Five Healthy Reasons to Get – and Stay – Crafty

by Rachel Stewart

One of the joys of retirement is having extra time to explore lifelong passions or pick up new hobbies, such as crafting. The options are numerous and can encompass knitting, quilting, jewelry making, scrapbooking, pottery making, playing music, or even woodworking. No matter what form of crafting is close to your heart, there are also multiple health benefits to delving deeper into your favorite – or newly discovered – pastime. 

1. Crafting boosts brain health. Having a crafty hobby may reduce cognitive impairment. A Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences study found that older adults who crafted were less likely to experience neurological decline. Trying something outside of your typical skill set or wheelhouse can further strengthen your gray matter. Don’t be afraid to try something new like decoupage, origami, or pressed flower craft. 

2. Creative hobbies improve motor skills. When you were a child, arts and crafts time allowed you to learn new motor skills. Staying creative later in life can help you maintain these skills along with your independence. Consider setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day to paint, draw, color, or practice playing an instrument. Along with enhancing motor skills, many forms of crafting can be physical, which boosts metabolism and keeps joints from getting rusty. 

3. Picking up a craft immediately expands your social circle. Honing a new skill is more fun with other people and staying socially active has its own health perks. The National Institute of Aging considers relationships as a way to measure good health, so keep those appointments on your calendar or sign up for that art class you’ve been putting off. Don’t want to go it alone? Call up a friend or family member and see if they want to come over and work on projects together.

4. Staying busy with a crafting project can keep feelings of stress or sadness at bay.Projects like knitting, crocheting, or needlework tend to be repetitive in nature and, in turn, can be very soothing and serve as a way to bring more calm or mindfulness. This is because the brain produces dopamine during pleasurable activities and this neurotransmitter acts as the body’s natural anti-depressant. Once your project is complete, you’ll also feel proud and joyful at the tangible results that you and your loved ones can enjoy for years to come. Not sure how to get started? Pick a small project and work on it a bit each day until you’re more comfortable taking on bigger tasks.

5. Crafting can act as a form of creative communication.Sometimes words aren’t enough – and that’s where creating something comes in. Taking time to express your emotions through art can allow those around you to see another side of yourself or understand something that’s hard for you to talk about, and in turn, deepen or improve those relationships. 

Looking for a crafting opportunity in your area? Visit yelp.com and type “Art Classes” in the Find box and your location in the Near box.