Mental Health

Benefits of DIY Crafts and How They Improve Mental Health

Beige scrabble letter blocks spell out mental health in black ink, laying on top of blank scrabble game pieces.
Mental Health Letter Blocks

Mental Health: Let’s talk about it

Mental health is as vital as physical health because it affects our social skills, coping mechanisms, and self-esteem. It’s mental health awareness month, and I can’t help but think about its seriousness. Mental awareness gets associated with mental illness or mental health, but there’s a difference. It’s good that more attention is given to the understanding, but stigmas are still attached.

Don’t Dare Say the M-Word

Growing up an African American woman, the only time ‘mental’ was mentioned was to describe someone as “complex,” “crazy,” or “off.” Conversations about depression, meltdowns, and anxiety were off-limits. If anything, it was quickly drowned out with, “you shouldn’t feel that way.”

In our culture, we were taught to be confident. Just the thought of self-pity was a sign of weakness. Looking back, I realized that most people didn’t know much about mental health except that it’s terrible. As much information is available to us, we’re hesitant to read for ourselves if it challenges our limiting beliefs. Honestly, I think the lack of knowledge and unwillingness to help someone in need contributes to most suicides.

Awareness vs. Illness vs. Health

Awareness is educating the public about the importance of mental health. Mental illness diagnoses someone’s emotional, mental, and psychological state. You can be aware of the importance of mental health and still have a disorder. Thanks to therapists, nonprofit organizations, healthcare professionals, and advocates promoting awareness, more people discuss the matter. Unfortunately, some people need help but refuse to admit it.  

Sanity Matters

Taking time for yourself is essential. You live in a stressful society where we’re constantly meeting ever-changing demands. Your mental sanity can change on a dime. When left unchecked or untreated, extreme behavior and mood changes become noticeable. Just because you aren’t diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t mean we need a mental health checkup.  

Recently, I had to reset my own sanity. I’m a 40-year old mom of a four-month-old boy. There were tons of business-related tasks for last month. Unexpectedly things happened. My little one was teething for a couple weeks. My husband had emergency dental surgery. The house was being remodeled, and I was without energy for two days after taking the Covid vaccine. 

I was determined to squeeze in tasks. I didn’t want work to pile up. I tried doing a few tasks but I wasn’t there mentally. Instead of pushing on, I stepped away from Crafty Hands Club stuff for a few days. 

I went back to the task list and reduced it to only do no more than three tasks and take two days off from the business. It was good to reset, and think of a different way to approach things. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in work. They say, “do what it takes, just get it done.” don’t get me wrong, you should take care of tasks, but you should never force them when you’re mentally drained. 

What crafts got to do with it?

Technology is all around us. Sometimes we have to step away from social media and unplug from our phone screens. Replacing digital devices with physical activities is relaxing. The ability to make something with your own hands is a feeling of accomplishment. 

Also, you get a chance to try something new. Learning a new hobby leads to networking potential. Doing craft projects gives you room to take on new challenges. As you learn fundamentals, you’ll gradually take on intermediate and advanced level projects. Lastly, crafts are done in your personal time. Part of taking care of your health is making time for yourself.

Art therapy has been around for quite some time. Nowadays, you’ll find articles about crafts used as stress relief activities. I remember the after-school arts and craft programs. Being able to make things and forgetting about everything else felt like paradise. 

Regardless of the reason, stress is affecting all generations. 

  • Pennsylvania state prison started allowing arts and craft activities for children while visiting incarcerated parents. 
  • Colleges and Universities have provided arts and craft activities for students during testing times. 
  • In 2018, Seattle NICU moms started a crochet meetup to take their minds off their babies.
  • Equally important as physical health

    There’s been an excessive focus on physical health since I can remember. Lose weight. Exercise, healthy eating, surgery, diet, and fasting ideas are all around us. Not implying that physical health should be ignored because it is essential to take care of your health. 

    Mental health is just as important. What we say is what we feel in our hearts. Our words become thoughts and beliefs, which lead to actions and become our realities. 

    How we feel about ourselves is the core of our self-esteem. Self-esteem tells our values and disconnects. Low self-esteem leads to irresponsible decision-making and people-pleasing. The energy we carry determines what we attract in terms of people and opportunities. 

    Our mindset impacts how we handle life. Do we react or respond? When problems come, are they ignored or confronted? Do we shift blame to keep from facing shortcomings? Do we gaslight to cover the guilty conscience when others call us out on something? Do we justify our behavior or mood as a way to refuse change?

    It’s not just one factor

    Self-care has become a thing over the last few years. Spa days, international travel, fitness, and grooming typically come to mind. Well, mental health goes beyond self-care. It’s the management of what we allow and disallow to consume our thoughts. When you welcome gossip, negative energy, toxic people, and bad relationships, those things will pour out of you. 

    To summarize, if you have poor mental well-being, you aren’t suitable for anyone or anything. It’s okay to say no to things that are unproductive, draining, or time-wasting. Your energy is valuable and shouldn’t be given to everything. Before responding or agreeing to something, ask yourself if it deserves your energy or not. Stress not only brings on significant illnesses like heart attacks and strokes, but it will kill you if your mental health isn’t in check.

    What are you doing to take care of your mental health?

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