I recently stumbled across an article by Big Think that delved into the health benefits of crafting, and it delivered some pretty great statistics to support what I personally believe to be true: crafting is so good for you.
The article states that a large-scale international online survey of knitters found respondents had derived a wide range of perceived psychological benefits from the practice: relaxation, relief from stress, a sense of accomplishment, connection to tradition, increased happiness, reduced anxiety, enhanced confidence, as well as cognitive abilities like improved memory, concentration and ability to think through problems.
I would venture to say that no matter what type of crafting you do, the results would be roughly the same - "making something" with your own hands is such a rewarding activity. Switching gears for a bit in order to build, reshape and transform is actually highly productive in subtle ways. Given that balance is everything, using the creative right hemisphere of the brain can boost the left hemisphere’s ability to deal with analytics and logic.
I love to do crafts - in fact, I have a long and treasured history with crafts of all kinds. From the early years of salt-dough Christmas ornaments and Girl Scout projects, to knitting with my Nana and creating all manner of school projects, crafting both takes me home and launches me into a new state of production.
I can recall a particular spring break in high school when I was so engrossed in making beaded jewelry that I churned out dozens of pieces and felt so connected to the process. I still have some of those pieces, even all these years later, and they remind me of that fire inside.
I’d have to say that my favorite crafting activities in the past few decades have involved making aromatherapy candles, wreaths, paper crafts and crochet. Turning a couple of skeins of yarn into a monogrammed yoga bag or a pile of greenery into a beautiful wreath is transformative - both for the objects themselves as well as for my own psyche.
The way I see it, if I can turn one thing into something else entirely, I can probably do that with my situations and mindset, too. What stands between a skein of yarn and a baby blanket is time, effort, creativity and tenacity. With that comes relaxation, contemplation, and healthy mental exercise. Win/win.
I recently tasked myself with making a cake topper for my daughter’s birthday cake, in advance of her big weekend party. I’ve done this a few times, and the whole process is incredibly rewarding. Because I love paper crafts, I had started doing cake toppers that could be removed and saved. Although I’m a decent baker, I’m not very adept with fondant and trust me, the week before a party is not the time for me to learn.
Armed with the vision of making a big rainbow and a bunting banner for her cake, I set out to the store and bought what I needed to make it happen. Sure, I had looked at a few images online to give myself some perspective, but I really had fun imagining the look and figuring out how to accomplish it.
It took me six hours, but I had a ball. Those hours were a creative respite from the ever-present To-Do list. Instead of the normal workflow, household chores and daily pressure, I was thoroughly enjoying transforming a stack of construction paper and rolls of floral wire into a big, huge rainbow to sit atop my daughter’s party cake.
Figuring out how to make puffy clouds out of sparkly tissue paper was an exercise in problem-solving, measuring everything for scale and paying attention to color, weight and textures was a fun, satisfying challenge.
Cutting pieces of tissue paper and painstakingly gluing them onto the colored twine, assembling the “poles” from striped drinking straws and adding all of the letters was a joyful and constructive reprieve from what could seem like endless hours of scanning my email inbox and day-to-day responsibilities.
It delivered a nice piece of mindfulness and creative therapy that exercised my brain in a different way. Plus, I had something really cool to show for it.
The article continues on to report that crafts such as knitting, crochet, weaving, ceramics, needlework and woodwork focus on repetitive actions and a skill level that can always be improved upon. According to the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this allows us to enter a “flow” state, a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge.
With what is increasingly referred to today as “mindfulness” being a much-desired quality for many people, it’s not surprising crafts are being sought out for their mental and even physical benefits. Working with your hands, transforming something from one thing to another, and applying even the slightest bit of art or creativity is such a healthy activity.
As a professional writer, applying creativity in a different way actually enriches my writing process. Taking concepts and turning them into well thought-out pieces is an easier task when those creativity-building muscles are stretched through crafting. Working things through to their conclusion - be it a paper rainbow or a long-form blog for a technical topic - is a skill worth having. Either way, you’re transforming one thing into another and that’s such a valuable exercise.
Whether you like to knit, build pottery, make wreaths, whittle wood, build model cars, or put those little ships in the glass bottle, tinkering with something - just for the sake of it - it’s wonderful, indeed.
No matter how much I love to craft, I know when to put down the hot glue and get back to business. If you’re looking for high-quality content for your website, consider delegating that task to Digital Heartbeat today. I’d love to apply the same creativity and tenacity to the topic at hand. I might even build you a rainbow, now that I know how.