Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews
From the journeying process of art therapy to the so-satisfying results of a finished project, there seem to be an endless number of ways that crafting and creativity can help to soothe the spirit. Just as there are endless possibilities of how to make an amigurumi, crochet a blouse, write a song, or perform a dance, each crafting type and style can interact with each emotion in hundreds (if not millions) of ways.
Why Is Creativity Good For Mental Health?
In essence, creativity and the process of making crafts links closely to mental health because art is emotion, at its core. The practices and techniques that we know and learn today have been tried and tested over thousands of years by our fellow crafters; our fellow humans. Creativity has always been a method to express the inner psyche, and all of its hopes and fears, triumphs and lessons throughout the ages. When we take the time to craft, we are taking time to explore and express ourselves, the very mind and heart that needs tending to.
Crafting To Relieve Anxiety
Anxiety is a quickly paced emotion, rooted in survival and fear. When we need to be hyper-vigilant, some of the symptoms of anxiety can work in our favor: the natural, heightened response to stress. When we are just simply overthinking, however, keeping our hands busy can work wonders to help pace us, as we come back into the present moment and begin to work with the true goals of our fears.
Crafting To Reduce Stress
Likewise, when a time of true stress comes along, often with ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ scenarios and a lot on the line, crafting can give us a way to expel some of that nervous energy, to avoid total burnout during difficult times. When we are stressed, we often continue to give energy to the problem even when we can no longer do anything about it. Working on a creative project in the meantime can help reserve some of that energy, helping to recharge and get ready for the next steps.
Crafting To Help With Depression
When dealing with depression, crafting and creative hobbies can not only help to muster up a sense of accomplishment, but they also aid in the odd passage of time. Counterintuitively, the days that feel like they drag on and on without any meaning can be the best time to hash out some tricky and time consuming detail work.
Although we may feel lackluster when depressed, the end results of creative efforts often come out looking just as good as they would if made during a better mood. This not only makes use of the downtime, but can become a very valuable scrapbook of our own mental health, proving that even when we feel like a sack of old potatoes, we can still flicker on and shine.
Processing Emotions With Creativity
Not only does crafting help with symptoms of strained mental health, it can also assist in processing emotions and complex ideas individually. Naturally, this can unfold in a different way for any person on any day, but as soon as you begin to make something, you are dancing with some thought or feeling.
You could be creating something ideal that you’ve never seen, or something familiar that you enjoy. Or, it could be an expression of something you really dislike, or a new take on a style that may have fit in, but never quite fit you. No matter the subject or theme, each of these things ties to a slew of emotions, just waiting to unfold in the half-trance of creating.
There is a whole lot of what, why, and how in creating. The true beauty of it is that each piece is a place to explore your inner world without limitations. While some projects may become favorites while others become scrapped and cycled out ideas, each step along the way is another chapter of figuring out how you think about how you feel, and how you feel about how you think!
(And all it ever takes is the first five minutes to get started.)
Want to relax? Check out our list of Top 10 Anxiety-Reducing DIY Crafting Projects
"Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.