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Crafting is More Than Just Creating

Crafting and creating usually begin by working with your hands in some fashion and, in most cases, can be considered your hobby.  Science suggests that crafting has many optimal health benefits and is much more than just a personal outlet.  Studies show that the rhythmic, repetitive movements and focused attention that is required in crafting releases the chemical in our brain,  dopamine. Dopamine is essential in helping us to feel better, be happier, and also to give us a sense of calmness.  Increasing levels of this feel good neurotransmitter can be very beneficial if you are battling anxiety and depression.  Crafting also promotes the body's own self defense mechanisms by boosting our immune system and can protect the brain from age-related damage and cognitive deterioration.  Some of the major health benefits of crafting and creating are:

  • Reducing anxiety
  • Fights depression
  • Improves mood; general feeling of well being
  • Promotes a sense of focus
  • Helps chronic pain
  • Increases happiness
  • Positive feelings of self worth
  • Fights PTSD
  • Boosts the immune system

Whether you create in a group or by yourself, crafting will improve your level of patience and motivate you to accomplish other things that you might otherwise put off.  In groups, crafting together can deter loneliness and feelings of isolation through social contact with others who enjoy the same things as you.  One study compiled by CNN, found that in a group of 3,500 knitters, a whopping 81% of responders with depression felt better and much happier after knitting with their groups!

Besides giving you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, crafting will also boost your sense of pride all while being in your happy zone!

It makes no difference how you create - it can be knitting/crocheting, journaling, drawing/doodling, painting or scrapbooking - studies show that creativity allows us to express ourselves and promotes higher levels of critical thinking and problem solving.  When we find that we are engaged in a creative activity, we forget ourselves and our sense of time disappears.  These pursuits help us to focus our attention and calm the internal chaos that many of us carry around on a daily basis.  Crafting and creating 20-30 minutes at a time help regulate strong emotions, lowers stress and helps relax your muscles similar in fashion to meditation.  You may even find that it helps reduce indigestion and inflammation.  

Even if you feel that actual crafting isn’t your thing, there are some activities that produce the same results, such as: visiting a museum, once the pandemic subsides, of course.  Visiting a museum can send the same signals to your brain as daydreaming does and has the same health benefits as mediation.  Another activity is journaling.  Stress hormones like cortisol are harmful to our immune system and can create many health problems.  According to a study published in the British Journal of Health and Psychology, journaling or writing about emotional topics lowers cortisol levels and proves to be very helpful for people suffering with many types of psychological trauma.  The findings are that those who journal sleep better, have improved moods and heal faster than those who do not.

Reading is another creative outlet!  Reading serious literature, something challenging such as Shakespeare, set off far more electrical activity in the brain than works that are easier to read.  Reading has also been found to create new thoughts in the brain which can lead to more creativity!  Poetry helps us to reflect on our own experiences on a deep emotional level and affects the brain in the same way as music does.  Similar to the feeling you get when you hear a favorite song.

If you think of it, crafting is like mental exercise!  It is very much like a deep physical state of relaxation that alters your responses to stress; therefore lowering your stress levels dramatically.  Crafting combines self expression, problem solving and mindfulness, and together  they work to slow breathing, lower blood pressure and decrease your heart rate.

It truly doesn’t matter if you build, sew, throw pottery, garden or make home repairs, crafting activates the brain's reward centers to release dopamine, which in return, makes you a happier human!  Creating in any way you choose will stimulate your senses and foster good feelings of internal well being.  Feel free and CREATE and you will discover your true self!

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