Start the Day Boosting Your Mental Fitness

Learning as Part of Your Morning Routine (#3)

Maybe this sounds familiar: You have a new cell phone plan with a new number, and you’re having a hard time remembering it. But when someone would ask you for the phone number of the home you lived in as a child, you still know it, even though you haven’t used it in years. Or your date of birth: have you ever forgotten it?

The brain stores information and processes sensory impressions. It is connected to the entire body via nerve pathways. With the help of these nerve tracts, information can be transmitted very fast. The brain consists of approximately 100 billion brain cells and weighs on average between 1.5 and 2.0 kilograms.

The learning process

In learning, one acquires knowledge and skills. One can learn mentally, physically, character-wise, or socially.
Learning is a reaction of the brain to new experiences and causes a permanent change in the brain.

In the brain, there are synapses. A synapse is a place where two nerve cells meet. The nerve cells do not touch each other, but the distance is tiny. When you hear a word, the brain tries to retrieve the meaning of the word. Signals are transmitted in the brain to recall the meaning. These signals travel through the nerve cell and reach the synapse at the end. Here, neurotransmitters such as dopamine or adrenaline are released. These messenger substances dock onto receptors on the other side at another synapse. Here, a channel opens, and calcium ions are released, changing the electrical balance and passing the message on to the next nerve cell.

Sensory impressions are initially stored by the brain in short-term memory, for a few seconds to minutes. Long-term memory, however, can store information (like your old phone number) for years. If data gets transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory, it has to get past what’s called the limbic system. Here decisions are made about whether a piece of news is important and whether the brain should store it.
In particular, information that you consider essential and have feelings about is allowed to pass through.
What is essential in learning is regular repetition. That will build up new connections within the brain. You can see this, for example, when learning vocabulary. If you repeat a vocabulary word regularly, your brain will memorize it. Then, when you hear the word, your brain can quickly recall the meaning.

Learning as part of your morning routine

Daily learning is useful to maintain mental fitness and promote new connections in the brain. You can easily incorporate a learning session into your morning routine.
Take 10–15 minutes for your daily study session. Think about what and how you want to learn.

I can recommend the following practices:
Option 1: Learn a foreign language
Use an app that guides you through the learning process. I currently use the App Babbel to learn Swedish.
Set the timer to 10 minutes. When it rings, turn it off and complete the current lesson. With this practice you will spend 12–16 minutes a day studying.
I like learning via the app because I only need my smartphone and no other materials to get started.

Option 2: Reading
Pick a specialist book with a topic that interests you. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When it rings, take a notebook and write down for 2–5 minutes what you learned and what was important to you.

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