Hey everyone – Gather up your yarn, beads, fabric, thread, tools and other toys – it’s national craft month and time to have a little fun!  It’s a great month to lose yourself in your favorite activity or maybe even try something new.

In celebrating National Craft Month, I thought I’d take a few moments and share why I think it’s important for everyone to have a craft or hobby.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily rigmarole of life;  it’s important to take some time for yourself and have an activity that you can get lost in.  I can tell you that personally, my job can be quite stressful and it can be difficult to ‘shut it down’ at the end of the work day and even on weekends sometimes.  My brain continues to chatter about the problems of the day, things that need to get done, conversations that need to be had.  But, when I sit down to work on my jewelry-projects, all of that slips away and I am able to focus on the process of creating, problem-solving and turning my ideas into tangible (and sometimes even beautiful) objects.  It allows me to quiet the busy-body part of my brain  and puts me into a zen-like state.  It makes me feel great.

And I’m not just making this stuff up.  According to the Anxiety Resource Center (ARC), repetitive hand motions (a la knitting, crochet, beading, etc) release serotonin (the feel-good hormone) in our brains, which according to the ARC “improves mood and sense of calmness… It can also reduce blood levels of cortisol-the stress hormone.”  It has been said that other repetitive hand motions like washing the dishes or ironing can have the same effect… if that’s your thing… but it’s not mine.  (Just ask my Mom.)

I was recently listening to a podcast on NPR Life Kit entitled Making Art Is Good For Your Health.  Here’s How To Start A Habit’, and here is what they had to say about the benefits of creating art:

  • There is evidence that marking art can lower stress and anxiety
  • Making art is good for your mind and body. Any sort of visual expression activates the reward center in your brain, which makes you feel good and is perceived as a pleasurable experience.
  • The artistic process can be anything – finger painting, creating collages, scrapbooking (for me, it’s beading and metalwork); the ultimate goal is to induce ‘flow’; the sense of losing yourself such that you forget all sense of time and space.
  • The best part of all: You don’t even have to finish or like what you made to reap the benefits of the creative process.

Some of the additional benefits I’ve personally experienced since venturing into the crafting world are that I seem to handle problems in a more relaxed manner, knowing that solutions exist and that I am capable of solving them (and not giving up until I do).  I am also more confident in tackling basic things around the house.  Where I would have hired a handyman in the past, I now pick up the tools and give it a go.  (Mind you, when it’s electrical or plumbing, I know enough to know I should bring in the experts.)

While listening to another great podcast, this time, a TED talk by Hannah Gadsby, I was inspired by her quote: “It’s not the garden, it’s the gardening that counts.”  So, while your creation may not be a masterpiece destined for one of the great museums or galleries, it may be just the thing to help you get through a difficult situation and put your mind and soul at ease.  So, my crafting friends, in parting I say:  go forth, play, create, let your imagination run wild (and don’t worry if you’re doing it wrong or it doesn’t look as gorgeous as you hoped).

Here are some great ways to participate in National Craft Month:

  • Be inspired by the beautiful photos and images of craftwork creations on Pinterest.  Create a board or follow boards created by others
  • Check out many of the fun (and free!) projects on the Craft Project Ideas website
  • Wander into your local craft or bead store.  Many offer classes, sometimes free, where you can learn a different technique or try something new
  • Come and participate on SparkleSwap.  Pick up beautiful jewelry-making supplies at significantly discounted prices.  Hobnob with others in our community on a variety of topics.  Sell your unused supplies to other members who will put them to good use!

ps – For those of you who still are saying “I’m not that creative” or “I’m not good at art”, and therefore hesitant to get started… as I’ve professed in previous posts, I, too, am not the most creative person you will meet in your lifetime.  I may even be one of the least creative.  However, I am setting my ego aside and sharing photos of some of the not-so-fabulous creations from the earlier days of my own garden, so you can see that you don’t have to be extraordinarily talented to reap the benefits of creating.

In the beginning:

            

Getting a little better with practice and patience:

    

And the best is yet to come!

Please share your thoughts below on how you will celebrate National Craft Month!

 

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