Turns out, we may have the power to improve our mental health in our hands. One of many reasons to be thankful for having opposable thumbs!
My creative outlet of choice is crochet. I have and will create in other ways, but crochet is definitely my primary craft. Hook in one hand, yarn in the other, literally crocheting my stress, anxiety, frustration and so much more away with every row or round. I knew there was something to it but didn't have the words or scientific proof to back it up until hearing about the effort driven reward cycle on social media. Creating with our hands "reduces stress and anxiety and most important, builds resilience against the onset of depression" (Kelly Lambert)
Like many creators on IG, I used the cycle audio in a reel. But I couldn't stop there. I dug a little deeper and read a few articles about it. Working with our hands can trigger the release of happy chemicals in our brain. This will then lead to you participating in that activity again and again.
"Making things such as drawing, painting, collage, weaving or sculpture involve hands-on investment in an object with tangible results that give pleasure to or have meaning for their creators." (Cathy Malchiodi, PhD)
Whether it's a ski mask, bucket hat, or I'm testing a pattern for another designer, I know my body and mind feel the results of the effort driven reward cycle. As my project grows in size, my built-up anxious energy decreases. Sometimes it's as simple as counting the stitches in the first couple rows or rounds that reminds me of counting breaths in meditation. Other times it's looking at a finished amigurumi with adorable safety eyes and squeezing or hugging the finished plushy that makes the stress of the day melt away.
As I restock ski masks, add bags and crop tops to the shop and work on market prep...I am overjoyed at my opportunities to experience this effort driven reward cycle with crochet.