A New Beginning
Hello, Happy New Year to you all! Apologies for not having posted for ages, but fortunately, I've got something very exciting planned that will hopefully make up for that - more on that later. 2020 was a year that can only be described as one thing: strange. But let’s not dwell on the past; I’m hoping that things improve for us all this year.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions? I’ve got a little list of things that I would like to achieve, but nothing too daring or life-changing. For me, my main goal is to try and look after my mental health and wellbeing – after everything that went on last year, we all need to look after ourselves, and totally deserve a pat on the back for ploughing on!
When I think about self-care and what makes me happy, crafting is one of the first things that come to mind. A few days ago, when I was feeling stressed and down, I decided to pick up a knitting project that I had just started, and as I knitted each stitch and row, I felt calmer and started to realise that things were going to be OK. I’m not claiming that it was a “miracle cure” but it definitely made things feel a whole lot lighter.
I know I’m not the only one. In his book Knit and Nibble, food writer and television chef James McIntosh talks about how, throughout his career, he experienced high levels of stress from how busy his life had become. One day, as a consequence, he was unable to get out of bed and find the joy in his life. He tried practicing meditation to boost his mental health; however, it was not for him. He felt at a loss – until he discovered knitting. As he started to knit, he noticed that his mental health was improving – in his book he says “a faint light began appearing at the end of that very dark tunnel.”
But why? What is it that makes craft such a powerful tool for wellbeing? Well, firstly, it’s linked to hormones – whenever you do craft, your dopamine (“happy hormone”) levels increase and your stress hormones, such as cortisol, decrease. As a consequence, craft can make you feel less lonely and can relieve symptoms of some mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. The concentration and repetition that many crafts require can also stop the mind from wandering and can make negative thoughts feel a little more quiet. Then, when you produce a final product, your feelings of self esteem may increase because you can see what you have made – and what you have achieved – in front of your very eyes. I know I always get a buzz of excitement and pride when I complete a project! What’s more, not only is craft great for your mental health, but it has even been proven to reduce chronic pain.
For this reason, I have decided to craft every day for a year as my New Year’s Resolution. Also, much more importantly, I will be doing a series of blog posts every week from today until the 10th July, with a focus on crafting (particularly knitting and crochet) and mental health, something that's very close to my heart. I’ve broken down the idea into six themes. These are:
I am so excited to start this little series – don’t forget to check in next week to see the first post! Also, I would love to hear from you – if you have any questions or want to show us what crafts you’re working on, feel free to drop a comment or message either here, on Instagram (@avicraftwool) or on Facebook (@avicraftwoolbromley). There will also be quite a few surveys and opinion polls throughout this, so do let us know what you think in those.
I can’t wait to write to you all next week, but until then, happy crafting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..