How Does Crafting Help with Mental Health?

According to the Family & Consumer Sciences Department at U of A, these are just some of the mental health benefits of crafting:

Crafting leads to reduced stress. 

Stress is one of our leading health problems. Its effects range from migraines and fatigue to heart failure and early memory loss. Reducing stress reduces disease. Crafting is a form of meditation that can be a daily way to minimize the effects of stress in your life.

Crafting helps relieve and reduce depression and anxiety. 

Depression relief is by far the most reported and studied benefit of crafting. The repetition of the crafts has been shown to release serotonin, a natural antidepressant. 

Crafting projects help build self-esteem. 

Simply visualizing, working on and then creating a product can make you feel better about yourself. This has helped people with everything from coping with the fear of unemployment to gaining the strength to leave abusive relationships.

Crafting helps to decrease the risk of cognitive impairment as you age. 

Several studies have shown crafting can postpone age-related memory loss. The crafts can also be soothing for those people who are already experiencing signs of dementia. Recently, researcher Yonas Geda, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, completed a study that showed completing craft projects, like knitting, is neuroprotective and may reduce dementia by as much as 50%.

Crafting can help with insomnia. 

Insomnia is a terrible feeling. You are tired but you can’t sleep so then you’re frustrated that you can’t sleep, which just makes it harder to sleep. A study by professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute found that 100% of insomnia patients reported improved sleep with 90% being able to eliminate medication in a program that included working on a craft before bedtime. 

Crafting promotes relaxation which reduces irritability and restlessness. 

Crafting can help you through any times when you feel grumpy, restless, frustrated or bored. This positive outlet preserves your relationships and keeps your mood balanced.

Through crafting we can build a sense community and nurture friendships. 

No matter what health issue you are dealing with, it helps to have a community of support around you. Here' an idea. Start a craft group face-to-face or online!

Crafting can help with grief processing. 

Loss is a horrible thing and none of us escape it. During periods of deep grief it can seem impossible that you’ll ever be able to function again. Completing a craft can be one of the most comforting things during this time. With such a variety of crafting projects available, it's easy to find an affordable options which takes very little effort. You can choose a project that can be done in small bits when you have the energy. It can, for a moment, take your mind off of your pain.