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Crafting better mental health

Posted by Allison Barnes on
Crafting better mental health

I love crafting! That might be obvious since I’m an indie yarn dyer but I love pursuing creative activities in areas that aren’t just yarn-related. One of the big reasons why is because of the way it makes me feel.

I’ve previously written about the research around the positive impact that knitting has on mental health; I think it’s really incredible how craft has such a benefit to our emotional well-being, memory retention, and so much more. 

But it’s not just knitting that has these benefits!

All crafts have the potential to provide the enjoyment and stimulation of making something - the balance of repetitive tasks, creativity, and skill development are factors in what makes crafting so beneficial. 

As a professional creative (or enthusiastic hobbyist), it’s okay to feel uninspired by your go-to craft. Sometimes your usual favourite activity just doesn’t help chase the blues away! I love using these times to explore new things and learning a new technique because it can make your mind focus on a new task and enjoy the process. Sometimes I learn something new within a craft I already have experience in, like trying a complex lace pattern in a knitting or crochet project, or doing something completely different, like enjoying an afternoon of working on a paint-by-numbers project. 

One of the other benefits that come from crafting is the social interactions it can help facilitate. In an Australian study about men’s community woodworking spaces, they found that participation led to lower levels of self-reported depression, citing that the environment provided a “sense of purpose through relationships and in the sharing of skills, new routines, motivation, and enjoyment for its members. The shed encouraged increased physical activity and use of cognitive skills. Finally, participants reported feelings of pride and achievement which had an impact on their sense of self-worth.”

Research is also being done on the ways craft can support the well-being and development of cognitive skills for stroke and dementia patients! An anthropologist in Inverness, Stephanie Bunn, has been studying the impact of basket-making on stroke recovery and has found that the spatial and gestural practices it involves can re-establish neural pathways and improve brain plasticity; she’s found it has also helped with dementia patients and with triggering hand memories. 

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