Mental Health Benefits of Crafting
Do you have a hobby? Perhaps it’s sports, or bird watching, or salsa dancing. Many of us find an outlet completely unrelated to the way we earn a living, and for a lot of people, crafting fills the bill.
Betsan Corhill is a knitting therapist who surveyed 3,545 knitters. More than half of the participants in the study reported feeling “very happy” after knitting. They said they took up the activity specifically for relaxation and stress relief, and the frequent knitters reported more mental and emotional relief than those who engaged in knitting less frequently. The said they felt calmer, happier, less sad, less anxious and more confident.
You may experience even more benefits when you craft with friends. Crafting helps mind and brain function by improving mindfulness and problem-solving, and it supports improved hand and eye coordination and spatial awareness. You learn patience and perseverance, increase in creativity, and facilitate the memory formation and retrieval capabilities of your brain.
Reporting on her research, Corhill said,
Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.
Using knitting to achieve a meditative state of mind could enable a much wider population to experience the benefits of meditation, as it does not entail having to understand, accept or engage in a prolonged learning period of the practice. It happens as a natural side-effect of knitting.
Knitting has even been called “the new yoga.” Other research has pointed out the commonality of mindfulness and meditation and knitting, sewing, weaving and crocheting. All these crafts have a positive impact of personal well-being and mental health.
If knitting doesn’t appeal to you, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to a thread and needle craft. Neuroscientists are also studying the benefits to your health of cooking, drawing, photography, art, music, cake decorating, and even crossword puzzles.
Creativity supports the release by the brain of dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. The focus and concentration required for crafting can alleviate depression and give you a “natural high.” Scientists also cite the link between creative activities and a reduction in cognitive impairment associated with aging.
Other activities that benefit your brain? Try cross-stitching, photography, scrapbooking – even reading helps significantly reduces your stress and supports your mental health.