7 Free Online Learning Resources

I believe that lifelong learning is one of the primary keys to “growing old,” rather than simply “getting old.”  Who doesn’t want to keep their brain cells strong and functional as long as possible?  There are so many learning opportunities in our world!  New technologies, the history of inventions, biographies of famous people, the study of art, religion, spirituality, different languages, music history . . . .the list is endless.

If you’re like me, and want to keep your mind growing, instead of stagnating, you may want to check out these FREE online resources

For scholarly types:

  • Coursera  – Simply sign up,  search for a topic or click on their “courses” link.  Coursera has partnered with hundreds of international universities/institutions to provide a wide range of studies, from  Computer Science to Statistics, and everything in between.
  • Academic Earth – Here you’ll find  college courses and video lectures.  Search online courses by subject, or by a university.   View popular playlists of  video lectures or take a look at their video electives.

For “How To” Enthusiasts:

  • Howcast – Free “How To” videos in a wide variety of categories:  Style, Fitness, Home, Food, Health, Parenting and more.  Want to learn how to filet a fish?  Read palms?  Sleep better?  How to hula hoop? (I’m not kidding, that one’s actually on the site)
  • Instructables  – You can create, share your creation with others, even enter a contest and win prizes.

Want to become bilingual?

  • Duolingo – This site offers free courses in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.  You can even download Duolingo app to your iPhone or Android.

Looking to tap into your creative side?

  • Drawspace  – Learn to draw!  This site offers many free lessons, and you can upgrade (for a $49 annual fee) for professional lessons.

Just for fun:

  • How Stuff Works – Here are a few of the cool things  I found here:  “10 Crazy Things Contacts Can Do,” “10 Fastest Things in the Universe,” and my favorite: “10 Classic Toys that could Kill You.”  (Seriously)

Quotes for the day:

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.  (Chinese Proverb)

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. (Henry Ford)

 

These are just a few of the learning resources to be found on the Internet.  It’s amazing how many learning options we have at our fingertips!

Do you have a favorite online learning website?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

Bea’s Wellness Beat: April is National Humor Month

April is National Humor Month. I’ll bet you don’t know the history of this month-long celebration, do you?

So here’s the scoop:

National Humor Month was founded 38 years ago, by a funny guy by the name of Larry Wilde.  Believe it or not, Larry is the Director of the Carmel Institute of Humor.

He wants us to laugh, regularly.  He also wants to boost our awareness of how important laughing is.  Want to find out more?

Visit the National Humor Month website.

Some of the benefits of a laugh, a giggle, a chuckle, a guffaw:

  • A laugh with co-workers relieves the day-to-day stress of the workplace
  • A laugh about a shared experience with friends keeps that friendship strong
  • Shared laughter breaks the ice when we meet someone new
  • Feeling tense?  Watch something funny:  Your whole body will relax
  • Laughter can enhance your immune system, promote a sense of well-being (by releasing endorphins) and help your heart.

It just makes us feel good. And in this crazy world, we need that!

Want to get your laugh for the day?

Funny photos – Imgur

The Onion 

I Can Has Cheezburger 

Always great for a laugh:  Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show 

A few good quotes: 

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. (William James)

When humor goes, there goes civilization. (Erma Bombeck)

A person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. (Shirley MacLaine)

For Further Reading:

How to Enhance your Sense of Humor

Norman Lear on Laughter, Longevity and Love for USA 

 

When Worry Becomes Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Worry is a normal emotion which is experienced as anxiety. People worry about finances (or lack thereof), their kids, their health, their jobs. . . Or they worry about the state of the economy, the high cost of living, and so on.  The only people that don’t worry are people with no stressors in their lives, and do you actually know anyone like that?

Me neither.

When once-in-awhile or moderate worrying pops up in our lives, there are some self-help techniques that we can use to help rid us of that worrisome thinking.  But what about worry that develops into extreme anxiety?

When worrying becomes so pervasive in a person’s life that it keeps him or her from functioning well, it can develop into Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  HelpGuide talks about the difference between normal worries and GAD here.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of GAD include:

  • An inability to shake off anxieties
  • An inability to relax – a person with GAD is often easily startled
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Insomnia:  Difficulty in not only falling asleep, but also staying asleep

GAD sufferers may also have problems with fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, aches and pains, trouble swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability and a variety of other physical concerns.  There’s no question that this disorder wreaks havoc on people’s lives.

It should be noted that some physical conditions may cause symptoms of anxiety, including hypo- or hyperthyroidism, low blood sugar, heart disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)  and even menopause (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011). If those conditions can be ruled out by a doctor, a person may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

You can find out about the risk factors for GAD at the Mayo Clinic website.

So how is this mental health condition treated?  Prescription medications (certain types of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs) are often used.  While medications may help for the short-term, many have side effects, and can be habit-forming.  It’s best to combine a limited used of medication along with therapy to deal with the root of the anxiety problem.

The most common psychotherapy used for GAD is:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – The patient learns about GAD in order to understand it better.  He/she is taught to monitor their anxiety levels and what triggers their anxiety. He/she is then taught relaxation techniques, thought-changing techniques, and behavioral techniques to deal with the anxiety.

Biofeedback is another treatment option. As described in Wikipedia, “Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofeedback) In the case of GAD, the biofeedback would be used to teach the patient how to become more relaxed.

WebMD also describes some lifestyle modifications that go along with therapy.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. Sep. 2011. Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Pertinent Websites:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Mayo Clinic: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Tips for coping with GAD