Crafting offers many benefits to those who practise it: the opportunity to express their creativity, learn a new skill, and of course to enjoy the satisfaction of completing a beautiful project! But if you ask a crafter the question ‘why do you craft’, many will reply that it also provides a valuable boost to their mood and wellbeing. Here we explore the ways in which crafting can be beneficial to our mental health, and help us to connect with others.
Crafting and ‘flow’
One way in which crafting can be beneficial to our wellbeing is by encouraging us to focus on the present moment, a practice that is also known as mindfulness, and which is promoted by the NHS as a potential tool to help our mental health. Learning a new craft engages both our hands and our brains, allowing us to become more grounded in the here and now. Those suffering from anxiety could find that it helps to shift their focus away from negative thought patterns, or worries about the future - and there’s nothing like the prospect of accidentally stabbing yourself with a felting or embroidery needle to help focus the mind on the task at hand!
Although it can be tempting to try to multitask by watching TV programmes or listening to podcasts while you are crafting, concentrating fully and mindfully on your craft is more likely to lead you to experience a state of mind that has been described as ‘flow’, where you are completely immersed in the task at hand, which can leave us feeling satisfied, fulfilled, and even euphoric! (The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who along with his colleague Jeanne Nakamura has championed the benefits of the ‘flow state’, even argues that it might be the secret to happiness!)
Connecting with others
As well as the benefits that we can draw from creative pastimes such as sewing and needle felting, crafting can also offer us many opportunities to connect with others. Investing the time and effort into creating a handmade gift for a loved-one, for example, can provide a purpose to our crafting, and in our experience is always appreciated!
A survey of over 3,500 knitters conducted by the University of Cardiff, for example, found that those who crafted with others, such as in a knitting group, derived even greater satisfaction from it. Why not investigate local crafting groups (many libraries, for example, organise crafting workshops), or join an online community of crafters, such as our Craft Your Way to Happiness group?
Joining a group can offer benefits to both beginners and experienced crafters alike, offering a space in which seasoned crafters can share their skills and mentor others, while providing beginners with the opportunity to learn and improve!
Enjoying the process
As a final note, we’d encourage all crafters to try to enjoy the process of making, without focusing too much on the result of our labours. Although we can derive enormous satisfaction from the achievement of learning new skills, completing a difficult project, and observing our progress over time, we firmly believe that the joy is in the making, and would encourage you to mindfully enjoy every step of your crafting journey!
How you find crafting benefits your mood and wellbeing? Please share your comments in the box below - and if you're enjoying our blog posts, you can join our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox!