—– Originally published 23rd October 2019. Updated 18th March 2020 —–
According to the mental health charity MIND, 1 in 6 people in England experience feelings of anxiety and depression in any given week. However, as the world comes to terms with living in isolation to reduce the spread of Covid 19 or Coronavirus anxiety, fear and mental well-being is on the rise. Not only are we distancing ourselves from other countries, we’re being told to minimise social visits, and physical contact. Across the country, classes have been cancelled, clubs, pubs, restaurants and non essential shops have been forced to close. This lack of social connection is adding to people’s fears and and feelings of isolation. So how can we ensure that we stay mentally happy and well throughout this difficult period? Mindfulness is a way of combating negative thoughts, allowing us to enjoy the simplicity of the everyday. And despite everything that’s going on you can still achieve Mindfulness in the hardest of times.
Studies suggest that activities like sewing, knitting and drawing can help us achieve mindfulness, so today we’ll be exploring the benefits of crafting and the impact it can have on overall mental well-being. We’ll also be providing some tips to help you craft your way to mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is about being present. The NHS explain Mindfulness as being connected and aware of what’s going on inside and outside of your body at any given moment. It’s an awareness of thoughts and feelings, and connecting with our environment. When we achieve mindfulness it can positively change the way we feel about our lives and help manage stress.
Activities that engage the mind and encourage relaxation can really help us get into the mindset of mindfulness: Not feeling down about the past or anxious about the future. We believe crafting and needlework is the perfect choice.
Crafting for Mindfulness
Before we teach you how to achieve mindfulness through crafting, we’re going to look at some of the other benefits of crafting. Research suggests that sewing, knitting and general creativity can have a huge impact on mindfulness. Many of our own graduates have spoken about the positive effects textiles, needlework and crafting has had their mental and physical well-being. Our Head of Centre, Dr. Gail Cowley has more recently written a blog about how she has overcome some difficult times in her life by focusing on finishing projects and expressing her worries through her craft. She suggests that this can really help to combat Coronavirus anxiety.
‘The course has taught me some incredible ways to create my own designs and I’ve developed the ability to do more abstract art. ‘
‘Growing as a Textiles Artist’
‘The course has opened my mind on how to approach new themes and given me a better understanding of the tools needed in order to reach my goals. ‘
‘I now create my own designs’
‘I was thrilled to discover an education centre where I could study long distance and entirely online, allowing me to fit my studies in while working full time. ‘
There is nothing like switching off from the world and getting lost in a rhythmic, hypnotic, trance-like state. Hand Embroidery, knitting and crochet are particularly effective and are activities best suited towards mindfulness. Extensive studies have also found that crafting slows cognitive ageing and improves recall, memory and mental agility.
Self improvement comes from learning a new skill or achieving a goal. Feeding your thirst for knowledge is the very best way to feel fulfilled.
When you see a project or an idea come together it can be the most uplifting feeling in the world. Even if you’re just making something small, the sense of achievement can be just enough of a buzz to get you hooked forever.
Once you’ve fallen in love with crafting – and believe us you will – you’ll be going out to the shops for supplies, meeting other crafters, booking yourself tickets to craft shows and connecting in online communities like our Facebook page. It’s true what they say, birds of a feather flock together.
Could be an income
Accredited courses like our own City & Guilds courses are a test of skill, determination and creativity. It’s no wonder that so many of our students have gone onto teach, run local classes, set up haberdashery shops, author books and exhibit across the country. It’s not for everyone but crafting could just be the start of a new career, which is a great mood elevator, especially if you’re stuck in a job you hate.
Being creative is said to be one of the most important mood enhancers. Not only do our creative pursuits induce happiness, but actively pursuing them provide a sense of purpose, motivation and confidence.
Crafting Your Way to Mindfulness.
If you’re ready to test out our theory then take a look at how you can achieve mindfulness through crafting. Remember that Mindfulness is about focusing on you and your surroundings, rather than dwelling on unhelpful thoughts and feelings.
FIND CREATIVITY IN THE EVERYDAY
Even when you don’t have time to craft, allow yourself to be inspired by the everyday. Take in the natural beauty that surrounds you, look out for inspiration on things like billboards adverts, the formation of clouds or even the sounds you hear on your way to work. Keep all of your inspirations in a scrapbook or use Pinterest to record your ideas. This is a really helpful exercise and stops your mind wandering towards the things that may be worrying you. Instead you’re interrupting these auto responses by actively thinking and searching for other things…. Like the inspiration for your next masterpiece.
KEEP IT FRESH. KEEP IT EXCITING
It’s a good idea to mix things up a bit. If you’re an accomplished knitter, why not try a crochet course? If you’d prefer to stick with what you know then build on your craft by trying out new patterns or learning new techniques.
CREATE TIME FOR YOU
Making time for yourself and the things you enjoy can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and your overall mood. Allow yourself at least 20 minutes to an hour to indulge in your craft. Like exercising a muscle, the more frequently you do it, the easier it will be to sit down and switch off from the rest of the world.
If you struggle to stay focused on a particular task, taking a course can give you that drive and structure you need. Our beginner courses are video-based online courses for you to work your way through tasks, checking off progress as you go along. Perfect if you crave a sense of achievement. If you’re a little more experienced in your craft and want more of a challenge then our in-depth City and Guilds accredited textile courses could be the key. Lasting between 1-2 years, depending on skill level, these will keep you occupied, focused and challenged.
If you’re just starting out and want to learn the basics then we have a range of online beginner courses that you can follow and track your progress online. Take a look and start crafting your way to mindfulness.
Drawing for Design
Almost all of us will at some point in our lives experience prolonged bouts of stress and low mood. This is normal during times of worry, like the Coronavirus outbreak. But taking proactive measures to increase mood is the best way to achieve mental well-being. Mindfulness is about living in the now, being thankful for the good things in your life, embracing life (the good and bad) and acknowledging and accepting how you feel. Ultimately, the art of mindfulness is about pursuing the things that make you feel happy, help you to relax and improve self-esteem.
We’ve looked at the positive impact that crafting can have on mental well-being so get ready to embrace a more fulfilled, creative you and start crafting your way to mindfulness, one stitch at a time. If you’d like to talk to us about our courses then please feel free to contact us or register your interest for further information. We’d be happy to talk through options and recommend a course.