Happily, the number of adults learning creative skills for pleasure is on the rise; 41% are millennials aged 18-34, with traditional skills involving sewing, printmaking and pottery proving popular with those aged 35 and upwards too. There are many benefits to creative pursuits: not only do they encourage mental wellness and help to develop physical skills, they can also help you build social connections with like minded people within your local area, and even online in craft forums and creative interest groups. Whether you’re a senior looking to learn a new skill or a parent keen to find an artistic hobby for the family to share, Burlington has lots to offer.
Numerous studies have shown that creativity increases happiness and boosts mental health. In one, for example, 81% of respondents with depression felt happier after knitting. When you are engaged in an absorbing and creative project such as working with textiles or clay, you enter a state of flow where your mind focuses on the task at hand, rather than dwelling on negative thoughts or anxieties. Upon finishing the task, or even reaching a mini milestone along the way, your brain releases dopamine, the feelgood chemical which makes you happier. The satisfaction of learning a new skill can also be a valuable tool against depression or anxiety; setting yourself a new challenge and being helped to achieve it in a supportive and nurturing environment can boost your self esteem and confidence.
Connecting through creativity
Another important way in which signing up to a creative class can really help people to feel uplifted, is the opportunity it provides for social connections. At present, nearly half of Americans feel lonely; a weekly adult sewing group could be a unique opportunity to make new friendships and feel valued and understood. For busy families, taking a simple papermaking class together means stepping away from work and school schedules, putting away phones, and reconnecting as you try something new together.
At first glance, attending a sewing lesson or trying printmaking may not sound too physical. However, they can certainly benefit the body; one study has shown that spending time on enjoyable hobbies such as these can actually lower blood pressure, BMI and waist size. Simple actions such as threading a needle can also improve dexterity in fingers and help to develop hand eye co-ordination, although if you prefer, you could find a machine with a needle threader to make life even easier!
Making it pay
A surprising benefit of learning a new creative skill may be that it saves you a little money in the long run. Learning how to replace buttons, hem pants correctly or add your own embellishments is a neat way to save money on updating your wardrobe, as well as saving yet more clothing from going to landfill. You could even learn to make your own simple home furnishings with textiles or clay, for a unique and personal touch.
It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and choosing something creative can bring you all kinds of benefits. From boosting mental and physical health to helping you build social connections and find new friendships, a simple crafting skill can add so much value to your life. Whether you’re on your own or part of a group, make a commitment to get creative this year.
Guest blog post by: Jacqueline Cairnse, freelance writer