The art of self-care: social butterfly or solo venture?

– Emma Palmer-Cooper

As part of this project, we have been thinking about reasons why crafts might benefit wellbeing. One of the concepts I am interested in is where the crafting is done, or does this even matter.

I find attending my knitting group very relaxing, I get to sit in a pub with my friends and spend a few hours chatting and crafting. After a few hours, I feel relaxed and happy and have a few more rows added to whatever project I am working on. There are a number of theories of wellbeing that suggest positive social contact and supportive relationships with friends and family is a key component to maintaining wellbeing. Further, social isolation can contribute to developing poor mental health. Roll on social butterfly!

On the flip side, if I am very tired, sitting in a busy public place with other people doesn’t appeal. In these situations, I prefer to go home, sit on the sofa and craft by myself. Taking time for myself, by myself, is something that I rarely do, but wish I did more of. This type of relaxation can sometimes feel indulgent, especially when there are other things I ‘should’ be doing. However, every time I do take just 20 minutes for myself, to do something that I enjoy, I get an immense sense of wellbeing that stays with me long after I have finished. Whilst this is a fairly common sense idea, it is something that has been studied academically since the 1970’s. Unsurprisingly, the general consensus is that self-care, and making time to do the things you enjoy, is good for you.

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So, whilst the evidence for specific knitting-related wellbeing benefits is still rather small (don’t worry, we’re working on it!), doing things you enjoy, on your own or with friends, is definitely good for you. National Federation of Women’s Institutes is running a wonderful campaign this June (11-15th June) to encourage healthy living and wellbeing in the context of food, cookery, craft, gardening and floral art.


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