As I get older, it seems that I’m constantly getting these nagging injuries from doing my crazy CrossFit workouts. (You can ask the wife, she’s tired of hearing me complain).
I’ve tweaked my shoulder, left knee, right trap (upper back), forearm, and; most recently, my right bicep.
I had never hurt my bicep that much before and was surprised at how much it affected my day-to-day activities.
It affected them so much that I had to rely on my left arm to pick up the slack.
The incident reminded me of some show that I watched that discussed how much of a benefit it was to use your non-dominant hand.
You may be surprised to learn that there are benefits to you when using your opposite hand – I know I was.
It feels awkward and you are likely to have much less control over what your non-dominant hand can do, but when you use your opposite hand you are “growing” your brain! I used my injury as a chance to permanently grow my brain forevermore.
I made a vow to start using my left hand for as many tasks that were previously always done with my right. It was time to grow my brain. Trust me. I need all the help I can get. 🙂
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This Is Your Brain
The human brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation. The brain continuously adapts, grows, and rewires itself through the growth of new neurons.
When people age, it’s common that they experience memory loss and sometimes their fine motor skills – but unless the mental decline is caused by disease, most age-related memory and motor skill ability loss is from lack of brain exercise. If you don’t use your brain, it loses its knowledge.
This Is Your Brain: Left-Handed
Using your opposite hand will strengthen neural connections in your brain, and even grow new ones. It’s similar to how physical exercise improves your body’s functioning and grows muscles.
Try using your non-dominant hand to write. Use it to control the computer mouse or television remote. Brush your teeth with your other hand.
You’ll probably notice it’s much harder to be precise with your movements. When I first started to brush my teeth with my left hand, it was hard to actually move my hand instead of my head.
Using your left hand might remind you how you felt when you were first learning to write your name or tie your shoelaces. You will probably feel awkward, but this just means you are teaching your brain a new skill.
Repetitively using your opposite hand will eventually build up the knowledge and ability to use it with better functioning, although it’s probably not going to become as easy to use as your dominant hand.
Your Opposite Hand – Unleashes Creativity
Using your non-dominant, or opposite hand confuses your brain. The brain is in charge of keeping you functioning and it does that with predictability.
It understands the way our bodies work and behaves in the world, but when we try writing with our opposite hand – it confuses the brain and it’s efficiency.
The brain that operates effectively for our everyday activities may not be the same parts of the brain that allow us to be creative.
If you’d like to unleash some hidden creativity, try writing with your opposite hand. As bad as my penmanship is, writing with my left hand isn’t really that worse 🙂 It is sometimes the nudge our practical brain needs to “move out of the way” for the creative juices to get flowing again!
The non-dominant hand is actually linked to the non-dominant hemisphere in your brain – the one that isn’t exercised as often. There are studies that show that when you use your dominant hand, one hemisphere of the brain is active.
When you use the non-dominant hand, both hemispheres are activated, which may result in thinking differently and becoming more creative.
What I Now Do With My Left Hand
I was amazed at how challenging it was in the beginning to use my left hand. I felt like a doofus and realized how uncoordinated my left hand really was.
Now, I consciously make an effort to use my left hand as much as I can. Here are some of the day-to-day activities that I’ve been able to successfully convert to southpaw:
- Brushing my teeth
- Pouring Drinks Milk/Water from Brita Pitcher/My health shake from the blender. (I’m amazed at how messy I was pouring my health shake out of a blender)
- Opening jars
- Scooping protein powder/baby formula
- Washing my body
- Cleaning dishes
- Occasionally use my computer mouse (I’m seriously considering buying a left-handed mouse)
- Buttering toast (try spreading peanut butter on toast. It’s a whole different world)
- Carrying the car seat
- Using a can opener
- Eating with chopsticks (this one is really tough)
Can You Benefit From Using Your Non-dominant Hand?
Some therapists have used an exercise where they ask their patients to write with their opposite hands, and it allows people to access some suppressed emotions. If this interests you, contact a trained professional to help you through this activity.
For use in everyday life, however, you can simply try writing with your opposite hand a little each day, asking your “everyday brain” to move aside and see if it helps you become more creative or triggers improved memory functioning.
Have you ever tried using your non-dominant hand for daily tasks? If so, share your story. Did you feel as clumsy as I did?