Crafting and your mental health by Laura V

January can be difficult for a lot of people. The long nights and short grey days can make it more difficult to get out and connect with people. But equally, this makes January the perfect time to enjoy the many mental health benefits of taking up a new hobby or craft. This month’s blog will look at a few of them. 

Learning a new skill. There is never a bad time to learn something new or uncover a hidden talent. Learning new skills is known to help with self-confidence and raise self-esteem. Setting specific and achievable goals can provide focus and give you a sense of accomplishment when completed. 

Connecting with others. While many hobbies may seem a solitary pursuit on the surface, it is a great way to build connections with others. A recent study showed chatting with people you don’t know can boost happiness. Be it sharing your happiness about finding a beautiful button for your sewing project with the person at the market stall, asking for advice from your Neighbour at the allotment or joining a local ‘knit and natter’ group, having a shared interest and keenness to learn can provide an excellent way up widen your social circle. 

Letting go of ‘perfectionism’ Crafting doesn’t need to be about creating ‘the perfect’ thing. The enjoyment is in the process. Things don’t always go exactly to plan when making or baking, just as they don’t in life, but these can be a great way to work on resilience. Your pastry has a slightly soggy bottom? The seam isn’t straight on the napkins you have sewn? Mistakes are where the learning comes from, you now have the option to try something different next time. 

Mindfulness The clicking sound of knitting needles, the feel of the fabric, the seemingly endless colour choices of the supplies, the smell of fresh baked bread and taste of baked goods can all be great ways to be ‘in the moment’. The simple repetitive tasks of hobbies and crafts can provide a break from the stresses of daily life by moving your focus to the task at hand. Counting stitches, measuring ingredients, trying a new technique all require attention without being overwhelming. 

Pay it forward Who doesn’t love a home-baked cake, hand-made card or knit gift. After enjoying the benefits of creating something you’ve worked hard on, you may want to share that joy by gifting it. Sit down with a cup of tea, home baking and a loved one to reconnect. 

Feeling inspired but not sure where to start? 

Here are some ideas that may help you get started… 

Knitting, crochet & needlecraft 

You don’t need to invest much money to get started. The Works, Amazon and sometimes charity shops are great places to get reasonably priced knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn or craft cotton for embroidery and cross stitching. YouTube is full of videos that can teach you the basics and more advanced techniques. It’s sometimes useful to watch a few different videos of the same thing to find the teaching style that suits you. 

There are various ‘starter kits’ available that include all the supplies you would need and instructions on completing the project. The supermarket magazine section is often a good place to get a free kit with the purchase of a mag too! 

Painting and drawing, calligraphy 

Again, YouTube and Instagram have lots of step-by-step tutorials ranging from absolute beginner to more advanced artwork. All you need to get started is a piece of paper and something to write with. ‘Andrea Nelson Art’ does really simple, stress-free water colour tutorials on social media as well. 

The Works, Flying Tiger, and WH Smith all have a good range of reasonably priced craft supplies, with more specialised shops carrying higher-end products if you want to experiment further. 


Every corner shop will carry all you need to get started, though it may be more economical to go to a bigger store. Smaller individual items such as biscuits or cupcakes can be a good starting place. They will allow you the creativity to try different shapes and sizes all in one batch to see what works and what doesn’t. Chances are, even if it doesn’t look as you had imagined, it will still taste delicious. 

Sewing and Quilting 

Whether hand sewing or using a machine, a small simple project is a good place to start. A felt toy or ornament by hand, a simple draw-string bag on a machine can give you a sense of accomplishment without a big investment of time or money. The rest is embellishment, you can do as little or as much as you feel. 

Whatever it is you decide to do, the only thing that really matters is that YOU enjoy it!

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