Knitting, quilting, sewing, and other crafts may seem like nothing more than pleasant hobbies, but there’s more to these activities than meets the eye. Research shows that regularly engaging in crafts may have tangible health benefits. Here’s what getting crafty might do for you.
The rhythmic, repetitive movements and focused attention required of certain crafts seem to produce a calming effect akin to meditation. In an online study that surveyed over 3,500 knitters, published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, respondents felt there was a relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm. They noted that knitting was “soothing,” “restful,” and had meditative or zen-like qualities. The majority said it helped them relieve stress and unwind from the pressures of work. Additionally, those with anxiety disorders reported that knitting helped them cope with stressful situations.
In the same British study, respondents were asked to indicate on a 7-point scale ranging from “very sad” to “very happy” what their mood was generally like before they engaged in knitting. About one-third of them reported feeling some measure of “happy”; the rest reported either neutral or sad moods. After knitting, however, the majority of the respondents rated themselves as at least “a little happy,” while less than 1 percent said they remained sad. Knitting with other people appeared to confer an additional benefit, especially for people who had depression. They tended to report that participating in a knitting group increased their happiness and self-esteem. (Note that knitting or other crafts should not substitute for professional treatment if you are depressed or very anxious. But they’re certainly worth trying as add-ons.)
Of course, there’s also the lasting pleasure that comes from accomplishing a project and enjoying the finished item—or, perhaps even more enjoyable, giving it to someone else.
Head off cognitive decline
In a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences,researchers looked at 1,321 adults, ages 70 to 89, of whom 197 had mild cognitive impairment (a possible precursor to dementia). All of the participants were surveyed about their activities in the previous year. Those who engaged in crafts such as knitting or quilting had a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, on par with the reduction seen in people who spent time reading books, working on computers, or playing cognitive games. The results add to the evidence that mentally engaging activities—including crafting—may help protect certain neurological pathways in the brain.
Empower women with eating disorders
A small Canadian study in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders included 38 women undergoing inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa. The women were given knitting lessons and free access to supplies, and asked to report how the knitting affected their psychological state. About three-quarters of the participants said that knitting lessened the intensity of their fears and preoccupation with their eating disorder. The same number said it had a calming and therapeutic effect, and 53 percent said it provided satisfaction, pride, and a sense of accomplishment. The study had no control group, however, so it’s possible that other, non-craft activities might have conferred the same benefit.
Help people cope with chronic pain
Living with chronic pain is a challenge not just physically but psychologically, predisposing sufferers to depression, social isolation, and a perceived loss of control and identity. In a small study presented at a meeting of the British Pain Society, researchers at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, England, conducted an online survey of 60 people with chronic pain who knit. They also observed a 15-person face-to-face knitting group held weekly at a pain management unit. The online survey revealed that knitters felt a sense of increased purpose, meaning, and control as a result of their hobby; they also reported that knitting distracted them from their pain. And those who belonged to the knitting group reported they felt less isolated and enjoyed a sense of belonging. As with the other studies, there was no control group, so it’s possible that other engaging hobbies or social activities would have been equally helpful.
How to get started:
Check with a local crafts or knitting store to find classes and workshops in your area for beginners on up. There are also numerous meet-up groups for knitting, crocheting, and other crafts nationwide (check Meetup.com for options in your area). Many cities or states have their own knitters’ guilds, which you can generally find by typing your city or state name plus “knitters’ guild” or “knitting guild” into a search engine.
Published March 15, 2016
BY KATHRYN HATTER FEB. 02, 2014
If your kids love digging into arts and crafts projects with paint or glue up to their elbows, relax -- they’re learning and developing in essential ways while they’re making a beautiful mess. Children derive many important benefits from the opportunity of working with arts and crafts projects, making creative activities worthwhile in your home.
Arts and Crafts Defined: Although arts and crafts often fit together, they are different processes, according to art therapist Anna Reyner, writing for the Earlychildhood News website. Art involves unstructured activities in which you can explore with your imagination, whereas crafts involve structured activities with a specific goal in mind.
Imagination and Self-Expression: When children participate in both arts and crafts, creativity and imagination receive strong stimulation, states the Americans for the Arts website. A child with a paintbrush in his hand suddenly has the ability to create vivid paintings and express himself boldly with color and brush strokes. The youngster can also learn about symbolic communication through the art he creates, choosing various colors to communicate feelings, for example.
Individual Craftsmanship: With exposure to various types of arts and crafts, a youngster can develop her own individual craftsmanship interests. Working with clay might spark a strong interest in pottery for a child, who can then go on to develop and enhance her skills and talents. The youngster can benefit from setting goals for achievement. As a child improves, she can also look back on her progress to note the strengthening and refinement of her skills.
Strengthening Academics: If you integrate art and crafts into your child's academics, your child can derive additional benefits. Many literacy and mathematical concepts can become easier to comprehend and even more interesting with the addition of art, according to Reyner. For example, if your youngster draws a picture or creates a sculpture of a character from a story, he may boost his reading comprehension and interest in literature. A child who uses artistic manipulatives such as paper shapes and beads can gain mastery of mathematical concepts due to the hands-on nature of the items.
Life Skills: As your child creates a work of art, she has begun the process of communicating visually, advises author and educator MaryAnn F. Kohl, writing for Barnes and Noble Kids’ Expert Circle. A youngster also builds problem-solving skills, fine motor skills and even social skills as she works with artistic media. The process of making her own creations and noticing other people’s creations provides important opportunities for the appreciation of other people’s strengths and acceptance of her own abilities. A child also learns that the ability to follow directions is an integral part of the satisfaction of seeing the final result when making a craft.
Life is a journey. You have probably hear this before. It’s something of a cliché . I want you to think about this for a moment. Have you achieved everything you have hoped for in life? Have you traveled everywhere you have ever wanted to visit? Have you finished everything you have wanted to complete. Im betting that those answers would be no.
Truth is, no matter what you have achieved or accomplished in life there is always something more out there. Why does this matter to you? Because far too many people put aside what really matters in life in place of the things they want to achieve. How often have you told yourself that you will worry about all these things once you achieved this or that?
Things like family, friends, relationships, enjoying life and experiencing peace. These are often the last things on the list in todays busy world. How often have we told ourselves we will get to that as soon as I have achieved this? We put things off, and most of the time they are never re-discovered or moments are lost.
The key to obtaining peace, real peace in our lives is to focus on Enjoying the Journey, taking the time to smell the roses and begin focusing on what is really important in your life. This does in no way mean you have to give up on your dreams, your goals. We all want to accomplish things in life.
So, why does all this matter? Because far too many people put off what really matters in pursuit of the things they want to achieve. They tell themselves that they’ll worry about these things once they’ve reached their destination.
Things like family. Enjoying friends. Nurturing relationships. Forgiving enemies. Enjoying life. Experiencing peace. These things are put off… and most of the time, they are never re-discovered.
The key word is Balance, finding your balance, discovering a new mindset that allows us to not only successfully achieve our dreams and goals, but does so without sacrificing the moments that make life amazing.
Its great to focus on our dreams and goals, but the most important thing is you learn to be happy and treasure each moment in life. Not only will you change your life but also all those in your life.
Many blessings to all! Kacie Clement