Raise Your Mood With Your Hands

>> Saturday

* Rates of depression have risen in recent decades, at the same time that people are enjoying time-saving conveniences such as microwave ovens, e-mail, prepared meals, and machines for washing clothes and mowing lawns.

* People of earlier generations, whose lives were characterized by greater efforts just to survive, para­dox­ically, were mentally healthier. Human ancestors also evolved in conditions where hard physical work was nece­ssary to thrive.

* By denying our brains the rewards that come from ­anticipating and executing complex tasks with our hands, we undercut our mental well-being.

The above is a description of an article called Depressingly Easy, written by Kelly Lambert, whose book, Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist's Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain's Healing Power, turns many of the prevalent ideas about what improves your mood upside down. If you have difficulty maintaining a good mood, even when you try mental techniques, I urge you to read her book.

The basic premise is that when you use your hands to make things, it stimulates the motor circuits of your brain, and it stimulates them far more than using any other part of your body. The motor circuits of your brain, when you stimulate them like this, automatically cause your brain to produce hormones that raise your mood.

The amount of your motor circuits devoted to your hands is far more than the circuits dedicated to the entire rest of your body. If you want to stimulate the brain hormones most responsible for feeling good, use your hands to make things. Read more about it here: Depressingly Easy.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

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The Mountains Are Calling

>> Friday

From ScienceDaily.com comes a study about what the Japanese call "Forest Bathing:"

A new report published today reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.

Populations with higher levels of greenspace exposure are also more likely to report good overall health — according to global data involving more than 290 million people.

Lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn't been fully understood.

"We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost."

Read the rest of the ScienceDaily article here: It's Official, Spending Time Outside Is Good For You.

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