Arts and crafts are the beating heart of every culture around the globe. And as we all face this terrible pandemic together, needlework is a lifeline for many of us.
As well as the emotional and mental benefits of crafting, it is also playing another vital role in our community.
Lockdown and the ongoing social distancing safety procedures mean many charities are unable to raise the funds they need to keep providing vital services. Here in Cumbria, the crafting community has come together to help support our Hospice at Home charity.
A virtual, silent craft auction which is now open, and here are some beautiful kits to make yourself and ready made gifts to bid for in the Craft in Covid Auction in aid of Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland. The auction is open until 1.30pm (BST) August 17th. We were grateful to be able to provide a £50 Crewel Work Company kit voucher for the auction and hope whichever design the winning bidder chooses it brings them joy and comfort.
Crafts have been scientifically proven to have health benefits for those who enjoy creative skills.
Research published by University College London's MARCH mental health network – formed in 2018, with members including the Crafts Council and the Museums Association – shows that engaging with the visual arts can reduce reported anxiety and that visiting museums can protect against dementia's development.
The benefits of crafting for mental health are backed up by the results of the BBC Great British Creativity Test, published in 2019. Textile crafts such as embroidery, crocheting and knitting have the highest participation rates of all the arts – more than music and painting – according to the government's Taking Part survey, which shows the potential impact that making could have.
In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling "very happy".
We know from your messages throughout lockdown, around the world the importance needlework has played in your lives. Though only being able to come together virtually through our newsletters and daily videos, our common bond of stitching has helped us get through the isolation and challenges of the pandemic. Science proves what we all know already - needlework makes our lives better.
Respondents to a study by Sinikka Hannele Pöllänen, from the University of Eastern Finland, revealed that textile craft helped them cope with depression and negative feelings while offering social support and positive relationships.
So today, you can get the following benefits from taking out your hoop and enjoying your time stitching:
Reduced stress - using needlework as meditation can be a daily way to minimize the effects of stress in your life.
Helps relieve and reduce depression and anxiety - the repetition of the crafts has been shown to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.
Projects help build self-esteem - visualizing, working on and then creating a product can make you feel better about yourself.
Decreased risk of cognitive impairment as you age - several studies have shown that needlework, knitting and crochet can postpone age-related memory loss. The crafts can also be soothing for those people who are already experiencing signs of dementia. Researcher Yonas Geda, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, completed a study that showed knitting is neuroprotective and may reduce dementia by as much as 50per cent.
Can help with insomnia - focus on a soft, soothing, easy, repetitive needlework project and your body and mind can often wind down enough to get to bed. A study by professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute found that 100 per cent of insomnia patients reported improved sleep, with 90% being able to eliminate medication in a program that included knitting.
Relaxation reduces irritability and restlessness - needlework can help you through any times when you feel grumpy, restless, frustrated or bored.
Builds community and friendships - no matter what health issue you are dealing with, it helps to have a community of support around you.
Can help with grief processing - needlework, knitting and crochet can be the most comforting things during this time. It's something you can pick up and put down. It can, for a moment, take your mind off of your pain.
While needlework and other crafts can give you so much, they can make a real difference to fundraising for charities who need our support now, more than ever.