Craft as Therapy by Leanne McAlpine

Hello everyone I hope you are all well?
Today I have a slightly different post. I thought I would look at the therapeutic benefits of crafting. Crafting means different things to different people. I have joked in many of my previous posts about us crafters needing therapy to stop us buying and hoarding products however, a lot of us including myself get an awful lot of benefit from crafting. This is something that I have always been aware of but only really seriously thought about in the last 2 years as I have begun to have problems with my own health.

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I have an auto immune disease which means I have a lot of joint pain and stiffness and also fatigue. It also affects my cognitive ability which means that sometimes I find the simplest of thing very difficult to understand… this is so frustrating. So sometimes I craft to take my mind off things and sometimes I cannot craft!
I have always been aware of the stress relieving benefits of crafting as being a working mam with 2 children as I’m sure many of you will know, it is very stressful!
I began crafting properly almost 30 years ago. It all started with cross stitch when I was training to be a nurse to see me through night shift. It was the done thing then to keep you awake. Most of us either stitched or knitted. I can assure you, it does not happen now… how things have changed!
But before that, my Grandma and my Mam taught me to knit and sew so really, I’ve been crafting on and off all my life. Unfortunately, I can no longer knit as my fingers won’t let me, but I am thinking about taking my cross stitch up again as this is a very therapeutic craft that you can happily sit and do in front of the TV. It is very absorbing and of course, the results are fantastic too!
I have listed below some of the known benefits of crafting, so if you know anyone who may be struggling for whatever reason, advise them to take up a craft. You never know, it may be the one thing that helps!

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Improves mood: It is not a secret that the pride you have when you have created something lovely lifts your mood. But even if you are crafting on your own, or with others, it is a great mood enhancer. Many crafts also have the benefit of being portable which means you can craft anywhere. Learning a new craft or skill can be a boost to self-confidence also.
Boosts brain power: Now I have to say for me, personally, this fluctuates! Apparently, the focus needed to craft exercises the brain. In a recent article by midbodygreen.com (2018), it is suggested that soft crafts such as sewing, crocheting and knitting are a form of mindfulness and improve brain health. It reports that knitting can improve happiness and those that knit at least 3 times a week are calmer and more confident! Those who knit in groups are even happier.
Increasing social integration: Now I can whole heartedly agree with this! Whether you are attending craft classes, crafting with friends and family or as in my case a member of online crafting groups, crafting definitely is a fabulous community to be part of. I have made so many virtual friends through crafting groups such as Crafting with Hochanda and crafting with Jodie, some of which I have been lucky enough to meet and some of which I’m never likely to meet but everyone I know through these groups are lovely. Crafting promotes discussion and gets people talking. If you are a member of several groups, you will keep coming across the same groups of people and this can give a feeling of community especially to some people who may be feeling a bit lonely or who may be house bound. I think for me, crafters are by their very nature, naturally generous and love to share their knowledge and ideas.
Improvements in hand eye coordination– Not sure about this one for me… I’m as blind as a bat! But if you are doing particularly detailed work, it will help improve this. For younger crafters, this can be of particular benefit.
Ageing (apparently)- According to a report I read, it has been suggested that the mental focus needed for crafting combined with hand eye coordination can help to turn back time! I can see where this may be coming from. Unfortunately for us, I don’t think it means it reduces wrinkles, but I can see how the mental stimulation can keep our brains young as it is widely documented how mental stimulation is beneficial in the fight against dementia.
This is just a brief insight into some of the perceived benefits from crafting but I’m sure most of you who read this will relate with at least one of these points if not all of them. We need to keep crafting and passing on our crafts to the younger generation so that crafting is not seen as an ‘older person’s’ hobby. I think the power of craft and the crafting community should not be underestimated
Why do you craft, and have you noticed any health benefits?
I found this picture and although I don’t quilt… I appreciate the sentiment!

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Happy crafting everyone.
Thanks for popping by
Leanne x

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