Have you ever worked on something with your hands that you can feel, touch or eat after and think about how good that felt?
Have you really thought, how impactful working with your hands can be?
Did you ever consider that when you work with your hands, your mind can take a break?
Completing a task with your hands provides you with creativity, pleasure, accomplishment, satisfaction and a sense of autonomy. Not only this, active hands have the ability to help you manage emotions and improve your mental health.
This is important to consider as we set upon the summer holidays, with the longer days and more time on our hands (or on children and teenagers’ hands), why not consider what you can accomplish through tasks that require the use of your hands. There is an old saying that “idle hands are a devil’s playground.”
Each task you do with your hands comes with its own planning, problem solving and results. Your mind focusses on the reward at the end and this sense of achievement does you the world of good.
Matthew B. Crawford, has written a book called ‘Shop Class as Soulcraft’ after he opened his motorbike repair shop. Whilst the book covers a larger agenda around manual trades as a profession, he does talk about how the ability for people to make and fix things – once a common and essential thing to do, is an experience that has now receded from society. In his book, Crawford highlights the case for the gratifications and challenges that working with your hands can bring and the importance of self-reliance.
A term called ‘behaviourceuticals’ has been created by Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond, which describes the positive impact of engaging in activities has on our mental health. In her research Kelly provides evidence on how having to work hard towards a task, significantly improves individuals’ moods. She specifically links the need for hands-on physical activity to activate positive emotions.
Here are some real-world examples, where working with the hands has been the suggested path for improving your mindset.
- Knitting was prescribed by doctors in the 19th century to women who felt over anxious
- Colouring has been coined as an alternative to meditation.
There is a huge list of things that you could embark on, that involve using your hands and below are some ideas. The world is your oyster with this and your focus could be something completely different.Not all hand work requires a lot of resources, they can be as simple as:
- Folding clothes
- Washing the car
- Cleaning the driveway
- Sorting the cupboards, your room, your desk
Other activities may need ‘some’ items to get you started such as:
- Completing a jigsaw puzzle
- Solving the rubix cube
- Wood work
- Painting / Colouring / Drawing
- Clay work
- Lego / Construction
- Cooking / Baking
- Making your own boardgame
- Learn to play chess
All of these suggestions can also beat your boredom. Have a think what you can do that you do not have time to do when you are at school, college or work. See what you have around the house, in the recycling, in the cupboards and try and be creative in your approach. Spend some time making your plan in your mind or on paper, and identify if the activity will need any adult help or supervision. And then go… Embrace the task or challenge you have set yourself.
As you approach your day, think what you can do that does not require a screen (in full, you may still need to utilise technology to access a recipe, instructions or get you started on a new skill). In particular I love what Rob Kennedy does. Rob is the creator of the YouTube Channel – ‘Dad, How Do I?.’ He started making videos through the Coronavirus Pandemic to share with his own children to teach them how to DIY or even learn how to tie a tie. His videos went viral helping teach millions of people how to do practical tasks. This could be your resource for something you want to learn.
There are a wealth of things to try out, one of which could be the thing that is for you and you may surprise yourself on the amount of enjoyment it yields. The worse case scenario is that you find it was not for you and you can try something else another day.
Sometimes, going back to basics and looking at the things your parents or grandparents used to do to pass their time, in the days when the world was less connected and driven by technology is really the best thing. In part we seem to have pushed to a side these basic concepts for bigger, brighter, more expensive, more technological savvy alternatives.
This guest blog was kindly written by our charity ambassador Asha Patel.