If you have seen articles over the last few months saying people have been stressed out over the past two years and feel the same, you are not alone. What can we do to lower our stress levels and relax in our limited free time? Crafts have shown to have tremendous benefits for the crafter, no matter what the medium. My experience is mostly with sewing, knitting, crochet, and needlework crafts. I’ve always found it almost magical how two stick (knitting) or one hook (crochet) can create fabric. And the options of what to make are only limited by your imagination and your patience.
Crafting can reduce stress. The repetitive motion or actions of many crafts can act as a kind of moving meditation slowing your breathing and reducing your heart rate. This helps counteract the effects of stress on the body. At the same time the repetitive motions can release serotonin, thereby reducing depression and anxiety.
Recently I’ve been enjoying cross stitch. Patterns can be as complex or simple as you are comfortable with. Whatever your style, fandom, attention span may be, there is a designer out there with just the project for you. The stitching communities on the internet can also be some of the most open-minded, welcoming, communities I’ve had the pleasure to join.
My favorite kind of knitting is simple repeating stitches and patterns. Even simple repeats can create something magical, or fun depending on your aim. Both of these projects were gifts; the blinged bags were knitted, felted, jeweled, and lined for all the ladies in my family. The pink spiral shawl reminded me of a nautilus, an animal special to my grandmother because of its relation to the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence and was given to a cousin when she needed a boost.
Crafting can reduce loneliness and increase the sense of well-being. Many in person and virtual crafting spaces are available for people to craft together, share their work, encourage, and be encouraged. If you are looking to connect, check if your local yarn store offers a social time. There may also be meet-ups or other craft focused events in your community. Many crafters are also active with community service crafting. Some examples include knitted, crocheted, or sewn hats, mittens, scarfs, prayer shawls, afghans, quilts, preemie beanies, etc. Is there a need in your community that your crafts could help fill?
My very first crochet project was a baby blanket and it took me an age as I learned to stich, spot mistakes, unstitch, and fix them, and carry on. Over time it got easier as most things do, and I was able to keep challenging myself with projects for me, like my mason jar cozy, and my loved ones, like more baby blankets.
Learning and developing skills can help slow the onset of dementia. Several studies have indicated that crafts can help postpone age related memory loss. The focused concentration and relaxation can also distract from chronic pain.
Creating something can offer a tremendous boost to your self-esteem. Taking all the steps from visualizing to completing a project is an accomplishment each time. Developing skills and abilities is something that isn’t often emphasized for adults, and crafting can fill that niche to activate the learning centers in the brain.
Surrounding yourself with color and texture is an added benefit of crafting. The pillow and tissue box cover are bargello, another needlework style popular in the 70’s and making a comeback. It is a craft with a minimal time investment and excellent for those repetitive soothing stitches. There are those who say collecting crafting supplies is a separate hobby to actually making things. As someone who has purchased many a length of fabric, skein of yarn, or kit because it was pretty, I can’t disagree. It is all in the service of being a happier, healthier person, so why not give it a try yourself?
About the author
Jen McClory joined Hallam-ICS as the Administrative Assistant in early 2022 after 8 years working for an embassy followed by 5 years in local government. That experience on top of a BA in Political Science and study abroad experiences lead her to explore the world around her near and far, in person and as an avid reader.
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Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.