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The therapeutic benefits of working with your hands

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

In my line of my work, I see tangible, physical benefits that result from my efforts.

That’s part of the reason I seriously enjoy physical labor and yard/hard work. After a few hours in the yard, I can actually see evidence of my achievements. It must be from the directional upbringing from my Father.

Quote I'd hear him say: ''Hard Work Never Goes Undone''.

I’ve know for years that when spring rolls around, I look forward to mowing, mulching, weeding, planting, pruning, etc. As I dig in the dirt, my mind declutters. Distractions and stress diminish as the dirt accumulates under my fingernails. There are lots of anecdotal reasons for this spike in wellbeing—but I was curious if there was any science to support my own experience.

Research shows that bacteria naturally found in soil, called Mycobacterim vaccae:

  • Activates a group of neurons that produces the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin – at appropriate levels, is key for regulating mood and contributes to better emotional stability and a better social life, not to mention decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Contributes to increased productivity (speed) and less anxiety.

In fact, it’s not just about digging in the dirt. There are compelling arguments about the benefits of working with your hands.

Working with Clay is beneficial for our health also.

The art of pottery is oftentimes described as therapeutic and relaxing. While spinning clay, your mind, and body are in natural synergy, wrapped around your creative ambitions and goals. This thoughtful, artistic activity can open up the mind and relieve you of any outside worries.

So whether digging in the dirt or sculpting with clay but maybe not combining the two and whistling while you work, the point is that you should do the things you know, and that our own self & science has shown, will make you feel better. Your health and wellbeing may be the most important strategies for not just surviving, but thriving, in these times of high stress, dissatisfaction, frustration, and uncertainty.

"Give it a Try" - Kelly McGrath

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