Simple ways your hands can build a happier you
So, I've mentioned my current obsession. The book, The Creative Cure with its collection of studies that verify the phenomena I'd noticed so many times in facilitating my Art Parties.
Over and over, I've see the same thing. Folks would arrive bleary-eyed from their trying day and then leave visibly transformed. They were bubbly and radiated joy.
They confirmed the work of authors, Carrie and Alton Barron. "Purposeful creative hand use enhances well-being in our technologically saturated culture."
In beginning to unpack and share the book's contents, I present a few suggestions you may test. Here's a list of ten simple activities that are sure to relax and revive your weary self.
10 Ideas for 'Hand to Brain' Happiness
#1 - Write a letter by hand.
Research has shown that the general act of writing by hand can promote physical and mental benefits, from improving learning abilities to increasing a more positive outlook on life. And when it comes to writing letters or postcards, the impact lasts far longer than any of today’s high tech versions of communication. From the care and thoughtfulness of the sender to the value experienced by the recipient, no true match exists for this old-time, traditional means of conversation. So, grab some paper and start writing! Besides, you’ll also probably initiate a reciprocal effect of some similar act of thoughtful goodwill coming right back to you! “Give and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:38) In general, rediscovering the art of letter writing has many virtues.
#2 - Watch a sunrise or sunset then swish color.
Watching a sunset or a sunrise evokes a sense of awe and can help you slow down time and regain a feeling of having more control of your day. So take a few moments to take in the beauty. Then grab a tray of watercolors, some paper, a journal or a sketchpad, and swish some similar colors around. Don’t try to recreate what you saw, but rather simply enjoy the sensation of the water as it mixes with the paint and the look of color as it oozes over your paper. Play. Keep it simple and savory.
#3 - Twirl around to some tunes.
Even simple head bobbing to music can activate and release the pleasure centers of your brain that are actually the same areas activated by some drugs. Dance is a natural part of being human. It impacts our simple sense of pleasure and happiness. Even just spinning on the spot in your kitchen can switch your mental state to a higher level of joy. So, test it out yourself. Give yourself a gift. Put on a great tune, twirl and twist some! You’ll feel lighter and more energized with a sunnier disposition. Here’s a great ‘feel good’ playlist for you!
Try the Top 20 'Happy' Songs of All Time | Billboard
#4 - Play with some cool colors.
Cool colors, those that are green, blue, and purple, are calming and soothing. In particular, purple is often used to help spark creativity as it’s a mixture of blue (calm) and red (intense). So pick up some colored pencils, gel pens or watercolors and doodle away. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It isn’t so much what you can do, but what you do do. It’s the process itself that provides the value. We must learn how to treasure the process of doing. We've got to release ourselves from the noose of perfection. That's where our wellbeing can be nurtured and self-repair begin. to take shape. If the idea of using color as therapy intrigues you, you'll love this article!
#5 - Stir up a new recipe.
Getting your hands dirty and doing something physical, with a satisfying end product, is part of a great unwinding process. Whether it’s making a unique rendition of an old time favorites like banana bread or sampling a recipe from an entirely new genre of cuisine, there’s something to be said for the glorious mindfulness of cooking. You can put on some music or a podcast and slip into a mild trance. And when you wake up, voila! I fell in love with Sarah Von Bargen's practice of trying new things. I think you will too!
#6 - Commit to a DIY project.
We’re hardwired to create things with our hands, and in this age of tech, our brains truly need the handmade self-expression. We experience satisfaction and a sense of well-being after we exert meaningful effort with our hands. It fosters pride and satisfaction, but also provides psychological benefits. When you make something, not only do you feel productive, but the engagement and exploration involved in the doing have the ability to move your mind and elevate your mood. So choose a project. It can be the simplest on Pinterest. Commit to it and see your disposition shift to the sunny side! Here are some suggestions for you to consider!
#7 - Dare to doodle.
Studies indicate an enormously high potential for evoking positive emotions happens through all art-making, but in doodling especially. Experiments show that while doodling, our blood flow is increased in the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that’s related to our brain's reward and pleasure circuit. An interesting side note is this. Tests revealed the highest levels of experiencing pleasure happened while doodling within or around a circular shape. So, give yourself a gift. Draw a circle. Take 15 minutes and luxuriate in doodling! This TED talk will confirm the power of the doodle!
#8 - Say ‘Yes!” to journaling.
Writing by hand, on paper, helps the brain regulate emotion. Findings suggest that keeping a diary, making up poetry or scribbling down song lyrics can help people get over emotional distress. This act of writing accesses our left brain, which is analytical and rational. While our left brain is occupied, our right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use all of our brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around us. Here's a great Huffington Post article to help you get ready, set, and start!
#9 - Write a note of encouragement.
This item, though similar to #1, is more specific and focused in its intention. Think of someone who may need a word of encouragement or expression of appreciation. Write them a handwritten note. Did you know that receiving a compliment or verbal applause has the same effect on our brains as receiving cash? And while we can't force others to compliment us, when we give compliments to others we also reap some reward. That's because we feel good when we make other people feel good. It's a win-win! This clever post will inspire and humor you to make encouragement a practice.
#10 - Bake some cookies.
Psychologists have begun devoting time exploring baking as a therapeutic tool to boost levels of optimism and overall feelings of well-being. They’re finding that the positive effects they are seeing are partly due to the way in which baking provides small tasks to focus on in a manner that’s actually similar to meditation. It increases mindfulness. In this way, baking is a type of therapy that requires us to be both physically and mentally attentive and that provides us with a productive outlet for negative emotions and a safe space be inwardly rejuvenated. And here's a lovely Huffington Post article about the benefits of baking for others.
So, go forth and bake! Write! Journal! Doodle! Paint!
I hope you enjoy these! Have fun! Let me know how they go for you! And I’d love to see pics of your creations!