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Discover Little-Known Secrets of Your Hands

by Dr. Kathleen Hall
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Using Your Hands Changes Your Mood and Your Mental Health

Research shows you can change your mood and your mental health by using your hands in the simple tasks of your life. Whether you are creating a meal, washing dishes, tending to your garden or knitting, you are changing your brain connections through the movement of your hands. Repetitive hand movement helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress. Your hands are an ancient Prozac. In the 19th century, physicians prescribed knitting for patients. Using your hands causes your brain to produce relaxing, healing chemicals to your body to heal, relax and create happiness.

Your Hand-Brain Connection is Dying

Two challenges have helped create the disconnection of our hand-brain relationship. We are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed so we eat out and buy our food instead of cooking and baking with our hands. Our love and massive use of technology create a huge challenge for our hand-brain connection because there is less demand on our hand use and movements. Depression rates are rising tremendously, stress is the epidemic of the 21st century, and we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Our ancestors worked with their hands in the earth for their food. They worked with their hands to make clothes, to keep up their homes and also to enjoy their hobbies. Life demanded your hands and feet be in motion to survive and thrive.

Your Hands Create Happiness

Creating with your hands produces innumerable benefits for you. Creativity produces happiness, fulfillment, and meaning in your life. Creativity takes your mind off your worries and allows you to birth something new into the world. Your hands engage the brain into their rhythm. Remember how you felt after you baked that delicious cake, knitted that scarf or tended to your garden. We humans need a sense of connection, wonder, and pride.

Your Fingers Are an Information Highway to the Brain

You interpret the world through your five senses. Touch (with your fingers and hands) is one of your five sensory organs. The density of feeling receptors on our fingertips is 2,500^2. That is the densest area of receptors in the whole body.

Reasons Hand Movement Improves Your Mental Health
  1. Rhythm of fingers. Moving your fingers creates a meditative effect, peace of mind, serenity.
  2. Creative brain. The right side of the brain is the home to emotions, intuition, creativity, art, and music whereas the left side of the brain logic, language, reasoning, analysis and math reign supreme. When you are focused on creating something it takes your focus away from your emotions in the same area of the brain.
  3. Awareness. Your imagination used with your hands reduces your stressful experiences and you become more aware of your calmness and thus how stressed you were. You begin to value this practice as a relaxation or stress reducer.
  4. Present moment. When you let go and work with your hands you are in the present moment, focused and feel in control. The more in control you feel the less you experience stress.
  5. Experience meaning. You are creating something, expressing yourself when you are creating with your fingers and hands. Expressing yourself relieves your stress and anxiety.
  6. Confidence. Your hand movement helps you become more confident and experience higher self-esteem. You are doing something you enjoy and are confident in your work. This spreads to a greater confidence and sense of control in your life.

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