What a whirlwind week it has been! I’ve heard that shaking up your routine can be a major mood booster and after kicking the weekend off with friends over dinner (and delightful, whole-fruit margaritas), followed by brunch and exploring the Bunker Hill monument over in Charlestown with my siblings, well… the week that followed can only be described as one that was wholly, wonderfully, “shaken.”
From trying out a new yoga teacher’s class in the the middle of the day, to taking advantage of half-price ticket night at a local theater, to finally see “Dallas Buyers Club,” to meeting for mid-week tacos with friends (followed by ice cream at a local spot), I can vouch for its truth. I feel energized and so blissfully happy.
So why is trying new things so good for us? I did a little digging and thought I’d share:
- We feel happier.
Psychologist Rich Walker of Winston-Salem State University found that “…people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.” (time.com)
- Our perception of time is slowed.
When familiar information is processed, it doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated. Neuroscientist David Eagleman, who has extensively studied the effects of our brain’s perception of time, believes this effect makes time fly by faster as we age. (lifehacker.com)
- We avoid boredom and gain new perspective.
At yoga this week, I learned that a particular pose called “Padahastasana,” which I’ve done hundreds of times and have always found uncomfortable, can be wonderfully relaxing if you let your toes massage the inside of your wrists. Mind Blown! All because one teacher includes this suggestion in his teaching, my perception has totally changed. (psychologytoday.com)
- We can improve our memory and learning capacity.
Neurobiologists Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel found that novelty, demonstrated via images, increases our motivation to seek out reward. In other words, the brain’s ability to create new connections between neurons “was increased by the influence of novelty—both during the process of exploring a novel environment or stimuli and for 15–30 minutes afterwards.” Honestly, without ever having read this study, I could have probably guessed at this based on the massive dopamine-release I experience every time I log onto Pinterest for a hit of daily inspiration. In case you’re not up to speed on your neurotransmitters, dopamine is released in high amounts during gratifying activities such as eating, sex, exercise, dancing and other enjoyable experiences. (Of which Pinterest probably ranks highest if I’m being honest. And my exposure to completely new imagery is endless.) Are you listening, Pinterest? There is something to this and I think you should jump on it. Call me. I want to be involved. (sciencedaily.com) (lifehacker.com)
Anyways, hope you enjoyed my nerdy foray into neurology. In case you were wondering, yes. As a kid I went to science camp and built rockets and shit. I got microscopes for Christmas. I also had a massive crush on my science teacher.
This is definitely a side of myself that I’ve previously devoted to learning and writing about the science of beauty and beauty products over here, but as I’m becoming more and more interested in things like the connection between diet and preventing Alzheimer’s, my focus is definitely shifting.
Here’s to shaking up “the usual” more often! Have a great weekend!