Did you catch our Crochet as Therapy feature inside issue 42? Our experts Betsan Corkhill from Stitchlinks and Crochet Concupiscence blogger Kathryn Vercillo believe there are many amazing health benefits connected with crochet.
Accomplishing something with your craft skills is so rewarding. “When you’re successful at a task that requires a little effort, the reward system in your brain fires off a boost of feelgood, pain relieving, motivating chemicals,” Betsan says. “Crochet nurtures a healthy brain environment, and when you have a healthy brain, treatments such as medication, therapy and rehab are more likely to work, will be more effective or may not even be needed. It gives people meaning, purpose and control, which can turn around negative thought cycles.”
Kathryn (pictured above) agrees: “Learning something new and achieving something you didn’t think you could builds confidence and self esteem. Being a part of something bigger than yourself, and contributing your creativity and time can be incredibly healing.”
Betsan (pictured below) is keen to see a time when the therapeutic qualities of crochet, knitting and other crafts are recognised by mainstream healthcare, but admits there are difficulties with regards to presenting empirical evidence of the benefits. “The best way to carry out this kind of research is to analyse stories from crafters, using surveys and in-depth interviews to follow up on themes, which is what we’ve been doing. You could add in some specific quantitative elements to strengthen that, but you certainly can’t use the gold standard randomised control trial method – you’d miss out on a lot of vital information.”
Happily, she has increasingly noticed clinicians accepting the fact that, as she puts it, “wellbeing is multifaceted and therefore any approach to improving it should be multifaceted too. At the moment the approach to health and wellbeing is much too focused on drugs. Our brain makes its own ‘drugs’ which are far more powerful than anything our doctor can inject or prescribe so it makes sense to learn how to enhance the production of these.”
Creativity in general and therapeutic crafts in particular are excellent means of achieving this. Betsan herself enjoys an essential daily dose of crafts. “I love being able to switch off. I use crafts to manage my stress levels and to improve my sleep. It switches off those thought processes that have a habit of whirring around in your head. It works every time!”
Kathryn, too, continues to find crochet a crucial contributor to her general wellbeing. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be productive, even though I know all of the flaws in this way of thinking,” she admits. “Crochet makes me feel like I’m doing something even when depression has taken everything from me and it seems like I’m spending endless hours on the couch. It gives me peace of mind and allows me to just be where I am.”