Do something new!

One of my goals for this year is to try out something new every month – if someone introduced me to a new activity that I hadn’t done before, if I felt even slightly interested – then I would give it a go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? For a person who doesn’t do “novice” very well, this is a big challenge and so far I am loving it! January was belly dancing, February yoga, March bikram yoga (boy, that was hard), and April meditation (even harder).

So this beautiful sunny morning on May 1, I joined a class of “Nordic walkers” from Kew to Richmond along the River Thames – and I loved every minute of it. All the participants were experienced walkers, all were at least 10 years older than me and all were faster. I didn’t care a bit and why should I? I had the wonderful ambience, 19 degrees, sunny weather and Kew gardens to look at on my trek. I came back, shattered but invigorated and energised.

We continually read that going back to nature in the outdoors helps to centre us psychologically and makes us feel better. But did you know that doing something new is also good for you?

If you are nervous, the nerves can be channelled positively – a sense of anticipation or excitement. If you aren’t nervous, you will experience anticipation and excitement and really look forward to the event. You will experience a sense of achievement from the new activity when you are both doing it, and also afterwards. These feelings are very affirming, reminding you that you can do new things – and experimenting is a good thing as well.

There are scientific explanations for these feelings. The first is the release of dopamine in the pleasure centre of the brain, which releases whenever we feel euphoric, pleasurably relieved, or just plain happy. The second is the way our attention is re-focussed by interrupting the routines of our normal life. We all tend to live in patterns, repeating them day by day. That is OK, until we experience a dip in energy and motivation, when the patterns no longer serve us well. To relight the fire, we need to disrupt ourselves, shake ourselves off and break the pattern.

So the message is, have a go at a new hobby or pastime, do not concern yourself with the possibility that it may not work – just allow yourself to be curious. Who knows? It may unleash a whole new you – and at a minimum, fire you up to be the “you” you used to be.

 

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