Learning something new can boost our wellbeing in so many exciting and positive ways. Mastering a new skill exposes us to fresh ideas, helps us stay curious, builds our self confidence, gives us a sense of accomplishment and is a chance to make new friends

There’s no need to go back to school or to get a formal qualification to get the buzz of learning. Why not join a club, choir or class? Here are some ideas for engaging body, mind and soul in fabulously enriching new pursuits

BODY

Physical exercise is great for your health, we all know that, but did you know it also releases endorphins which increase positive feelings and help to relieve pain? The effect of a good workout on your brain is similar to morphine, yet the resulting high is completely natural.

Get fit and feel fabulous

There are no mirrors, no pumping music and no men at Barnstaple’s award-winning state-of-the-art women-only gym. Go30 offers personally tailored fitness programmes in a fun, friendly and supportive environment.

www.go30.co.uk

And stretch …

Said to be the secret behind Pippa Middleton’s shapely derriere, pilates is the body system of choice for those seeking a flat stomach, toned arms and firm thighs. Check out Kendra Pilates in Braunton and Debbie West Pilates in Barnstaple.

www.kendrapilates.co.uk

www.northdevonpilates.co.uk

MIND

Studies have shown that people who continue to stimulate the old grey matter and develop beyond school years are happier and more confident as a result.

Dance yourself dizzy

According to research you get a bigger release of endorphins when you dance compared to any other form of exercise. But that’s not all. There are cognitive benefits too: dancing not only boosts happiness it also improves creative-thinking patterns. From ballet and ballroom to belly dance and African, there’s a great choice of fun local classes to choose from.

www.unlimiteddance.co.uk

www.ballroomlatindance.wix.com/ballroom-and-latin

www.andigwadance.co.uk

Skill-up

From learning a new language and mastering your computer to taking up a musical instrument and getting the most out of your camera, new skills bring a new lease of life. Petroc college’s adult education courses are worth checking out if you’re keen to embark on a new hobby.

www.petroc.ac.uk

Exercise your inner wordsmith

Writing can be therapeutic fun and a great way to express yourself. If you’ve ever fancied plotting a bestselling novel, penning a play or experimenting with poetry, Arvon runs a programme of residential creative writing courses at its 16th century manor house in Totleigh Barton

www.arvon.org

SPIRIT

Unleashing your creativity can be absorbing fun which brings a sense of satisfaction and in-the-moment spiritual bliss. According to some psychologists, immersing yourself in something you really enjoy can induce a ‘flow state’ – that feeling when you are so involved in what you are doing, that you forget everything around you.

Get crafty

Activities like painting, drawing, pottery and sculpture are relaxing and rewarding hobbies that can lower your stress levels and leave you feeling mentally clear and emotionally calm. Making and creating gives your brain a break from your everyday thoughts. It also trains your mind to concentrate on details – a bit like meditation. The Plough Arts Centre regularly runs art and craft workshops.

www.theploughartscentre.org.uk

Creative cookery

Want to be a creative hostess and home cook à la Nigella? The Two Tarts Cookery School at Bratton Fleming will get you rustling up delicious dishes in a fun, friendly and encouraging environment.

www.twotartscookeryschool.co.uk.

Sweet harmony

Swedish research has shown that singing in a choir not only increases oxygen levels in the bloodbut triggers the release of happy hormones like oxytocin which is thought to lower stress and blood pressure. You don’t need any experience to join the newly formed NDADA singing circle, a thriving fun choir that meets monthly at the re:love store in Barnstaple to sing for those affected by domestic violence. Look out for meeting dates on our Facebook page.

Time to switch off

Need to turn off your busy thoughts for a few moments? Try meditation, mindfulness or yoga. At North Devon School of Yoga there are classes to calm the spirit, still the mind and relax the body, all the while toning and strengthening your core.

www.northdevonyoga.co.uk