The Benefits of Regular Crafting
Whichever type of crafting you enjoy – whether that’s knitting, weaving, cross-stitching, calligraphy or something entirely different – you likely do it because it’s fun. In our modern world of fast fashion, online shopping and supermarkets, we can buy everything we need in life without lifting a finger to make it. However, some of those crafting processes are just so enjoyable that we continue to pursue them anyway. Perhaps it’s the extra special something that a hand-made gift brings, or maybe you’d rather express your unique style through hand-stitched clothing instead of buying off the rack. Whatever the reason, crafting is still big business despite its lack of necessity in today’s consumerist culture. So, what if we told you that it’s also good for you? That’s right, beyond its status as a rainy day activity, crafting can actively improve your mental health and bring concrete positives to your everyday life.
Mindful and Therapeutic Action
The repetitive action of a craft activity such as knitting has been documented as having a therapeutic effect on the mind. The steady rhythm of creating the stitches can even be classed as a mindful activity, if you adopt the right approach. Many crafts such as knitting, cross-stitching and weaving require a repetition of the same movement over and over again, lulling your mind into a calmer state where thoughts can come and go like ripples in a pond. This leads to crafters feeling happier and more at peace. Repeating this activity regularly could contribute to a general state of mental wellbeing.
In fact, the proof of crafting activities supporting good mental health is so strong that it has been used to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety and dementia. For somebody who is experiencing severe anxiety, the soothing pattern of knitting stitches can help with symptoms such as an elevated heartrate, laboured breathing and tearfulness. It brings the mind back to the here and now, focusing on pleasant physical sensation and an achievable task.
These reasons are also why crafting can be helpful for those experiencing severe depression or even PTSD. It gives a struggling mind something positive to focus on and promotes a sense of achievement and creativity. These feelings can be difficult to access when the world looks dark, so crafting can be a real help to those struggling with poor mental health.Amazingly, crafts like knitting and patchworking have also been linked to the improvement of dementia symptoms or even prevention of the disease itself. It’s thought that the cognitive function needed to execute the complex movements necessary in crafting help to maintain healthy brain function.
That mental dexterity can be helpful for all of us, not just those focused on staving off a degenerative disease of the brain. Crafting can improve patience, hand-eye coordination and problem solving abilities. To keep my mind feeling sharp, I like to complete a weekly Guardian crossword, test my skills at Pokerstars casino and battle my pals in a game of Risk. However, I’ll now be adding a creative crafting skill to my arsenal of tools that help me battle brain fog, inertia and boredom brought about by lack of stimulation.
Employers are catching on to this hidden yet thoroughly enjoyable way to make sure that your mind is firing on all cylinders during the working day. With Mind’s ‘Crafternoons’ and other workplace crafting clubs, employees have a chance to learn a new skill and socialise with colleagues, whereas employers benefit from a happier, more productive workforce.
One of the best by-products of picking up a new craft is that you will undoubtedly also pick up a whole new group of mates. Craft clubs are now as widespread as book clubs, with all kinds of different people meeting up regularly to swap tips, help each other detangle projects and just have a good old chinwag. This social side of crafting can also have enormous benefits for your mental health, as exposure to new people and the formation of new, positive relationships is known to make people healthier and happier. It’s obvious when you think about it, but hobbies bring people pleasure because they can enjoy what they’re interested in alongside likeminded people. Whether that’s cross-stitching portraits of cats or baking elaborate rainbow layer cakes is up to you!
Despite mentioning earlier that these practical skills are not strictly necessary now, crafting can teach you skills that will make life easier. After all, darning the holes in your socks is often much cheaper and is certainly more ethical than buying a new pair from the high street. It also means that if you’re stuck for a last minute birthday card or need to make a celebration cake to very specific requirements, you already have the skills there to make sure that project is successful. Don’t be afraid to really challenge yourself!