Let’s resolve to keep learning in 2019

Happy New Year! How are those resolutions going? Was that a collective groan we just heard?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there’s no shame in setting a resolution and then kinda-sorta forgetting you were supposed to go running at 6 a.m. every other day. It’s January, for goodness sake — no one wants to get out of bed before noon this month.

Instead of setting yourself up for resolution letdowns, might we suggest another means of finding mental, and possibly even physical, wellness in 2019?

According to England’s National Health Service, research shows there are five bigs steps we can all take to feel more mentally healthy:

  • Connecting: spending more time with family, friends and colleagues — and developing stronger relationships with people who make us feel good — benefits our mental well-being.
  • Giving: Even small acts of random kindness can help you feel better.
  • Being mindful: Focusing on the “now” instead of the past or future, and noticing how you feel in your present surroundings can change your entire outlook on life and make you feel less melancholy or anxious.
  • Staying active: Being active doesn’t necessarily have to involve getting up to run every morning. It could be something as simple as taking a dog walk around the neighborhood, going to your favorite yoga class or riding your bike to a friend’s house instead of taking the car.
  • Learning a new skill: This is one of the best ways to improve your self-esteem, make new connections and develop a new sense of purpose.

That last step — learning new skills — is maybe the most important. Not only does it come with the potential benefits of meeting new people, gaining a sense of accomplishment and maybe, depending on the skill, improving your physical well-being, but learning new skills is connected to improved memory later in life.

A 2013 study out of the University of Texas at Dallas discovered that adults age 60 to 90 who were assigned to learn a complex new skill, like quilting or digital photography, showed much higher levels of memory improvement over the control group, which did not learn a new skill, and even compared to the group that focused on mental activities like crossword puzzles.

In Camas and Washougal, there are a wealth of classes and options for residents of all ages to learn a new skill and improve their well-being. Following are a few of our suggestions for picking up a new skill and, hopefully, feeling healthier and happier in 2019:

  • Get artistic: Interested in being more creative, but don’t want to spend a ton of money on something you don’t quite understand? Why not give needle-felting a try? This art medium requires just a few tools and can be picked up pretty quickly — and the results are lovely. Visual artist LeBrie Rich will teach a free, two-hour class for teens and adults from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas. Supplies will be provided and participants will create a needle-felted bird.
  • * Go back in time: As cool as it would be to learn how to time-travel, we’re talking about history class with this suggestion. A local, retired history teacher, John Griffin, will present a free series of United States history classes and cover “what every American needs to know” from noon to 1:30 p.m., on most Wednesdays, starting Jan. 16 and running through March 27. All classes will be held at the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave. Visit camaslibrary.org for details.
  • Catch your breath: If you’ve never tried yoga, now is the time to give it a whirl. Not only does this ancient practice help heal the physical body, it can still the mind and relieve so many of those nagging, everyday worries that consume us. There are quite a few classes in Camas and Washougal, but Body Bliss Yoga Studio, located at 3307 Evergreen Way, in Washougal, has a handy guide to the types of yoga classes that suit individual needs and are good for everyone from the total newbie to the seasoned practitioner. Visit bodyblissyogastudio.com/your-first-class for more information.
  • Find your zen: At Camas artist Ted Norris’ new pottery studio, students can learn beginning and intermediate pottery-making skills and, Norris says, maybe even find a little zen. “With everyone’s day-to-day grind, with everything they do and all the stresses, it becomes increasingly important for people to find some avenue in their life for escape. … A place where you can just focus in on something entirely separate from your world. And pottery is that,” Norris told The Post-Record in November. For more information, and to see a schedule of Norris’ pottery classes, visit norrisarts.com/pottery-classes. The Camas studio is located at 1605 N.W. Sixth Ave., Ste. D.
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