Work with Your Hands More, It’s Good for the Brain
Do you often find yourself cleaning your room or doing simple chores when under stress? We all do.
It seems like an oxymoron that doing repetitive tasks helps us relax, but we have all experienced this. That’s because working with our hands have a profound effect on our brain chemistry. It can rewire our synaptic connections, helps us calm down, and allows our brain to deep-process information.
The benefits of working with one’s hands have been popular wisdom for centuries. Hobbies like knitting, sewing, pottery, painting, etc. have this effect, so does chores like cooking, cleaning, and washing. Now neuroscience offers proof to that effect as well.
Activates the reward circuit
Using technology to do something does not feel as good as completing it by hand, right? This is because your brain recognizes labor better when it is performed by hand. So when you ditch the machines and work by hand, the sense of reward is greater. For example, when you knit something you can actually see it taking shape before your eyes, and the sense of reward grows incrementally. These tasks don’t take too much brainwork, but still offers you a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, increases your motivation for other things.
Boosts memory and creativity
Repetitive motions tax your brain less because they are a form of habit. When a task doesn’t require much cognitive work, it allows your brain to work on problems ‘behind the scenes’ and process knowledge and information deeply. This leads to greater creativity and breakthroughs. Many scientists and artists have gone on record saying doing chores helped them ideate better. This is the reason behind it.
It calms your mind
Our world is saturated with information, a thousand things make a grab for our attention at every moment. When you work by hand, you need to be attentive and repetitive, which forces your brain to be gathered in one place. It helps remove distractions and sharpens your focus, allowing your oversaturated mind to catch a break.
The hand-brain connection
Evolution has made us prone to using our hands because in the dawn of humanity much of our survival depended on our skills with hand. This is the reason working with our hands gives us an added boost of pleasure because our brain reads it as a sign of ensuring our survival. When we use technology to do our everyday chores, our brain thinks we are not working enough to survive, which in turn can produce chronic stress.
The ability to perform complex tasks with our hands is one of the biggest factors in the fuelling the rise of human civilization and dominance today. Hands are important in the way we have evolved, and using them more connects us to the very core of what makes us humans.
So ditch the dishwasher for a hand-scrubbing. Knit up some scarves instead of scrolling through social media. Your brain will be happier for it.