I saw a great online article the other day, “5 Key Ways Crafting Heals Us” which is part of the Crafting to Heal series on the PsychCentral blogs. Handicrafts have always been popular, but it’s only in recent years that I have seen talk of how crafting can be helpful for mental health and wellbeing. Knitting is even being taught in schools again, and has had benefits such as improving concentration and behaviour as well as promoting a useful skill.
The Vercillo blog linked above explains the various ways crafting is beneficial – not just in distracting and soothing the mind, but also in promoting self-belief and pride in accomplishments. There is something in small, repetitive movements that quiets the mind – and of course having something tangible to show for it at the end can boost self-esteem! Similarly, Carl Jung’s favourite way to work through confusion was by carefully arranging stones with his hands.
I’ve written recently about embracing creativity, but how do you start?
I’ve met many adults who admire knitted, crocheted or sewn items, who say they cannot knit/crochet/sew and wish they could. Taking up a new craft can be a daunting prospect, so here’s my top tip – get a children’s starter set. Honestly! In my experience, adult kits can assume a level of knowledge and ability you might not feel ready for, and often steps are missing or taken for granted. Children’s kits are more likely to be simple and offer more detailed descriptions, clearer diagrams and more complete instructions.
Once you’ve mastered that, and you might be surprised at how quickly you do, move on. You need not spend a great deal of money – there are lots of free videos and tutorials online, and charity shops and small stationers often have good value materials. Online discussion boards can also be a good and easy way to ask for help and share your successes.
Many libraries and community centres run crafting and art groups, often at very low or nominal cost. Some children’s centres also offer groups for both children and their parents. This would also give you an opportunity to meet new people and build your confidence.
The biggest hurdle is likely to be your self-belief. You might have spent many years saying, “I’m no good” or “I’ll never learn that”. Try adding the word “yet” and see how that could change. I’ll leave you with a quotation by Ira Glass to think on:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”