Think of the way you feel when you are crafting. Whether you are knitting, sewing or quilting, it is likely that you feel serene and comfortable, completely lost in your work and the positive emotions that accompany it. This sensation was named “flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who has devoted his life to researching cognitive activities – like crafting and doing crossword puzzles – to see what effects they have on us.
According to Csikszentmihalyi, our sense of time disappears when crafting, like it does during meditation, because we are so focused on the task at hand and completing it properly. During this “flow” time, stress is relieved and dopamine is released into the brain, making us happier overall.
Dopamine is the body’s natural anti-depressant, and the release of this neurotransmitter into the brain while crafting can help to ward off depression and anxiety.
One study published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy tested the proposal that crafting is a powerful anti-depression by asking individuals with depression take up knitting. According to the study, more than 80 percent of subjects said that they felt happy or very happy after knitting, just another reason to take some time out of your busy day to de-stress and work on your current craft project!
Interestingly enough, the positive effects don’t stop when you put down your knitting needles, hot glue gun or crafting scissors. Viewing your completed projects and receiving compliments for them can cause extra boosts in dopamine.
Defense Against Aging
All of us worry about losing our independence as we age, but the ability that crafting has to use different areas of the brain in conjunction with each other can help to prevent that from happening. Exercising your brain is a great way to reduce your chances of experiencing cognitive impairments as you grow older, regardless of what type of craft project you begin. And the best thing about crafting: Anyone can do it! No matter your age or your skill level, there are plenty of crafts you can try, and it is easy to work your way up to more challenging projects.