Crafts as therapy?

As quite a spiritual person with a long-term health condition, I have found more and more that my new-found love of knitting and crochet has not only reduced my stress levels, but also is very meditative.  I have always enjoyed crafts and spent many happy years before I left home sitting alongside my Mum making things, or completing some complicated cross-stitch design whilst she was hand-quilting a throw or baby blanket.
After the terrible rain and floods the UK has suffered this Winter, we couldn’t fail to be joyful on seeing the beautiful bright fabric and hilarious addition of a felt carrot to these bags made by my Mum for my latest craft fair!

As a Nurse, I’m very interested in research and this article by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy caught my attention – reading the results and conclusion (even without having to read the whole article) it is clear that knitting in particular has stress-busting and relaxing benefits as well as being good for your brain – must be all that counting!
In fact, I find crochet even more tranquil than knitting – there is something very uplifting about selecting a pattern or a yarn and then making something lovely from it.  Add to this the repetitive motion of creating a row of double or treble crochets and it is positively captivating!  As the daughter of an Accountant, of course I love to count as well, and making a long chain to start a cushion such as this one to brighten up my home was very engrossing and yet also calming and comforting. 
Time and again we hear of the therapeutic benefits of crafts – I volunteer with an Alzheimers charity locally and the ladies are never happier (as am I!) than when we sit down to do a craft activity.  I have also joined some classes at my local haberdashery store which promotes friendship and solidarity in learning a new skill and trying it out.
This article by Crochet Concupiscence discusses the use of colour and its affect on mood.  The author talks very openly about her battle with her mental health and how crochet brought her back from the deepest depths of depression.
I also think the level of creativity needed to make something – whether it is your own idea or you are taking a pattern and adapting it – is very good for your brain as well as your self-esteem!  I came up with the idea of this heart from finding some old scraps Mum had given me and overlaying the lavender coloured tulle with the green fabric it became simply beautiful.  Add to that the gorgeous and relaxing scent of lavender and it was a win-win situation!
Finally there is much anecdotal evidence to say that people with long-term or chronic conditions profit from crafts not only from a self-esteem or mental health point of view, but also from the repetitive motion of knitting or crochet – this article by the Craft Yarn Council has some really interesting points of view from a wide range of people on the positive and often diversionary benefits of crafting.
So what are we waiting for!?  Happy crafting!
Lou x

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