Bare Hands Blog
Woodworking and Mental Health
By Shane Thomas
During such unprecedented times there is no doubt that many people face added stress, anxiety, and depression. A global pandemic and rising national divide at the macro level, combined with health concerns, financial struggles, and being stuck at home at the micro level. Not only that, but people are also more attached to their devices than ever. These are some of the reasons I personally took up woodworking. I enjoy the way it takes my mind off all the stresses of life.
Whole Brain Activity
Woodworking is said to be a whole brain activity. If you’ve ever worked on a project you are likely familiar with how engaging it is. You are working with your hands, which means you are using your cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for coordination of movement. Your frontal cortex is called into action when you are thinking about your plans, designing, or doing any other creative work with your project. In addition, the arithmetic required to do your measurements and bring your project to life, engage multiple parts of the brain. There are many proven health benefits to whole brain activities. Keeping your brain sharp for many years to come. Even helping to reduce chances of developing dementia later in life.
Serotonin, a chemical produced by the brain associated with positive emotion, is heightened when one is engaged with woodworking. For me, this is a huge benefit of woodworking. If you have ever read the first rule of the book 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson you will have a good understanding of the benefit of serotonin on not only your emotion but your life. Positive emotion gives you energy, energy increases your likelihood to engage in an activity such as woodworking, woodworking produces more serotonin. This cyclical effect can ripple through your life and have an incredible impact.
Other things can also influence your serotonin levels. Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors can produce spikes in serotonin, but are short lived. Often only hours after an addictive behavior, serotonin can drop to levels lower than before they were to begin with. It’s no wonder people go back to that behavior again and again. One is even more likely to go back to that behavior when they don’t have something better to replace it with. Woodworking is an amazing activity to substitute an old habit with. As we’ve talked about it is a whole brain activity, so it leaves no room for ruminating thoughts that lead to trouble. It takes time and can fill many hours of your day with a positive, healthy activity. Far preferred to filling that time with your phone, bad habits, or just time alone with unsettled thoughts.
Which brings me to community. There is an incredible community of woodworkers across the globe. People who are eager to share, teach, learn, or just reside in a positive environment of creativity. We all need community in our lives. We were created as social beings and thrive when we are with others.
So grab a piece of wood, and decide what you want to create. It can be anything you want. Just put the responsibility on your shoulders to make it happen, and you will be amazed at what you can do. Then do it again and begin to see the rewards your work beyond the pieces you create. Rewards to your mind, your family, your friends, and your community.
5000 Goodman Drive,
Timnath, CO 80547
By appointment during these hours:
Tues-Thurs: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Fri: 10 a.m - 7 p.m
Sat: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m