Health Benefits of Crafting
I love the feeling I get after completing an art project that I was working on. I stare at it. Sit back and smile. That’s it! The joy of creating something with your hands makes you feel amazing. You may be feeling stressed or tense before you start but at the end you feel calm and happy — satisfied deep in your soul. There is something to be said about crafting and its effects on one’s well-being!
More and more research is coming out that proves arts and crafts is not just good for fun but it’s good for your mental and physical health.
Dr. Daisy Fancourt of the University College of London COVID-19 Social Study tracked the arts participation and mental health of 72,000 UK adults on a weekly basis since March 2020. Data from the study suggests that people spending 30 minutes or more each day during the pandemic on arts activities like reading for pleasure, listening to music, or engaging in a creative hobby reported lower rates of depression and anxiety (Bloomberg, 2020). These participants also experienced a greater sense of life satisfaction even during the height of the pandemic.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. The most common medical treatments for depression in the past use to focus on medications and psychological counseling. In recent years, alternative treatments involving creativity and crafting are getting more attention as researchers begin to study the overall effects and benefits on people. Some studies suggest that painting pictures, making music, sewing skirts, or creating cakes produce a positive benefit on the mental health of individuals.
“It is time to recognise the powerful contribution the arts can make to health and wellbeing. They can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.” – Unknown
If you are already a crafter, I believe you understand how doing arts and crafts have contributed greatly to your own over health and wellbeing. In fact, you may probably be like most crafters who live by the crafting motto “I craft so I won’t hurt you”. On the other hand, if you are not a serious crafter research has shown, you can still find benefits by just adding a little bit of crafting time to your life.
The Great British Creativity Test examined how creative activities can help us manage our moods and make us feel happier. With over 50,000 participants, this research concluded that even a small amount of creative activity can improve your wellbeing in three main ways:
A distraction tool by using creativity to avoid stress.
A contemplation tool by using creativity to give us the mind space to reassess problems in our lives and make plans.
A means of self-development to face challenges by building up self-esteem and confidence.
This means that little doodling you find yourself doing while in a meeting or on hold during a call is helping your mental health.
What are some of the other benefits of crafting?
Reduces stress and irritability. According to Stress.org today’s society is more stressed than ever. In fact, stress is a leading cause of premature deaths. If you have a lot of stress in your everyday life, it is something you need to take seriously and work to correct. Why? The effects of stress can cause a lot of harm ranging from migraines and fatigue to heart failure and early memory loss. Reducing your stress through management techniques will help you lead a healthier, longer life. Studies show that positive creative outlets help to balance out your moods and relieve the effects of stress in your life.
Helps relieve and reduce depression and anxiety. One of the biggest health benefits of crafting is how this activity helps to relieve depression and anxiety. Studies show that repetitiveness of the certain arts and crafts has been proven to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant, which is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. An article by CNN discusses a study that involved more than 3,500 knitters, and 81% of the individuals who suffered from depression reported feeling happier after knitting—more than half of them reported feeling very happy!
A study on clay work published in Art Therapy suggests that handling clay is effective for reducing negative moods. Another study finds that creativity allows people to change their perspective on life, which then helps them turn negative emotions into positive ones.
Decreased risk of cognitive impairment as you age. Many studies have shown how crafting and leisure activities can aid in slowing down age-related memory loss. These crafts are also beneficial for soothing individuals’ already experiencing signs of dementia.
“Crafting is unique”, said Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist. Dr. Levisay says, “in its ability to involve many different areas of your brain. It can work your memory and attention span while involving your visuospatial processing, creative side and problem-solving abilities.”
Additionally, scientists are beginning to study leisure activities’ impact on the brain. Playing games, reading books and crafting could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%, according to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry.
Can help with sleeping better. Not being able to sleep is a terrible feeling and predicament to be in. Knowing you are tired but not able to fall asleep makes for long nights and even longer days. Research has shown that crafting provides benefits to one’s sleeping habits. For example, the repetitive nature of crocheting or knitting can produce a calming effect on a person’s body and mind which helps you to relax. A study by Professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute found that 100% of insomnia patients reported improved sleep with 90% being able to eliminate medication in a program that included knitting.
Helps with the grief process. Anyone who has experienced a loss understands how difficult it can be to deal with whether unexpected or expected. For example, the loss of a loved one, losing your job or maybe a relationship, can bring on the process of grieving. Understand grief is natural process. Everyone grieves at some point in some way, shape or form. But if you can recognize what you are feeling, be mindful of yourself(health) and get help, you will get through this process. Finding something that brings you comfort is an easy way to help in the healing process. “Creating artwork following a tragic loss can be very therapeutic, helping you to express and release your own painful, stressful emotions. Creative arts can help you express emotions that are very hard to put into words,” said Jennie Wrigt R.N., Editor for Recover from Grief.
Builds community and friendships. It really helps to have a community of people you can talk with and share with when you are going through a difficult time. Crafting could become more than just an outlet for your creativity. It could be the place where you find the mental and emotional support you need.
These are just a few benefits of crafting for your mental health. With more and more research coming out proving the health benefits of crafting, expect to see a lot more resources on how to improve your overall well-being using the arts and crafts. So why not get started by picking up a brush, a crochet needle, or blank piece of cardstock and get to crafting! It’s not just fun but it’s good for you!
For more tips on ways to improve your mental health through crafting, please check out these resources: