I ran my first craft group in the early nineties for mothers who were suffering from post-natal depression. These were mother and baby groups and the women found them very beneficial. Not only did they gain much needed mutual support, the crafting also significantly lifted their mood and relieved stress.
Over the years, I have run quite a few creative groups. I have consistently found that when people get in touch with their creative sides, particularly in a group environment, their mental health also improves.
With the popularisation of mindfulness and mindful activities, like the mindful colouring books sold all around the world, there is an increasing desire to get back to some old fashioned hands-on activities, which don’t involve a computer, iPad, smart phone or some social media platform.
Crafting provides the benefits of mindfulness, while also adding the additional benefit of creative expression. Creativity can be expressed in many different shapes and forms such as through cooking, knitting, drawing, cake decorating, scrapbooking, card making other paper crafts, photography, art, music, writing, and even doing crossword puzzles. Other ways include lino cutting, pottery, silk painting, sewing, origami, paper cutting, needle felting, embroidery, and making jewellery.
Crafting can improve mental and physical health in many ways;
If you are new to crafting, choosing something that is relatively cheap to start with, will help you to find a creative hobby that makes you feel better. Visit the library for books to give you inspiration or your local craft shop where you can buy a beginners kit.
Craft groups are particularly beneficial for people who are feeling isolated or lonely. People are becoming increasingly isolated from others by the technology in front of them. When was the last time you actually visited or had a coffee with a friend? Do you text or catch up on Facebook more? Isolation is playing a big part in the increasing rates of depression. What better way to help yourself than to join a group of like minded people who love to be creative?
If you are well enough, an evening class, a weekend craft group, or even your local Women’s institute may offer not only technical support and guidance, but also social contact and companionship. If your not well enough to join a local group in the community, then doing a small therapeutic craft group might be more beneficial to get you started
In my experience as a lifelong crafter, I will always go of to my craft room when I am stressed, need a boost or just want to have fun and do something that I love. A hobby is something that is supposed to be enjoyable. Crafting is a very enjoyable hobby and has the added benefit of being good for my mental health and wellbeing. Maybe it could help you as well?
Caroline is a Registered Mental Health Nurse specialising in CBT, ACT & DBT therapies. Caroline uses a skills based approach for treating anxiety and depression, managing chronic pain and illness, and working with those who want to focus on professional and personal development.
Jane is a professional writer with a doctorate in management. She specialises in taking complex ideas and writing them in a way everyone can understand.