Several years ago we created a blog post on mindfulness and how practising arts and crafts can help you with it. Since we did this post in 2016, a lot has changed in the mindfulness field and we’ve seen the art of creating and creativity become a key player in the mindfulness realm.
We don’t want to say we told you so… But we sort of did! We’re thrilled to see that what we love to do best is being endorsed around the world as a way of helping mental health and championing the hard work and talent of those using haberdashery for mindfulness.
Due to all the new information that’s come out over the past few years about creative projects and mindfulness, we’re going to speak again about how your creative projects can help to alleviate stress, bring you back into the moment and why this is such a good and important thing.
What is mindfulness?
To recap, mindfulness is generally defined as a state of conscious mental, physical and emotional awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness is about taking your attention away from the world around you and focusing on the world within you. Many people are so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that they don’t spend enough time, if any, being consciously aware of their thoughts and feelings in the present moment.
Mindfulness has been practiced in countries across the world for thousands of years as a form of meditation. Thought to have first been introduced before Buddhism thousands of years ago, mindfulness was taught to Buddha as a way of alleviating suffering. It’s been proven that over time, mindfulness can help to bring around really beneficial long-term changes for mood, happiness and general wellbeing – something we think everyone should strive for. We’ve quoted Professor Mark Williams the former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre before on the significance of mindfulness, and we’re going to do it again: “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us; to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’".
Why is mindfulness important?
Taking time to be mindful of yourself and your feelings is vitally important. Creative art naturally shifts your attention away from life’s problems, by creating a state of present awareness as your mind and body become centred and focused. By making good use of our hands, eyes, nose, ears – even sometimes mouth – when making and crafting, we’re submitting to that ever-important moment and embracing ‘the now’.
When first starting out on a project, you’re giving yourself permission to begin just as you are in this moment. Rather than waiting for ‘the right time’, when you do start, you’ll learn that right now is the right time and when you get into the mindful flow of your creation, you’ll stop hesitating before you start and just start where you are any time of the day.
Each time you add another patchwork square to your quilt, or thread another stitch into your beautiful handmade dress, you make a permanent mark of you that will affect not only you, but anyone else who sees your creation. What you make reflects your experience of the world and your life in that moment.
Crafts trumping technology
Haberdashery projects are a fantastic activity to replace scrolling and scrolling through your phone – and we have proof as to why…
The mental health charity Mind released research suggesting that spending too much time on social media is affecting our moods, particularly among younger adults. Whenever we’re on our phones, laptops or watching tv, we’re automatically transported somewhere else, existing in two places at once. We’re still physically in the room, but we’re also in a virtual world and our mind is away elsewhere.
When we’re crafting or making something we have to embrace the time it takes and each step of the process; it forces us to slow down and pay attention to what’s around us.
When it comes to social media, whilst we recognise that social media can be a wonderful space for sharing ideas, inspiring others and keeping up with your nearest and dearest, I think nearly all of us are aware of some of the more negative effects of having the social world at our fingertips.
A poll of 2,051 people found that a lot of people across different age groups believe that spending too much time on social media negatively affects their mood. This research also found that doing something creative could be a great antidote, as a high number of people agree that getting creative boosts their mood.
What specific crafts are especially good at aiding mindful thought?
Crafting in general is helpful at aiding mindful thought so long as you are enjoying it. Some people love knitting and scrapbooking, while others prefer wood-turning or sculpting with clay. Research evidence from the British Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests that craft activities, when done on a regular basis, can improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation,.
Crafting can help you to relax your mind and body, literally creating space to reorganise your thoughts, rebalance emotionally and recharge your mental and physical batteries. Taking time each day to refocus your attention from outside to in allows solutions to flow easily and naturally. The process of making is often as important as your creation.
Mindfulness uses the same side of the brain as art marking – your right side. This is where all the magic of creativity, intuition, visualisation, emotion and daydreaming happens. We don’t use this part of our brain anywhere near as much as we should, but, when we do tap into this right side of our brain, pretty amazing things happen.
Not only does using the right side of our brain give us the ability to create, it gives us an experiential and non-conceptual arena where we can live in and explore our present moment experience. As a result, when we immerse ourselves in a creative project, we lose track of time and our surroundings, feeling the minutes blend into hours and experience no other thoughts than what’s happening in the present. Arts and crafts such as sewing, patchwork square quilting etc, are very much an exercise in mindfulness.
We hope this has inspired you to use your creative projects as a way to relax, unwind, de-stress and be in the moment. As usual, we love hearing from you so please do let us know the best projects you find which help mindfulness.