Knitting, crocheting and jam-making improve mental health, study finds

Telegraph News ~

Women knitting
Women knit clothing for London evacuees in during the Second World War Credit: getty images

Knitting, crocheting and jam-making have never been associated with great thrills – but, it turns out, they work wonders for wellbeing.

A study has found that people who participate in arts and crafts feel happier, calmer and more energetic the next day.

The activities which the researchers listed also included cooking, baking, performing music, painting, drawing, sketching, digital design and creative writing.

Nicola Sturgeon and her mother enjoying a spot of knitting
Nicola Sturgeon and her mother enjoying a spot of knitting Credit: pa

All have in common that they are relaxed and creative.

Many of the more traditional activities cited by the researchers are popular with Women’s Institute members.

Janice Langley, chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, told the Daily Mail: “WI members have enjoyed creative activities and crafts since the very first WI meeting in 1915, so it’s great to hear this study has found some evidence that these interests could lead to increased wellbeing and creativity.

“We’d encourage everyone thinking of giving a new project a try just to get involved.”

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The WI, which counts the Queen among its members, is enjoying something of a renaissance. It celebrated its centenary last year and has more than 212,000 members.

The study took place at Otago University, New Zealand, where 658 students were asked to keep diaries of their experiences and emotional states over 13 days.

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Dr Tamlin Connor,  study’s lead author, said: “There is growing recognition in psychology research that creativity is associated with emotional functioning.

“However, most of this work focuses on how emotions benefit or hamper creativity, not whether creativity benefits or hampers emotional well-being.

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“Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.

“Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.”

The study, which was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, found that the students showed more enthusiasm and “flourishing” – a mental health term describing happiness and meaning – in the days following creative activities.




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