Can Crafts and Hobbies Help You Cope?
Many of you know that I really love to sew. In fact, I have been sewing since I was about 5 years old. I have sewed everything from wedding gowns worth a few thousand dollars to miniature sandbags for my brother’s plastic army men. I often tell my sewing camp participants if it will fit underneath my sewing machine foot, then I probably have sewed it. Looking back my sewing has always been there for me in good times and when times were tough. This got me to thinking and wondering if others have found solace in making crafts during the pandemic, so I had to go and search out the answer.
Research suggests that crafting is much more than just an outlet for personal expression or a way to pass the time. Crafting can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase happiness, all of which can help fight depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Traditional treatments work well, for most people but alternative treatments are getting more attention these days, and researchers are beginning to study the mental health benefits of creativity and crafting. Studies suggest that painting pictures, playing music, sewing, or baking can have the following positive benefits for mental health.
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association a little bit of time working on art can significantly reduce a person’s state of anxiety. Creating a piece of art allows people to forget about their condition for a while, allowing them to focus on the positive things in their life. Being wholly focused on a craft project can have an effect like meditation, which research suggests can help in the manage anxiety and depression.
Quilting bees offered colonial women an escape from isolation. Craft competitions at county fairs provided purpose for individuals in the 20th century. More recently, craft meet up events give people a sense of pride and companionship. Recent research shows that crafts and creativity can lift a person’s mood.
Dopamine is a chemical associated with the reward center in your brain, it provides feelings of enjoyment to help you start or continue doing certain activities. Crafts and hobbies are a nonmedicinal way to stimulate dopamine, which ultimately makes you feel happy. In a study of 3,500 knitters, researchers found that 81 percent of knitters with depression perceived that knitting made them feel happier.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend medications or counseling. In addition to traditional recommendations, consider taking some time to get creative. Here are some ideas:
Join a quilting or knitting group. Not only can group members help you improve your skills, but they can also become friends and keep you from feeling isolated. Other popular crafts and hobbies could be baking, coloring in a coloring book, take photos in nature or try playing a musical instrument. The ideas for developing your creative interests are endless.
For me sewing is like meditation. It helps me to reduce my stress and anxiety, gives me feelings of accomplishment and purpose, and lifts my spirits. So if you want to stress less and feel happier, than choosing to paint a masterpiece may be the best thing you can do for yourself.