Hello & welcome back to Week 5 of the MCO! I am Professor Dr. Lianne from the Department of Psychology at HELP university! Let’s continue on with our 5 keys series for COVID 19.

Today let’s welcome back Ms. Rachael D’Rosario from my Masters of Counselling course to the podium with her bright brains to bring us all into the idea of using time at home to learn.. And gain new skills which might be very important in the new world post-Covid19!

As the days stream into one seamless vortex we start to wonder how we can build on our routine of being inside, staying socially distant and yet pondering new ways forward after being allowed back on the streets. Well let’s get LEARNING and build our brains! Let’s capitalize on the time at home to get that certificate or start that course or learn that new skill online to take with you when you get back out there.

1) Let’s build our brain capacity, strength and flexibility.

Brain plasticity. Yes it really is a thing. What is it? It is the brain’s ability to grow, adapt, change and develop across the lifespan. No matter what your age, it is never too late to stimulate and grow your “brain” capacity. Studies show that if we continue to increase our grey matter’s functioning we continue to operate at optimal capacity. Use it or lose it! It’s not just about flexing our arm, leg and core muscles, we also need to strain our brain muscle! This helps stimulate growth of our neurons and cells within the brain. To prevent too much pruning of our neurons, we need to use as many functions of our brain as possible. So instead of tuning into Netflix and vegging out in front of the tube, use that brain and develop, build and tone! Tune into a new course, pick up a book (yes that thing with paper and pages in it). Read, learn, let’s stimulate our brain. Studies have shown that if we engage our brain, we engage in life, and that helps us be engaged and enjoying life ALL our lives. Because by learning and using the brain we can help prevent the loss of cognitive function as we age, and that also helps prevent degenerative conditions of the brain such as dementia! Yes this flexing our brain muscle is very important to our longevity, so let’s activate the brain and start learning! https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-plasticity/what-is-brain-plasticity.

2) Let’s be smart and set some goals.

As we sit at home we have lots of time to reflect and self-evaluate. NOW is the time to go online and take that self-test you’ve been meaning to about career, and what you want to do REALLY. Take some of this Covid 19 home time to look within and check in with YOU. What a bonus! How often do you get a chance to look at how far you have come. Looking back helps us to look forward. This is a golden opportunity to ask yourself what you would like to do more of and know more about. If I could have my dream job what would it be? What would I need to get there? Identify your top 5 thoughts and prioritize 1- 5 in order of preference. Write these ideas down to help you with Step #3 of your NEW YOU Journey. Try this one out right here: Career test – Free online aptitude test – 123test.com.

3) Let’s focus and move forward.

Once you have evaluated your personal goals, let’s look at how SMART they are! Be your own cheer squad and let’s get SMART. What is SMART? Well SMART is an acronym. S is for Specific. Are your goals detailed and meaningful? M is for measureable. How will you be able to measure your progress toward your goals? A is for Attainable. Are the steps towards your goals realistic for you to achieve (or how much can you do in this current COVID 19 time and space)? R is for relevant! Do these goals match your personal values, dreams and life mission. T is for time-based. So for the next 2 weeks, what can you achieve? How many steps can you get done? What course work can you do? OK tick that now… Let’s consolidate because now you are already starting the SMART life… So, be even MORE SMART and act on this opportunity to take advantage of all the free COVID 19 courses and resources available to you. How to Write SMART Goals.

4) Let the learning begin.

You are ON YOUR WAY SMARTy pants! The first step to put SMART into practice is to get on to that keyboard and search the #1 topic that came up from Step 2 above. Get that little mouse scrabbling through the search engines and test the maze of courses by typing into the search bar the names of courses and resources you identified in Steps 2 and 3. Keep in mind COVID 19 means Free so get on this now because that FREE is time limited and may cost you more if you don’t start NOW. Write down the courses (or even better open up that Google doc or Excel Spreadsheet and lock the top 10 courses in there. Pick one, start with free first and see if you like it. And give yourself a big pat on the back (and on your noggin for all the newly created neurons you are making). Not only are you already SMART now you are also PROUD. Check out some of these free courses and resources right here: https://www.coursera.org/courses?query=free CAREERsense.

5) Let’s keep our eyes wide open to opportunity.

OK well actually you may be mind-blown now so that is why you did step 2 before getting here. THERE ARE SO MANY COURSES and free webinars, and free videos and online communities available as a result of COVID 19! Starting back at step 2 will help you to align your new learning with what you really wanted and not get entirely distracted. HOWEVER, as you start to grow and see more things don’t shut these new interests down! Add to the list for later. Remember brain plasticity, keep learning for LIFE! Once you start learning and loving it, you will continue to want to learn! And guess what you will meet many online groups who can support you in your NOW lifelong journey to build and flex that brain muscle. Take advantage and celebrate the free and multitudinous availability of courses and resources to help you move forward. These used to be costly (and may be again after COVID 19) so get started and go for it. Explore, expand and engage your brain. https://novel-coronavirus.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/CAREERsensehttps://libguides.ccu.edu/covid.

So there’s no excuse not to learn. Ultimately, ENJOY! Take this time as an investment for yourself, your future, the future of your loved ones and help us create a better tomorrow for all.Get on the bandwagon and join with us as we continue to challenge our brains and become what we always wanted to be. Go get ‘em!

So let’s get LEARNING! With gratitude to Ms. Rachael D’Rosario. We want to connect so don’t hesitate to comment on what worked and didn’t work from the above. Let’s add to this and build a TOP 10 from a KEY 5! Contact me here at: help5keysblog@gmail.com.

This is Dr. Lianne & Ms. Rachael signing off. Stay tuned right here for our upcoming blogs on being creative and flexing our muscles inside during movement control outside.
I’m Dr. Lianne and I am always here on the ether!

Some more research on neuroplasticity of the brain:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6670504/?report=reader
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263441929_Brain_Plasticity-Based_Therapeutics
http://www.hhc.rca.ac.uk/2084/all/1/proceedings