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Crafting to Interrupt Rumination in Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD

One of the key ways that crafting heals us is by interrupting the ruminations of the mind.

Rumination is a common symptom of depression. Therefore, interrupting rumination can help reduce depression.

There are times when you need to just find relief from the ever-present thoughts that are ricocheting in your head. Crafting can provide that relief.

Once you have obtained some relief, your mind becomes freer. This facilitates better decision-making, which can go further towards improving your mental health.

Rumination and Mental Health

Former Yale University psychologist and author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema looked at the role of rumination in depression in various groups of people including:

  • Women
  • Bay Area residents who lived through the 1989 earthquake
  • Adults of various ages who lost family members to terminal illness
  • General community of 1,300 adults, ages 25 to 75

Her studies found a clear link between rumination and depression. In fact, people who ruminated on their problems were significantly more likely to have symptoms of depression and/or PTSD. People who ruminated were four times more likely to develop major depression than people who didn’t ruminate.

Rumination has also been found to play a role in anxiety. Excessive worry exacerbates anxiety.

Benefits of Interrupting Rumination

Nolen-Hoeksema’s research found that a mentally absorbing task interrupts ruminations long enough to allow them to subside. This allows the person’s thinking to make a critical transition. The result is:

  • Clearer thoughts
  • More positive thoughts
  • Reduced feeling of overwhelm
  • Increased ability to see new ways to take action

You aren’t just distracting yourself when you interrupt the ruminating mind. Instead, you are reducing the likelihood of developing depression after trauma. For those people already dealing with depression, breaking the ruminating pattern can lead to clearer thinking. This, in turn, helps in finding treatment solutions.

Crafting Interrupts Rumination

Crafting is one terrific way to interrupt the ruminating mind. Although we love to think of ourselves as multi-taskers, we can truly only focus on one thing at a time. The more we focus on a craft, the less energy our minds can give to rumination.

Here are some tips to use crafting to interrupt the noisy mind:

  • Try a new craft; something new will require more focus than something you’re familiar with
  • Work with a challenging technique
  • Change the scale of your work; going smaller with a craft takes more attention
  • Make a gift for someone else. You’ll want to give it all of your attention.
  • Write a tutorial for a craft project. This forces you to attend closely to each detail.

Most importantly, practice being in the moment while you craft. When you notice your mind drifting, be sure to bring it back to the craft. Attend to your five senses, especially noticing the sight and touch of the project in your hands.

How to Get the Most out of Crafting for Mental Health

Interrupting the ruminating mind is only the first step. In order to improve mental health through crafting, you need to act more intentionally. You need to find ways to harness the benefits of crafting.

In this case, the best thing that you can do is to have a plan. The plan includes regularly scheduled crafting sessions. You should set aside time every day to craft if that is at all possible.

More than this, though, the plan includes steps that you can take after a craft session. That’s the time when your mind is free and clear. You will be able to make better decisions then. Therefore, that is precisely when you should make decisions.

Some tips for getting the most out of your post-craft session:

  • Spend a few minutes journaling after finishing your craft. Make lists and goals.
  • Have a family meeting when your mind is clear enough to talk things through
  • Meet with a friend to brainstorm solutions to an issue
  • Meet with your therapist to discuss big decisions

In other words, spend the half hour or hour after each crafting session focused on problem-solving.

What has been your experience with a ruminating mind? What has helped you to break out of it? Has crafting ever helped? Share in the comments!

Crafting to Interrupt Rumination in Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD

Kathryn Vercillo

Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer who also has a Masters in Psychological Studies. Her expertise is writing at the intersection of crafts and mental health. Kathryn is the author of several books on this topic including Crochet Saved My Life.

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APA Reference
Vercillo, K. (2018). Crafting to Interrupt Rumination in Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Sep 2018
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