The act of making, whether it’s doodling, writing a story or knitting something for someone else, has long been known to have benefits for mental health. Crafters often report a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they complete their work, which is great for self-esteem. This is especially true when the work is used or enjoyed by the person who created it.
However, there are also many other ways that the creative activity of making has positive effects on people’s mental health. It relieves stress, boosts mood, helps with sleep and provides a way to connect to others through art. The benefits don’t stop there, as crafting can also stimulate brain activity and increase cognitive function.
Keep Calm and Craft On
There is a reason that the phrase “Keep calm and craft on” is so popular; it’s actually true! It has been scientifically proven that the process of creating and being in the ‘flow’ of a craft can relax and calm the human body. The repetitive motions of knitting, cutting paper or rubber stamping activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which quiets that ‘fight or flight’ response in our bodies and gives us that feeling of peace and contentment. This is why so many people turn to crafting to help relieve anxiety and depression.
A study of cancer patients found that their level of emotional well-being was significantly higher when they were engaged in a creative activity, like sewing, rather than just waiting for the disease to progress. It was the connection to other people and the sense of self-worth that came from the creation of their own handmade objects that helped these patients to feel happier and healthier.
Art activities engage the fine motor muscles in our hands, fingers and wrists, which are key to good handwriting. Regular use of these muscles improves their strength and dexterity. Children and adults who engage in arts and crafts regularly also have better focus and concentration skills than those who don’t.
Crafting is a good outlet for expressing feelings and can be particularly beneficial in times of grief. For example, creating artwork or a scrapbook following the death of a loved one can help the grieving process. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and crafting can be a great way to work through those emotions in a healthy, safe and fun way.
There are many different materials that can be used to create things, and we have lots of ideas for you here. We’ve organized this page by material, so you can find projects that use a particular kind of material more easily. Click on the links below to find inspiration for everything from recycled materials and trash to nature crafts and beyond! We’ve even included some projects that can be done with kids. So why not try something new this week and get your hands dirty with some making? You’ll be surprised at all of the things you can make with a little bit of imagination and some materials around the house.