Picking up some knitting needles? How about a cross-stitch hoop? Crafts are more prevalent than ever, due in part to the introduction of adult coloring books and websites that highlight DIY (do-it-yourself) or handmade items. What many people don't realize is not only does crafting increase your ability to create unique gifts or personal art, but it also boosts your sense of calm, comfort and mindfulness.
"Tactile crafts that require using your hands, such as knitting, crochet and coloring, have a positive impact on a person's overall well-being and mental stability," says Lois Hare, supervisor of spiritual care at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. "The repetitive, kinesthetic motion and hand-eye coordination found in knitting or crochet, and the concentration required for coloring or cross-stitching, provides for not only a healthy distraction, but can be calming and contemplative as well."
These imaginative activities can also provide some of the same effects found in meditation, and because they stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, crafts simultaneously activate the way we analyze situations and our creativity.
Other health benefits of crafts:
- Reduce anxiety or stress
- Provide opportunity for social interaction
- Improve the brain's ability to focus certain tasks or concepts for longer periods of time
- Encourage creativity
- Develop fine motor skills
- Support emotional health
"Crafts can help replace negative or stressful thoughts with positive or creative ones," explains Hare. "When we learn to let go of our inner perfectionist and embrace the sheer joy of our own artistry, without judging it or comparing, we have tapped into a treasured path that allows the worries of the day to fade into the background."
Crafting and mindfulness activities are available to patients and their loved ones as part of Sharp Chula Vista's Integrative and Complementary Medicine Program. Sharp Chula Vista's Volunteer Program also provides individuals with the opportunity to be involved in crafts, including the hospital's Art Cart program, knitting, music therapy and more.
At Sharp Memorial Hospital, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Sharp McDonald Center, trained music and expressive arts therapists work with patients to reduce pain and fear through Sharp's Arts for Healing program, at the bedside or in small groups.