Crafting heals us.
It doesn’t matter which craft we engage in. As long as we are doing something creative with our hands, we begin to heal our minds.
Of course, each craft has its own particular benefits. For example, knitting and crochet both use repetitive motions that have been found to release serotonin. This, in turn, helps to alleviate depression.
Some crafts require more patience than others. Certain crafts have a higher bar of entry. In other words, they are more difficult to learn, therefore they can be more frustrating than healing in the beginning.
Nevertheless, there are certain traits that almost all crafts have in common. Here are five common ways that crafting heals us:
1. Crafting Distracts The Mind
Many mental health conditions are characterized by problematic thinking. For example, ruminating thoughts worsen depression. Similarly, OCD is characterized by obsessions, which are unwanted, intrusive thoughts.
Crafting can often provide a focused distraction for the mind. When you have to pay attention to a crochet pattern, you can’t worry about a problem. When you need to figure out the next stitch in your quilt, your mind forgets whatever it was obsessing over.
Distraction is not always a solution for mental health issues. However, it can be a great tool in the toolbox.
2. It Feels Good to Be Productive
So many mental health issues eat away at our ability to do the things that we want to do. For example, depression can cause fatigue. This, in turn, makes it impossible to complete even simple everyday tasks, let alone to take on bigger endeavors.
The less we do, the less capable we feel. It can seem like we “should” be able to be productive, and we may feel like failures when we don’t accomplish anything. Crafting can be one thing that we do well. As a bonus, our crafts are often functional. For example,
- Quilted blankets keep our family members warm.
- Crocheted dishcloths can be used in kitchen cleaning.
- Wooden frames allow us to hang our photos for display.
- Upcycled crafts make use of items that would otherwise be thrown away.
- Any handcrafted item makes a great personalized gift.
We can set the bar low with a craft that is easy to accomplish. Then, when we complete the craft, we feel the success of finishing a project. Many crafts can even be done in bed and nearly all of them can be completed without leaving the house. This makes crafting doable even for people struggling with basic activities.
3. Crafting Builds Self-Esteem
This goes along with being productive. We feel good when we can do something. It’s magnified by creating items by hand. There is just something magical about putting a few materials together with your own creativity and labor and coming up with a finished project seemingly out of thin air.
There are so many opportunities to feel pride in crafting. For example,
- When we learn a new craft.
- When we learn a new technique in our favorite craft.
- Once we complete a project.
- As we wear or use the items we have made.
Crafting also boosts self-esteem when we share our crafts with others. Friends and family members may compliment our efforts. We can share our work online and see a positive response. Although there are occasionally naysayers out there, the crafting community tends towards kindness and generosity. We want to see one another thrive, and we support each other’s efforts in doing so.
4. Crafting Offers Community
That online community goes a long way towards providing psychological support. If you have never joined a craft community online, then you may be surprised to discover just how much support is out there. More importantly, it goes so far beyond support for crafting.
For example, Sam Bastable shared in an article with Crochet Now that he is part of a Facebook called Crochet Beginners Group that has nearly 100,000 members. The group was started by a woman who “set up the group to share stories and support each other through tough times.” People may join the group to learn how to crochet, but they end up supporting each other through grief, depression, anxiety, and so many more serious issues.
There are groups like this for all different types of crafts. Additionally, there are local craft groups in many communities. These groups meet regularly, and although the purpose is to craft together, there is often a well of support that lies underneath that initial intention.
5. Crafting Stirs the Imagination
Many mental health conditions eat away at our imagination. Depression may be the worst of all. We become incapable of seeing a time when things might be better. Crafting is one way to get the imagination going again.
Crafting gives us the opportunity to engage in different aspects of imagination, including:
- Thinking about a new project
- Making choices, such as the colors to use in a project
- Considering how different choices might change the outcome
- Pondering ways to alter a specific design to suit our needs
- Problem-solving when issues arise
- Finding ways to share or display our finished work
Learning how to make simple decisions and imagine in small ways stretches the brain. This helps us begin to see a future again, one that is filled with possibility. This is how crafting heals us.
Has crafting helped you to heal? I would love to hear your stories. Share in the comments or reach out to me via email if you are interested in doing a more complete email interview to share your story with others.