Crafting Through the Chaos: The Therapeutic Benefits of Crafting in Today’s World!
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The 2020s are not yet four years old, and yet have been one of the most seismic decades anyone alive can remember. With global pandemics and social upheaval, the world has seen more happen in just a few short years than went on in the few decades before. As a result, there have been few opportunities to get away from the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of it all, and more need than ever for therapeutic outlets to make it all feel a little more normal.
It is perhaps no coincidence that crafting has become a significant sanctuary for so many in recent years. Whether by picking up a brush, some scissors or any other form of crafting equipment, more and more people are reaching for repetitive, rhythmic actions and tactile engagement with the world; away from the deluge of digital distraction, it’s possible to reconnect with yourself and create something that can exist just because.
The simple, sensory pleasure of crafting
Crafting is a sensory experience, allowing you to engage with materials and tools in a way that gives you a profound connection to the world that you live in. Part of the ultimate joy of working with materials is how each has its own diverse texture, with its own story attached. From stiff card to smooth & soft roving merino wool, each material can take you somewhere different, and has its own part to play in a greater creative project.
People often don’t realize how great are the benefits of physically interacting with a hobby or pastime. It helps us connect with something on a primal level and to ground our thoughts. You may have heard of the benefits of walking barefoot in grass, as it allows us to ground ourselves. The same benefit can be had working with natural fibers, as crafting gives us the chance to step outside of our small window on the world and engage with something that can give a sense of calm.
When every buzz from our phone can feel like it’s about to deliver some more news that we’re not ready to deal with, the benefits of having something solid and real to engage with cannot be overestimated; the refuge that this offers can be invaluable.
The immense toll of the 2020s
The current decade was a few weeks old when stories started to circulate in earnest about a pandemic that touched everyone on the planet. It became much more than a health story, affecting daily life and work for all of us, and there is no getting around the fact that it will be a period historians look back on in decades to come. Against that backdrop there have been multiple examples of sociopolitical upheaval, to the extent where even if you don’t engage with politics, you’ll have heard about the events that drew the world’s attention.
With all of this happening, it’s hardly surprising that there has been a surge in concerning mental health issues. Isolation, loss, and anxiety have been a permanent backdrop and it’s hardly surprising that people and organizations have reported an uptick in stress and emotional exhaustion.
At the beginning of the decade, many of us talked about how things would be when “this all died down a bit”. In 2023, it’s reasonable to wonder whether this will all die down a bit any time soon, and to make a promise to yourself that you won’t wait for things to become “normal” again. It is perfectly reasonable to want to take time for things that you enjoy, because if the wider world isn’t going to fall back into place, then at least your own world can.
How crafting can offer an escape
In this world that seems to be dominated by screens, notifications and an endless torrent of information, the news can often seem inescapable – and there is a justifiable sense that you shouldn’t completely disconnect. With that said, it is important to remember that there is only so much you can really do about any of it, and it’s important to focus on how you are. For this purpose, crafting can be of immense use in creating a space where you can escape from the merry-go-round.
Crafting is a meditative pursuit. Whatever form of crafting you choose to do; it requires your attention and your full involvement. This impulse to concentrate on what is in front of you means you have no choice but to block out the things that are competing for your attention. Crafting lets you settle into a rhythm and achieve a state of calm. It is something genuine that can provide what is often referred to as “mindfulness” – a term which can often seem vague and unhelpful, but which when truly achieved is of enormous benefit.
Better yet, crafting is something that activates the reward centers of our brains. Rather than having to think about what that beeping noise is that’s coming from your phone, you get to concentrate on the feel the color, and the gentle noises of crafting tools as you seek to create something positive. It’s a chance to remember there is beauty in the world and that you are capable of creating it.
Proven health benefits of crafting
As we’ve noted above, the proven therapeutic benefits of crafting have become more evident than ever before. There are direct ways in which engaging in immersive activities can serve as a balance to the stressful moments in everyday life.
- Mood enhancement: Engaging in crafting leads to the release of dopamine; it’s a natural antidepressant which lifts mood. We tend to experience this same release when we get a Like on a Tweet, but the difference here is that it’s lasting.
- Focus: In order to engage in arts and crafts, you need to steer your attention away from other things such as rolling news and mobile screens. It roots you in the moment and gets you to direct your attention to something positive.
- Cognition: Crafting has also been demonstrated to have a benefit on cognitive abilities. Knitting, quilting, painting or anything else that involves pattern recognition allows you to sharpen the brain and has a benefit on cognitive flexibility.
- Social benefits: Joining a crafting group can help provide a sense of community. Social connections boost mental health, providing a support structure and helping us feel less alone.
- Something solid and real: Although fleeting moments in the digital realm can feel positive and exciting, crafting creates something that you can see, feel and enjoy on an ongoing basis. Finishing a project provides a sense of control and accomplishment which can have genuine benefits in a world as confusing as this one.
It’s fair to say that a lot of the benefits of crafting are self-claimed, but increasingly they also have scientific backing. According to a study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, daily creative activities simply do contribute to a sense of increased well-being. Incorporating crafting into your everyday routine can offer a holistic boost to your sense of mental wellness, which is something that’s hard to achieve through other means when you are assailed by repetitive bad news.
As we move further into the 2020s, a decade in which change is perpetual and we have become conditioned to expect the worst, it is all the more important to find anchor points of solace and tranquility. Crafting does this by offering something tangible, an escape from the rush, and a therapeutic sensory benefit. Rather than wait for the next shock to come, crafting gives us the chance to exist in the moment and create something beautiful. And in the long run, that’s something that you’ll be endlessly grateful for.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.