Anybody who has picked up a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook knows, once you start, it’s hard to stop! Sure, there’s the learning curve at the beginning, when casting on feels more like tying knots, when your tension is wonky and your piece loops in and out of shape, and the finished product isn’t quite how you’d pictured it. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you find yourself reaching for a project in moments of leisure, while waiting for an appointment, out of boredom while traveling, at night on the couch when settling into to watch your favorite show.
But the benefits of a crafting hobby go beyond the obvious – yarn work has many positive impacts on your wellness, which might be a great reason to keep on crafting.
It’s fun to make things, for yourself and others, fun to admire the finished product. But there are other benefits to this kind of crafting that start weaving into your life, even in the awkward beginning as a new crafter or starting a new & more difficult project. These benefits accumulate over time, and boost your body, mind, and spirit, shining into your life with surprising impacts on your health and wellness.
The feel of the yarn as it passes through your fingers, appreciating the color and the look of the pattern as it develops, ‘coming to life’. There’s the gentle click of the needles, the weight of the project in your lap. All these details stimulate your senses and bring you into the present moment, which reduces stress, and lights up different areas of your brain. The meditative state offered by gentle concentration lowers the stress hormones in the body, which has a big impact on overall health. The process also encourages you to slow down – pace yourself, relax, and distracts from thoughts that might be pressing or upsetting. This relaxed & mindful state is called Flow; that feeling when you’re in the zone.
Many people learn best while performing another activity (remember doodling or fidgeting in school?), and knitting or crocheting can be just that. This is called cognitive anchoring; settling certain parts of the brain on the task at hand, so the rest of the brain can process new information. You’re likely already learning new things, whether it’s a pattern you haven’t tried before, or a new stitch or technique. Crafting gently keeps the mind active, and encourages you to try new things in the safe, low-stress environment of a project chosen for pleasure.
There are some very personal ‘pros’ to spending time crafting. In addition to the physical & mental benefits, it’s good for your self-esteem to try new things, and to pat yourself on the back when you get something done! This boost of pride increases self-confidence, encouraging your sense of perseverance, and your belief that you can achieve your goals. When you become more positive about yourself, it carries over into your community, improving relationships at home, at work, & with friends. Crafting also provides the opportunity to get together, and talk (or not!) & craft with people who share your interests. It also offers the chance to give – whether it’s a gift for your friend or a donation to a local charity. Giving connects us with our communities, large and small, and reminds us that we’re not alone.
In looking at just some of the benefits associated with crafting, the opportunities are endless! If you’re thinking of learning something new, whether it’s a language, or studying for a difficult test, try working with your hands to increase comprehension. If your workplace is demanding, throw your project in a bag and take a few minutes to knit on a break. If you’ve never crafted for charity, there are so many out there – try searching ‘charity’ for ideas we’ve blogged about before! Or, you could considering giving the gift of knitting or crocheting to a friend who might need it – whether it’s bringing them to a class, or planning to give a kit for an upcoming birthday or holiday.
Let us know if any of these benefits surprised you, & please share below in the comments the ways in which crafting has had a positive impact on your life.