Ever noticed your brain seems to get quiet when you're working with your hands? There's scientific research to show that physical activity is tied to relieving stress and solving your problems.
Over the course of the last year, many of us have been stuck inside. And while those of us able to work from home can consider ourselves very fortunate, you might have found yourself restless and itching to do something outside of staring at multiple screens. And there may be a good reason for that.
As more of our society leans into occupations as “knowledge workers”, many of us can be left sitting behind a computer most of the day. As our world becomes increasingly more digital, thinking has become constant and almost unavoidable. In down time, we are also resorting to screen time by reading articles, scrolling social media, doing research on the next healthy recipe to try and rarely catching a break from the urge to stay productive and in the know.
However, there’s real research showing the benefits of working with your hands as a way to relieve stress and focus in on the physical manifestation of a task.
First, when we use our hands to do something that doesn’t demand so much of us cognitively, like painting, woodworking or gardening, it gives the brain a chance to rest and relax. There can be a great sense of happiness from doing something that doesn’t require you to think about anything except for doing.
Second, when your brain is “offline” it gives you a chance to work through something in the background of your mind when it’s not the main topic of focus. This may be why your best ideas come to you in the shower, when you’re in the middle of a run or backyard renovation or just enjoying time with friends.
Dr. Herbet-Benson, a mind-body expert and author of The Breakout Principle, wrote about this state of being. He explains how when we are doing a task that is repetitive and more physically focused, it gives our brain a chance to take a break, zone out, and usually from that state of rest a solution appears to something we might have been struggling with.
Lastly, we were made to be active. With the evolution of so much technology, many of us go through our days without much physical activity versus years past. We buy our food instead of growing it, have a machine do our dishes instead of scrubbing it ourselves. While all definitely helpful (we are all in on not doing dishes), using your hands can help to clear your brain and might just be the secret to a happier mood.
Let us know what works for you! Is gardening, even if it’s a small window garden? DIY or woodworking? Fixing your old bike? A puzzle? Building a SheShed?
Try getting out of your head and into your hands the next time your stressed- it might even lead to a new hobby!
Source: Psychology Today