Learning a new language can have a marked positive impact on your mental health and you can feel the benefits in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help you to build connections with new people and cultures but it also helps you to find new ways of expressing yourself and can help you to break out of your cultural bubble and gain a new perspective.
From increased confidence to protection from ageing, here are the top reasons why language learning is an essential tool for improving your mental health.
Increase your empathy and cultural awareness
Learning a new language forces you to view the world differently in many ways. Not only are the words and sounds different from your own, but even common expressions can be entirely different and give an interesting insight into that culture’s values and norms. Typical English phrases like “it’s raining cats and dogs” may not make sense in other languages so finding new ways of expressing yourself can be very rewarding, as you dive deeper into your target language.
By exploring and studying these cultural differences, you’ll start to realize that the world is much bigger and richer than you ever imagined. It’s one thing to know that these differences exist, but it’s an entirely different thing to experience them firsthand while learning a new language.
In time, you’ll develop a greater understanding of other cultures and your own. You’ll learn to empathize with and understand the perspectives of other people and learn not to trust stereotypes from your own culture. It’s easy to normalize your own language and culture as though it were the standard, but by learning a new language, you’ll get a greater understanding of both your culture and yourself.
Language learning improves your self-esteem
Language learning can boost your self-esteem which will also improve a number of other areas of your life. Good self-esteem can help to minimize symptoms of depression while also encouraging growth in your social and professional life. Each new word you memorize and use correctly is a boost to your confidence, and over time, you’ll notice that your wins keep adding up. While language learning is a slow and sometimes tough process, those special moments where you connect with another person or suddenly understand a song lyric can brighten your day tremendously. When you feel proud of yourself, you may find that you start improving in other areas which creates a positive feedback loop throughout your day. Each positive habit can lead to others, and language learning is a great foundation to start boosting your self-esteem and quality of life.
Practicing a language can reduce your social anxiety
Social anxiety can be a difficult thing to break out of, but learning a new language is one of the best ways to meet new people in a natural way and, consequently, become a better conversationalist. While reading and listening are always important, speaking out loud remains one of the most critical components of language learning. As you push yourself to speak more, you’ll find that social anxiety becomes easier to manage the more you practice.
Speaking a new language with someone else breaks you out of your comfort zone in significant ways. While learning, you’ll be speaking from a place of vulnerability since you don’t have complete command of the new language. When you start you will probably come out with some silly phrases that you’ll laugh about later, but this is actually great practice for speaking in general. If you can hold even basic conversations in a second language, you’ll also become stronger when speaking your native language since it suddenly feels so much easier.
Learn to break bad habits
Mental health issues can occasionally also mean sufferers have difficulty with motivation and time management and sometimes even more serious conditions such as addiction and depression. Language learning can have the favorable result of instilling a goal-oriented mindset, which may then have a positive effect on other areas of your life as well.
Often, one positive action will snowball into more advantages without much effort. Once you get into a routine of daily language practice, you’ll find it’s easier to keep moving forward while also building other beneficial habits and improving your general productivity.
This can be helpful for anyone, but it’s especially helpful for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. Of course, language learning is not a cure-all, and anyone suffering from addiction would be better off contacting professionals who can help them safely recover.
A stronger mind, more creativity and benefits against ageing
Last but not least, learning a new language is a huge step in protecting your brain and in helping you learn other subjects as well. Language learning has been proven to increase gray matter volume, which is crucial for information retention, critical thinking, and even creativity itself. Researchers have also found that language learning may possibly delay and even reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s when compared to non-bilingual people.
The mental benefits of learning a new language are vast and ever-growing, and there’s no better time to start learning than now. Every day of practice can help you improve, and the internet has so much information readily available that you can choose any language you want and start immediately. Best of all, language learning can be extremely enjoyable and a great way to meet new people. With countless benefits for your mental health and wellbeing, it’s a great time to dive into a new culture and expand your mind.