As much as we hate to admit it, depression and anxiety are growing problems in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 21 people globally suffers from major depression and 1 in 13 people from anxiety.
The USA is in the top three of most depressed countries in the world. Depression doesn’t discriminate – it can affect people no matter their age, gender or race.
So where does crafting come into this? Isn’t crafting just a fun way to spend your time and show off your creative side?
According to a study cited by CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/25/health/brain-crafting-benefits/index.html) in 2014, crafting affects your brain in a very interesting way.
Scientists have compared crafting to meditation, due to the fact that you are in a similar state in both situations. You’re focused on the task at hand and little can distract you. It’s therapeutic.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state, “flow” in papers that he has written and also in a TED talk he did in 2004 called, “Flow, the secret to happiness.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow)
When crafting – particularly something that is repetitive, you reach a level of Zen that distracts you from the outside world and it also gives your brain a release of dopamine – a natural anti-depressant. It’s the same release as when we eat, have sex or exercise.
Evidence of this is found in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy where over 3500 knitters were surveyed about how they felt when they crafted. 81% stated that they felt happy after knitting, while over half said they felt “very happy”.
Also, the fact that you get something beautiful at the end of it gives people the knowledge that what they are doing has a positive outcome.
It doesn’t matter what craft you choose, as long as it is something that you enjoy and you’re working with your hands.
Check out these crafty resources that use art as therapy:
Mind Crafternoon – based in the UK
A hashtag that allows people using crafts as therapy to connect with each other
Khula Aasman Trust – Crafting Art for Social Change
Based in Mumbai (India is also in the top 3 of most depressed countries in the world
Art Heels – based in North Carolina
An entire list of Art and Healing Organizations & Programs
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