The power of lifelong learning: why you could benefit from a return to education

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Whether you have an unexplored passion, or want to upskill in order to cultivate new career options, learning can be a lifelong pursuit, and one that opens doors to endless possibilities…

The power of lifelong learning: why you could benefit from a return to education

Whether it’s signing up for a short adult education course, or enrolling for a degree, many of us return to education after taking some time away. It can be a hugely positive experience – a chance to learn new skills, develop our career, form new friendships, and immerse ourselves in an interest. But as exciting as it can be, it also brings anxieties around how to adjust, and whether it’s the right move for us.

For me, returning to university after time away was a big change. It took a while to see myself as a student, and get used to new routines. I’m so glad that I made the move though – it’s given me a chance to dedicate time to my passion, meet like-minded people, and to grow in new ways.

The benefits of lifelong learning

To find out more about returning to education, I spoke to life coach Chantal Dempsey. There are, she says, a myriad of benefits to lifelong learning.

“One of the greatest benefits of lifelong education is empowerment,” says Chantal. “Returning to learning not only offers the tools to change career paths, facilitate a promotion, or start a side hustle, it boosts your mindset to unlock ability and confidence. It validates a ‘can do’ attitude that empowers you to believe that anything is possible.” It can also widen your perspectives and understanding of the world, which can be great assets.

You’re likely to have things in common with people on your course. I’ve valued the connections I’ve made with others who share my interest – creative writing – as an adult. It’s lovely to meet like-minded people, as well as the added joy that can come with making new friends.

The power of lifelong learning: why you could benefit from a return to education

Our mental health and wellbeing can benefit, too. “As the confidence bucket gets filled by your successes, and your upgrade in skills and knowledge, your subconscious mind takes in the message that you can achieve and you are good enough,” says Chantal. “Confidence and self-esteem are the building blocks of mental health. Increasing them will achieve wonders for your wellbeing.”

Lifelong learning is also good for our overall health. “Research shows a link between learning and the reduction of some illnesses, such as dementia and coronary heart disease,” Chantal explains. “Neuroplasticity, which is basically the functional and structural reshaping of the brain, can happen throughout life to adapt to new information, experiences, and environments. Sustained adult learning simulates the creation and development of new neural pathways, boosting your brain health and power remarkably.”

Finding the right path for you

There are clearly lots of reasons to return to education. But how can we find the path that works for us?


How to embrace a gentle start to the year

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As many of us head back to normality after the festive break, how can we do so in a gentle and purposeful way?

How to embrace a gentle start to the year

How are you feeling this week? For those of us who had time off over the holidays, this week marks a return to work, a return to routine and a return to the ‘everyday’. The decorations are coming down, the last of the chocolate is dwindling and the Christmas films have been put to one side for another year.

For some, the New Year offers a clean slate. A sense of renewed energy and vigour as we run headfirst into new habits that promise to change us. Of course, if this works for you, that’s brilliant. Keep going and do what feels good.

For some of us however, that energy may be lacking. If you’re anything like me, winter so far has been peppered with illness and the idea of ‘New Year, new you’ feels a touch grating. Don’t get me wrong, I love the promise a new year holds and getting back into routine feels good… I’m just not in any rush this year. Instead, I want to embrace a gentler start to the year, and I suspect I’m not alone.

If this is resonating, here are a few ideas to enjoy a slower start to the year.

Add things back into your routine slowly

Initially, I had grand plans of jumping head first back into routine this week, including my exercise routine, but the Bank Holiday buffer at the start of the week gave me a moment to pause. I was still feeling quite tired, the days were (and still are) dark and wet, and I wasn’t quite ready to fully emerge from my Christmas cocoon. So instead, I’m inviting routine back in slowly.

I’m back to work for a shorter week this week (thanks to the aforementioned Bank Holiday) and my Pilates class starts back up this week. Other than that though, I’m letting other routines slide. Next week I’ll bring back other forms of exercise, and perhaps even that writing course I have my eye on.

The trick is to bring things back bit by bit. Think of it like acclimating yourself, dipping your toe in the water before diving in.

Audit your social feeds

The messaging at this time of year can be intense, right? I’ve already seen an influx of weight-loss ads and pushes to ‘try X and change your life!’. If you struggle with this, remember you can usually click on ads to say ‘not interested’ to train the algorithm. I also recently tried this from @alexlight_london on Instagram:

20 life coach-approved questions to unlock your potential

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Are you ready to take the first step towards becoming the best version of yourself?

20 life coach-approved questions to unlock your potential

Have you ever wondered what you might achieve if there were no limits? What if you could unlock something within you that would propel you towards your dreams and desires, whatever they might be?

Your ‘potential’ is something that, maybe, you haven’t thought about in a while. When we’re young people, in school, college, and university, we’re encouraged to categorise our skills, and look towards the horizon and the things that we might want to achieve. In our adult lives, that same ambitious drive might have fallen by the wayside a bit.

However, truth be told, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Few of us would claim to have the same self-knowledge back then as we do today, and with that experience under our belts, perhaps right now is the perfect time to return to that challenge of unlocking our potential.

“‘Unlocking your potential’ is a phrase that is commonly used, but what does it actually mean? More importantly, what does it mean to you?” asks life coach Adam Craft. “My perception of unlocking your potential is this: we are all capable of achievement, there’s no doubt about that. The question is what is your potential?”

This will look drastically different for each of us. As Adam points out, for some it might be career oriented – rising to the top, leadership roles, financial goals, or influence on the world around us. For others, it might be linked to health, nurturing our physical health, as well as our mental health. It could be tied up with family, creating a life where we put quality time with the ones we love before everything else.

