Crafting Your Path to Mental Health
Following on from our Upcycling and Halloween Crafting blogs Hannah and Lisa were interested in how crafting can support mental health.
We did some research and true enough, there is substantial evidence to show that you can craft your way to better mental health.
I remember when my daughter was under huge mental stress with A level examinations imminent, she suddenly took up patchworking. The repetitive movements with just enough focus to be mindful seemed to help ground her and reduce anxiety. It seemed a bit quirky at the time but it worked for her.
Sure enough it seems that the activity involved in making something, be it gardening, baking or knitting, releases neurotransmitters that boost a sense of joy and well-being, while also reducing stress hormones.
Engaging in craft can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, loneliness and even dementia, according to research.
Craft courses have been prescribed to patients since the dawn of occupational therapy in the late 19th century, with basketry used to relieve anxiety and physical ailments in soldiers during the first world war.
How does Crafting boost a sense of wellbeing?
Crafting can help us be mindful, keeping us in the present moment. Mindfulness benefits our mental health by activating parts of the cortex involved with regulating emotions.
Cortisol is a stress hormone. Chronic stress that keeps cortisol levels high can lead to both physical and mental health problems. Engaging in crafting can reduce stress and cortisol.
Crafting can stimulate release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine promotes feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation, so crafting is a simple way to give yourself a natural mood boost.
Crafting can also help you get into what is known as the “flow state”. When you are absorbed in a craft activity it generates a state of flow where one's sense of time and place seem to disappear.
There are also the fruits of your efforts, these can be kept and appreciated or gifted. The act of giving is big on feelgood but that is one for another blog!
In the meantime, I think I might take up patchworking.