By Aimée Hines

Stress. Whether from the latest epidemic, the recent recession, or the current healthcare crisis, our world is full of tension. And we all feel that pressure. But relief, joy, and even a boost in our mental fitness may come in a surprising form: knitting, embroidery, origami … yes, crafting!

Neuropsychologists tell us that stress sends our brains into a fight-or-flight state that can erode our mental and physical health. Repetitive movement, like knitting, activates our parasympathetic system, calming us down. The authors of a 2007 study agree that when we lose ourselves in the repetition of a crafting activity, we reach a state of ‘flow’ where chaos (both internal and external) fades away. That state taps into our reward centers, releasing dopamine, our natural anti-depressant, making us feel happy.

Knitters from a global internet survey reported feeling calm and happy while knitting and noted an increase in cognitive and social functioning, especially when part of a knitting group. The study concluded, “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to wellbeing and quality of life … [and] has therapeutic potential.”

Finally, crafting may also help prevent those ‘senior’s moments.’ It could reduce mild cognitive impairment by as much as fifty percent! One Journal of Neuropsychiatry study found that leisure activities like crafting stimulate different areas of the brain, exercising your memory and attention span while strengthening your creative and problem-solving abilities.

Do you want to stay sharp, feel happy, and become more socially connected? Take up a craft. It will make you feel better!

If you are looking for craft supplies, check out the new local store The Craft Hive at 656 Talbot Street.”