Getting to the point where we feel we’re reaching our potential might involve identifying the roadblocks that we need to clear. It could be our own self-limiting beliefs, and self-esteem issues, both things that can be worked on with the help of wellbeing professionals. Or you might find that there are practical solutions, and that your specific roadblocks could be things like time restraints, missing skills, or other changes to your lifestyle. That isn’t to say that any of those things are easy to sidestep – this is the very start of a long process, but the first step is to make some time for self-reflection.

“Think about it this way: imagine yourself in the senior years of your life. You’re looking back on your life, reflecting on what you have done, achieved, or made,” Adam says. “Is there something that comes up that you ‘wished’ you pursued more? I will often ask my clients this question when they first start working with me. It’s a great way of highlighting your ‘potentials’ or ‘musts’. From here, my client then knows what their potential is, and we work towards unlocking that. Visualisation is one of the most powerful ways to unlock your potential.”

20 life coach-approved questions to unlock your potential

Life goes by so fast, especially when we’re rushed off our feet, jumping from one task to the next without a moment spare to think about the bigger questions that we might come up against. So this is your sign to make time to

The revolutionary power of getting to grips with your full range of emotions

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In need of an emotional release? It's time to explore the full spectrum of your feelings – and learn how to accept them all

The revolutionary power of getting to grips with your full range of emotions

It’s funny, really: emotions are the very essence of being human, and yet we don’t devote much time to truly contemplating them.

Most of us take feelings at face value, or shy away from those with seemingly ‘negative’ connotations, without really thinking about what they might be trying to tell us.

What is behind our frustration that we’re too afraid to voice? Why is it that our eyes mist up when a joyful moment takes us by surprise?

Emotions are complex, and multi-layered, and sometimes expressing them can come with a lot of stigma.

But when we withdraw from facing how we truly feel, we risk not recognising the signs that our needs are not being met.

This special edition is dedicated to understanding the full spectrum of our emotional experience, from the powerful ways joy can help counter burnout, to the enlightment we can get from connecting with other generations.

Many of us will have first-hand experience of wanting to hide away from so-called ‘negative’ emotions, but we want to emphasise the fact that there is no such thing!

From our columnist Michelle Elman’s personal experience with survivor’s guilt, to coping with triggering situations, and redefining our perceptions of rage, there should be no shame in whatever it is you are feeling.

The revolutionary power of getting to grips with your full range of emotions

Plus, this emotions special, our issue 70, print edition includes:

Enlightening features including a spotlight on seasonal friendships, myths about success (and how to really succeed), the truth about aphrodisiacs, and liberation from the need to be liked.

Life-changing hacks on how to handle jealousy, morning rituals to improve your sleep, and anxiety-busting weekend activities.

Expert advice on topics such as lovebombing, accepting your relationship with your body post-baby, and how to deal with resentment.

Every emotion has value, and the ability to teach us something. Recognising the full range of our moods allows us to appreciate the light and shade of life, and truly value all aspects of the human experience.

Without moments of sadness, we couldn’t grasp the infinite value of love and contentment.

So, wherever you are on the emotional scale, know it won’t last forever, and there should be no shame or secrecy. Allow yourself to feel it all.

As Yogi Berra so artfully put it: “Whatever you do, you should do
it with feeling.”

Happy reading!

Rebecca Thair

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7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

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If money is on your mind, but you still want to do your bit to help the planet, you might wonder what you can realistically afford to do. The good news is that there are plenty of green choices that don’t break the bank, and some that could actually save you money in the long run

7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

When it comes to sustainable living, it’s important to try to use whatever you have first. Reuse, repurpose, and repair wherever possible. But, when you do need to eventually replace something, the following eco-friendly swaps are not only better for the environment, some could also save you money over time!

So, what are you waiting for? Visit our sustainable swap shop…

Meat-free Mondays

Did you know that going veggie for one day a week could save the equivalent of 100kgs of CO2 each year? In fact, according to the Exeter City Council website, if you decided to do a meat-free week each month, that could save 153kgs of CO2 per year, and going vegan for a week each month would add up to around 230kgs of CO2 saved!

While supermarket prices vary, plant-based produce is typically cheaper than meat, with suggesting that vegans can actually save about $1,280 a year on their food bills. Research also suggests that since plant-based foods are typically lower in saturated fats, this move could improve your heart health, even without full-time vegetarianism.

7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

Bamboo toothbrushes

Traditional plastic toothbrushes aren’t recyclable, which can result in as many as 23 billion toothbrushes going to landfill each year – with each one taking up to 1,000 years to decompose. As an alternative, bamboo toothbrushes have seen a starp rise in popularity, due to the handles being 100% biodegradable (typically taking around six months in compost), and created from sustainable materials. However, this comes with one strong caveat: check the bristle material. These are often made of nylon, which isn’t biodegradable and would need to be removed from the handle before composting.

From a cost perspective, this swap won’t necessarily save money, but prices are comparable to plastic options (lots of great products start at around £2.50), which means that doing your bit for the planet won’t take a hit on your wallet.

Reusable rags

From mopping up spills to drying your hands, many of us turn to paper towels without even thinking about the waste, or cost, involved. But the reality is that to make one ton of paper towels requires 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. And, with people in the UK paying anywhere from £1–£3 per 100 sheets of kitchen roll, it adds up.

A simple, eco and cost-friendly solution? Choose reusable rags instead. These could be made from old clothes that no longer fit for a cost-free repurpose. Or you could purchase absorbent, long-lasting cloths, such as the Jangneus Design Cloths which are 100% biodegradable (£9.95 for a pack of four).

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