Creativity and mental health

Most people take up crafting as a simple hobby, something to occupy their free time. A few will take up a craft because it's relaxing. Everyone has their own reasons for taking up a new hobby. But few of us begin crafting with the intention of addressing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, and yet, as you may have discovered already, that’s one of the biggest benefits of giving yourself the opportunity to be creative.

The research world is catching on, and now there’s plenty of evidence showing the amazing outcomes people have experienced as a result of crafting. Recent studies have looked at a whole range of issues and the positive impact that hobbies such as knitting, sewing, macrame and many others have on mental health. For example, one study found that knitting can help with eating disorder recovery as it helps reduce obsessive thoughts around food and body worries. 

Research has found a similar pattern for anxiety and depression. When individuals are engaged in highly absorbing activities such as knitting, sewing, or other crafts, it helps temporarily block out the negative thoughts or worries that are so prevalent in depression and anxiety. Simply giving the brain something else to focus on is extremely powerful, and this can offer respite from the consuming feeling of depression or anxiety. From personal experience, quite often when we are making things at Remade, Reloved it almost feels like meditiation - repetitive movements, a quiet environment and time to yourself to focus on something that needs concentration are all great ways to shove unhelpful thoughts out of your mind. 

Even better is the fact that it doesn’t take much to reap the benefits - even brief spurts of creativity can have incredible effects on mood. Plus, when the activity is fun that naturally boosts your mood, and seeing the result of your efforts is hugely positive and can be an important reminder that you are capable and worthy, even if your depression or anxiety is trying to tell you otherwise!

Another great outcome of crafting is its positive impact on social anxiety. Many crafting hobbies are great activities to participate in with others. Knitting and sewing circles have been part of society for hundreds of years, and for good reason - it’s a great way to connect with other people.For those who suffer from social anxiety, research has found that group crafting is a really good starting point for recovery, as you’re engaged in an enjoyable activity, but still in the presence of other people. It's easier to interact with a group when you already have a shared interest. All these factors combined mean that crafting groups can be extremely helpful for easing yourself back into social situations without it being too overwhelming.

And with the internet, it also means you can connect with people from afar, which for some, is an important starting point for meeting new people in person. Importantly, many studies show that these benefits aren’t just confined to certain age groups,genders, or hobby types. Research has shown that all kinds of different activities have long term benefits for both men and women from childhood well into older age. Crafting has even been shown to improve mental agility and help reduce the chances of developing dementia as we age, so we definitely think it’s something that’s well worth getting into early and keeping at. Anything that’s fun, good for you, and can help keep you healthy later in life sounds like a great idea to us!

By Eleanor Bruce

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