Why crafting is good for your mental health

Crafting can help alleviate the stress, anxiety, and more – here are some ways in which making can help heal the mind.

Engaging with the arts boosts mental wellbeing – Research published by University College London’s MARCH mental health network shows that engaging with the visual arts can reduce reported anxiety, and that visiting museums can protect against dementia development. Other studies back up these findings: Creative activity undertaken daily is linked to positive psychological functioning, while increased engagement with arts events, historical sites, and museums is associated with improved life satisfaction.

Craft has long been used to help with anxiety – Craft courses have been prescribed to patients since the dawn of occupational therapy in the late 19th century, with basketry used to relieve anxiety and physical ailments in soldiers during the First World War. In general, participants in arts on prescription workshops experience a significant increase in overall wellbeing, through reduction in nerves, stress and anxiety. Though seemingly different, the acts of baking, knitting, and gardening share characteristics that make them well-suited for self-care. These activities all help to improve mood and lower stress – the effort, multi-sensory engagement, repetitive actions and anticipation of satisfaction involved in making something are related to release of neurotransmitters that promote joy and well-being, while also reducing stress hormones.

It brings people together – One study revealed that textile craft helped them cope with depression and negative feelings, while offering social support and positive relationships. Another study shows how arts-based programming can increase marginalized youth’s participation in the community and that arts-based participatory action research led by migrant youth helps build hope and vision for the future.