Crafting our way to a better life ...
We may not consider ourselves to be particularly artistic, but we’re all born with an innate desire to express ourselves and craft provides us with ways to do that.
It can feel like the pressure is always on us to get things done quickly – but craft gives us permission to take time out and do something slowly and carefully.
Craft lets you focus your mind as you concentrate on nothing but the stitches you are making or the effect you have having with your sandpaper on a wooden surface.
Last term I did a beginner’s Wordworking night class together with an old friend. We each made a wooden wine rack.
We got to use some seriously scary saws and other power tools, we gained some practical skills and learnt some techniques. Along the way we also had so many laughs and we agreed that one of the best aspects of the class was that it gave us the opportunity to take time out over a number of weeks to focus on this one project.
Whether sanding, drilling, using the drop saw or router the effect felt therapeutic. The benefits gained by this class were far greater than the wine racks we had completed at the end of the seven weeks.
Once you learn to slow down and enjoy the process you can really begin to feel the benefits of slow crafting.
As well as being relaxing, it seems the repetitive nature of craft can be soothing for our minds:
In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81percent of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling "very happy."
Craft lets you tap into the natural anti-depressant which is called dopamine
Scientists tell us that when we do something pleasurable the reward center in our brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
When we can find healthy ways to stimulate that reward center ... the better off we feel.
The process of crafting can have a dopamine effect.
And then once you’ve finished the craft project, and you hang that picture on the wall, or put that cushion on the sofa - when you enjoy seeing the beautiful thing you have made or receive praise from others about what you’ve created you can get repeated hits of that feel-good chemical.
Crafting can also help our brains stay sharp:
Once 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry suggested that that crafting, reading books and playing games could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by up to 50 percent.
So next time you're feeling stressed or muddled in your thinking, instead of reaching for a glass of wine, put the kettle on and put out an unfinished craft project.