Over the last ten years research has started pouring in confirming what recreational crafters have known since the days of the first quilting circle: creating is good for your health. Studies have begun to establish that when individuals are engrossed in a tactile, creative endeavor the benefits include stress reduction, decrease in inflammation, better regulation of emotion, release of dopamine, improved self efficacy, reduced cognitive impairment, and general increase in mindfulness. In short, crafting is “the new yoga.”
In a 2004 TED talk, Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described “flow” as the period of time when you are so completely absorbed in an activity that you seem to forget yourself. Your existence outside that activity is temporarily suspended.
Crafting, even for just 20 minutes, gets a person into this state of flow, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and quieting the “fight or flight” response that is triggered in stressful work situations. The effect of this state of flow is similar to meditation and, according to Csikszentmihalyi, is the secret to happiness.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers took 30 people and measured the biofeedback from stress indicators (sweating, blood pressure, skin temperature, etc.) as they were engaging in typical stress reducing pastimes. Playing cards, video game playing, painting at an easel, sewing, and reading a newspaper were the activities performed. Of the five, sewing was found to be the most relaxing, even among novice sewers. According to Robert Reiner, Ph.D., a New York University psychologist and the study’s author, “The act of performing a craft is incompatible with worry, anger, obsession and anxiety.”
Nearly Crafty aims to bring all these health benefits to your employees in the form of DIY crafting workshops. A central workshop station will be set up for two to three hours and employees can stop by as their schedule allows to complete a 20 minute crafting project. The projects are simple and require no prior crafting experience, but result in a useful and inspiring finished product that employees will be proud of.
To read more about the beneficial effects of crafting, check out these articles and watch Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk:
- CNN brain crafting benefits
- Crafting is great for your brain
- This is your brain on knitting
- The neurological basis of occupation
- Craft to Heal:Taking Time Out to Pursue a Hobby Can Have Benefits for Your Body and Soul
- Craft to Heal: Soothing Your Soul with Sewing, Painting, and Other Pastimes
- TED talk — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness