7 ways writing by hand can save your brain
It's time to put pen to paper.
Our tech-dependent society has put keyboards at the tips of our fingers at all times, from our smartphones to our laptops. But when was the last time you wrote by hand? Science shows that handwriting can benefit our minds in a number of ways.
We spoke to Dr. Marc Seifer, a graphologist and handwriting expert who wrote The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis in 2008. He shared with us some of the top ways writing by hand can help our brains, beyond just dotting our i's and crossing our t's.
- It has a calming effect.
Writing a calming sentence is a form of graphotherapy, Seifer says. Jotting down a sentence like, "I will be more peaceful" at least 20 times per day can actually have an impact, especially on those with attention deficit disorder.
"This actually calms the person down and retrains the brain," Seifer says.
- It coordinates the left brain and right brain.
Writing something in cursive, that beautiful archaic form, can coordinate the left brain and right brain. How deeply you use each part of the brain varies from person to person (though, we all use both parts).
- It boosts cognitive skills.
For young children, writing by hand is an imperative tool in improving cognitive skills. For example, children learning how to write letters or shapes benefit more when writing out by hand, instead of learning via technology.
- It inspires creativity.
Taking pen to paper inspires more creative thought, because it is a slower process than just typing something on a keyboard, Seifer says.
- It sharpens aging minds.
Writing by hand is a great tool for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they get older.
- It improves memory.
Let's say you're taking notes in class. You want to use your laptop to be quicker, but what if writing by hand could actually help you better remember all the notes you take? Many psychologists believe that writing something by hand has a longer-lasting effect on memory. This works for both adults and kids.
"There have been a number of studies which show that as children develop, those who hand-write have better memory retention," Seifer says.
- It uses more of your brain.
One of the main reasons handwriting benefits your brain in so many ways is the fact that you're using more of it. The linked regions of the brain for reading are activated while writing by hand, but not while typing or texting.
"One key difference is movement. That involves the motor cortex of the brain, so ... you are using more of the brain then when you simply type," Seifer says.