Crafting Can Help with Anxiety and Depression
Crafting is a great way to relieve anxiety. No – really, it’s true! There is just something therapeutic about using your hands to channel pent-up energy. I could go into all of the scientific reasons why there’s psychological value in crafting but frankly – it’s kind of boring.
What I will say is that when you craft, you stimulate certain parts of the brain that release hormones, which I like to call “pleasure particles”. Here, we are talking about dopamine and oxytocin. These two brain chemicals are thought to help regulate mood while calming the mind.
If you suffer from various forms of anxiety or depression, crafting offers an excellent, natural way to push back against the beast! Plus, using your creative skills to make something that’s kind of cool can be a lot of fun. You don’t have to be a guru at crafting either.
Part of making things as part of a hobby means accepting there will be imperfections – which is a life lesson all on its own, right?
What follows are 7 fun crafting ideas to help you chase away anxiety. These are great activities to include as part of your wellness ritual and work particularly well here in Chicago – a place we know that can cause us to be stuck indoors because of the inclement weather.
Are you ready? Check these out!
1) Sea Shell Stepping Stones
If you enjoy collecting shells or sea glass when visiting a beach, this a great way to incorporate your finds so you can look back at the fun time you had on vacation whenever you walk out into your garden or patio. Use ready-to-mix cement mixed with water according to the package directions and pour it into a silver pie tin. Place your shells and glass into the cement before it dries.
Use a clear varnish to make the stone shiny. When hardened, remove from the pie tin and place outdoors. You can use other treasures such as pretty stones or bottle caps if you want to display a collection. Hang one on your wall to make you smile!
2) Tin Can Lanterns
Use some cans to turn into pretty candles holders to place on your deck or porch. Larger cans work best, such as the type you find crushed tomatoes inside. Freeze water inside the can overnight in your freezer. Hammer nails into the can in several different locations.
Slide the nail back out after you make each hole. Paint your can in whatever color you desire or punch holes to make a design for light to pop through. Place a small candle inside. At nighttime, your candle will have several small lights twinkling when lit. In the daytime, it will give your porch or deck a bit of color.
3) Homemade Wind Chimes
Wind chimes brighten the mood when you see and hear them, making them doubly uplifting. You can make wind chimes from a variety of sources. Try decorating blank compact discs with a permanent marker. Draw patterns on the discs and hang on different lengths of string.
Attach to a piece of wood and hang on your porch. Try using seashells, beads, or small painted cans as mediums for your chimes. How about wind chimes from old keys? Or perhaps some old silverware? Tinker around with different objects to see what type of sound they will give off when hitting each other and pick one that you find pleasing. The possibilities are endless!
4) Painted Bottle Vases
Try your hand at painting used bottles to make beautiful flower vases to use to decorate your home. Or paint the inside using a medicine syringe from a pharmacy to insert watercolor paint into the opening of a bottle. Swirl the paint around by moving the bottle until all the glass is covered with color. Turn the bottle upside-down to dry overnight. Since watercolor can be washed away by filling the bottle, you will need a vase liner to insert into each bottle before putting in a pretty floral arrangement.
Try using a few different colors to give your bottles a bit of flair. Some may look tie-dyed depending on the directions you move the paint when you try to cover up the glass. Color several different sized bottles in different shades and showcase them on a shelf or in the middle of a corner table. Watching the paint cover the glass gives a sense of accomplishment, and you will find it a soothing craft overall.
5) Wine bottle lights
This project makes for beautiful dim mood lighting. Collect and clean your favorite empty wine bottles. Place masking tape on the back of the bottle where lights will be protruding (at least an inch from the bottom). Protect yourself with gloves and goggles and drill a hole through the masking tape into the bottle with a ½ inch glass drill bit.
Thread a string of Christmas lights into the wine bottle through the hole. You can use a crochet needle through the top of the bottle to catch strands and pull them upward and spread them out. Replace the wine cork or put a decorative stopper in the top of the bottle and affix any other embellishments to the neck of the bottle that strike your fancy. Plug it in.
6) Yarn Wrapped Letters
Making letters to hang in your home can be a fun craft to do when you need to unwind from everyday stresses. Draw large letters on pieces of cardboard and cut them out with scissors. Use yarn to wrap around the cardboard from one end to another, switching colors partway through, if desired. Tuck ends underneath the part you had already wrapped.
These can be hung up in a bedroom or on a door, spelling out your name or some words that have meaning to your life. Make words like “love” or “family” and place framed photographs near the word to showcase people who mean a lot to you. These can be displayed on a bookcase or on a wall, easily.
This one is probably the easiest out of all of the crafting ideas mentioned. All you need are your photographs and a photo-album. Some people get artsy and put in mementos to go along with the pics, like a napkin from a restaurant or a flyer from a tour that was part of a vacation.
If you want to get real snazzy with this one, you can buy an already decorated scrapbook vintage style online from places like Amazon. The nice thing about scrapbooks is that you can go back to them at a later point in time and enjoy happy memories. Some people even do journal type scrapbooks … which is kind of cool!
Summing Things Up
Having hobbies are important when struggling with depression and anxiety. Crafting is an excellent way to direct what we are feeling into something creative. What you make with your hands is often a reflection of what you are feeling in the moment. This alone is helpful for expressive purposes.
What I like about this resource is the simplistic approach the author takes with the reader. Straight forward, easy to understand directions come with all of the suggested activities.