Create and craft your calm space with crochet, colour or macrame. There are so many soothing and accessible ways to access your natural creativity.
I always enjoy working on my crochet or knitting when watching TV in the evening. I find that the simple repetitive process of hooking coloured wool helps me relax, but also stops me falling asleep. Keeping my hands occupied doing someone creative has a calming effect on my brain. For me, the pleasure of creative crafts is first and foremost about the process. The finished product is an added bonus.
Crafting is Good for You
There is lots of research evidence showing that simple, repetitive crafts like knitting and crochet are seriously good for your health. The experience of repeatedly making precise hand movements has similar effects on the brain as meditation. Knitting has been shown to lower the heart rate and wake up the calming parasympathetic nervous system. Crafts like crochet, spinning, sewing or decoupage can lower blood pressure and help us release tension, improving long term health. They can have the same relaxing benefits as gentle Yoga or breathing exercises[i].
When we create and craft we use both hemispheres of the brain. The imaginative right brain and the steady, practical left brain work together in balanced harmony. We remain alert yet relaxed all at the same time.
Finding Your Flow
Much has been written in recent years about the concept of flow. Flow is the effortless concentration and enjoyment we find when we are wholly absorbed in an activity[ii]. It happens when you complete a task and realise you have lost all track of time. You let go of all other concerns and become entirely present to your occupation. It is a calm and productive experience. Meditation, writing, yoga and crochet can all take us to this calm and peaceful place.
Everyone is Creative
I love the Yogic concept of the sacral chakra as the root of our creativity. This reminds us that we all have creative energy deep within our very being. Many people feel they are not good at crafts, but there are so many ways to express our inner artistry. Letting go of the need to make something “good” can free us to enjoy exploring the process.
As well as knitting and crochet, woolly crafts include weaving, spinning, felt making and more. These are all lovely ways to engage with colour and texture. Learning a new skill can be a fun and liberating experience. A while back I watched someone working at a spinning wheel and was instantly fascinated by the soothing rhythm. I found a teacher, bought a second-hand wheel on eBay and had a go for myself. So far I have produced only some very lumpy and uneven yarn, but I have had a wonderful time playfully learning.
Create and Craft in Other Ways
If knitting or sewing is not your thing, there are plenty of other ways to express your creativity. Painting or drawing, flower arranging or cake decorating are all just as enjoyable whether you are an accomplished expert or a complete beginner. These days you can learn lots of new skills on the internet. Many local centres are now offering online classes and workshops since the pandemic.
Find a Good Teacher and Make New Friends
Learning a new craft can build your self-esteem and confidence. It is also a great way to bond with family members of make new friends. Learning to sew patchwork or knit from your mother or auntie is a beautiful way to pass down family skills. Or you can find a local tutor or class. Some people discover a whole new community through crafting. For those in the South Essex area, I particularly recommend Claire Mackaness’s Beautiful Things craft classes in Brentwood and Online. Claire is a great teacher and hosts a warm and welcoming crafting centre, supporting mental health and building community.
Keep it Simple
Creativity doesn’t have to be daunting. For your wellbeing, the main thing is to absorb yourself in the experience. Complex colouring books, jigsaw puzzles and painting by numbers are all beautiful mindful activities. These are great ways to relax and calm a busy mind. The important thing is to find something you enjoy and immerse yourself in it.
Today’s Calming Practice
Spend at least 30 mins today doing something crafty or creative. Get out your old knitting, or find a colouring book or a puzzle. You might even like to research learning a new craft. If you are stuck for ideas, you can access a lovely picture to colour here. Relax and enjoy the experience.