There are a million different components that determine whether or not one is living a healthy lifestyle. We all know the importance of eating a nutritious, balanced diet, getting a restorative eight hours worth of rest, and exercising regularly. And while those are indisputably crucial pieces of the pie, the many health benefits that come from engaging in creative activities are not discussed nearly enough. From combating depression to reducing stress, here are the seven mental health benefits of crafting.
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- Reduces Stress
Anyone who loves to unwind with a creative activity, whether it is knitting, beading, quilting, or crocheting, knows how wonderful it is for relieving tension and pent up stress. Research has shown that the often repetitive and focused nature of crafting can send the body and mind into a zen-like state that is similar to what is achieved when practicing yoga or meditation. Like mindful meditation, crafting can help keep one's head clear and calm. Namaste.
2. Boosts Happiness
In a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health in 2010 (The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health) researchers analyzed the impact that creativity and visual arts can have on a person's mental health and sense of well-being. It was concluded that creative endeavors reduced negative thoughts and anxiety and improved one's overall sense of purpose and identity. It was also determined that crafting can help to ward off depression. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that is released by the reward centre of the brain when one is doing something that they enjoy and is a natural antidepressant. As if you needed another reason to roll up your sleeves and get crafty.
3. Higher Self-Esteem
The act of making something useful and beautiful with one's own two hands can have a wonderful effect on a person's self-esteem. Indulging in one's imagination and building on their creative and technical skills can give one a sense of purpose outside of work and family life. Crafting is a productive yet fun endeavor that reminds people just what they are capable of creating.
4. Improved Sense of Focus and Attention to Detail
The whole process of crafting, from dreaming up an idea for a project to following it through step by step until completion, can improve one's ability to focus and persevere through challenging situations. Working through the often rhythmic and detail-oriented steps of crafting (whether it is knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery or beading) helps to strengthen one's mental stamina over time.
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5. Leads to Better Social Connections
Chances are that if you love a particular creative activity, say quilting or fibre arts, you have met some of your closest friends through those very tight-knit (pun absolutely intended) communities. For those who are looking to start a new craft, there are always a ton of classes, workshops and clubs, which provide like-minded creatives with the chance to improve their skills, but also build some really great friendships. After all, it's always a positive thing when your friends are people you can learn from and be inspired by).
6. Improves Memory and Prevents Cognitive Deterioration
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It turns out your crochet-loving granny was really on to something. Crafting has been proven to stave off cognitive decline and memory loss as you gets older and can reduce your chances of cognitive impairment by fifty percent. Engaging in crafty activities helps to protect the brain from memory loss while reducing one's chance of getting dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Who knew that quilting was the real fountain of youth?
7. Improves Patience and Motivation
During the course of an average day, there are about a million and one things that can test your patience and grate on your nerves. Withdrawing inward and working on a creative project can help you shut out the noise and frustration of everyday life and recharge, keeping you patient and calm in other areas of your life. Patience is also a necessary attribute when it comes to crafting. Whether you are learning a skill for the first time or trying over and over to get your project to look exactly as you envisioned it, crafting encourages you to be patient and driven.
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