Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How can your hands make you happy?

Did you realise the positive effects using your hands can have on improving your health and well being?
I came across a fascinating article today on EcoSalonUsing your hands to soothe the brain, and that really got me thinking.

Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist and author of Lifting Depression reveals "how when you knit a sweater or plant a garden, when you prepare a meal or simply repair a lamp, you are bathing your brain in feel-good chemicals and creating a kind of mental vitamin. Our grandparents and great grandparents, who had to work hard for basic resources, developed more resilience against depression; even those who suffered great hardships had much lower rates of this mood disorder. But with today’s overly-mechanized lifestyle we have forgotten that our brains crave the well-being that comes from meaningful effort.”

Case in point: just yesterday I made time to sew a couple of table runners and it really did change my mood ... for the better! Whether it is because I felt more centred when focussing on one thing or just the process of creating that helped release the feel-good chemicals it is hard to say. Some may suggest it is linked to the sense of achievement -- but as a person who loves to start and often does not finish, I think it is more than just needing 'to make' something that is involved. 
Knitting in front of the TV, pulling weeds from the garden or even assembling an IKEA table all seem to take us out of our day to day thoughts. It is a one-to-one partnership with a spade, knitting needle or alan key which helps us stay motivated with life.

With our passive lifestyles today, we need to make a deliberate effort to connect movement with positive feelings in order to help stimulate the brain and become resilient to possible feelings of depression.
 So enough sitting there reading this blog - off you go to knead some dough, sew a quilt or darn a sock (bet you haven't done that in a long time). 

 Would love to hear what you did after reading this post!


Astrid said...

I couldn't agree more! Happiness comes from mixing pleasure and meaning. Maybe it;s because we all like to feel useful! Off to cross-stich my first ornament for next Christmas!!!!! (in front of the telly)

aracne said...

Ingrid, this is an awsome post. It gives a scientific explanation of why I feel so well when I use my hands to make something creative, or why I find baking so fulfilling. Before I discovered my gluten intollerance, kneading bread was a soothing excercise.

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