The November 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living had an article called “This is Your Brain on Crafts” by Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti. She wanted to know why, after a particularly stressful day, she was able to completely turn her mood around by simply working on her embroidery for an hour. What she discovered was this: crafting has a very similar affect on the brain as meditation. Knitting, embroidery, cross stitch, quilting, all of these activities can lower heart rate and blood pressure, regulate breath and draw your mind into the present. Also, handwork gives people a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
I guess I should have known this. Handwork has been a lifeline for me several times in my life. Knitting a sweater helped me slowly start to pull myself out of postpartum depression. And knitting on my couch in Queens kept the panic at bay on 9/11. The meditative effects of handwork are a powerful tool in stressful times. In fact, “This is Your Brain on Crafts” went on to say that during World War I soldiers were taught to knit to help with shell shock.
One of my personal goals for 2013 is to spend an hour a day working on my hand-crafts. Even if that means just a little knitting or stitching in front of Project Runway. It’s the best way I can think of to feel productive and reduce stress at the same time.
Do you have any crafting goals this year? I’d love to hear them!