Fun fact - did you know that using your thumb requires more brain activity than moving a larger area of our body, such as our back or our legs? 

Engaging in activities like creating art or executing tasks with our hands activates a large part of our brain’s complex cortex, producing an effort-driven reward circuit, or the neurological system in the brain that incentivizes and reinforces certain behaviors associated with these healthy activities. Studies show that the more we use our hands and activate this effort-based reward circuit in our brain, the greater our sense of psychological well being. 

You can think of the effort-driven rewards circuit as the fuel that is generated by doing certain types of physical activities - especially ones that involve your hands - drawing, collaging, knitting, gardening, cooking, etc. Such actions and their associated thoughts and feelings change the chemical makeup of your brain, resulting in a calmer, more contentful and satisfied state. 

Unfortunately, when we are stressed, a lot of us default to scrolling through social media, zoning out to television, and mindlessly eating junk food. These may be relaxing in the moment, but they aren’t nourishing your brain and you usually don’t feel that much better afterwards. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, pick up a pen or pencil and let your mind wander and you mindlessly doodle for 15-20 minutes (or more if you have the time) You will absolutely without a doubt feel better afterwards!