If you’re feeling stressed and run down, then the solution may be a change, rather than a rest. Stress often develops because work takes over your life, and it can be difficult to draw boundaries and disengage from work if you feel like you’re replacing it with nothing, or ‘pure’ relaxation. Many people find empty time difficult to cope with, and require a structure of effort and achievement that’s on their own terms to replace overwhelming work. It’s an Instagram driven mistake that ‘self-care’ has come to mean candlelit baths, massages and naps. Self-care, properly engaged with is anything that helps you cope with the stresses of life, from making sure you’re properly hydrated, to finding a meaningful hobby to practice outside working hours.
A craft hobby can supply this need and more! Crafts provide the engine of achievement as you master new skills and take on new projects, as well as providing a direct, satisfying sense of reward as you finish a piece and get to see how your work is improving! You also get to enjoy gifting your work to friends and seeing how much they like it. Many crafts also force you to slow down and focus on the task in front of you. This can be a useful way to manage racing thoughts and anxieties.
When you’re getting started with a crafting hobby you need to think about what you want to get out of it. Overcommitting to a hobby that doesn’t provide what you need to focus and relax can leave you more stressed and frustrated than before!
The End Result
One of the most important things to consider is what you’ll actually be making. Think about what excites you and what you take pride in. If you’re most excited about the idea of making your own clothes, for example, knitting is a great choice, but needlepoint embroidery will never deliver that pay off that you’re looking for. If you’re more interested in self-expression and making your own art and decorations, papercrafts might be a better fit for you than weaving.
How it Feels
Don’t discount the physical sensation of practising a craft. You could be spending hours a week knitting, weaving, folding paper or stitching. If it’s not satisfying to practise in the moment, then you’ve given yourself another job, rather than a sustaining hobby. If you have the chance, talk with a friend, or even borrow their kit to see if the most fundamental actions of your chosen hobby agree with you.
If you can’t borrow, then at least start small. A craft subscription box will let you try out one project for your chosen craft and make sure it really is for you!