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By Helen Bowman

A little bit of what you fancy does you good, so they say.

Well, yes. In my case, it’s often chocolate, but that’s a separate matter.

Seriously though, taking one’s mind away from the stresses and strains of the real world is hugely important for our mental health. We live in a world where we’re bombarded 24/7 by advertisers, family, friends, businesses – often via the phenomenon that is social media. Sometimes we need a break.

And for many people, that break can be found in writing, walking in nature, baking, meditating. But have you ever thought of turning to crafts to escape the hustle and bustle of today’s busy world? Crafting, while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, is a great way to escape and become engrossed in something soothing, cathartic, creative.

Don’t forget that ‘crafting’ covers a plethora of options – from scrapbooking and cross-stitch to pom-pom making and wood sculpting.

What is mindfulness?

According to the dictionary definition, ‘mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique’.
But why stop there? Why not extend our mindfulness state to expressing our imagination, inspiration or creativity?

That’s where a relaxing hobby like crafting comes in.

Why is switching off so important?

Allowing your mind to enter a playful state, as it does when creating and crafting, is essential to our general wellbeing. Always remaining in a state of high-alert, as we can do in our day to day lives, doesn’t allow our minds and bodies the opportunity to slow down, pause and catch up.

The key to looking after your mental health is being in the moment. Becoming engrossed in a crafting activity draws the mind away from life’s problems and busies it with creativity, imagination, fun. It awakens the senses – something that can only happen in the present moment.

Crafting enables us to enter a mindful state without having to focus on doing so. We merely enjoy the experience, and mindfulness comes as a bonus.

How crafting can help achieve mindfulness

Gail Curry is an artist, based in Whitley Bay. She’s a great believer in the power of escaping into a world of art and craft. Her business, Happy Planet Creative Arts, stems from her experience in the social care sector and a lifetime spent enjoying art and crafting as a means of looking after her mental health. She said:

“I believe exploring and harnessing your creativity can be beneficial, as it allows the use of expression and not just experiencing, as mindfulness does. It has been proven that 20 minutes of any creative activity can improve mood and chemically changes the brain. I think everyone should make their own choices how they take care of their mental health but engaging in art and craftwork is a perfect therapy for anyone who enjoys such things.”

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We’re all different, and we all find peace and relaxation in our own ways. But next time you need to escape ‘the real world’ why not dig out that long-forgotten cross stitch, dust off your half-written poetry or bust out your Granny’s old knitting needles and see how it makes you feel.

Crafting has also been proven to help people open up in a less formal environment. So if you have a friend who you think needs to talk, why not invite them over to try a new craft together? 

We’ve pulled together some of our top kits to get you started. 

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