The benefits of crafting have been enthused about for generations, with craft courses being prescribed as therapy for anxiety since the late 19th Century. But just what is it about creative activities that are so beneficial to us? How can getting crafty make us feel better, both physically and mentally?
With so many things to distract us and the draw of the screen at our fingertips, it’s rare that we find ourselves truly concentrating on a task these days. But, if we want to slow down our racing thoughts, soothe our minds and get some mental relief, doing a craft with our hands can help.
For example, if you’re taking pottery classes you can’t really look at anything else other than the project you’re working on. It requires full concentration to throw a pot on the wheel – any lapse in focus will mean a clay collapse or a lot of mess! With the meditative qualities of the spinning wheel, the gentle touch required and the slow movement of your hands, your brain will be fully ‘in flow’ as you make your creation.
In this way, crafting can bring about mindfulness. Whatever you’re concentrating on – painting, sculpting, even icing a cake – the process will encourage you to focus and time will fly by as you get in the zone. At the very least, if you’re engaged with a practical task, you can’t also be multitasking or scrolling through your phone at the same time – especially with clay, paint or icing all over your hands!
Physically using your hands for crafting can help to improve your manual dexterity. We can sometimes lose dexterity as we grow older and a number of conditions can weaken our hands. Being able to control our finger movements and strengthen the link between thinking and manual functioning is key to keeping our hands agile.
Activities that involve intricate finger movements are especially good at improving the flexibility of the hands so why not try hand-sewing or cross-stitching? Practising handwriting is also a great skill to improve dexterity, so step away from the computer keyboard and have a go at writing in a journal or penning a poem.
I particularly like the idea of knitting for improved dexterity. I’ve previously taken a beginners course with LearntoKnitOnline.com and was amazed at how much I learned in a short space of time with the follow-along video classes. I’ve just bought the circular knitting class so I’m planning to knit a winter hat, which will improve both my dexterity and the warmth of my head!
At all stages of life, learning something new can help you to feel a lift in your mood. Choosing a new craft to try out offers multiple ways to boost your mental well-being, including fully engaging your brain (distracting you from anxious thoughts) and giving you a sense of achievement.
Learning a new technique physically improves your brain by strengthening or creating new connections between neurons. But more than the ‘brain-training’ benefits, getting to grips with a new craft skill can help to improve your self-efficacy; the confidence and belief in your own ability to achieve something and to stay motivated.
Sometimes, just the anticipation of the craft class or the outcome you’re planning to create will help to lower your stress levels and boost your mood. So why not try your hand at a new craft this winter? While you’re snuggled up on the sofa, have a go at embroidery. Or how about getting social at a time when we usually hide away from the world and join a local drawing class?
I hope these ideas will help you to feel good and improve your well-being throughout the year. Let me know what crafts you’d like to try out in the comments below. Now, please excuse me, I’m off to do some sewing..!
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This article is a sponsored collaboration. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 🙂