Studies are uncovering that crafting is more than just a hobby. It’s taking the lead as a way to help improve one’s overall mental health. According to professionals, arts and crafts can help ease the symptoms of those suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD.
The Creation and Mental Health Connection
Over recent years, research has touted the benefits of crafting. Be it a paintbrush, knitting needles, or whatever it may be, the physiological component of when someone works with their hands is rather astounding. Studies are showing that crafting can promote the following:
- Boost happiness and sense of self-worth
- Decrease stress and anxiety
- Help with attention and focus
It appears that the mere process of crafting affects a specific part of the sympathetic nervous system that can calm those “fight or flight” tendencies, also known as the “acute stress response.” When “fight or flight” are triggered, adrenaline and norepinephrine is released from the medulla portion of the brain.
Physical responses that follow can include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increase in breathing patterns
- Constriction of muscles
- Tightened blood vessels
Many are agreeing that the act of crafting releases the brain’s natural dopamine which provides a person with feelings of pleasure and fulfillment.
Mental Health Data
A recent article in CNN reported the link between crafting and improving mental health. CNN reporter, Jacque Wilson, interviewed neuropsychologist Catherine Carey Levisay. She is also the spouse of John Levisay who is CEO of Craftsy.com.
She told Wilson, “There’s promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time,” Levisay said. She added, “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.”
The data on Craftsy indicates the following:
- 87 percent of crafters believed it helps ward off depression
- 93 percent of crafters believed it helps manage stress
- 93 percent of crafters believed it helps keep their mind sharp as they age
Another theory on crafting that the reporter pointed out came from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who called the phenomenon “flow.” The activity of crafting can grasp the attention of someone and put them into a completely different state of mind. For Csikszentmihalyi, this flow concept was the secret to happiness.
These theories branch out to leading San Diego rehabilitation centers and beyond since many incorporate art therapy into part of its recovery process.
An Art Gallery Promoting Mental Health
Across the pond in Great Britain in a village called Carmarthen, there is a progressive art gallery promoting the health and wellness of its neighboring community members. Arts Care Gofal Cymru (ACGC) is a hub for those who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder to create and exhibit their works. While the walls are decorated with paintings, other artistry peppered throughout the gallery includes handmade jewelry, pottery, and wire art. Artists receive 70 percent of the proceeds and the rest is filtered back to the gallery.
In many respects, ACGC is a safe haven, providing people with a new lease on life. ACGC are true pioneers, leading the way in elevating the concept of art and mental health.