Lupus patients have to juggle a lot. Aside from the normal trials and upsets that everyone experiences (can we say “taxes”?), there is juggling doctor appointments, extra money limitations, new and/or worsening symptoms, unpredictable symptom onset, work insecurity, side effects from medications, managing stress and a whole host of additional headache-causing things to contend with. And despite all the health and mood-boosting benefits of hobbies and fun activities, “practical” tasks can easily pile up until even the thought of “fun” gets washed away.
For those of us looking for an easy distraction, something new to learn, or a cheap way to add to our skill set on our own terms, a great option is looking into the slew of online learning resources now available. Sure, there’s a bunch of evidence to imply that learning new skills can not only keep our brains healthier, but also consider the less tangible benefits, such as the awesome feeling of conquering or even better understanding something that had been unfamiliar before. You can combat feelings of helplessness by taking a reasonable and accessible step to keeping up with your job skills. You can also learn skills to beef up your advocacy ability and become a better patient, which can improve your overall healthcare. Or learn how to mix awesome drinks, knit, and whip all your friends at Texas Hold ’em.
More and more online courses and classes are springing up on every topic and in every format. From YouTube video tutorials and podcasts to free ebooks and full online college courses, there is something to interest everyone – and a huge amount of them are free. These free courses can be a great way to get more information about new job directions, new medical developments, or exploring new hobbies. On your time, at your pace.
How Do I Get Started?
A good ole’ search engine is always a great way to get started with any search, but the offerings are so massive that diving in head-first with a general search can quickly get overwhelming. Below are a few links to get your feet wet, starting with a little background on why finding time to feed your brain can bring benefits to the rest of your health as well. Then I’ve added a few educational hubs with a great range of classes and tutorials to browse through. Some will include paid options, but all have a wide selections of self-paced free courses ready for the taking. Lastly, for those who’d like a few specific suggestions, I’ve added a list of classes that might be of particular interest to lupus patients, or anyone else coping with chronic illness.
Learn more about how learning is good for you:
Salyor.org – Divided into 3 sections, the University, Professional Development and a K-12 section, Salyor provides a lot of the same courses you would find at a traditional community college, including Art History, Math and Philosophy as well as resume and interviewing skills. Complete a course and get a transcript to show off your new skills.
Udemy.com – This great site has topics covering lifestyle, business, design and web design. It’s also a platform to create online courses of your own. With tons of free offerings and lots of coupon deals to entice you into taking their paid advanced classes, it’s a pretty good place to start poking around. The classes are self-paced videos that you can easily watch on your own time. The site will even keep you updated on the progress of your courses and has a simple interface that allows you take on-screen notes for each class section. Some classes even include access to student forums to practice your new skills and get your questions answered.
creativeLIVE – While the videos on creativeLIVE are not self-paced (you have to pay a fee to view the full course videos at any time), you can still tune in for free live streaming on any day’s class selections or sign up in advance to catch the next free class. I was just watching one of their classes this morning on blog redesign and was impressed at the video quality and detail in the instruction given. Check them out!
Coursera – Coursera works with universities to bring completely free classes to the masses. They offer specialization tracks and will even provide digital statements of accomplishment once you’ve completed a course. Coursea has a huge computer science offering, but also a great selection of music-oriented programs such as songwriting.
Lifehacker Night School – On the less official side, Lifehacker’s night school offers more education links and written tutorial series on subjects such as music production, brewing the perfect cup of coffee or building a computer from scratch.
OpenCulture – OpenCulture.com is a massive database of free learning resources from all over the internet. Since the links come from all over the place, you’ll have to do a little hunting to find the format or class that’s just right for you, but you’ll never get bored.