Craft and Mental Health
Now that September is here, many of us will be going back to work or school and whilst this can be exciting, it can be daunting too, particularly if you live with someone who has been shielding or have been shielding yourself. Also, workplaces and schools will look a little different, and that change can be enough to bring anyone down, whether they have pre-existing mental health conditions or not. As I have mentioned many times before, crafting is an amazing way of dealing with stress, anxiety and even depression. But how? Today, I will explain a few ways in which you can use craft as a tool to help you with your mental health.
Often, we are encouraged to talk about our feelings; however, this can be really stressful and upsetting in itself. Having said that, getting negativity out of your system is so important too. This is where craft comes in - through craft you can express your feelings without using words and without feeling forced to share anything embarrassing or upsetting with anyone else. It could be something really simple, such as a blanket, jumper or stuffed toy that you specifically use when you are feeling down. Alternatively, you could make something to help you feel uplifted, such as a funny collage or vibrant scarf (particularly if it is red, yellow or green as these colours, in the correct amounts, have been proven to boost happiness). I have been gathering a lot of art materials so that when I am back to school, I can do some crafting to express myself. I'll let you know how I get on!
Also, when it comes to knitting, crochet, macramé and other crafts that use your hands, there is another way to let your emotions go - through your tension. Naturally, I'm a very loose knitter and my crochet tension isn't a lot better; however, if I'm upset, stressed, or even just watching a good drama on TV, it becomes a lot tighter. Whilst this isn't great if you are doing something that needs to be particularly neat, taking my aggression out on a more experimental project does help sometimes!
One of the worst aspects of many mental health conditions are the hard-to-block-out negative thoughts. The only true way to keep these feelings at bay is to engage your senses, and craft is perfect for that. The sound of your knitting needles gently clicking or scissors snipping, the soft texture of the wool (particularly if it is chenille or silk), watching the project grow and the ball shrink, reading through the pattern, even the smell of the wool - yes, some wools do have a smell! All that leaves is taste, but a warm, comforting meal, a cup of tea or a slice of cake can easily fix that. I don't know about you, but all that this scene needs to make it my idea of heaven is good boxset or movie. Ahh, bliss!
On a more serious note, it is important to pick the right pattern if you plan on using one - it must be challenging enough so that it does distract you but not so challenging that it brings on more stress. I would recommend learning the basics of your craft of choice on a good day then picking a pattern that describes itself as "beginner" or "intermediate" (most patterns state their difficulty level on the front or inside the pattern itself). Personally, I recommend socks as these have enough challenge and they are also portable, meaning you can work on them whenever you need.
3. Gaining a Sense of Self-Worth
Another key aspect of many mental illnesses is feeling low on self-esteem, perhaps feeling like you are no good at certain things, or that people do not like you. I definitely can relate to this one, but whenever I give my friends and family homemade gifts, the feeling disappears for while and seeing them use the present afterwards makes my day. Now, you may be thinking "What if I make something for someone and they don't like it? That will make me feel so much worse." That is true, but seeing as craft has such a broad spectrum, it is a lot harder to go wrong. Below are a few things that I make as presents that people almost always love:
Also, even making things for yourself can boost your self worth, as by making your own clothes rather than buying it from someone, you are helping the environment, particularly if you use natural materials.
4: Crafting Socially
Whilst we still cannot meet up in large groups, social media and group calling services are still there to allow us all to connect virtually. Why not arrange a virtual craft club between friends? That way, not only can you see friends again if you have not already and can craft together, you can also use the time to talk about your mental health, worries or whatever is on your mind. If you don't know if your friends are into craft then ask them. Even if they are not, they will appreciate you reaching out and may want to give it a go.
There really are so many ways to use craft as a tool to boost your mental health, whether that is through letting your feelings out, taking your mind off of your worries for a while, making presents to boost your self-esteem or even using craft to connect with others. If the thought of trying craft does seem daunting then remember, craft can be whatever you want to be; it can be as simple as doodling and making collages or as complicated as making a wardrobe and filling it with homemade outfits.
That's all from me today. Until next time, happy crafting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..