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Exploring the links between craft and wellbeing

Despite advancements in technology and the ever-increasing pace of modern life, there is still plenty of space for crafting in our lives. In fact, with the ever-growing number of things that we have to worry about — money, social media, climate change, politics, to name but a few — the role of crafting and the benefits it offers are crucial now more than ever.

Anyone who has participated in any form of crafting- whether it was a beginner’s ceramics course, an online creative tutorial, or owns a crafts business- knows that it makes you feel good. So, what exactly is the link between craft and wellbeing?

In 2011, the Crafts Council published a report, ‘Craft and Wellbeing’, looking to answer this exact question. In researching the topic, the report’s author, Dr. Karen Yair found that those who pursue a career in craft are generally satisfied, as their career allows them to make their own decisions and opportunities, as well as providing a satisfying work-life balance. Additionally, getting into a craft project creates an almost meditative sense of immersion and encourages general wellbeing. This immersion has been proven to help stave off dangerous addictions and increase serotonin levels. The practice quite literally lifts your mood, much like exercise or eating a bar of chocolate. Craft also plays an important role in communities and gives people the opportunity to bond and form relationships. Dr. Yair found that one of the most rewarding aspects of crafting is the sense of joy derived from manifesting your ideas into reality, the skills that are developed in doing so, and creating meaningful, enduring objects.

A recent report by The Handmade Fair found that three in four people in the UK believe crafting can have a positive impact on your wellbeing, with a quarter of crafters saying it had helped them deal with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety. Given these findings, it’s really no wonder that crafting is so often cited as a form of therapy. It is the key concept in Arzu Tahsin and Rose Davidson’s soon to be published book, Craftfulness: Mend Yourself by Making Things. The book is an inspiring celebration of all things creativity and craft while emphasising the huge mental benefits of making things with your hands. The authors will go deep into the realms of the science of creativity, why everyone should develop a craft habit as well as the authors’ ‘down-to-earth’ craft ethos.

The belief in the relationship between craft and health stretches across many realms, both online and offline. Craft As Therapy, an online crafting community run by a group of 19 crafters in which they encourage all crafters, no matter what their experience level, to share pictures of their projects via the hashtag #craftastherapy. It is clear that their love and firm belief in the benefits of crafts is one that is shared by many — their Instagram page currently has 110k followers.

Stitchlinks, an organisation founded by Betsan Corkhill, aims to promote the health benefits of craft through knitting and ‘other therapeutic creative activities’, provide a supportive community, and conduct formal research into the medical benefits of craft. In an interview with Woman’s Weekly, Corkhill says, ‘health and wellbeing is about so much more than isolated symptoms and medication — it’s about the whole person and their environment. Therapeutic knitting can help people address a wide range of issues to improve general wellbeing’.

A phenomenon that really exemplifies the shared importance found in wellbeing, and the role of crafting, is the globally popular Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced hue-guh). The word cannot be directly translated, but it embodies a sense of ‘coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment’. However, the popularisation of hygge has made it more than a feeling, rather, it has become a lifestyle completely centred around that warm feeling and the consequential wellness that it brings.

The act of crafting fits hand in hand with many of the concepts of hygge — taking things slowly and enjoying the moment, and small gestures such as adding small crafts to your home or giving a loved one a handmade gift. The concept has become so popular, that in 2016 it became a ‘word of the year’ in both the Oxford and Collins dictionaries. The overwhelming popularity of the Scandinavian lifestyle trend indicates a desire to improve wellbeing through simple acts - such as craft.

With the undeniable link between health and craft, you may be wondering how to get involved? 

Next month Yodomo will be hosting a range of crafting activities and craft courses as part of THE FUTURE OF CRAFT, a special event for London Craft Week 2019 presented by Oxo Tower Wharf in collaboration with Design-Nation and Future Icons. 

We’ll be hosting a number of demos from tutors including Carréducker — Shoemakers, Karolina Merska — Pajaki (Paper Chandeliers), Hanbury Press — Bookbinding, Studio Ranj — Alternative Kiln Techniques and more.

If you prefer to learn at home at your own pace then you can access courses at Yodomo all the time. 

And for companies looking to see how they can bring these wellbeing benefits to their staff, find out more about our Corporate Wellbeing packages