The Surprising Health Benefits of Arts and Crafts Activities {guest post}

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The Surprising Health Benefits of Arts and Crafts Activities
 
Taking part in arts and crafts activities is both rewarding and relaxing. It is challenging but not to the extent that it leaves you mentally exhausted, which makes it perfect for de-stressing. It is therefore unlikely to come as a surprise that it possesses a number of health benefits. There aren’t too many things that are both enjoyable and healthy but arts and crafts fall firmly within both of these categories. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Glasgow in 2011 concluded that arts and crafts aid emotional well-being to an extent that more active pursuits such as sports cannot, especially amongst old people. Co-author of the study Jacqueline Atkinson states that crafts provide an avenue for people to take part in activities that are both engaging and enjoyable, which can help to reduce stress. She says that certain arts and crafts activities also offer maths and geometry challenges, which help to keep the brain sharp.

Treatment for Addiction
 
A report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information also states that arts and crafts can have a positive influence upon recovering drug addicts. Those seeking help for drug addiction are often placed on arts and crafts programs in order to facilitate their recovery, as non-verbal creative media have been proven to be effective at treating them. The therapeutic power of arts and crafts is well documented. According to Professor Sinnika Pollanen of the University of Eastern Finland, making things by hand can bring about profound changes in emotions, sensory experiences, actions, behaviours and patterns of thought, which means that it can effectively alter the way in which a person perceives the world.

Achieving ‘Flow’
 
Psychologist Claudia Hammond also points out that crafts can be ‘all-absorbing’ and help people to attain a state that psychologists call ‘flow’ in which all worries are discarded and the hours fly by. She says that one of the main benefits of arts and crafts is that those doing them have complete control over the difficulty level of the tasks that they choose to take on. Research has demonstrated that the goals that people set themselves tend to be the most satisfying for them to achieve, meaning that creating something that you are proud of can improve your levels of mental well-being.

Treating Depression
 
President of the International Behavioural Neuroscience Society Professor Kelly Lambert states that taking part in arts and crafts activities can help to stave off depression. She says that partaking in these activities bathes your brain in ‘feel-good chemicals’ and creates a ‘kind of mental vitamin’. She has also previously stated that the effects of arts and crafts are more complex than taking antidepressants and activate multiple brain areas, meaning that they can sometimes be just as effective as prescription medication when it comes to fighting mental illness.

Improving Mental Agility
 
A recent article published in Psychologies magazine suggests that the role played by arts and crafts is underestimated. The magazine points out that making things is an accessible means of asserting control within an uncertain environment. The piece includes a quote by a female store manager who says that since she took up arts and crafts activities, she has felt significantly calmer and the fact that she can transform materials into something useful has increased her confidence in her skill at adapting and dealing with things. This is backed up by the results of a study cited in the article that concluded that those who devote time to creative activities experience a growth in mental agility.

Final Thoughts
 
It appears that as well as being an enjoyable way to while away the hours, arts and crafts activities can also help to maintain your mental health and improve your adaptability. They can improve your confidence, make you happier in the course of your everyday life and even help to fight against depression and addiction. With this in mind, it is perhaps little wonder artistic and crafts-based pursuits are such popular hobbies. The main benefit of partaking in them is that they are fun to do though. They enable artistically minded people to hone their skills whilst partaking in activities that are both relaxing and rewarding. Everything else is just an added bonus.

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5 Comments

  1. Paula Miller 25th January 2013 Reply

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