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Craft Out of Holiday Stress

It’s that time of year -- and crafting can help you get through the holidays with less stress. The countdown is on to Christmas and whether you celebrate that holiday or not, we have now officially entered the “too much” time of year. There is too much food and wine, too many holiday parties, too many tasks on the ‘to do’ list. In one study, researchers found 61% of us feel we are often or sometimes stressed and 68% report being fatigued. Not to mention the financial burdens that comes along with gift buying season.

It’s no surprise that women feel the stress more acutely than the men in their lives. I don’t know how it works at your house, but I am generally the person who plans the meals, does most of the gift buying, and leads the charge on holiday decorating. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the lucky ones – my darling husband takes the lead on the Christmas Cards and is always handy when it comes to getting the trees up!)

Turns out, there’s an easy way to de-stress that is proven to work. The Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital has long documented a connection between repetitive motion activities and a reduction in stress. Now a number of more recent studies have confirmed the therapeutic benefits of crafting.

One study in Britain surveyed more than 3500 knitters online and found a connection between the frequency of knitting and feeling calm and happy. Frequent knitters also felt they were sharper mentally. Those who knit in groups reported a significant impact on happiness and communication with others.

Another study involving a small group of 38 women suffering from anorexia nervosa found knitting had a huge impact in reducing their negative thoughts and anxious preoccupation. 74% of the women told researchers that knitting lessened their fears and the intensity of their thoughts and cleared their minds of the usual preoccupation with eating. 74% also said knitting had a calming effect on them. Just over half (54%) said they felt a sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment after knitting. Admittedly this was a very small study and there was no control group, but the data are encouraging.

Another study compared the activities of senior citizens and found that crafting can reduce the likelihood of mild cognitive impairment by as much as fifty percent . The positive impact of crafting was measurable – while activities like reading the newspaper were statistically insignificant.

So this holiday season, put down the egg nog and grab a crochet hook or some knitting needles or glue and glitter and go make something. You’ll skip out on some unwanted calories, you’ll keep your stress level down during this hectic period – and you just might make a lovely handmade gift for someone – which is really one of the most beautiful ways to say “I care.”

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