16 November 2011

Crafting to Beat Stress...

I've recently heard a lot about how having a hobby can help reduce stress and anxiety. I've suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember and despite having learned many coping mechanisms, I have come to the conclusion that some of us are just wired this way and it's a part of who we are! It's not something you necessarily want to 'embrace' but if I just accept I'm not feeling 100% and find somewhere to channel the angst it helps me get through the day! For me, my faith = my strength and my craft = my escapism!

It's always hard to find time to sit down with a hobby or project when it's not really a priority in your daily schedule. But when I do manage to grab an hour or two to myself it works miracles! I crochet watching TV, I sew on the machine during my 2yo's nap time (if she cooperates!), I make jewellery sitting at the table where she can 'help' me with the pretty colours and I take photos of my stock outside while she's playing in the garden. I don't think you need to be 100% on your own and in a peaceful house, it's more about doing something you love in and around your typical day!

I've been looking up a few articles online about craft as stress relief and discovered on one website it ranked as the #1 form of stress relief over gardening, pets, photography, sports, music reading and even a holiday!

A craft can be any hand made project that you take pleasure in doing - it could be painting, needle work, knitting, home decoration, wood work. Craft provides a mean of distraction from our pressure and stresses from everyday life. When you work on a craft project, you tend to be concentrating on it making you forget about your problems. In fact, medical studies have shown that there are physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits from having an active interest in crafting. read more...

Harvard University’s world-renowned mind/body expert, Herbert Benson, says that repetitive and rhythmic crafts such as knitting may even evoke what he calls the relaxation response—a feeling of bodily and mental calm that’s been scientifically proven to enhance health and reduce the risk of heart disease, anxiety and depression. “You can induce the relaxation response through any type of repetition, whether it’s repeating a word, prayer or action, such as knitting or sewing,” he notes. “The act of doing a task over and over again breaks the train of everyday thought, and that’s what releases stress.”

The reality of it is craft allows me to express myself. No matter what mood I'm in, my craft generally reflects it and allows me to work through issues I may be churning over in my head while at the same time giving me a sense of peace. Sometimes the project may not be very pretty, but it's given me the opportunity to vent which, in my experience, is far more healthy than bottling it all up!

But the best news is that you don’t have to be ill to benefit. “We’re now finding that crafts are beneficial for healthy people, too,” says Gail McMeekin, MSW, author of the inspiring books The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and The Power of Positive Choices. “Thanks to their ability to tune you into yourself and your feelings, crafts clearly have physical, psychological and spiritual powers.” Adds Diane Ericson, a fabric artist, teacher and pattern designer, “Crafts are a way of valuing yourself and giving to yourself. They allow you to express what’s inside.” read more...

 I saw a fascinating segment on Channel 31's Made By Hand a couple of months ago where they visited the Brown Owls craft group in Brunswick, Melbourne. They interviewed a lady called Sue Halliday from 'Crafting Health'. Sue is a qualified naturopath and keen crafter and has combined the two as part of her treatment for many women's health issues. As part of Sue's Crafty Stress Management Course, you get to learn a new skill, learn to stitch, learn to crochet or go along and develop your existing craft skills and see them from a new stress busting perspective! More info... 

You can also watch the interview online in episode 5 on the Made By Hand website.

So I hope this little article encourages you to explore your options on what kind of craft you might enjoy. There's so much available and, believe me, you don't need to just stick to one form of craft - I have plenty of different projects on the go all the time depending on what kind of mood I'm in! 

Suggestions could be, sewing, quilting, scrap booking, crochet, knitting, card making, applique, decoupage, painting, button making, jewellery, restoring an old piece of furniture, cheese-making, bottling home made jams, I even find cooking a new recipe from an inspiring cookbook can be classed as expressing yourself and learning a new skill! The opportunities are endless and trust me, once you find something you love it'll be addictive!

If you are interested in learning a new skill, or just hanging out with like-minded people in a craft environment visit the Bayside Brown Owls facebook page for information on upcoming meetings in the Franskton area.


  1. Lis I find that crafting MAKES me stressed!!

  2. LOL Don! Perhaps you haven't found the right craft!

  3. I just stumbled across your blog via MadeIt and I love what you have written. I love sewing & crafting, I get alot of satisfaction from making things and it's like meditation for me. A dear friend of mine suffers from stress and anxiety so I will be showing your blog post to her. I think I will be a regular reader here now. Thanks for sharing. Sharon