If you struggle with your anxiety and racing thoughts, there are a number of activities that you can do to help you reduce that anxiety and calm your thoughts.
In the UK, one in four people suffer from some degree of mental distress. Crafting is a brilliant way to help an individual reduce the frightening and painful symptoms, and develop healthier ways of coping.
In May 2019 the BBC carried out a survey of 50,000 people asking if getting creative can make you happier. It wanted to explore ways in which creative activities can help people manage mood and boost wellbeing.
The results were unequivocal – over three quarters of respondents reported back that creativity was an effective way of dealing with stress and anxiety.
The report highlighted three ways in which creativity was used as a coping mechanism to control emotions.
76 per cent or respondents claimed first a foremost that engaging in creative activities was a great distraction tool.
69 per cent of respondents felt that through being creative they were working in positive self-development, which was a great tool in terms of building self-esteem and self-worth.
53 per cent felt that crafting was a perfect opportunity to get headspace and get some distance and a different perspective on their problems and emotions.
Doing crafts such as knitting or making macrame bracelets, can be incredibly relaxing. There is a rhythm to making repetitive motions that do not require deep intellectual cognitive processing. Instead, you can get yourself into a creative ‘zone’ or ‘flow’ which is distracting from negativity and soothing to the soul. In this state of flow attention tends to move away from the self, giving welcome relief from racing thoughts and allow a greater sense of happiness.
This can also be known as mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you focus only on the here and now, being fully present in the present. This can be a pattern disrupt to negative thinking habits and allow you to take a metaphorical step back and gain a wider perspective on life as a whole.
That creativity can give you a sense of purpose. Having no sense of purpose is a contributory factor when you are struggling with depression – you can feel as though your life is meaningless and you may withdraw from others. Studies show that regaining a sense of purpose can help you click back into survival mode and start to seek a level of achievement again.
Due to the relaxing nature of crafting, your stress levels drop. As your stress levels drop, cortisol also drops. As a stress hormone, high levels of cortisol can be damaging to both physical and mental health.
There is also both a social element, and a more introvert element to crafting. Many people like to get involved with crafting classes or workshops, getting them out of the house and a possibly lonely situation and mixing with like-minded people. Interacting with other people who have similar interests can be uplifting and distracting.
On the other end of the spectrum, doing something creative can also give an individual an escape from the demands of work and family, offering a period of quiet and reflection during which no one is making any demands on you, and you can allow you thoughts to wander in more restorative directions.
And never forget the power of touch. Crafting and creativity is a tactile, hand-on activity. Working with different materials, engaging the different senses, experiencing the smoothness, the resistance, can help to restore emotional balance and restore you back to a better sense of self and wellbeing.