Give yourself a hand

I’ve been thinking about something so ordinary that you might overlook it and miss out on a real opportunity to improve your mental health. It’s your hands. More specifically, it’s the connection between your hands and your brain and the learning that takes place that way. Or the mood elevation that comes with it.

For instance, compare writing in longhand to typing on a computer. If I’m taking notes, writing it down may feel slower but the information sticks better. If I’m sending a note or letter, writing it out rather than sending an email requires slowing down and being more thoughtful. Even writing out a list for the grocery store – I can’t remember how many times I’ve written basically the same list over the last decades. You’d think I wouldn’t need to do it anymore. I typically get the same things over and over. But if I’ve written a list and then forgotten it, I can usually picture it in my mind’s eye and remember that one item that got me started and then "see" the rest of it. That’s because of that connection between the hand and the brain.

On the other hand (see what I did there?), if you want to lift your mood, try doing something with your hands besides scrolling or texting on your phone because that ain't gonna do it. Draw a picture. Paint a wall. Pick some flowers. Braid your hair. Rearrange the books on your shelf. Sweep the floor. Just pick up a piece of fruit and toss it back and forth. You don’t even have to have an end in mind; the point isn’t to accomplish something. Just do something that requires the slightest dexterity. Your brain will thank you. So will your mood.

The slogan “move a muscle, change a thought” has been popularized by AA and it’s true. Nobody has to teach you anything new. You’ve got the power already. You're much handier than you give yourself credit for.

So, go ahead. Move! And give yourself a hand.

Peace and love to you in the week ahead.