"Not a crafter? Here’s why you should consider becoming one during the pandemic."
Picking up an old craft or delving into a new one is a positive way to get through the coronavirus pandemic, according to mental health experts. “You might try knitting or something new; individuals should find what grabs them — that’s so important for creativity,” said clinical psychologist Mark Runco, who is director of creativity research and programming at Southern Oregon University.
Why crafting helps.
The brain “is a very adaptive organ with survival mechanisms,” Runco said. “It’s hard-wired to pay attention to threats, and its fear response can be activated by triggers such as negative news.”
Crafting can calm us because it shifts our attention away from such triggers, he said. It also gives people a sense of productivity and is “an excellent way to break up the monotony of the day,” he added. Research is now turning to how specific crafts can contribute to well-being.
The pandemic and crafts
Many businesses, including yarnspirations.com, Joanns and Michaels, have seen an uptick in interest since the pandemic started. Yarnspirations notes that its “Llama No Drama” and “Bernat Fat Cat” crochet stuffies have been very popular with customers; Michaels and Joanns has seen a 150 percent increase in viewers of Facebook Live tutorials with Lynn Lilly, founder of Craft Box Girls, and has also ramped up its how-to videos and step-by-step project instructions based on demand. It recently launched free online classes that include such topics as coaster-making and painting.
Emily Brown, an associate director at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said she turned to knitting at the start of the pandemic even though she doesn’t consider herself a craft person. “I needed something to cleanse my mind; knitting calmed me because it is a repetitive activity, and very soothing,” she said, noting that she would not “in a million years have had the time to do it otherwise.
You don’t have to be creative to give crafting a try and reap its benefits. With so many possibilities, how do you know where to begin?
For beginners, try yarn-based crafts. These are often a good starting point, because many people have fond memories of loved ones knitting or crocheting. If you’re a rugged type of person, build bird houses, or something for the environment.
There are many free online classes on topics that include cloth dyeing, building a bird house and making jewelry. The bottom line is that you want to create something concrete, yet something that warms the heart and creates a bit of joy.
Luckily here in Knoxville we have several Do-It-Yourself crafting venues that can help you find something wonderful to create that you can share with your family or friends. Places like AR Workshop even has take home kits for all ages.
Take this unique time as an opportunity to create something beautiful, learn something new and take time to contribute to your overall well-being.