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Find your thing in 2017


If it's been a while since you tried something new, consider learning a new activity on holiday, good for the brain as well as the body.

The uplifting rush of mastering something new

When was the last time you threw caution to the wind and tried something new? Honestly? Trying a new activity on holiday could be beneficial to both mind and body but if it's been a while, you're really not alone. According to new research conducted by active holiday expert Neilson (yes, us), the average UK adult hasn't tried a new active hobby in five and a half years despite 80% feeling positive effects on their wellbeing when they do. Adults said they felt excited (38%), proud (24%) and more confident (18%) when they tried a new activity but it seems it take us a little time to try.


By stark comparison, UK children try a new activity every six months and feel similar emotions to adults when they do. 62% of respondents felt excited, 44% felt happy and 22% felt more confident.

Whatever our age, we experience the same feelings of pride, confidence and excitement when we try new things so we really should try to recapture that childlike feeling of “I did it” whenever possible.


Overcome your fears

According to the survey results, common barriers to trying something new include worrying about a lack of fitness, with 33% of those surveyed citing this as their main concern and 27% lacking the confidence to throw themselves into a different activity for fear of not being good enough at it. This tends to lead into a bit of a catch 22 situation, since that by trying or practising a new activity, it's likely you'll become a little fitter and more proficient along the way.

It's also well worth avoiding any self-comparison. We're all guilty of trying to compare ourselves unfavourably to others who may be younger and fitter. However in all sports, whether it be sailing, tennis, biking or skiing (or any other activity you enjoy), there are different age bands from entry level to championship and from junior to senior. So it's really more about finding the right level for your fitness, age and level of ability. Don't let the fear of failure hold you back, the very best way to learn something new is by trial, error, practice, error and more practice. And the Neilson team of instructors, guides and coaches on a beachclub holiday will help you do just that. They'll also make sure you have lots of laughs and “I did it” moments along the way!


The benefits of learning a new activity

Many people know that exercise releases ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins, which reduce stress and trigger positive feelings. But there are added benefits of learning a new sport to mental wellbeing.

Robert Hutchinson, a transformational coach, wellbeing consultant and founder of The Authentic Life Company, said: “The brain is like a muscle which needs to be exercised to keep it in good condition. New experiences are a fundamental requirement for mental growth and the brain loves stimulation; it grows with use and it withers with inactivity.”

When learning new things, apparently we move from ‘conscious incompetence’ to ‘unconscious competence’ all the way through to ‘unconscious competence’. During this process of feeling tentative when trying a new activity, to feeling a little more at ease, through to focusing entirely on the buzz of loving what you're doing. New brain connections are made and as they are created, it can feel like a spark of energy is released. This is the uplifting rush we experience when we master something new.


Find your passion

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t let the kids have all the fun! We can learn so much from children and as we all sit down to consider our resolutions for 2017, the survey reveals what is most likely to inspire adults to learn a new activity. Over 40% of people said that their family (partner or kids) would inspire them to try a new activity. One in four of us say our friends inspire us to give new activities a go and the majority of parents (28%) said that their children had inspired them to learn something new. We can observe and learn from the natural enthusiasm and fearlessness of children when they try new things, be inspired by their energy and excitement.

Simon Davies, Head of Summer Operations at Neilson says: “The positive effects of learning a new activity or developing a skill is not a surprise to us as we see our guests experience it every year. Our holidays are designed and our staff are trained to overcome the barriers people face when learning something new and we cater for all ability levels, from absolute beginners to those who are more experienced. Ultimately, we want our guests to be able to rediscover their passion for an activity, do more of what they love or find their thing on a Neilson holiday.”

Whilst putting yourself out there may feel a little scary at first, the benefits of can be highly liberating and rewarding. Just think of the confidence and buzz you'll feel as you venture out on your first stand up paddle board session, when you master that tennis serve, strike that yoga pose or set sail on your dinghy across the bay, on a quest to master the wind.

Go on, find your thing!