[Article from Carolina Barnes]

Having a hobby is an underestimated yet powerful force. It’s proven to reduce stress, build patience, and promote problem-solving skills. With the news of COVID-19 worrying us all and self-isolation becoming the norm, finding a healthy way to stay occupied while expressing yourself has never been so important.

My love for crafting started when I was in my early 20’s. Both my mum and grandma could crochet and one summer holiday they taught me some basics. In no time I was hooked (pun intended). I was fascinated with how a creation slowly took form, all from manipulating some yarn around a hook. I loved how – unlike knitting – crochet couldn’t be replicated with a machine. You had to use your hands, and this added to its appeal.

I believe that having a regular hobby is just as essential to eating the right food. Crafting has been key in helping manage my mental health and I know it can do the same for you. You need a creative outlet, something you alone identify with to nourish your mind and keep it busy. It’s not just about keeping busy though, I learnt that with regular crafting comes many other benefits:

The ‘flow’ state

When you’re creative you use your imagination, which means focusing and this creates a sense of flow. Ever noticed, when you’re fully immersed in a task that you lose track of time and yourself? This is because you were in a flowstate. This state appears when you’re being challenged, at just the right amount (so you don’t lose interest). It provides a great sense of clarity and purpose.

Reduces stress

When we look at our creative interests as an exploration, rather than as a necessary task, we get more joy from them. Sure, it can get a little stressful sometimes when patterns get confusing or mistakes happen, but that’s part of growing. When you see stress as a challenge that can be overcome, or as a learning curve that’s going to improve your craft, you change your relationship with the stress. It loses its power. This drastically improves your mood and how you deal with difficult situations in other aspects of your life, too.

Helps you connect

Learning to crochet turned out to be a great way to connect with my grandma. She’s Czech and as I don’t speak much of the language, we used crochet to communicate. I loved visiting to show off new creations and let her inspect them. Crafting also helps connect you to like-minded individuals … everywhere. This is one of its charms. With the wonders of the internet, you can share creations with people all over the world, just for fun, or for feedback.

Increases happiness

Spending time putting in the effort and seeing the output is so rewarding. When you pick a craft, doing it for yourself fosters a great sense of achievement and pride. When you value your time more than money, the time spent on your hobby will provide a greater sense of wellbeing.

Since I started on my crafting journey, I’ve made so many different things; from toys to cushions, to clothes and rugs, the list goes on and on.

Crafting provides a lifeline to cope in uncertain times, beat loneliness and push past those troublesome thoughts. Being trapped at home doesn’t have to be a recipe for boredom. It’s the perfect opportunity to put the kettle on and get making.

I hope this inspires you to get back in touch with that long-lost hobby or try something new. Next time you’re feeling a bit down, use those negative thoughts as a catalyst to spark new ideas.

Just remember, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Avoid striving for perfection. All that matters is that you try!

[For more writings and crochet ideas visit Carolina’s website sistertwist.org or follow her on Instagram with the handle @sistertwistdesigns]