There Are Many Health Benefits to Crafting, Experts Say


According to experts in neuroscience, there are many potential health benefits associated with crafting. Participating in your favorite craft can improve anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, and it may also protect the brain from damage caused by aging.

While additional research needs to be completed, past studies suggest the health benefits of crafting are comparable to those seen in cognitive activities, like crossword puzzles. “Creating – whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or) cake decorating – is beneficial to us in a number of important ways,” says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist.

There is promising evidence that crafting elicits a dopamine response in the brain, which may be the key to lifting depression. Dopamine is released by your brain’s reward center when you do something enjoyable. In one study, which was published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of participants with depression reported feeling happier after completing their favorite craft. “Dopamine, in and of itself, is our natural anti-depressant,” Levisay says. An article in Berkeley Wellness also reported that “the rhythmic, repetitive movements and focused attention required of certain crafts seem to produce a calming effect akin to meditation”, which can also help to reduce anxiety and alleviate depression.

But the health benefits of crafting extend beyond simply lifting one’s spirits. Many neuroscientists believe the human brain embodies neuroplasticity, which is the ability to remain flexible and adaptable. Through neuroplasticity, certain brain-stimulating activities, such as painting or knitting, can delay the onset of memory-related brain disorders, including dementia. “Crafting is unique in its ability to involve many different areas of your brain. It can work your memory and attention span while involving your visual-spatial processing, creative side, and problem-solving abilities,” says Levisay. Additionally, several studies conducted by Stitchlinks, a company that researches how crafting improves wellbeing, suggests that crafting may actually help with memory and keep the mind sharper longer, with one study showing that the ability to recall memories may be enhanced following a short period of time spent knitting.

At Grand Oaks of Okeechobee, our residents enjoy a robust life enrichment program that includes lots of crafting activities. For more information, or to schedule a tour of our community, call 863-824-6770.

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