Why Crafting is Healthy
As someone who has always been into crafting and creative hobbies, I have always felt the benefits of crafting, but I never really understood the reasoning behind it. Perhaps unsurprisingly to anyone who regularly partakes in crafts, crafting has a wide range of potential health benefits. I decided to do some research to see what benefits crafting can provide and how it promotes general health and wellbeing.
Crafting is Beneficial to Your Health
Crafting Reduces Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
We live in a stressful world with a lot of stimulation, whether its from cell phones and the internet or just normal, every-day interactions. Stress can cause a whole slew of health issues, like headaches, memory loss, and even heart health issues. A lot has been written lately on the health benefits of meditation, but meditation can be difficult to master.
I, for one, am a pretty fidgety person and, therefore, meditation is pretty difficult for me. By doing something repetitive with my hands, though — IE: crocheting — I keep my hands busy while I lightly focus on the rhythmic and repetitive movements of crocheting. Relatedly, some institutions report that the repetitive movement of crafts help the brain to naturally release serotonin, thus potentially helping with depression.
Mood Improvements Through Crafts
Dovetailing from how crafting can help with anxiety, depression, and stress, crafting is found to regularly improve peoples’ moods. This makes sense, since it helps generally mellow the crafter’s mood. A Berkley Wellness article notes that the majority of respondents in a knitting study reported feeling at least “a little happy” after working on a knit project.
Crafting Fights Off Cognitive Decline
Studies have reportedly shown that crafting — notably, knitting and crochet — can help postpone age-related memory loss. Research has shown the brain to be an adaptive and flexible organ with neuroplasticity; intellectually stimulating activities can help prevent cerebral atrophy, thus potentially reducing the risk of dementia. Crafting can serve as such a stimulating activity, since it potentially involves different areas of the brain, like the areas in charge of memory, attention span, creativity, and problem-solving. According to a 2011 study from The Journal of Neuropsychiatry (referenced by CNN Health here), leisure activities like reading books, crafting, and playing games can reduce one’s chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by up to 50%.
“The hypothesis is that the more stimulating your environment is … the more you’re increasing the complexity of the brain, the more you can afford to lose,” Levisay says. “You’re building a buffer.”This is your brain on crafting, by Jacque Wilson for CNN Health
Crafts Can Help Manage Chronic Pain
Crafting has reportedly been found to help sufferers of chronic pain. Craft projects can help increase an individual’s sense of purpose, meaning, and control, as well as potentially distract crafters from pain. Not as much research has been done on this area, as far as I can tell, but the logic seems reasonable. It will be interesting to see if more research is done in this area going forward.
Craft Projects Support Self-Esteem
An article by the University of Arkansas notes that, “simply visualizing, workin on and then creating a product can make you feel better about yourself.” This sense of purpose and control has reportedly helped people with fear and anxiety management. Relatedly, crochet and knitting have been found to reduce irritability, restlessness, and frustrating, thus balancing one’s mood.
Health Benefits of Crafting References and Resources:
- The Unexpected Benefits of Crafting, Christina Frank (Berkeley Wellness)
- Crafting for Health, Ashley Foster (University of Arkansas)
- This is your brain on crafting, Jacque Wilson (CNN Health)
- Engaging in cognitive activities, aging, and mild cognitive impairment: a population-based study, The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
- Benefits of Crafting, Lena Zettler, Jeff Calaway
- 4 Reasons Craft is Good For Your Mental Health (Crafts Council UK)
- 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation, Matthew Thorpe, MD, PhD