How learning a language can help combat depression

Blue Monday coffee cup with depressed face.

Blue Monday, coined in 2005, is the name given to the day of the year that is considered the most depressing. Normally assigned to the third Monday of January, it is assumed that the cold, dark weather in the Northern Hemisphere, combined with the end of the festive period, results in a generally unhappy feeling for a lot of people. Although there is no scientific evidence to back up the concept, we know at Dragons Teaching that learning a language is a successful way to combat depression!

Provides distraction

Language learning requires focus and concentration on how to conjugate the next verb or how to structure a sentence. This concentration distracts the brain from other things – a comparable technique to mindfulness, which is the act of focusing your thoughts on the present and on one particular feeling or activity. This can aid distraction from depressive thoughts and combat unhappy emotions.

A reason to socialise

Depression can bring about feelings of isolation. However, to fully learn and practise a language you have to converse with others. This need to practise with people and the encouragement they provide can help reduce anxieties around social situations, as well as build self-confidence. When speaking in a foreign language, you are not expected to be perfect and can make mistakes which eases the pressure of social expectations. This allows people to reconnect to others, whether in person, on the phone or online.

Flexible learning

Learning, in general, can be completely flexible; it is very personal and no matter what you are learning you can set your own goals, timelines and schedule. Languages are no different as you can aim to learn as much or as little as you like. This flexibility helps those with depression as they can pick lessons back up where they left off, revise units and feel less pressure than with more formal, academic styles of learning. The result is that the learning process is enjoyable, with every small achievement providing a self-esteem boost.

Physical brain changes

There are many studies that indicate learning, puzzles and reading can all help to prevent dementia and other brain-related diseases. This is due to the building of new neuropathways and connections that are formed when we learn or try new things. Learning a language is proven to form these pathways and develop further enhanced cognitive abilities, multitasking abilities, improved memory and mood. Therefore the literal changes to your brain result in many positive changes, resulting in a general feeling of satisfaction and happiness in yourself. 

Neuropathways built with language learning

However you’re feeling, languages are a great way to improve your mood and mental wellbeing. If you’re interested in starting to learn a language, why not take a look at the languages Dragons has to offer?

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