The start of any new year is a great time to assess our health; from our mental and emotional wellbeing, to our physical and even social health. Entering 2021, this assessment is more important than ever. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020, coupled with the large-scale events, movements and general unrest of the year has left many feeling heavy, beat down and worn out. Crafting and returning to other slower-paced hobbies like baking and gardening have proven to be escapes from the stress and anxiety many of us have experienced with each news alert and event cancellation.
While these hobbies are a natural fit for being confined to our homes, they are also excellent choices for managing and improving mental health. Quarantine is by nature isolating, yet having activities that unite us with others through time, passion and - let’s be real, the internet - allows us to cultivate a whole new community. We connect with other crafters and get joy from sharing our work. Even former First Lady Michelle Obama has taken up knitting during the pandemic and joined the online community of knitters having discussions, praising projects and improving their craft.
Yarn-based activities are particularly good options for people looking to get into crafting as there is a low entry threshold, no age restrictions, and most of us have positive connotations, memories or general sense of nostalgia with pastimes like knitting or crochet. For example, picking up a pair of knitting needles reminds us of Grandma who knit that blanket on the back of the couch, or grabbing a crochet hook makes us reminisce about Aunt Mary who made our favorite baby blanket. The fiber arts also engage us through textures, colors, smells and sounds which help replace some of the sensory stimuli we are missing out on beyond the walls of home.
Regardless of whether you’re new to the yarn world or not, the mental health benefits are significant. We’ll discuss these in greater detail later this week, but as we start our journey to understanding and improving our overall wellness through craft, let’s look at some keys to maximizing the benefits we experience:
Practice. Try to engage in your craft of choice every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. This will not only improve your skills, but help create a sense of consistency and routine.
Have a goal. Reaching the end of a project will give you a sense of accomplishment. Pick a realistic project, ideally with a shorter timeline, and enjoy the feeling of having made something from nothing!
Share. Tell your neighbor about your new hobby. Knit your sister a hat or crochet a prayer shawl for someone in need. Spreading your craft will lessen the isolation of quarantine.
Set expectations. Even for the experienced crafter, but especially if you’re new, don’t expect perfection. Your first few attempts may look clumsy, and any time you try something new, it takes time to improve.
Be patient. Just as your physical skills will improve with practice, so too will the psychological benefits. Your brain activity will ramp up the longer you work at your art.
Be social - safely. Find an online or other socially-distanced community. Beyond the benefit of human interaction, studies indicate that social opportunities to learn and share a craft increase the likelihood that people suffering from depression or anxiety will continue to practice the art.
We have some things in the works to help keep these keys top of mind and look forward to sharing soon. For now, while we are all crossing our fingers for a less chaotic 2021, we hope you’ll join us as we dive into how our crafting world can improve our wellbeing as we wait out this pandemic and beyond!Sources:
Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness