4 ways mindful crafting can boost mental health

4 ways mindful crafting can help improve mental health

When you think of crafting, what do you picture? For many people, it probably conjures up images of pasta necklaces and finger-painted Mother’s Day cards - a way of keeping children occupied during those long days of summer break.

If you are on this website, though, you know that there is a lot more to it than that. A quick search on Pinterest or Etsy will bring back hundreds of different types of crafts for adults, from scrapbooking to crochet or jewellery-making. 

So why is crafting becoming so popular with adults? 

As many people discovered during the lockdown, crafts are not only a fantastic way of trying different hobbies but also a quick way to boost your wellbeing.

Here are four different ways mindful crafting can benefit your mental health.

1. Be in the here and now

One of the particularities of crafting is that it is a purely self-indulgent activity. Even if you are working on a gift for a friend or a relative, no one can force you to craft.

Your craft time belongs to you and you only and, with no distractions, you are free to lose yourself in the crafting moment. 

This is the foundation of our 'mindful crafting' approach. By focusing on every stitch and brush stroke, you will take your mind off of whatever is worrying you, effectively entering a meditative state.

Reserving some time for yourself will also lead you to establish healthy boundaries around what takes up your time. 

Do not hesitate to be firm! Although it is difficult to learn how to say no, it will prove beneficial in the long term. Asking others to respect your crafting time is a fantastic way to practise putting yourself first.

This time on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better. Whichever medium you choose will allow you to express yourself. Let your hands be a messenger for your mind. You might find the key to coping with feelings and worries you didn’t even know were wishing on your mind.

This is especially true of crafts using physical materials such as fabric or paint. Unlike taste or sight, our sense of touch is one that we do not think to feed in our daily lives. The soothing properties of feeling a piece of art evolve under your fingers are highly underrated, and you might feel yourself getting more relaxed as you let yourself be grounded by the physical aspect of your craft.

2. Boost your self-confidence

Have you ever finished a project and felt like you were on top of the world? This is likely due to the release of dopamine, the ‘feel-good hormone’. Its original goal is to reward humans and animals alike for doing things that are necessary to survival, such as eating or socialising. It makes you feel happy, alert and motivated. 

As humans evolved, our brains adapted to releasing dopamine for different activities, crafting being one of them. The satisfaction you get from holding a finished project you’ve worked hard on isn’t only a temporary rush: your brain chemistry is shifting to get even more enjoyment from similar activities in the future.

In time, those long periods spent focusing on a singular task - as opposed to the constant stream of content and notifications we are exposed to daily - will also teach your brain to slow itself down. Not only will this help with stress, but it will also help your attention span and improve concentration.

This is particularly true of crafting, which has all the satisfaction of being productive without any of the dullness of chores. It is a perfect balance of mindfulness and entertainment.

A regular crafting practice, no matter how sporadic, is also a guarantee that you will visibly get better with time. While we encourage you not to worry about results and instead focus on the fun of the creative process, it is incredibly satisfying to compare two pieces and be able to see how much you’ve improved.

This feeling of gratification will then carry over to all the other aspects of your life. After all, if you’re able to make these gorgeous art pieces, is there anything you can’t do? Why not try that activity that scares you? Why not ask for that promotion? There are dozens of finished artworks that prove you’re capable of anything you set your mind to.

As you get more confident in your abilities, you might start realising that you can make things yourself instead of buying them. No longer conforming to the tastes and trends of mass-produced items, you will be able to create pieces that are unique to you and representative of your personality.

Gone will also be the days of raking your brain to find ideas for presents. With just a little faith in your abilities, you will be able to make tailored gifts for your close ones. A thoughtful, hand-crafted present goes a long way to show someone how much you care about them. Seeing your creation through their eyes is also sure to give you a new appreciation of your skills.

Three photos side by side. The first one shows a bowl filled with blue hand-made sculptures. The second one is a wreath-making workshop with women working and laughing. The third one is a table covered in crafting supplies.

3. Grow a community

The further you go into adulthood, the harder it is to make friends. With everyone having different priorities and clashing calendars, it can be tricky to avoid loneliness. 

Having a hobby makes it easier to find people who share the same passion as you, whether online or in your neighbourhood.

Whether you want to learn a new skill or work on your existing project, there are thousands of clubs and workshops happening regularly everywhere and for all budgets. Nothing establishes a connection like common interests and goals!

You can even try to collaborate on a project with someone else. Not only are you sure to make friends, but you are also sure to see things in a different light and make progress in ways you didn’t even think were possible.

If you can’t find a crafting community in your area, why not try to get in touch with your local council or library and start your very own club? That could be an exciting new challenge, and like-minded crafters would be grateful for the opportunity to connect. Websites like Eventbrite or social media platforms make it very easy to gauge interest and organise meetups.

You can also share your vision and your journey by setting up a social presence showcasing your work. Some bloggers can inspire thousands of people with each post, creating a close-knit community around them. 

Simply creating an Instagram account will let you reach out to people with similar ideas and start conversations about what matters to you.

4. Fight anxiety and depression

Sometimes, your brain can turn on you. Much like any other illness, it can be triggered by tragedy or just a stroke of bad luck. 

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that 1 British adult in 6 will suffer from a mental disorder in their lifetime - the most common being a mix of anxiety and depression affecting 7.8% of the British population.

When suffering from mental illness, it may be difficult to find motivation or joy in things. Spending even a few minutes working on a craft can significantly help with low mood and feelings of purposelessness. 

Some studies have even shown that being creative can significantly lower cortisol levels. Nicknamed the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol is responsible for blood pressure and sleep issues.

Some forms of art are particularly well-suited to help you through rough patches. The Japanese philosophy of ‘wabi-sabi’, for example, focuses on accepting impermanence and imperfection. Crafts made with this movement in mind can help to see mistakes and missteps as part of a whole - beautiful rather than hindering.

According to the Mind website, creative therapies have the following benefits: 

- they allow you to communicate thoughts and feelings that you find difficult to put into words

- they help you make sense of things and understand yourself better

- they give you a safe time and place with someone who won't judge you

- they help you find new ways to look at problems or difficult situations

- they help you to talk about complicated feelings or difficult experiences

- they give you a chance to connect with other people.

Not sure where to start?

We have different categories of kits that will cater to different wants and needs, all focused on what we call ‘mindful crafting’ - the idea of focusing on each stitch and brush stroke to get into a meditative state. 

Whether you want to try your hand at making your art supplies, you’d like to learn more about eco-conscious handmade cosmetics, or you want to express your style without supporting fast fashion, you are sure to find something that will work for you.

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