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Why Crafts Are a Great Way to Practice Self Care

August 06, 2021

Sure crafting is relaxing and creative, but did you know it can also improve your mental health and well-being? Learn more about how scrapbooking and knitting may be a form of self-care. Some of our ideas may surprise you.

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Photo: Shutterstock/zhukovvvlad

Craft for Pleasure, Improve Your Health

Scrapbooking, jewelry-making, art journaling, knitting and other popular crafts — while all these hands-on activities are a pleasant way to spend your off-hours, they provide health benefits, as well. “Studies have shown that at least 75 percent of doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses,” says Victoria Rivera, MD, a physician in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. “Active hobbies can cause your brain to release endorphins (stress- and pain-relieving chemicals) and reduce stress-related hormones (cortisol and adrenalin). The calming effects of these natural stress-reducers in your body usually last for several hours." The National Institutes of Health backs up this claim. Self-care — taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health — can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy, the NIH says. Even the time-out you take to pursue your favorite craft can have an impact.

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Photo: Creative Memories

Getting Into the ‘Flow’ Zone

Dr. Clay Routledge, a psychologist who studies the role nostalgia plays in our lives, works on studies with the scrapbooking brand Creative Memories and explains how nostalgia has a therapeutic effect when tapped through the popular craft of scrapbooking. “It’s kind of like ‘flow’ in exercising, or in crafting, where you reach that place that is that state of happiness and productivity," Dr. Routledge says. “In my work I talk to a lot of people who do a lot of different types of nostalgia activities. Scrapbooking is really one of the creative activities that best captures and amplifies the nostalgia. You’re not only revisiting memories but engaged in an active process of cultivating them, and building something that captures your history.

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Photo: Creative Memories

Scrapbooking to Remember the Journey

Joy Lang of Shelby, Ohio began “scrapping” more than 20 years ago to record the journey of discovering her adoption records and the search for her biological family. “Beyond that, I kept scrapping because I loved it,” she says. “It’s very relaxing for me, and allows me to create. I like to think of each page as a work of art.” Lang has albums of vacations, pets, yearly albums, albums about her girlfriends and Christmas albums that include cards and letters from friends and family. “These are wonderful because I can display them at Christmas like coffee table books.” And the original scrapbook of the search for her biological family is still a work in progress: “That scrapbook has been added to over the years, and the story continues.”

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Photo: Shutterstock/Goffkein

Finding Calm In Thread and Yarn

Talk to knitters, crochet aficionados, needlepoint practitioners and others who work with needles and thread or with yarn about their crafting time, and the word “calm” inevitably pops up in the conversation. “I’ve been knitting for more than 60 years,” says Karen Knox of Nashville, who has made scarves, hats, mittens, socks and baby sweaters for family and friends. “Knitting is calming, some of it can be done almost mindlessly, and for people who find it hard to sit still, it can allow them to watch a movie or attend a live music concert and still concentrate on the event.” Ending up with something original, wearable or giftable is a side benefit of these traditional crafts.

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