Crafting has been proven aid those who suffer from anxiety, depression and/or chronic pain. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from other damage caused by aging. Crafting keeps your hands busy and your mind off what else might be bothering you. Have you ever noticed when you really get into what you’re working on, time seems to fly by. Top experts have coined the word “flow” to describe how this happens. The main idea is that you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing your body otherwise sort of disappears. You can’t think about too many things at the same time so when you’re concentrating on a difficult knitting pattern or sewing a very fine fabric, your brain has to put all of its attention to that task. You don’t even have the capability, let alone any desire, to be aware of the sadness you were feeling before.
It’s not just the fact that we forget our troubles when we craft, but that crafting is actually brain-healthy.A clinical neuropsychologist and wife of Craftsy.com CEO John Levisay says, “And that’s that creating — whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or) cake decorating — is beneficial to us in a number of important ways.”
Similar to meditation, this flow we’re speaking of is well explained by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi in a TED Talks he gave in February 2004 titled “Flow, the secret to happiness“.
Dopamine is the body’s natural anti-depressant. The more often we can combat depression with natural body-made substances, the better off we’ll all be. There’s a survey with evidence to support crafting’s dopamine effect. In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting and more than half reported feeling “very happy.”
The authors of a population based study investigated whether engaging in cognitive activities is associated with aging. This 2011 study was published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry. This study shows how the healthy effects of crafting can combat aging effects on the brain. “The hypothesis is that the more stimulating your environment is … the more you’re increasing the complexity of the brain, the more you can afford to lose,” Levisay says. “You’re building a buffer.”
So get out there and exercise! Exercise your brain and craft with friends and family. It’s healthy and fun!