In #20, I talked about the benefits of learning something new. In today’s tip, #44, I’m adding making something with your hands, which could also be learning something new. This was the case for me recently with TWO new things I’ve learnt which were also things I made with my hands.
Learning something new fires up our neurons (brain cells). Our brains are more excited by new things and become extra alert with the chemical dopamine. We build new neural pathways as we learn our new skill and have the psychological satisfaction of a challenge (because new things are a little harder than familiar things) followed by mastery. The new thing might be really difficult or quite simple: it’s still challenging and therefore satisfying.
#44 Make something with your hands
I think this is especially important if you spend your days at a computer or desk, or any occupation which doesn’t involve making things with your hands. The benefits are huge: it’s good for dexterity, building neural pathways for those very important human assets: fingers and thumbs; it’s satisfying and creative; it’s usually something you can’t rush, and rushing is something most of us do too much; and you can think while you’re doing it, mulling things over, having imaginative thoughts, slowing your brain so that it can actually absorb and process, instead of just reacting and responding. It very often saves money, too. I saved a LOT of money creating the buttonhole flower decorations for the men in the wedding party.
I have to say it wasn’t terribly relaxing, though! Well, actually making them was relaxing and seeing them smartly on the men’s suits was a wonderful feeling, but planning and worrying about them was a bit intense because I couldn’t do them too far in advance. And this is not one of my existing skills so I had to learn from the start – thanks, YouTube videos! In a buttonhole posy, every flower or element has to be individually wired, with the stems then cut off and the wires twisted together and bound with special waxed tape. It was intricate and fiddly and tough on my fingers and thumbs.
But I am SO glad I did it!
The elements are: eucalyptus (from my neighbour’s garden); thistle and gypsophila (local florist); and hawthorn berries (from hedgerows). Bound with green florist’s tape and then finished with navy washi tape and a tiny burgundy ribbon. (Thanks to my niece, Megan, for the little bows – great finishing touches.)
The other new thing I learnt to do with my hands was how to make rose petal confetti. You might think it’s simple but it took a lot of working out. I had to discover (partly by trial and error, partly from online instructions and partly from a friend who had done it) things like what petals were best, the mistakes that could be made (overcooking, undercooking, storing before fully dry, trying to dry a slightly manky petal etc) and then I had to work out the best way to store, transport and then deliver the confetti into the hands of the wedding guests at the right time. And worry about whether it would be raining…
It worked brilliantly and felt very creative and organic. They smell gorgeous, too.
Don’t have time for this kind of thing?
Nor do I, in theory. I won’t bore you by how many projects I have on the go (book deadline, anyone??) but you know, if you want to do something, you’ll find/make the time. The benefits to your brain, wellbeing and therefore function and success will be noticeable: get creative with your hands and learn something new. You won’t regret it.
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Looking for signed books to give as presents? Check out my Christmas offer – till Dec 14th only! I’ll include some confetti, if you like! Just ask 🙂