There are many ways to let out stress: Punching a wall, scarfing Oreos in a dark broom closet, or my favorite—an old-school silent scream. How about something a little more upbeat and healthy?
I’m talking crafts.
Believe it or not, sprinkling frosted glitter on wet glue, doodling on paper, or sewing through layers of fabric can be very therapeutic when your nerves begin to fray. As a mom with two kids, a full-time job and a part-time art career, I’m here to tell you—it works. Even if it’s varnishing one magnet, I finish witha smile on my face and a fresh attitude. From teaching workshops to answering emails, I’ve met many other women who will vouch for the benefits of craft therapy.
“Making stuff allows me to focus on something other than everyday stress,” says Lizzy Hernandez, 36. “I think of the bright colors I like to work with, or using my hands on clay, or stringing jewelry… and my mind clears. It’s like I’m putting all my energy into making something beautiful right now, instead of the chores I have to do tomorrow.
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Hernandez, a mom from Whittier, California, should know. The name of her business is La Chillona Arte—it translates as The Crier. She may shed a few tears from daily drama at work or dinner table politics, but it’s her artful sessions that bring her peace of mind.
“When I’m creating, I’m in a good place,” she says. “I may not be thinking about my problems, but it’s always when I’m crafting that I come up with the best solutions.”
Hernandez isn’t alone. According to a consumer survey conducted by the Craft and Hobby Association, American households rang up a whopping $29 billion dollars of craft-related supplies in 2010. From scrapbooking and sewing to painting and beading, crafting, it seems, has become a peaceful time-passer and colorful rival to a pricey back massage or counseling session. There is even an entire website dedicated to the subject. Self-proclaimed craft practitioners, Kathy Peterson and Barb Dehn, promote a handmade lifestyle as a tool for healthy living on their site, Craft for Health.
But TV host and master DIYer, Mark Montano puts it in terms we all can appreciate.
“Being creative is proven to relieve stress, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that crafting is a guilty pleasure, think of it as something that will make your life better,” says the bestselling author. “For example, wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend a few hours one evening making a slew of birthday cards that will save you several trips to a card shop?”
He also understands what Lizzy Hernandez means about clearing one’s mind with a little glitter and glue.
“Creativity is active meditation and meditation is proven to relieve stress,” he says. “Creativity also teaches the brain to problem-solve. People who are stress-free think more clearly and make better decisions. When you factor in the benefits of crafting, doesn’t it seem necessary to a better way of life?”
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Now what are you waiting for? It’s time to make something fabulous! Even if you are juggling a full-time job and a busy household, there is still room in your life to exercise your creativity—as long as you plan. Here are some ideas to get you started so that you can craft away your stress: