THE most mind-blowing fact we've discovered during this work is that each of us has the power to change our body/mind chemistry, our biology, even the way our brain is wired. That's such an exciting future to look forward to.

The old adage 'use it or lose it' applies to your brain as well as your muscles. The ongoing learning of new skills can keep your brain active and minimise age-related decline. Each time we learn new skills we activate different brain cells and increase the number of connections within our brain. This builds up a mental reserve which may help us to deal more effectively with conditions such as Alzheimer's, dementia, persistent pain, depression or brain injury.

Research has shown that our nervous system (including our brain) changes with each experience we remember (neuroplasticity), even in old age. Brain scanning has shown that activities such as meditation, playing a musical instrument, even juggling have been shown to change the structure of the brain. Neuroscientists have discovered that new neural pathways can open up, new connections can be made and new brain cells can be born (neurogenesis), even into old age, which is exciting. Introducing regular novelty is an important factor in stimulating the birth of new brain cells. However, it is up to us to take actiion to make this happen. Crucially if we sit doing nothing our brain declines – if we don't use it, we lose it!

Research has shown that the pillars of positive neuroplastic change are cardiovascular exercise; good diet with plenty of oily fish; regular novelty, which promotes learning; supportive social contact and community plus a healthy dose of curiosity, enjoyment and fun. It's good to try something new on a regular basis. Knitting encourages us to do this – there is always a new technique to learn and enjoy.

Thinking has moved on from neuroplasticity to the concept of bioplasticity and the fact that our biological systems are so closely entwined that change in one triggers change in another. It's exciting to know that we can influence our very biology, our chemistry, even the structure of our brain if we take positive action to do so.

The benefits of learning a new skill can be felt immediately. The feelgood factor, sense of excitement and achievement on mastering a new task, particularly a challenging one, is fantastic and is a tremendous boost to self esteem and confidence.

Why not learn something new right now?

Bilateral Stitching

Happy Boxes

Time Management

Goal Setting

Learn to take better photographs of your projects

Emotional Intelligence - an introduction

Keeping a Thought Diary

Changing Your Mind

Enjoy Festive Fun