Crafters around the world know that knitting and crochet can be essential for their mental health. We got a chance to talk to Amanda, the founder of the hugely popular Instagram account Craft as Therapy, about why she started it and why it's so important.
What is the Craft As Therapy community?
After going through a rather stressful period of my life, i turned to craft as a way to distract myself from the anxiety i was feeling. A self diagnosed 'Instagram addict' i began to tag some of my projects with #craftastherapy. I was pretty stunned by the response i recieved and shortly afterwards many, many fellow crafters started using the tag. It became apparent to me how important craft is as a form of therapy, not just for me, but for many other crafters. Due to the larger number of Instagrammers using the tag, i created a handle called @craftastherapy and invited a group of moderators to jump on board and take turns choosing features from the #craftastherapy tag and posting inspirational messages. The hashtag continues to grow, as does the number of followers, and a beautiful community has blossomed.
How important is knitting and crochet to mental health?
I really believe in the therapeutic benefits of craft. Everyone is looking for some down time and crafting is a great way to relax and unwind. Repetition is key for me when i am really stressed. The methodical and meditative creation of stitches always bring my stress levels down and i'm not alone. There are many crafters who use creativity as their way to create calm and stress.
But what's the evidence?
In 2009, a scientific study from the University of British Columbia showed that 74% of eating disorder patients felt that knitting and crochet helped their recovery; another study which showed the positive effects that crafting can have on patients which chronic pain. There was also a 2011 Mayo Clinic study that suggests that knitting and crocheting can help fight memory loss, and there are more studies planned to research more.
How can I get involved?
If you have an Instagram account, you can follow this community at @CraftAsTherapy. Every week a moderator chooses a theme that the Craft as Therapy community posts their own photos of, some of which get featured in their signature photo grids. If you don't feel like posting, you can still follow along, looking at all the gorgeous photos from other crafters, and reading the comments from this amazingly supportive community.