Crafty Manolo » Newsflash: Crafts Are Good For You

Newsflash: Crafts Are Good For You

By Twistie

(Image of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, working on a mosaic via  South Bank Mosaics)

We all know that doing various crafts can be fun. We know they give us individual fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. Many of us find crafting relaxing, too. Crafting can add beauty to our lives and homes.

But it’s also good for us, both physically and mentally.

According to this article by Sara Gormley, OTS, College of Saint Mary, crafts can be an important part of recuperative therapy:

A simple mosaic craft activity that includes pre-cut tiles and all items prepared and set up for the patient provides illustration for the benefit and appropriate application of the use of this craft for treatment of either a physical or cognitive disability.  While creation of a mosaic tile may appear to be a simple leisure activity, this task places demands on the patient.  The patient needs to understand and remember the instructions, attend to task and maintain body position.  Selection of and picking up the tiles requires oculomotor control, visual discrimination and specific movements of muscles and joints. These include, but are not limited to: scapular protraction and retraction while reaching for materials and finger flexion, extension and thumb flexion and opposition when manipulating the craft tiles. Applying this craft in a group setting would provide the opportunity to address social and communication skills as well.

 The funny thing is, before she took a course in the uses of crafts in therapy, Gormley found the concept laughable.
I don’t have an education in medicine. I don’t even have a college degree. But I knew many years ago, long before I picked up my first lace bobbin, that crafts are good for motor and cognitive skills. I knew when  my mother managed to pick up her needlepoint after her first stroke that this was an excellent harbinger of a full recovery.
She found it frustrating at first. Her hand didn’t move like it had before. It sometimes took her many tries to get the stitch right. But every time she picked up her needle, her hand cooperated more. She got better. In a couple months, her motor skills were almost back to normal.
But that wasn’t my first indication that crafts are good for you, either. As a child, one of my brothers suffered a massive cranial injury. Okay, he got whacked in the head with a golf club. It was an accident. Nobody was really to blame. All the same, my brother wound up with a serious skull fracture. He spent days in the hospital. Nobody was sure if there was going to be permanent damage.
Well, a couple days after getting out of the hospital, my brother was once again merrily painting his miniature Civil War lead soldiers. Once again, the detail was astonishing.
We knew he was going to be okay.
But even without those two examples in my own family, I think I would have been able to work it out for myself that crafts are good for you. They require both physical dexterity of varying levels and mental concentration. Whether threading a needle or working a lathe, you have to use both your brains and your hands well to get the job done and avoid injury.
Making crafts keeps your brain and your hands nimble. Making crafts relaxes you, which helps keep your blood pressure and even violent impulses in check. Making crafts provides a sense of accomplishment and positive self image.
And you know what? Those are all good for you.

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