hobby. Either way, creating or learning something new exercises your mind — writing music, for example, engages both your right and left brain.
Thankfully, you’re never too old to create or learn. Motivation may wane with age, but sparking your creative drive boosts your brainpower. Research shows that even as we age, “art and creativity offer a path of opening up the windows to people’s emotional interiors.”
Furthermore, neurons fire and communicate with each other when you learn something new. Whether you take a cooking class, learn a foreign language or discover how to use a digital camera, any time you acquire a new skill, your brain will benefit from it.
Smiling makes your brain happy
Doing something you love boosts your spirits and is sure to bring a smile. Interestingly, your brain knows when your frown is upside down — and likes it. Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist from Los Angeles, discussed the correlation in an NBC News interview. He said, “When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humor is happening.”
The act of smiling also reduces stress, boosts your immune system and releases the brain’s feel-good chemicals: dopamine and serotonin. To steer your mind away from things that make you worried, sad or upset, take some time to do something you enjoy — something that makes you smile.
Moving boosts mental health
If you love hiking, bird-watching, metal-detecting, dancing or any activity that puts your body in motion, you’re helping your brain. Exercising increases your heart rate, which helps combat cardiovascular disease and delivers more oxygen to your brain.
Studies show that physical activity also stabilizes your mood, improves learning, engages your memory muscle and more. If you’re feeling down, exercising can help put you in a more positive mindset. So, if you need a mental pick-me-up, try dancing, swimming or going for a walk. Being physically active will lift your spirits and help boost your mental health.
Being optimistic boosts confidence and feeds your soul
Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem prevent many people from pursuing their passions. Harnessing the power to silence those negative inner thoughts can be life-changing and freeing.
If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, write it. Take a creative-writing class to sharpen your skills. Do you want to open a bakery? Or launch a fundraiser to help your favorite charity?
With hard work and perseverance, dreams can and do come true at any age. Screenwriter David Seidler was 73 years old when he won his first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2010 for penning “The King’s Speech.” Seidler grew up in London and stuttered like King George VI, about whom he wrote the film script.
In his inspirational acceptance speech, Seidler said, “My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer. I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”
The big take-away is this: Do what you love with passion and determination. Staying optimistic and believing in yourself boosts confidence and feeds your soul. So, dig in, work hard and never give up. Success is out there waiting for you to go and find it.
Active Aging is presented by Koelsch Communities.
With 60 years of signature service to families, Koelsch Communities has been family owned and operated for three generations. Our continued success is compelled by our founding principles as we strive to serve our residents with respect, dignity and compassion.