Every year, one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem, according to mental health charity Mind. And more and more people are learning that hand-making and crafting, with its mindful propensities, can be an incredibly powerful and therapeutic tool when it comes to tackling and coping with mental health issues.
A poll by The Handmade Fair, the ultimate creative day out by Kirstie Allsopp, has just found that 75 per cent of Brits believe crafting can benefit mental health or wellbeing, with a quarter of crafters saying it had helped them deal with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety.
The poll results come as The Handmade Fair launches its Making Time project, encouraging people to make time daily for their creative hobbies and reap the benefits to their wellbeing.
So this Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to highlight the five ways in which crafting can help you cope with the symptoms of mental health problems.
A Sense of Purpose and Accomplishment
When our mental illnesses lie to us and say we can’t do anything or that we aren’t good enough, it can be soul-destroying. But you can use hand-making and crafts to remind yourself that you have the ability to create something beautiful. And luckily with crafting, if you mess up a woollen hat, a beaded necklace or a giant pom-pom, it’s not the end of the world — but it can still remind you of your efforts and worth.
That feeling of achievement may give you enough confidence to tackle other tasks you have for the day.
Creativity is a feel-good high
When we’re being creative, our brains release dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Scientists are even beginning to study the link between engaging in creative activities and the ability to reduce the mild cognitive impairment associated with ageing.
The world of social media can get a bit much sometimes, and we all occasionally need to switch off from everyone’s portrayal of their “perfect” (over-filtered) lives. But not only can these kinds of posts make you feel like you’re not good enough, social media’s endless stream of notifications, alerts, calls and messages can also become overbearing and can trigger anxiety. Taking some time away from the screen and indulging yourself in a mindful activity such as crafting has been proven to lower blood pressure.
With crafting often comes a vibrant community of like-minded crafters who will be keen to hear and share tips and tricks, and chat all things craft. The sense of community that comes with it can keep feelings of isolation, worthlessness and loneliness at bay, which can be part of or trigger mental health issues. A good place to meet fellow crafters is The Handmade Fair (Hampton Court Palace, 14-16th September), where this year - for the first ever time - there will be a dedicated ‘Making Time’ drop-in area at Hampton Court Palace, 14-16th September. In this dedicated area, you’ll be able to take some time out to get creative at your own pace and meet other craft lovers.
Distraction can be one of the best ways to deal with anxiety disorders, so using repetitive crafts to distract yourself from anxiety and triggers can be useful. Tackling the underlying causes of your anxiety is a difficult task when your mind is overflowing. But once you’ve distracted yourself from the anxiety, and you’re in a calmer place, you may find that you can tackle the cause. Try a repetitive craft like knitting or colouring. The repetitive actions can be very calming. It requires a little bit of concentration, but not a whole lot of brain work.