Want to be a better student? Find a hobby

Mantissa College-JulianHaytham

happy students group  study in classroom

Engage your brain. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone pushes you to become a better person. Meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Question and challenge yourself. Cultivate a new skill. Sign up and show up. Take a break from what you “do” and try something new. Be who you are, not what you do. Here are six possibilities for hobbies that we think will turn on your brain—and maybe even your career.

1. Music & Dance
Not only can listening to music and dancing reduce your stress levels, but they increase your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that is linked to feelings of well-being. Love pop? Try classical. Have you always admired hip-hop? Join an on-campus group. Tap dancing? Tappity-tap away. Want to play the kazoo? Do it. You’ll meet people who have the talent and skill that you admire—and you’ll also meet people who are open-minded and willing to try new things. Just like you.

2. Photography
Slow down and de-stress by capturing a moment in time. Just one. Focus on it. Capture dew drops on a blade of grass. An icicle that formed overnight. A child’s smile. A honeybee on a sunflower. Photography reduces your stress level and encourages you to focus, visually, on something other than you do all the time. Who knows? It could even lead to a career decision. Consider Dr. Pauley Chea. When he was a med student at the University of Connecticut, he thought he wanted to study emergency medicine. He also loved photography. Guess what he does now? He’s a radiologist. Translate your passion into your career.

3. Coding
Like learning new languages? Reading music? Love math? Consider taking up coding as a hobby. For starters, think about using codeacademy, a free interactive website that teaches coding to coding novices—those who might want to try it, but are a bit unsure. Having coding as a hobby has a myriad of benefits, perhaps the most obvious being your ability to handcraft your own website. Thinking about starting your own business? Just looking to have a better understanding of how technology shapes your world? Try coding and transfer your love of languages and math into code—and a potential career.

4. Meditation
Unplug. In Richard Davidson’s The Mind’s Own Physician, he chronicles a study of meditation with the Dalai Lama. His findings? When the Dalai Lama and other monks were directed to meditate and focus specifically on compassion, their brain waves reflected a “deeply compassionate” state of mind. Can we train our brains to feel what we want to feel whenever we want to feel it? Want to feel powerful right before trying out for a play? Want to feel more confident in an interview? Want to feel less stressed out all the time? Try meditation. “Ommmm.”

5. Learning a New Language
¡Hola! Bonjour. Heia. Bongiorno. Guten tag. Ni hao. Dobroe utro. Boost your brainpower. Improve your memory. Make better decisions. Multi-task effectively. Not only will you learn a new language, you’ll be learning with other people in the same boat as you—adventurous. Like to travel? It’s always good to know at least a few additional words or phrases when you say “hello” and “thank you.” Planning on working for an international company? Plan on speaking at least one other language.

Finding a hobby not only will make you a better student, it will make you a better person. Find the time to do something new—and you might just find a new passion.

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