Here is an extract from an article that was released as part of Carole Matthews most recent book launch;
One in six of us (17%) are turning to crafts, with activities such as sewing (12%), knitting (12%), painting (9%) and card making (6%) becoming popular. Only 16% of women have never actually tried their hand at crafting. And completing crafting projects has many psychological benefits for these hobbyists. Nearly half (45%) of women feel a sense of achievement when completing a craft activity, 42% do them for their stress relieving properties and a further 42% enjoy feeling focused. A further one in ten (11%) gain a sense of pride from their creations.
Now, It's no news to us that craft helps us to relax.
But how exactly does craft make us happier?
Behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings explains, “In these stressful times, it’s natural that we turn to activities that not only give us a sense of purpose and achievement but also allow our minds to switch off from anxiety and relax.
So here's the science-y bit....
When focusing on activities that give us a sense of pride and achievement we stimulate a part of our brain called the hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that decides what chemicals are released into our nervous system. These positive neurochemicals are responsible for giving us an "emotional high" and are what make us happy.
Some of these include;
This motivates us to achieving goals and desires. Those who have poor motivation and experience self doubt, could have low dopamine levels.
You can increase your dopamine levels by achieving goals such as a crafting activity or learning a new technique. Keep motivated by setting a new goal before the previous one is complete.
Break down your bigger goals into bite size ones that are easier to achieve (you will get a little dopamine rush from each one).
This chemical is responsible to intimacy, trust and building healthy relationships. It's produced when we have physical contact with someone and helps in bonding.
It's also released when we receive gifts. Try making a gift for someone to give them a oxytocin rush. They may even give you one back with a hug.
This is released when we feel valued and important. It's why we feel good when we get lots of "likes" on Facebook or make an Etsy sale.
Its also released when we reflect on past achievements. So put that painting that you'r proud of up in a prominent place.
Each time you see it will give you a serotonin fix.
However the effects of serotonin can be addictive. Those with low serotonin levels can display attention seeking behaviour such as addiction to social media. Failure to achieve a serotonin hit can cause someone to become dependant on artificial stimulates such as drugs and alcohol.
Raise serotonin levels by becoming part of a craft club locally or online. Try joining this Facebook group to talk to like minded crafters worldwide; https://www.facebook.com/groups/553938394678159/
Serotonin is also released alongside vitamin D when you sit in the sunshine, and can also be found in bananas and chocolate.
These are released as a result of pain and stress.
Vigorous exercise can result in a "runners high" acting as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.
Laughter is also a great way to get endorphin's flowing. Meeting up with a friend that you know will send you into the fit of the giggles is a sure fire way to get a hit.
I'm no advocate of stress. But overcoming a stressful situation such as a big Etsy order or finishing a project in a certain time frame, can cause a big release of endorphin's too.
Check out the #100daysproject for a laid back craft challenge.
What you can do to make your crafting more relaxing?
We all have our reasons why we craft. For some It's a business and some purely for pleasure, but we all do it foremost because we enjoy it.
So what happens when your crafting becomes a cause of stress in your life? I wrote this article recently about how taking a break from crafting can help you re-focus.
There are also other ways that you can reduce stress in what is fundamentally supposed to be an enjoyable activity for you.
1. Read the above article and re-discover WHY you craft in the first place.
Did it start out as a way to relax, but you have found yourself trying to cram craft into your busy schedule? Don't make craft just another thing on your to-do list.
2. Don't take on more work than you can manage. Regardless of if your crafting as a business or for pleasure it's easy to say "Yes" every time someone asks you to make something.
"I know you make cards so would you mind making 100 invitations for my daughters wedding?"
"I saw the lovely cake you made for *insert friends name* Birthday. Could you make one for my Husband? Oh by the way, I need it for tomorrow....."
You may be every ones crafty go-to, but that doesn't mean you need to say yes to every request.
3. Find a safe place to craft.
You don't need a concrete bunker buried in the garden.
It's difficult to unwind through craft if you can see all the washing that needs doing out of the corner of your eye, or the kids are running around the dining room table driving you crazy.
A safe place to craft is just somewhere that you can concentrate on your craft without getting distracted. It could be a fold out table in your child-free bedroom, a beading tray that comes out once the kids are in bed, or a painters folder that can be taken to the park.
So just relax, unwind and craft yourself happy!