Woman with sewing tape meditates in front of clothes

Sew Zen - Why crafting is good for your mental health

“Regular crafting can improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation during and after the activity.”

We all know the feeling – we get out the craft magazines, decide on a project and then feel guilty for spending time on our hobby rather than working, tidying, driving the kids around, or doing the household chores.

However, more and more evidence is coming to light showing that sewing, and other craft activities, can actually have a positive impact on our mental health. The expert advice indicates that crafting for mindfulness is far from being an indulgence and is actually an important part of healthy mental wellbeing.

Mindful, what?

Mindfulness is one of the big buzz words in the wellbeing space, with many people looking at its potential to improve mental health and reduce stress. But what is mindfulness and what does it have to do with sewing, embroidery, quilting and crafting?

Mindfulness is the practice of making a particular effort to be aware of yourself, your surroundings and what’s happening in the present moment. The key lies in being completely absorbed in doing one particular thing.

The foundation of mindfulness is meditation. Often the thought of meditation strikes us with disbelief or worry as to where we’ll fit it in. But, luckily, crafting and sewing can be a great way to practice it without having to sit cross-legged in a silent room.

Taking time out to craft, while making repetitive use of your hands, eyes and all of your senses is a great way to effortlessly slip into a state of focused mindfulness and bring time to a standstill, which is exactly what people are trying to achieve when they meditate.

Woman colours in mandala drawing in rainbow colours
Those regularly practicing mindfulness techniques say they feel calmer, less stressed and are more able to deal with difficult thoughts and situations. Mindfulness is known to reduce stress, improve mental health and wellbeing, improve physical health and improve cognitive and job performance. Sounds like a pretty good excuse to get crafting!

Stepping away from the smart phone

When we ‘switch off’ after a busy day we often get sucked in by phones, tablets and TVs, which actually keep our brains active and don’t shut out all those nagging thoughts we have.  Picking up your sewing, embroidery, quilting or papercraft projects can be the ideal way to focus on one activity only and give our brains the rest they need. The rhythmic, repetitive sounds and movements, along with the concentration on what it is you’re making, can be an ideal way to induce a natural state of mindfulness.

Another great way to fully immerse yourself in a relaxed state and get the most from your experience is to create a dedicated place that helps you wind down after a long day. This doesn’t need to be your own sewing room away from the family, but can be as simple as creating a crafting space in a quiet corner, or getting comfy in your favourite chair with all the things you need spread out around you.
Patchwork red heart held in hands on wooden background

Crafting for wellness

Recent research suggests that regular crafting can improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation during and after the activity – which is a great way to continue those positive feelings throughout the day.

So, the next time you feel guilty for sitting down in front of the sewing machine, picking up your knitting needles or starting a new craft project, think of it as an investment in your own (and your family’s) health and happiness.

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