Adulting: For the love of crafting...
I heart crafting. Crocheting, knitting, quilting…I want to try it all!
One of my latest endeavors is hand sewing felt; I started during one of our COVID lockdowns, and I haven’t stopped. I take such joy in finding an attractive pattern and then deciding the colors of materials and style. And I find the repetitive actions of sewing incredibly soothing, along with the anticipation of what the finished item will look like.
I wanted to research a bit about why my crafting causes me such happiness. So, I did some digging.
A CNN article explains how crafting creates “flow”, producing results similar to meditation:
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described this phenomenon as flow: a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Flow, Csikszentmihalyi says, is the secret to happiness – a statement he supports with decades of research.
Csikszentmihalyi has such wisdom. Crafting is incredibly absorbing for me. From the moment I decide to begin a project and start my planning, my mind is happily occupied.
But I needed to research more. Friends, I needed simple and direct answers, like for a child. And ironically, I found it in an article (Red Ted Art) that talked about how crafting can help anxious young ones. The article, and therefore the quotations I pulled, reference children. But I believe the truth applies to adults too, and to be cliché, aren’t many of us children at heart?
First of all, the article explains that crafting builds up self-esteem for children, which also rings true for adults:
They can use that feeling in the future as well when faced with another difficult task that needs to be completed. And best of all, they can actually see the results of all their efforts and be complimented on them. These compliments trigger dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for that feel-good feeling.
The article also focused on the “tactile” and therefore beneficial nature of crafting:
These materials engage the senses and as your child uses these to create different things, it takes their brain down a notch. This is a variation on sensory play which has an incredible calming effect. Here, your child will focus on one or two senses and ‘block out’ the others while becoming absorbed with the materials in front of them.
And finally, back to the meditation aspect of crafting that can apply to any age:
Concentrating so much on the activity, they forget the outside world. It simply ceases to exist for that short period of time and their anxiety is all but forgotten…From a physiological perspective, it’s been shown that these repetitive tasks dampens the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your biology responsible for fight or flight and is a key part of why we get anxious in the first place.
Now I better understand why I find myself returning to my craft projects, again and again.
Just like the children in the study, I enjoy the soothing, calming effect that a sewing needle can bring (or crochet hook, or knitting needle, etc.) I’m also eager to dip my toe into other projects, and I encourage you to consider joining me.