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Why you should use your opposite hand

The benefits of using your non-dominant hand

Unless you’re lucky enough to be ambidextrous, the chances are you use one hand to do everything. Whether you’re right or left-handed, many of us get into the habit of using that one hand for writing, brushing our teeth, and picking things up, until it feels strange to use the other hand!

However, although this may feel comfortable, sometimes it’s good to push out of your comfort-zone and challenge yourself! Many of us are likely to have tried brushing our teeth or writing with the opposite hand, found it incredibly difficult, and gone straight back to our usual ways.

But what about if you tried to continue using your other hand? You may think you don’t need to train your left/right hand to do tasks that you can already do with the other side, but there are some surprising benefits that can bring…

It improves brain function and coordination

Because different sides of the brain control different sides of your body, using one hand all the time means one side of the brain works more than the other. Rather bizarrely, the right-hand side of the brain controls your left side and the left-hand side of the brain controls the right.

If you begin using the other hand, however, you start to wake up and work the other side of the brain. For example, if you’re right-handed, the right-hand side of the brain, is worked less than the left. As the right-hand side also controls things like problem-solving and creativity, it would be clearly beneficial to get used to activating and working this side more! As it is effectively like learning a new skill, using the “wrong” hand regularly will make new connections and work both sides of the brain, improving its function and performance.

Being able to use both hands will also help with coordination. If you use one side of your body more than the other, the effects can be felt in the brain, your muscles, and all over your body. Training to use the opposite arm and hand will help you to feel more controlled over your whole body, as well as stimulating the brain with these new and unfamiliar actions.

One simple, everyday change you could make to wake up this side of the brain is brushing your teeth with your opposite hand every morning. This will be messy and hard, but it will also work that key side of the brain and may help you tackle the challenges you confront throughout your day!

It gives you an opportunity to learn new habits

Starting a habit is hard, as anyone who has attempted to keep a New Year’s Resolution can attest to! It takes motivation, dedication, and willpower to eliminate old habits or start new ones, which can explain why so many people struggle to do this. Doing tasks with the opposite hand, such as brushing your teeth, can be an easy and low-pressure way to practice the challenge of starting new habits.

Just because it’s low-pressure doesn’t mean it would be easy though! As anyone who’s tried brushing their teeth with the ‘wrong’ hand will say, after one failed attempt at a stroke you just want to switch back to normal. Why continue doing something so difficult and frustrating when you know you can do it without thinking with the other hand?

Well, by forcing yourself to use the opposite hand, and setting yourself a very specific goal to make sure you do it, you are working your willpower which may help you stick to future tasks and goals you set yourself. It may not be fun when you start but, if you manage to continue with it, using the “wrong” hand will soon become second-nature and you will believe you can tackle anything!

Start off your day with a “win”

Brushing your teeth is something everyone does in the morning (I hope!) If, at the start of every day, you brush your teeth with your opposite hand then you can already say you’ve accomplished something challenging! It may not be much, but this “victory” can set the tone for the rest of the day and help you to meet and fulfil other challenges the day throws at you.

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