Many people look at crafting as a fun hobby, a way to express themselves creatively, or even a chance to be a bit more self-sufficient — homemade potholders, anyone? Additionally, it turns out that crafting can also improve our health and well-being, so it’s time to give this hobby a bit more credit. Keep reading to learn about a handful of crafting’s superpowers.
Crafting can reduce stress
Have you ever been so immersed in a craft that you lost yourself in the project? It happens when we are feeling “in the zone,” i.e., challenged yet extremely engaged — even losing track of time and tuning out all other distractions. This experience is called falling into a state of flow, and it is very similar to what happens when someone is meditating. The brain is so focused on the present moment and the task at hand that it doesn’t have extra attention to put toward one’s worries, bodily needs, or external stimuli. The focus and attention to detail often required when crafting can easily result in this meditative state of flow. The repetitive nature of many crafts, such as knitting and crocheting, can create a sense of relaxation as well, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say crafting can be a form of mindfulness or meditation, activities that we know can decrease stress and reduce inflammation.
Crafting can slow the effects of aging on the brain
When we challenge our brains with intellectually stimulating tasks like learning a new language or learning to quilt, we can delay the onset of dementia, increase the brain’s processing speed, and improve reasoning skills. Crafting, in particular, is helpful at slowing the rate at which the brain ages because it uses many different parts of the brain, including those that employ memory, attention span, visual-spatial processing, hand-eye coordination, creativity, and problem-solving. One study showed that people who participate in textile crafts, such as knitting or quilting, may be less likely to experience mild cognitive impairment. Next time you try a complex pattern or detailed project, remember that you’re helping to strengthen your brain.
Crafting can be a natural mood-booster
Any time we engage in an activity that we find enjoyable, our brains release dopamine, our body’s natural antidepressant. When this internal reward center is activated, it leaves us feeling uplifted, joyful, and satisfied. More than that, a study of more than 3,500 knitters showed that over 81% of participants who had depression felt “happy” after knitting, and more than 50% of participants who were depressed noted that they felt “very happy” after knitting. It’s no wonder why people turn to crafting for relaxation or a simple mood boost.
Crafting can help boost self-efficacy or what you think you are capable of
Self-efficacy is a term that refers to one’s belief in their own ability to perform new or difficult tasks and obtain desired outcomes. When we accomplish a crafting project, or simply learn new crafting techniques, our self-efficacy and belief in ourselves is ignited. Psychologists say that having a strong sense of self-efficacy can make us more resilient and better able to weather challenges when they arise. For example, proving to ourselves that we can make a homemade candle creates a “can-do” attitude that makes us more likely to believe we can succeed when life throws us curveballs in the future.
So, go ahead. Pull out those crochet needles (or beads, paintbrushes, embroidery hoops, or plain old construction paper) and get crafting. No better time than now!